So you’ve got a killer pair of headphones, but your weedy smartphone just can’t provide enough power to drive ’em properly? You need a dedicated amplifier to give your tunes a boost – and Korean audio experts Astell&Kern are all to happy to provide. The new Astell&Kern PA10 is a pocket-sized Class-A amp that’ll even outmuscle some top-tier portable media players.
The PA10 uses A&K’s bespoke Teraton Alpha audio processing for what the firm says is “natural, spacious and distortion-free analogue sound” no matter what pair of cans you plug into it. There’s a pair of 3.5mm ports for input and output, along with a pair of 4.4mm ports that can supply balanced sound for compatible headphones.
Crossfeed is handled purely by the onboard circuitry, instead of software trickery, so shouldn’t compromise the sound at all. The analog amplifier can also deliver low and high gain audio, without adding unwanted signal noise to the mix.
The player retains A&K’s signature styling, with an aluminium construction and angular body that closely matches the firm’s range of high-end portable media players. OK, you’ll need sizeable trouser pockets to stash it, but at 325g it’s a whole lot more transportable than a desktop amp, and the over-engineered current, gain and crossfeed switches on the side certainly look the part. There’s also an oversized volume dial at the top, and a grippy geometric pattern on the rear.
The built-in battery should be good for around 12 hours of uninterrupted playback (less if you’re using balanced outputs, or crank the volume to eardrum-splitting levels), and takes about the hours to fully recharge its 4200mAh over USB-C.
Discerning music fans can head to the Astell&Kern website and pick up a PA10 right now. Prices start from £549/$550.