CES 2017 • Hot Product

Portable-audio specialist Astell & Kern showed its typical product line as well as its full-sized (and full-priced) home system. But this year’s newer products were in the ultra-portable market -- a high-resolution smartphone DAC being the most eye-catching.

The $189 AK XB10 adds Bluetooth capability, allowing you to skip the physical connection between your smartphone and this DAC. The device supports the aptX HD Bluetooth codec, which supports 24-bit audio resolution, as long as your smartphone also supports aptX codecs. The .8-ounce device had both 3.5mm unbalanced and 2.5mm balanced audio outputs.

The upper surface acts in one plane as a volume control and in the other plane as a mute and play/pause control -- a novel feature to be sure.

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