The Astell & Kern UW100 Earbuds Are an Audiophile’s Dream


Do you keep in mind the primary time you tried one thing apart from the crappy plastic earbuds that got here along with your cell gadget? I recall studying a discussion board submit on-line, shopping for a then spendy $100 pair of Shure headphones, and blowing my very own thoughts once I plugged them into my iPod Nano.

That’s the feeling you get if you leap from entry-level wi-fi earbuds like AirPods to a premium pair like the brand new Astell & Kern UW100. With glorious digital-to-analog conversion, bespoke drivers, and a modern design, I can see these being a straightforward entry level
for aspiring audiophiles.

It’s taken a while for high-end wi-fi earbuds to do something particular, moreover look higher than the variations from Apple, Samsung, and others. The UW100 show that we’re lastly getting higher sound for our further {dollars}, and so they would possibly make just a few audiophiles lower the wire when out and about.

Type and Perform

{Photograph}:  Astell & Kern

If you happen to’re not into hoarding FLAC information and dropping hundreds of {dollars} on attractive digital gamers, it’s very probably you’ve by no means heard of Astell & Kern. The small audio model has made acclaimed digital-to-analog converters, headphone amps, and transportable gamers for the Rolex class for years, however solely lately has it taken the deep dive into higher-end mainstream audio merchandise.


With regards to each design and audio efficiency, the technological trickle-down is evident. Astell & Kern is prepared to promote merchandise for beneath $500 now, however the engineers are nonetheless unwilling to promote bad-sounding ones.

The jagged, gem-like exterior of every earbud instantly stands out amidst a bunch of wi-fi buds that seem like golf tees. They’re like one thing you would possibly spot in a Star Trek spinoff, doubling as fancy space-age communicators. That’s to not say the buds don’t feel and appear elegant, however until your private model may be very trendy, you would possibly discover them a bit flashy.


Such visible cues are par for the course from Astell & Kern, which makes use of jagged edges as a centerpiece of its design language. Nevertheless, the case is a bit massive and really plasticky, which I wouldn’t count on from buds that value practically twice as a lot as AirPods. I could dislike Apple’s primary buds, however the case is twice as modern and half the scale.

Regardless of having no ear fins, the UW100 match extraordinarily nicely in my medium-sized ears. I’ve been capable of take them on lengthy runs, do yard work, and customarily putter about with out ever dropping a bud. After all, that is partly a fluke: Except your ears are similar to mine, your mileage could differ. However so long as you don’t have small ears (these are on the medium-large aspect of the spectrum, however not loopy big), they need to suit you simply effective.

Effectively Sorted

Sound high quality is the true showstopper with the UW100, although. A 32-bit digital-to-analog converter and customized balanced armature drivers pair with help for the aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec to ship the cleanest, most detailed audio I’ve ever heard from wi-fi earbuds.

A large soundstage and assertive (however not overly boomy) bass are aided by the headphones’ glorious passive noise isolation. At occasions, I swore these earbuds had energetic noise canceling, since they blocked out the surface world so nicely. This can be a proven fact that Astell & Kern’s engineers clearly acknowledged too; you’ll be able to activate Ambient mode with a faucet of an exterior contact sensor, and you will find your self utilizing it should you purchase these buds.

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