The IEM market is going through a massive period of transition as true wireless earphones have taken over the category. The technology in a lot of passive IEMs certainly makes for a superior listening experience, but the vast majority of consumers want wireless earphones. Astell & Kern have certainly demonstrated that they know how to build reference quality DAPs; the South Korean brand has dominated the luxury DAP market for years. But can they deliver on the IEM side?
They’ve demonstrated that they can collaborate with custom IEM brands like Jerry Harvey Audio but at a rather steep asking price.
Do they have anything truly unique below $700 that can compete with brands like Campfire Audio, Audeze, and Sennheiser?
The brand new AK Zero1 IEMs which will be available soon for $699 USD are a hybrid design and look quite interesting.
So what’s so special about these for $700?
The Astell & Kern Zero1 Hybrid In-Ear Monitor utilizes three different types of driver tech; a “Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic” Driver, two balanced armature (BA) drivers, and one 5.6mm dynamic.
- Three Different Types of Drivers
- Perfectly Harmonized Driver Structure
- Highest Cross-Over Network Management
- Acoustic Chamber created using 3D Printed Technology
- Precise CNC Machined Metal Housing
- Hi-Fi Grade Pure Silver-Coated OFC Cable
- Hand Crafted in Japan
The Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver is a specially developed driver with highly advanced technology that allows a planar driver, normally a very difficult driver to scale down, to be applied to in-ear monitors.
Astell&Kern adopted a sturdy and lightweight planar membrane to minimize frequency loss and applied a vibration panel that features a high-polymer film with thin metal to create crystal clear high frequencies.
Two BA drivers are made using custom coil parameters and offer crystal-clear vocals with super-low distortion.
A 5.6 mm Dynamic Driver ensures rich, controlled and deep low frequencies.
An ideal frequency response was created through the Cross Over Network, which is designed based on a thorough understanding of each driver’s parameters.
Each driver is then carefully placed in the optimal 3D position, enclosed in specifically designed acoustic chambers manufactured with precise 3D printing technology. This eliminates unnecessary movement and resonance of the drivers to ensure stable performance.
The housing, which is designed with Astell&Kern’s unique advanced aluminum-refining technology, keeps resonance to a minimum and creates the highest-quality sound.
The AK Zero1 comes with a Hi-Fi Grade Pure Silver-Coated OFC 4 Core Cable with 3.5mm headphone jack.
The Pure Silver-Coated OFC cable maximizes the performance of the Hybrid IEM AK Zero1. It has been exquisitely crafted with high-purity silver plating and copper, and the aluminum plugs compliment the IEM housing. MMCX connectors provide a quality, long-lasting stable connection to the AK Zero1 earbud.
A 4.4mm balanced cable for the AK Zero1 will be available for purchase separately in November 2021 for $199.
Accessories include five (5) pairs of silicone ear tips and one pair of foam ear tips to provide the best fit and a leather carrying case.
For more information: Astell&Kern Hybrid IEM