Astell & Kern has made a name for itself in treating digital audio files with the utmost respect, producing products that are capable of playing lossless music in the best form possible.
That includes the AK120 portable Hi-Fi system that is sort-of an iPod for high-end audiophiles or the step up AK240, but the range has now stretched beyond portable devices to the living room in the form of the AK500N network audio player.
The science fiction style box is a DLNA network server and stereo amplifier in one, plus it has housings for up to four SSD drives for up to 4TB of storage. It can then be used to rip CDs in the best format possible (WAV or FLAC) and play them back through its digital or analogue audio outputs or stream them over Wi-Fi around the home.
The aluminium unit even houses an built-in battery for music playback in order to prevent noise created by the AC power supply unit from interfering with the output. It also converts PCM files (32 bit/384KHz WAV or 24 bit/352KHz FLAC) in real time to DSD64 (Direct Stream Digital) data without any down-sampling.
Astell & Kern kit never comes cheap and at £8,999 the AK500N is no exception. I can be operated via apps for Android and iOS and it can also playback music stored on a PC or NAS drive.
It will be available from January and you can find out more from A&K's website astellnkern.com.