The current True Wireless headset market has “forked” in a very clear way. Technology companies make products…with many technologies, well compatible with each of their ecosystems. Audio brands that can’t keep up with state-of-the-art features apply their years of experience to upgrading the quality of music reproduction.
In the second case, we have seen an example of Noble with the Noble Falcon Pro seriesand now another famous audio company is also entering this market, Astell&Kern with the UW100.
As a new product, the packaging of the UW100 is still very similar to many of A&K’s products, still a rather “mysterious” black box.
The set of accessories in the box includes the user manual, warranty paper, short Type-C charging cord and 5 pairs of rubber cushions.
This pair of headphones makes an impression from the very beginning in the design of the charging box. The lid of this box is four triangles that intersect disproportionately, with a silver tone that reflects light in different directions.
This charging box can provide the headset with 3 full charges, with each charge being used for 6 hours, for a total of about 24 hours. This duration is not outstanding, when Noble or some Chinese firms have reached 50 – 70 hours with a similar box size.
Opening the box, we again find the unique design of the charging box continued on the pair of headphones inside. The outside of the UW100 pair is made in a rounded pentagon, also with asymmetrical triangles.
I really like this design, in a “forest” of pairs of True Wireless headphones with the same design, Astell&Kern still finds a way to stand out. This angular design is also quite similar to its line of music players!
As mentioned, this pair of headphones does not have active noise cancellation, but the company relies on active noise cancellation. As a pair of earbuds themselves, the UW100 also has the ability to block noise at a good level, but it is difficult to keep up with the AirPods Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM4.
Another point that users will also have to accept with the UW100 is that this pair of headphones has a slightly large design. When worn on the ear, the outer part protrudes from the ear quite a lot, so it certainly cannot be worn when lying on the bed, sometimes wearing a helmet is also a bit awkward.
However, the feeling of wearing on the ear is comfortable, ergonomics is still well done by Astell&Kern on all pairs of wired headphones, so it is not surprising that they do well on the UW100.
The commendable point lies in the fact that Astell&Kern has developed a control software for the UW100 on smartphones. This software must be said to be quite beautiful, bringing all the things users need including adjusting the Ambient Sound feature (listening to the environment), Equalizer, adjusting the feeling operation to the end of 1 screen.
So the most important part, what Astell&Kern still offers to advertise the UW100 is the ability to reproduce sound? A little bit about configuration issues, this pair of headphones uses Bluetooth 5.2 with CODEC apt-X Adaptive, Qualcomm QCC5141 signal receiving chip, a 32-bit DAC and directly produces sound with a Balance Armature diaphragm from Knowles .
Regarding the DAC issue, the 32-bit parameter is not too important because the limitation of Bluetooth 5.2 apt-X Adaptive can only transmit up to 24-bit only, the point to pay attention to is the signal coming to the diaphragm. will be handled better than other pairs of headphones.
The point that I feel most worried about for the UW100 before listening again lies in the problem of the diaphragm, when it has only 1 BA membrane. This type of driver is small in size, often used in clusters of 3 or 4 or combined with a traditional Dynamic diaphragm to play the full range of sound. Quite a few pairs of headphones with 1 BA before have thin sound “like a piece of rice paper”, very jarring and hard to hear.
Fortunately this did not happen with the UW100, it seems Astell&Kern has also picked up a good enough quality full-range BA. But to say this is a pair of headphones for thick sound is still wrong, because when compared to the common ground, the UW100 is still in the thin and slightly light direction.
This means that the bass is not the strength of the UW100, it just stops at just enough volume, and the impact does not make much of an impression. With Pop songs with bass, mostly bass guitars and gentle drums like How Long of the Charlie Puth The A&K UW100 can still meet it, but when it comes to “heavy” songs like The Fat Rat, this pair of headphones seems to be out of breath.
The strength of the BA driver lies in the detail in the mid and high tones, and this is probably also the purpose of A&K when designing the UW100. Switch to jazz songs with more piano and vocals like So Nice of the Diana Krall UW100 does much better than Dance, Pop songs. The female vocalist’s voice doesn’t go straight forward, but thanks to the fine enough detail, it’s always clear.
Similar to that is the high sound, this range is well done by the UW100 with the cymbal, hi-hat sounds all coming out and seeing the sharpness as heard in real life. The BA driver is very easy to make high-pitched sounds, but the UW100 has a moderation in this range, enough for it to stand out but not to be difficult to hear.
Astell&Kern and Noble’s approach to sound quality in their two pairs of high-end True Wireless headphones is completely different. While the UW100 pursues a clean, slightly thin sound, Noble and the Falcon Pro pair create a V-shape sound, making a faster and stronger impression. This is also easy to guess because Falcon Pro, besides the BA driver, also has a Dynamic diaphragm for bass.
Not a bad start
Despite having a lot of experience in creating traditional audio products such as music players and wired headphones, Astell&Kern is still entering the True Wireless market with the UW100. Because of that, the company still needs to improve more on battery life, add a little bass to make the sound thicker and, if possible, add active noise cancellation – a feature that audio companies are still trying to figure out. lacking in recent times.
On the bright side, this is not a bad start for A&K. The company shows off its striking design “DNA” on the looks of these headphones, providing good detail reproduction and also has a fully featured software.
Product review provided by SVHouse