Astell&Kern AK70 high-res digital audio player review: Sweet sound and strong features make it a winner

The AK70 is one of the first hi-res audio players on the market to support aptX HD for high-res music streaming over Bluetooth.

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Don't think that a high-res player makes a difference? Whether as a USB DAC or a stand-alone player, music played through the AK70 sounded consistently cleaner and clearer with a tighter bottom end, more defined midrange, and more open top-end than through a MacBook Pro's internal headphone jack or an iPhone 7. If you value the differences in those details and the emotion behind each, then you'll appreciate what the AK70 delivers.

But forget tech and specs. If your measure of a music player is whether or not it gets your feet tapping and your body moving then the AK70 definitely fits the bill.

The AK70 is a sweet-sounding hi-res music player. Theo Nicolakis

The AK70 is a sweet-sounding hi-res music player.

An easy recommendation

Astell&Kern’s AK70 strikes a masterful balance of design and features in a portable package. With decent battery life, a smooth UI, and consistently great sound at a middle-of-the pack price, there’s lots to love. If you’ve been on the lookout for a quality high-res audio player that can drive a wide array of headphones while slipped in your pocket, you’ve found your dream player.  While The AK70 won’t support MQA, it does support all the other major high-res music formats, and the inclusion of Apx HD has you ready for next-generation high-res music streaming.

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At a Glance
  • Astell&Kern’s AK70 strikes a high note with its portable size, performance, and strong networking feature-set.

    Pros

    • Small and light form factor with a bright display and smooth user interface
    • Consistently great sound with a wide range of headphones
    • aptX HD and DLNA support
    • Can be used as a USB DAC

    Cons

    • No native support for MQA audio files
    • Streaming services are currently limited to Tidal, Moov, and Groovers+
    • Frustrating to use in your left hand
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