We've seen swathes of audio devices in our time, but when it comes to portable audio nothing has ever quite stood out like the bonkers but beautiful looking Astell & Kern AK380.
Now this is no Sony Walkman. Crafted from a single block of aluminium, which is anodised five times to give it that dark colour, the sharp angles of the AK380's design have no join lines.
It's also a weighty lump, and super tough thanks to the single piece frame and carbon fibre rear panel, but then this show-off showcase from the audio company is hardly going to be lobbed in a back pockets for a jog around the block (or your private mansion). The £3,300 price tag sees to that.
But this is one high-end and high-resolution audio player. Capable of handling 32-bit/384kHz playback from whichever file format you care to mention, if high-res is your thing then AK has you well and truly covered. Optional accessories include the PEM13 cradle with XLR output so you can wire up best-of-best speakers if you want - so think of it as a full music streamer for the home if that better suits.
The operating system is based on a stripped-back version of Google Android, so the Astell & Kern setup is, much like a modern smartphone, very easy to use. It's mainly touchscreen controlled, with a physical volume dial to the right, and capable of sourcing from any networked device/on-board storage/microSD card - all the options are there, plus Tidal streaming is forthcoming in the coming months we're told.
Perhaps our favourite feature, though, is the parametric EQ with 20 bands which can be manually adjusted. You can even drag and draw curves to tailor the sound exactly as you want it to be. Gapless playback is also available.
Details aside it's the look that continues to take us aback. The AK380 is even available in a copper variant, which perhaps looks even more bonkers - plus that model will oxidise and age over time, turning green-brown. Wild stuff.