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Astell & Kern AK UW100 – Do this earbuds justify its price tag?

AK UW100
AK UW100

Given its luxury status, the Astell & Kern AK UW100 earphones aren’t outrageously costly. Also, it’s priced to compete with the recognized class leaders.

On paper, the AK Hi-Fi TWS UW100 is a combination of ‘excellent specification’ and ‘noticeable specification omissions’ as the company’s first set of truly wireless earbuds. In reality, the sound they produce will be impressive enough to make anyone. However, they are the most dedicated box-tickers that overlook these flaws. When it comes to pure sound quality, these Astell & Kern earbuds and earphones are among the greatest true wireless designs available – at any price.

Price and Availability

Astell & Kern AK UW100

The Astell & Kern AK Hi-Fi TWS UW100 earphones are now available for $299 / £249.

You’d need more than two hands to count the number of pairs of similarly priced, exhaustively detailed, and high-performance competitors available at this pricing. From Apple and Bose to Sennheiser and Sony, not to forget savants like Bowers & Wilkins and Grado, everyone has a product in direct rivalry. Astell & Kern’s decision here is either brave or dumb – can you predict which?



Anyone who is familiar with Astell & Kern’s incredibly competent. However, the exorbitantly priced, line of digital music players will recognize the company’s distinct design approach. And, despite the fact that truly wireless earbuds are compact and functional, A&K hasn’t passed up the opportunity to mark the UW100 with its own style. At least, as much as is feasible.

A&K has used its signature shadow and light’ angularity on the outside surface of the earphones, as well as on the lid of their charging case. The end product is a set of earphones that are as unique as they can be. They’re also notably larger and heavier than usual, weighing 0.25 ounces.

On the interior, the UW100s have a high-resolution AK4332 32-bit digital-to-analog converter. Also, a pair of high-end balanced armature drivers from Knowles. Each of these elements is more potent than is typical in goods like this and demonstrates how concerned Astell & Kern is about audio quality.

Although it appears at least on paper to be a little less concerned about eliminating extraneous impacts on that audio quality. The UW100 lacks active noise cancellation. Instead, the business makes big promises about the efficiency of passive noise isolation offered by the snug fit of the earphones…

Comfort and Fit


Despite its size, the UW100 is quite comfortable to wear and secure in place. Some of this is due to the ‘twist-and-lock’ positioning approach recognizable from any non-Apple earbud, and some are due to Astell & Kern’s five-strong assortment of variably sized ear-tips. The smaller-eared among us may find the UW100 too big to be a viable option. However, the rest of us may be certain that these earbuds are as comfy as any comparable competitor.

Sound quality 

Astell & Kern AK UW100

There’s no denying that these Astell & Kern earphones sound fantastic. It’s unclear if this is due to the resilience of their wireless networking, the high-end quality of their DAC, the uncompromised engineering of their drivers, or a mix of all three. It’s the end product that matters, and the end result here is quite stunning.

These Astell & Kern earphones provide a surprising amount of detail. Even in recordings, you believe you know, the UW100 will pluck out and notify you of ephemeral details, subtleties, or nearly non-existent nuances. They’re incredibly informative. However, they’re not analytical or clever about it they just extract each scrap of information available in a digital audio file and provide it to you.

The UW100 hits solidly and powerfully, with little sensation of overhang, at low frequencies that are deep and astonishingly quick.

There’s bite and shine at the top end. To avoid high treble sounds glinting uncomfortably, pair these earbuds with a decent quality source player and the highest quality audio files for optimum performance. Even with normal sources and materials, though, things never fully reach hardness. And in between, the mid is the star of the show. The extraordinary amount of detail exposed allows vocalists to express themselves fully, resulting in voices that are full of character.

The UW100’s shortcomings, such as they are, have little to do with the sound it produces. The much-touted passive noise isolation turns out to be “OK-ish,” but you’ll never be free of external noise incursion, even if the way the earphones fit helps. That’s all there is to it.

Battery life 

Astell & Kern AK UW100

A total of six hours stored in the theAstell & Kern earphones themselves, plus 3 full charges in the charging case, results in a total charge time of 24 hours. If the worst should happen, a 10-minute burst of mains power will provide another hour of playback. Charging may be done wirelessly, using any Qi-certified pad, or using the charging case’s USB-C port.


Astell & Kern AK UW100

First and foremost, there is no voice-assistant compatibility. Control is nearly exclusively provided through the capacitive touch surface on each earbud. All of the standard controls are present, such as ‘play/pause, “skip forwards/backward,’ ‘volume up/down,’ ‘answer/end/reject a call,’ and so on, making the UW100 a breeze to use.

There’s also a control app. However, the term “control” is a bit misleading. Here you may check the battery life, select one of five EQ presets, reconfigure the settings of the Touch controllers, and toggle ‘ambient mode’ on or off. ‘Ambient mode’ amplifies external noises, and there are four levels of strength available if you choose to enable it. So, although it’s valuable software in terms of functionality and stability, ‘control’ — at least in terms of playback — isn’t something it gets engaged in.

Call quality and Connectivity 

The UW100 has Bluetooth 5.2 wireless connectivity and is compatible with SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive codecs, as well as multipoint compatibility, which allows users to link the earphones to two devices at the same time. The microphone array that handles ‘ambient mode’ also handles telephone — and it’s more than competent. Wind noise is well muted, as long as your connection is adequate. The UW100 is a perfectly acceptable means to make and receive calls.


If you want ANC and a comprehensive feature set in your earbuds, search elsewhere – there are plenty of perfectly good true wireless in-ear headphones that tick every box. However, if you want the most full, convincing, and straightforwardly pleasurable sound that money can buy, and provided your ears are appropriately proportioned, the Astell & Kern AK UW100 should be at the very top of your wishlist.

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