Cord-cutting is all the rage for audio tech. En masse, makers and consumers flee from the wiry arms of yester-tech and charge ever so eagerly into the mostly experimental bosom of true wirelessness. But is wireless equipment really what we want? And what do we cost ourselves by cutting the (very literal) cord? The forthcoming, first-of-its-kind, dual digital-to-analog converter and amp USB-C cable by Astell&Kern got me wondering.
It’s Kind of a Big Deal: Dual DAC & Amp USB-C Cable
Astell&Kern’s dual DAC and amp cable, slated for release this May, is the missing link between USB-C media devices (i.e., Windows and macOS laptops, non-iOS smartphones) and headphones. It’s also a lot more than that. Don’t think of it as a USB-C cable: the device is a smart, hi-fi igniter.
In an era that’s all but done away with the headphone jack, A&K is bringing it back with precision audio-circuit engineering. Here A&K introduces us to the concept:
As streaming services begin to support high-quality, high-resolution audio, are wireless earphones and headphones able to provide the full audio playback experience?
How can you enjoy high-quality music playback or games with dynamic and realistic sound on your computer without an expensive high-end sound card?
The dual…DACs are paired with an independent analog amplifier, designed to provide true audio playback so you can feel the live, warm and clear sound as intended, without distortion.
The cable’s dual Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHIFi DACs and analog amplifier drive its performance. The amp has enough thump to channel premium sound through a wide range of phones — even those with high impendence or hefty power requirements.
What Is DAC, Really?
If you’re between, idk, 12 and 60 years old, you’re probably familiar with analog-to-digital conversion in some make or manner (e.g., converting print photos to digital files or ripping .mp4s from compact discs, etc.). Digital-to-analog conversion (DAC) does just the opposite. Today, ‘DAC’ is a term most strongly associated with audio equipment companies like Astell&Kern.
The digital-to-analog conversion requires demigod-like expertise and best-in-class audio equipment. The process involves digging into studio-quality OG copies of digital audio tracks to find, preserve, and amplify those tracks at high fidelity.
Original digital tracks contain abundant sound data, which makes for high-quality sound. The problem is, most of it gets squashed or lost when recordings get compressed into low-byte, easily streamable formats, like .mp4. A&K makes its passion for sound quality clear, calling the compression process “scarification.”
You can pre-order Astell&Kern’s 25-gram, titanium-bodied dual DAC and amp USB-C cable from the company at MSRP $149 or put a request in with one of the company’s retail partners.