Astell&Kern HC3 USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
Astell&Kern HC3 USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
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Connectivity refers to the method in which the headphones connect to the audio source. Headphones can be either wired or wireless.
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Don’t love it? Return it any time in the first year of ownership for a small fee
Take your Hifi sound on the go, wherever you go, with the Astell&Kern HC3 portable USB Digital to Analog Convertor(DAC) and Headphone Amplifier.
The HC3 from Astell&Kern was designed to minimize noise in your mobile listening setup with its implementation of ultra-high sound quality integrated DACs.
- ES9219MQ Dual DAC from ESS for true Hi-Fi quality
- MQA 8X
- Dual-shielded cable
- Supports headset microphones
- Supports iOS devices
- Proprietary app for Android (For Detailed Volume Control)
- Compact but powerful
- LED display shows song details
- Full metal housing design
Dual DACs for Optimized Performance
AK HC3 adopts dual ES9219MQ, the SABRE HiFi® DACs from ESS that is highly regarded by audio fans for its ability to playback Hi-Fi sounds such as MQA in ultra-high quality, excellent noise control, and low power consumption.
In addition, it supports Native DSD256 and 32 bit/384 kHz, supporting any high-resolution sound to realize Astell&Kern’s unique sound experiences.
Ultra Small Design, Big Sound
With its compact size and uncompromising performance, the AK HC3 makes it easy to enjoy real Hi-Fi sound anytime, anywhere.
Astell&Kern used micro resistors and capacitors in order to achieve the sleek, compact design of the HC3 with the mindset of not having to make any compromises on sound quality. Tailored ultra-small tantalum capacitors, which are used in AK player products to create a stable system and audio performance by controlling the power fluctuations, are also included to create the optimal audio circuit. In addition, the output and audio performance are enhanced with Astell&Kern's unique technology while minimizing current consumption in consideration of the connected device.
Noise-Free Rear Output Structure
The HC3 from Astell&Kern incorporates a rear audio output design to minimize noise. Most USB DAC products have the DAC positioned in the USB terminal that is connected directly to the device to process and output audio. However, with the AK HC3, digital signals from the device go through the dual shielded cable to the audio circuit before being converted to an analog signal by the DAC. By processing the digital signal after, the result is superior, noise-free sound compared to other USB DAC products.
AK HC3 is super light with a full aluminum housing, and weighs only 20g.
The compact and lightweight body embodies Astell&Kern’s design philosophy, emphasizing our fundamental ethos toward the music. The design inherits the “light and shadow” concept, which is the identity of Astell&Kern: all of the four sharp sides centered around the traversing centerline are positioned proportionally and converge on a single point, making them uniquely reflective and iridescent.
The high-quality finish hides everything except for design factors such as the contours and the logo, preventing any visual distractions for a more immersive music experience.
Dual Noise Shielded Cable
The Astell&Kern HC3 features a dual shielded cable to minimize noise and deliver more vivid, original sound. The copper core wire is coated with tin to prevent corrosion and strengthen tensile force for enhanced durability. In addition, the entire cable is wrapped in an aluminum film to block noise, the biggest issue in audio, then the tin-coated copper wire is woven to minimize noise interference to sound.
MQA 8X Playback in Ultra-high Resolution
AK HC3 is built with a renderer that supports MQA 8X playback in ultra-high quality to deliver sound that's much closer to the original sound. MQA is a high-quality sound source format that requires an external DAC or appropriate playback devices. AK HC3 is the right choice if you want to enjoy MQA anytime. Pair your mobile device with AK HC3 to play any MQA sources up to MQA 8X. With AK HC3 and any device that supports MQA unfolding, anyone can unleash the ultra-high quality of MQA through the proprietary app with network play and streaming features.
In order to use AK HC3 as a hardware MQA renderer, a software core decoder that supports MQA unfolding is required.
Easy and Convenient — Plug & Play
Connect directly to a Windows PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet with a USB-C port that supports plug & play, without needing a separate conversion adapter, and enjoy high-quality sound. The AK HC3 utilizes power from the connected playback device so it does not need to be charged or be connected to a separate external sound card, AMP or DAC. Just connect AK HC3 to experience high-fidelity sound from a computer or mobile device.
The AK HC3 is also compatible with iOS devices using the included USB-C to Lightning adapter.
Entertaining experiences with AK HC3 and microphone and controller support
AK HC3 has been improved to be compatible with any 3- or 4-pole 3.5-mm plug earphones and headsets, as well as in-line controller and microphone features of 4-pole earphones and headsets.
With AK HC3, you can enjoy a greater range of entertainment experiences with your mobile device. The direct USB connection provides lower latency compared to other wireless solutions, enabling a sound performance that’s perfect for gaming. The voice chat features enhance your gaming experiences, so you can play with others, and the microphone input makes it even more useful for professional web conferencing.
Plus, the rich sound capability adds to the utility of AK HC3 by making your video experiences more realistic and immersive.
*When pairing your AK HC3 with iPhones, recording is supported for microphone input, but not supported for calls.
Volume Control Through A Dedicated Android APP
As is common with many USB DACs, compatibility issues can arise such as different connected devices being set automatically to maximum volume output or playback at too low volume.
To resolve such issues and offer greater control over the volume and function of the AK HC3, we have developed a companion app for Android OS devices.
LED for real-time indication
AK HC3 has an LED indicator that displays song details.
*Standby: White / PCM: Red / DSD: Blue / MQA: Magenta
Precautions When Using the Product
This product is compatible with most Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, Windows 10/11 and macOS products. In some cases, it may not be compatible or may be restricted depending on the hardware, software and/or system of the device that you connect to.
When connecting to a Windows PC, the driver will automatically be recognized and installed. For high-quality sound files, you are required to install a separate USB DAC driver which can be downloaded from the Support — Download section on the website.
In order to use AK HC3 as a hardware MQA renderer, a software core decoder that supports MQA files is needed first.
4-pole earphones and headphones support CTIA devices, but OMTP is not supported.
AK HC3 may not support call features when paired with iPhones or some Android phone models with a 3.5-mm connector.
To play DSD and high-quality PCM sound files on a smartphone, you must install a separate free/paid player program that supports high-resolution audio playback. (When using the default player app on a mobile device, the file will be downsampled. Please make sure to play it with a different player app.)
Please note that the volume will be fixed to the maximum level if you allow access with Tidal and some other apps on Android devices.
Make sure to check the volume on your connected player device before using headphones or earphones. Some devices may automatically set the output level to maximum volume when the cable is connected. Listening to headphones or earphones at maximum volume may damage your hearing. Please verify the volume level before each use.
Do not connect the USB-C Dual DAC Cable to an Astell&Kern player. When connecting the cable to a player and using it as an external DAC, the output volume will be fixed at the maximum volume setting. It is not possible to adjust the volume through the Astell&Kern player. Listening at maximum or a high-volume setting may cause serious damage to your hearing. Astell&Kern, its affiliates and agencies, cannot be held liable for any damage or injuries from negligent or inappropriate use.
Firmware updates may be released periodically for stability improvements. For more information on firmware updates and to check if a firmware update is available, please visit the Support — Download section on the website.