Astell&Kern AK500N Hi-Res Music Server
Astell&Kern have come a long way from their Iriver roots founded back in 1999. With a small, yet highly successful range of portable media players living in the shadow of the Apple iPod, Iriver kept evolving and developing new products.
Sucess came in 2008 with some breakthrough products catering specifically for the emerging “high-res” audio and flac audio format. Since then A&K have gone on to become a widely recognised name within audio enthusiast circles, known for making truly fine audio gear that looks like a piece of precision art.
The AK500N is the latest resident in the A&K line-up. Their first high-resolution music server, it features a 1TB SSD drive (with the ability to be upgraded to 4TB) to store and playback your entire music library, supports audio files up to 24-bit/192Khz, including single and double-rate DSD files, as well as Apple lossless and all other standard digital audio formats. A front-loading CD drive allows you to rip your albums to the in-built storage in a number of selectable formats including WAV and FLAC formats.
The AK500N runs on an internal battery that auto charges when the unit is not in use, limiting any hum or buzz from the power supply.
Lossless streaming is capable over Wi-Fi via DLNA from PCs and NAS storage devices, and the Android-based operating system can be controlled by the on-board control pad, as well as any iOS or Android device. Alternatively you can use the 7” LCD touch screen display that allows the user to view and playback music located on the device or stream music from a local network.
There are three additional drive bays to expand your storage up to 4TB and it can even be set up in a RAID configuration for redundancy purposes.
The AK500N contains a Dual-DAC configuration with two Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chips, that can output audio signals independently to each channel, making the AK500N a true dual mono setup.
There's also a dedicated DSD chipset for DSD playback which converts PCM data to DSD through its proprietary audio engine. Users can enjoy single-rate and double-rate DSD playback without any down-sampling on the AK500N, while you can also upsample files to high-resolution 32 bit, 384 kHz WAV PCM and 24 bit / 352 kHz FLAC PCM data to DSD data in real-time.
The Astell&Kern AK500N boasts plenty of input and outputs including, two balanced and unbalanced analog outs, balanced (AES/EBU), BNC S/PDIF, coaxial, and optical digital outputs. Digital inputs include balanced (AES/EBU), BNC S/PDIF, coaxial, and optical digital inputs. Both 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11 b/g/n wireless networks are supported. The device also featured two USB inputs for direct playback from USB devices.
“The Astell&Kern AK500N provides rich bass tones, a midrange with expansive dynamic elements and a treble with a heap of sparkle, giving you one of the most ultimate high-definition music servers available. It is available in black or silver and is sure to be a great addition to your current home system.” George Poutakidis, Director of Busisoft told StereoNET.
The Astell&Kern AK500N is available now for $16,999 RRP.
Astell&Kern is distributed in Australia by Busisoft.