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Astell & Kern combines drivers for high-end Zero1 earphones

Marrying planar magnetic drivers and balanced armature, Astell & Kern’s “Zero1” could just find a way to satisfy ears of all kinds. If not for the price.

One of the more complex pairs of earphones is on the way out for audiophiles, and it has a very distinct make up. It’s not like any other pair we’ve seen before, that’s for sure, and that may make it ideal for those looking for something that stands out in all the ways that matter for your ears, less so for your eyes.

It’s coming from a brand that’s no stranger to complex audio ideas, and some very unusual designs, at that. Astell & Kern’s latest take on earphones seems squarely focused on folks who demand perfection from their headphones, but need a dual-pronged approach to getting it, with the Zero1 more or less being just that.

In fact, connecting with the saying “more or less”, these earphones kind of feature more in less, with three driver types inside one complex earphone, creating something a little bit different.

Called the Zero1, it’s an Astell & Kern creation that includes a small planar driver, a regular dynamic driver, and dual-balanced armature driver on each side of the earphone to deal with the complexities of sound, and try to achieve a balance.

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The planar driver is made on a very small scale, so much that it’s called a micro rectangular planar dynamic driver, resulting in something not often seen at small scale since planar headphones are often large over-the-ear things.

A&K’s driver is joined with two others to keep distortion low, the focus is on sound technology designed to work with each other for something very, very different.

The Zero1 will come with a cord, as this is not your standard wireless earphones, not initially, anyway. A&K is using the MMCX cable technology, which means the Astell & Kern Zero1 can be disconnected from its standard cable and joined with something else, with Bluetooth options appear, though the brand is also launching an optional 4.4mm cable in the PEP11, adding an extra $189 to the package if you’re someone who uses the recent audiophile jack standard.

Otherwise, the AK Zero1 will come with their own similar high price, arriving November at specialist stores across Australia for $999.

Leigh :) Stark

A technology journalist working out of Sydney, Australia, Leigh has written for publications including The Australian Financial Review, GadgetGuy, Popular Science, APC, PC & Tech Authority, as well as for radio and TV since 2007.

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