Astell & Kern crafts a player for vinyl-like sound in your pocket

High-resolution audio is on its way to being akin to vinyl, albeit in a more portable sense, providing lossless sound and more fidelity in a digital file. But you’ll still need something to play it on, and Astell & Kern hopes to have that solution.

If you’re a listener of hi-res audio, you know all too well that most of this stuff tends to be played in the comfort of your own home, stored on a large hard drive or network attached storage (NAS) device, and accessed through either a nice amplifier, a computer, or a hi-res compatible media streaming device.

Phones and tablets have started to support the technology in recent years, though, with phones from Sony, LG, and Samsung all joining in and providing 24-bit FLAC capability, but these aren’t necessarily going to provide the power output needed for decent headphones, so some have to turn to dedicated media players supporting the formats.

Sony has a few of these, and one of them is quite inexpensive, but if you’re after something a little more unique, Astell & Kern might have the offering in a product being announced this week.


Called the “AK Jr”, it’s a more pocket-friendly media layer meant for 24-bit sound, with up to 192kHz files supported in the lossless world, as well as some of those lossy files we’re all used to carrying around (MP3, for instance).

The design is full aluminium and built to bring people in looking for something a little different to the iPod or plastic stick players you might find dotted around the place, while a volume wheel made from the same metal allows the listener to pinpoint exactly what level of sound they want to listen to, and none of that 12 points of digital volume you might get on a media player.


Inside, there’s 64GB of storage with a microSD slot providing room for up to 64GB more, meaning you can bring with as much as 128GB with you on the go.

Controlling the media player will happen with a 3.1 inch LCD touchscreen, and while Android might be the operating system most people go for, this one is something based on Linux but not Android, so don’t expect to bring any apps with you.

Rather, think of the AK Jr as a dedicated music player, providing an unbalanced 3.5mm headphone jack, output impedance of 2 ohms, and even the ability to work as a USB digital-to-analogue converter when plugged into a computer.


Pricing for this little box doesn’t necessarily come cheap, though it does do a little more than your standard media player thanks to that computer functionality, and you’ll find it in select stores for an RRP of $699.

All you need is some high-resolution audio to go with it, which isn’t included, but can be found around this world wide web thing we’re all on.