Astell&Kern refines the audiophile formula for latest wireless earphones

High-end mobile audio brand Astell&Kern has launched the follow up to last year’s UW100 true-wireless earphones, which boast key refinements aimed at delivering “uncompromising, exquisite hi-fi sound.”

One of the first things you notice about the new earphones is that they come in a smaller charging case than the first generation, yet Astell&Kern (A&K) has managed to increase per-charge battery life to 29 hours in total – that’s 9.5 hours for the buds and almost 20 more from the case. A 10-minute quick top-up offers an hour of playback.

The company has tweaked the circuit design for a more stable connection to the media source while also reducing noise. The acoustic chamber also differs from last year’s earphones, and the Knowles full-range Balanced Armature driver in each earpiece has been moved “to better deliver the finer audio details.”

The UW100MKII TWS earphones were on display recently at the Hong Kong High-End Audio & Visual Show
The UW100MKII TWS earphones were on display recently at the Hong Kong High-End Audio & Visual Show


Rather than take the opportunity to treat the second generation TWS buds to active noise cancellation, A&K has again plumped for “best-in-class” passive isolation to “efficiently cancel unwanted ambient noise in the mid and high ranges.” The outside world can be allowed in with a tap, and four ambient modes are available via a companion app, which also allows for EQ adjustment.

A&K’s AMP technology from its Digital Audio Players joins 32-bit digital-to-analog conversion for the promise of “a clearer, more accurate and dynamic audio performance.” There’s Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX Adaptive decoding for low-latency 24-bit audio quality at up to 420 kbps, plus multipoint support. And dual microphones in each bud dial into Qualcomm’s cVc 8.0 technology for enhanced call clarity.

The UW100MKII earphones were on display at the Hong Kong High-End Audio & Visual Show this weekend, and will go on sale from early October for US$280.

That puts them in the same premium price range as the QuietComfort Earbuds II from Bose and Sony’s new WF-1000XM5 earphones – both of which boast top-notch sound quality plus industry-leading active noise cancellation. The video below has more.

Astell&Kern AK UW100MKII

Product page: A&K UW100MKII

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