This is an interview we’ve had with Dave Jang the head of Astell & Kern. Enjoy.
Being a Korean company does it mean the AK products are produced in Korea?
Astell&Kern DAP has been produced in Korea for various reasons. As you all know, DAP is a core product among the Astell&Kern product category, which all state-of-the-art technology is integrated and therefore production and development place should be close enough to be controlled efficiently.
More than anything, we are not willing to sacrifice our core value to get price advantage in any circumstance.
AK is considered as the Rolls-Royce of portable players. What is it in your own opinion what makes them so special?
I regard it as the belief in Astell&Kern’s sound quality.
Astell&Kern has its own patented sound solution which makes our sound different from our competitors even though they use the same DAC and many audiophiles recognize it by their experience. And another reason for strong customer loyalty in Astell&Kern comes from our market-leading technical innovation in which every new model has. There are many technical innovations we had introduced first in the market and we are adamant about timeless R&D.
The whole high-res audio thing I still pretty young but MP3Players have been around many years, what many people don’t know is that Ak belongs do iriver a pioneer in the MP3 movement. Did this give you a big technological advantage over all the others?
Astell&Kern brand was launched in 2012, which means that we have researched DAP to deliver original sound for 9 consecutive years but something people are missing about it. There is a legacy, all the know-how for developing Mp3 players, that we inherited from Iriver, which is established in 1999. In short, many know-howsacquired from MP3 players provide background for the technology of Astell&Kern.
In other words, I can easily bump into engineers who have been working for over 15 years at office.
AK uses its own user interface system which is a big advantage in our opinion not being distracted by typical android stuff. Does it mean that users still can have all the common cloud streaming services like Spotify and Tidal? Do these also work offline?
Astell&Kern has been trying to provide a variety of enjoying original sounds for users and apk feature is one of several efforts. Merits and demerits of the full android system had been considered and AK would listen to the voice of customers all the time.
What about ROON?
Astell&Kern is improving its products and services by reflecting the voices of customers, and this is the main reason that Roon Ready was supported on the SP1000 & SP2000. We also consider the possibility of the product expansion to the desktop audio equipment in the future then our users will have more choices to organize and enjoy music that suits their taste. We are glad that Astell&Kern became the world’s first DAP that supported Roon Ready.
The SP2000 is the undisputed king of audio players. Now that the AKM factory burned down: Does it mean we have to wait for the next flagship?
As I explained in the previous question, DAC is not the only fact determines sound quality. Power, noise, signal conversion, circuit structure, etc. all affect the sound signature. AKM factory burned down is a pity but it doesn’t mean that there will be no flagship without AKM DAC.
Are there any other project you like to share with the community?
Many Astell&Kern products in different category will be launched this year including this month.
The first information about Astell&Kern’s product launch will be available on our official Instagram (instagram.com/astellnkern.official) and I would like to share the story behind Astell&Kern brand through my personal Instagram(instagram.com/dave.astellnkern) too.