Astell & Kern is writing history again and this time not about one of their high end portable players, but……. about the iPhone (or other smart phone)
While the iPhone is often used as portable player, we all know that the sound is not to write home about, but since non of us can’t live without their smartphones, it is often a way to go.
Astell & Kern solved that problem and come up with a state of the art tiny amplifier/DAC that makes the sound of the iPhone not only amazingly better, it also gives the possibility to listen to your favourite headphones, weather they’re ‘in ear’ or ‘over the ear’ large headphones. But that’s not all, since the little XB10 connects wireless, via Bluetooth 4.2 to the iPhone, you only need to plug in your favourite headphones in the XB10 and you have a high fidelity, Wireless connection with your iPhone.
The AMP/DAC, is a little round black and really beautifully designed button, that’s not much bigger than a large sports watch and that can be clipped easily to your shirt or jacket. The round unit also features onboard controls, including a power button, volume controls, and playback controls, offering the ability to pause and resume playback and alsowell as skip forward and backward.
Did I say high fidelity wireless? Yes High Fidelity wireless and if that doesn’t sound like music to your ears, with the just released new iPhone 7, that for Christ’s sake, not even has an headphone plug input anymore.
So no need to use those cheap white earbuds that come for free with your iPhone, use whatever you like to listen to, from you high end custom made ‘In Ear’ headset to your Audeze, Beyer, or may be Ultrasone headphones .
Let’s go a bit deeper into what it is, what you get and what you need to do to set it up. Astell & Kern is unique and famous for their high end digital audio players and when the XB10 was announced, I was a little confused and wondered why Astell & Kern would release this product that’s made for smartphones.
The XB10 is not more than a superb made little accessoir that’ll give you great sound, when you don’t have your Astell & Kern player with you. Together with your favourite headphones, the XB10 lets your iPhone sing thru a wireless transmission, but don’t compare it to Astell & Kern’s high end DAP’s. The XB10 is excellent in its class.
In the round container you’ll find the XB10, a cute little instructions book, a cable and a hook to connect the unit to your jacket, bag or belt. In the back of the XB10 is a little slot, closed with a rubber strip. To attach the clip, the rubber needs to be taken out. Very well designed I must say.
On the side there are two headphone inputs, one normal 3.5mm and one 2.5mm balanced. So even with your balanced headphones, you can listen to your iPhone.
When a phonecall is coming in, it is an iPhone after all, the music is paused right away, so the user can take that call using the built-in microphone. This is really a smart option, since there is no need to take off the headphone, no matter which headphones are being used!
The XB10 will set you back around US$ 190.-, and it should be available worldwide in October.