Astell&Kern AK Jr
Simple version? It just so sounds so much more real than your phone is ever going to – and that includes the particularly impressive Sony Xperia phones I’ve tried, which themselves put the iThings in the shade as a means of driving favourite in-ears or ear-muffs.
This is a remarkably well-sorted little player, requiring no allowances to be made for its compact size and (...by A&K standards) affordable price. It looks and feels the business, being both stylish and seemingly built to last, is slim enough to fit in any pocket, and yet will drive big cans – or very high-quality in-ears – to a remarkable standard.
Junior by name, but very grown-up by nature, the precocious child of the Astell & Kern family is perhaps its most impressive offering to date...