Astell & Kern UW100 Review: Best Wireless Earbuds for Audiophiles

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 whenever you bounce 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 versions from Apple, Samsung, and others. The UW100 show that we’re lastly getting higher sound for our further {dollars}, they usually may make just a few audiophiles lower the twine when out and about.

Form and Function

Photograph:  Astell & Kern

If you’re not into hoarding FLAC recordsdata and dropping 1000’s of {dollars} on beautiful digital gamers, it’s very doubtless 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 just lately has it taken the deep dive into higher-end mainstream audio merchandise.

When it involves each design and audio efficiency, the technological trickle-down is obvious. Astell & Kern is prepared to promote merchandise for underneath $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 appear like golf tees. They’re like one thing you may spot in a Star Trek spinoff, doubling as fancy space-age communicators. That’s to not say the buds don’t feel and look elegant, however except your private type could be very trendy, you may 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. However, the case is a bit giant and really plasticky, which I wouldn’t count on from buds that price almost twice as a lot as AirPods. I could dislike Apple’s primary buds, however the case is twice as modern and half the dimensions.

Despite 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. Of course, that is partly a fluke: Unless your ears are equivalent to mine, your mileage could range. But so long as you don’t have small ears (these are on the medium-large aspect of the spectrum, however not loopy large), they need to fit your needs simply high quality.

Well Sorted

Sound high quality is the actual showstopper with the UW100, although. A 32-bit digital-to-analog converter and customized balanced armature drivers pair with assist 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 lively noise canceling, since they blocked out the surface world so nicely. This is 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 for those who purchase these buds.

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