Cirrus Logic CS43198
Dual DAC Chip
PEE51 is easily my favourite Dongle DAC. It gives you the Astell&Kern signature sound at a very affordable price, and you can pair these with IEMs that are upwards of Rs 1,00,000, and it's hard to believe how much detail and power you’re getting from a device this size.
POWERHOUSE USB-C DOUBLE DAC FOR HIGH DEFINITION SONIC EXCELLENCE
Designed to complement Astell&Kern's series of Digital Audio Players, the PEE51 lets you enjoy the dynamic and lifelike high-definition sound on your computer and Android mobile phones without using a high-end sound card. The PEE51 features two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHIFI DACs that support Hi-Res audio playback including native DSD256 and 32bit / 384kHz.
INDIGENOUSLY DEVELOPED AUDIO CIRCUIT FOR STABLE AND UNRIVALLED PERFORMANCE
Putting years of experience to best use, Astell&Kern has designed a highly intricate circuit on a small and 6-layered 14 x 41 mm printed circuit board (PCB). Even the micro resistors and tantalum capacitors used in the PEE51 are indigenously developed by Astell&Kern. These are capacitors that are used in the A&K DAPs, and they optimise audio circuits to reduce fluctuations leading to overall stability and unrivalled sound quality.
AN INDEPENDENT ANALOG AMPLIFIER TO ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY COLOURIZATION & DISTORTION
The power of CS43198 DACs is combined with an independent analogue amplifier to deliver highly authentic sound reproduction. This chip allows you to enjoy a dynamic and clear sound that is free of colourisation and distortion - just the way artists intend their music to sound. The PEE51 is compact and drives even high impedance headphones with an output level of 2 Vrms.
ENJOY ASTELL&KERN SOUND SIGNATURE ON YOUR ANDROID SMARTPHONES AND COMPUTERS
Offering the widely used USB-C connector, the Astell&Kern PEE51 is compatible with almost all the latest Android smartphones, tablets, Windows 10 computers and macOS. You can connect headphones to the PEE51 with a 3.5 mm connector. The PEE51 lets you discover the Astell&Kern sound signature using your audio devices. From full-size headsets to in-ears, you connect a host of headphones that support 3.5mm 3-pole and 4-pole plugs. Kindly note that 4-pole earbuds with inline controller and microphone functions are not supported.
ROBUST 4-CORE SILVER-PLATED COPPER CABLE FOR NOISE-FREE SOUND REPRODUCTION
Empowered with a custom 4-core cable for precise sound reproduction, the PEE51 improves disconnect resistance. With reinforced aramid fibre, the PEE51 can resist a tensile force of up to 200 Newton. This thick cable consists of spiralled silver-plated copper wires wrapped around a centre Technora Aramid core to eliminate external noise. This copper wire also helps to deliver clean and rich surround sound. There is unique shielding on these cables that eliminates distortion and noise in digital and analogue signals coming from the playback device.
"LIGHT AND SHADOW" THEMED ELEGANT DESIGN THAT BALANCES BEAUTY AND COMFORT
Featuring the "light and shadow" design, the USB-C DUAL DAC utilises a unique design that has been fundamental to Astell&Kern products. This design consists of a single centerline that crosses from right to left. The ratio of the angles is optimised to ensure that the sharp portions of the four top faces coincide at a single point. Reflection on each side of the design follows the movement of light. The surface is polished to make one-hand use more comfortable. Reflecting on the durability of other Astell&Kern machines, the PEE51 uses robust metal elements.
KINDLY READ THROUGH THE FOLLOWING PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES FOR BEST USER EXPERIENCE
Considering limitations of hardware, software and the overall system some of the devices might not be able to function perfectly with the Astell&Kern PEE51. iOS devices like iPhones and iPads are not compatible with the PEE51 currently while some Android devices may need changes in settings to work efficiently. If you are using the PEE51 with a computer, the computer will automatically install the required driver. However, a separate installation may be required for high-end audio playback. This extra installation file can be accessed from the Support-Download section of the Astell&Kern global website. Kindly note that to play hi-res audio files like DSD and PCM on your smartphones you will need a separate free / paid application that is compatible with high-definition audio playback.
It is advised to get the volume level checked before connecting headphones to the PEE51 as there are chances of some devices having maximum volume by default. When you are using the PEE51 with an Astell&Kern player as an external D / A converter the volume will be set to the highest, by default. Listening to music on high volumes can damage your listening. Astell&Kern does not recommend using the PEE51 with Astell&Kern players. Firmware updates may be available from time to time to enhance stability and performance. Visit the Support-Download section of the Astell&Kern global site to get more information on updates and to check if any update is available.
|HOUSING MATERIAL||Zinc alloy|
|DAC||Cirrus Logic CS43198 x 2|
|SAMPLING FREQUENCY||PCM: Supports up to 32 Bit / 384kHz / DSD
Native: DSD64 (1 bit 2.8MHz),
Stereo / DSD128 (1 bit 5.6MHz),
Stereo / DSD256 (1 bit 11.2MHz),
|INPUTS||USB Type-C (for Windows 10, Android Smartphone & Tablet PC, macOS)
(Not compatible with iPhones and iPad)
|OUTPUTS||3.5 mm headphone|
|AC SPARK INSULATION||USB Plug: 17 mm [W] x 50 mm [H] x 10.3 mm [D] / 3.5 mm
Headphone: 12 mm [W] x 20 mm [H] x 8.2 mm [D]
|WEIGHT||approx. 25 g|
|FREQUENCY RESPONSE||± 0.030 (Condition: 20 Hz ~ 20 kHz)|
|SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO||118dB @ 1 kHz, unbalanced|
|THD + N||0.0004% @ 1 kHz, unbalanced|
|IMD SMPTE||0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4: 1), unbalanced|
|OUTPUT IMPEDANCE||2 Ohm|
|OUTPUT VOLTAGE||2 Vrms|
|BOX CONTENTS||1. Astell&Kern PEE51|
|GENERIC NAME||Headphone Amplifier|
|COUNTRY OF ORIGIN||Korea|
|IMPORTER DETAILS||Importers Name: Ferrari Video
Address: 63/18, 1st Main Road, Gandhi Nagar, Chennai - 600020
Contact No: 044-24420733
The Ultimate Hi-Fi Audio System
The word Astell means Stars in Latin while the word Kern means Centre and together
Astell&Kern means the centre of music. Astell&Kern products are the perfect pick for Hi-Fi audio
aficionados. Due to the advancement in recording technology, music can be recorded digitally while sounding
as true as a live performance. But most of the time, these high-quality recordings are heard in inferior
audio formats such as MP3 which compromises with the sound quality. Additionally, the soundstage aspect of
the sound is completely lost in the MP3 formats. Therefore Astell&Kern came into existence to address
this issue to revive the amazing sound quality for musicians and audio professionals.
The brand has core values such as: High-Resolution studio quality sound in
audio device, Audio quality without compromise, Design & Engineering Excellence, Craftsmanship & High Quality Materials, State of the art Technology and Innovation at every release.
Specialist Hi-Fi Brand in Digital Audio Player Market
Astell&Kern dedicatedly works on providing naturalistic sound without any kind of distortion so that listeners can hear even the minutest details of a song which they would have otherwise missed. Furthermore, Astell&Kern prides itself on using only the absolute best DAC chips from AKM, ESS or Cirrus Logic. Each DAP is unique and crafted to the highest quality standards.
A Popular Choice for Hi-Res Audio
AstellKern believes in playing Hi-Res music matching the quality of the recording.
This ability to deliver a sound which is close to the live performance is the highlight of Astell&Kern.
This standard of sound quality has been used in audio exhibitions around the world and is appreciated by
audio lovers across the world including the USA, China, Japan, UK, France among others.
All Astell&Kern DAPs employ high quality materials from Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Copper, and Brass. Made in South Korea, all their DAPs provide an overwhelming Power Output based on BAL 2Vrms~12Vrms.
1 Year Warranty
Don't sweat it, this Astell&Kern - PEE51 comes with a warranty
from Astell&Kern that covers manufacturing defects.
All products featured on Headphone Zone are backed by an original manufacturer's warranty.
Read more about Astell&Kern's warranty in India.
"Dual DAC Cable ultimately showcases greater refinement in both feel and listening than even its premium competitors, its higher output impedance in particular makes it a far more situational buy."Read More
If u pair any DAC with Android USB-C port ,the maximum transfer limit is 16bit/48khz..you may need to use players like USB Audio Player pro app for full bandwidth but again this app does not support streaming apps except tidal for now..
Hope this helps in purchasing any DAC specially for android.
Hey, thanks for sharing this honest feedback, we really appreciate it!
The design of the dac looks futuristic and it has got a solid built quality. The sound is crisp and has a lot of details that you miss otherwise. In this era where phones have stopped coming with a 3.5mm headphone jack, this is the best thing you can get to listen to your favourite music. To get the most out of this dac I would suggest not using the usual android driver but instead buy an app called USB Audio Player Pro which integrates tidal and other apps inside it. This give a lot more detail and clarity. You can feel a big difference in terms of sound output, clarity and the wide soundstage.
I didn’t find any youtube review which is detailed on this DAC, waited for 6 months before purchasing. On paper the specs are good but unable to find any solid review on sound quality and thought of trying it out myself. This DAC is on my wishlist for a very long time and as there is discount and exchange policy, I found the courage to buy. My interest is in the sound signature of A&K with dual CS chips implementation with explicit amplifier. (I already liked Sonata Tempo Tec HD Pro which has a single CS chip)
First, the Good:
1. Build, nothing like this on market. Amazing feel in hand.
2. Vocals, wonderful on some tracks. Forward Vocals.
Rest, the Bad:
1. Volume is non-linear
2. Equilizer is needed for many tracks
3. Not for all kinds of music
1. Volume: Volume increments are not equal. On Apple iOS below 80%
and on Android below 60% is equal, after that it is LOUD, painful. Apple 80% is same as Android 60% in volume perception with this dongle. Issue is below the limit it is not sufficient and above the limit its unbearable. Rarely you will find the sweet spot. If you are someone who listens at low volume or you have only KZ IEMs then you wont cross the percentage limit and can be happy. But I am not happy. Either if they implemented well or provided volume buttons this can be manageable on phones. On mac volume issue is not there.
2. Equilizer: Treble is high, you feel like adjusting it for each and every track to make your music sound nice. Without EQ you will feel like sounds are uneven between vocals and instruments of higher freqency(treble). I felt like to touch EQ frequently is complicated and inconvenient. On both macs and phones EQ is needed.
3. Limited: Not good for all kinds of music. Good on predominantly Vocals(both male and female). Indians cinema music is a fusion of vocals and instruments. This dac is not able to balance them out of the box.
The vocals are so good that you will feel like to go near them intimately by incresing volume and out of blue some unwanted high frequency instrument intrudes like it stabs you in the heart. All tweaks starts here to avoid this, like changing volume, EQ, cables, tips, sample rates, devices, etc. Success comes rarely on few tracks on mac and then they are enjoyable. On phones the luck is low due to above issues.
Also good with instruments like flute, violin, guitar, lute, etc which fall under vocal’s mid range. But the window is very little, outside that every sound appears a little harsh. So good for classical music like violin sonatas, etc. with very few instruments in mix.
Good to Know:
1. Documentation says it wont work on IOS devices. But it can work on latest iPads with usb-c port and also on iPhones with non-apple adapter. Apple lightning to usb camera adapter doesn’t allow more power so it is not useful (Yes, Apple charges 3000 INR and wont work but other good adapters which cost less and works, I used Meenova lighting adapter which is around 1300 INR and very good.)
2. It gets warm while playing but on few occasions like hot pan.
3. Good on Macbooks, not on mobile phones. (I didn’t try on PC)
Many times I felt the in-built mac DAC and other dongle DACs are better than this one.
I have Helm-bolt, Sonata Tempo Tec HD Pro, ifi Zen DAC, FIIO BTR5. Never I worried about volume or equilizer issues on them. And they wont sound bad when there is a bad recording/mix, they try to make it musical to some extent.
I used Moondrop Aria, SoundMagic E80c, KZ ZAS, KZ ZSN Pro, KZ Zex Pro(CRN), Blon 03 IEMs with this DAC.
I checked with Samsung Galaxy M51, Poco F1, iPhone SE (2nd Gen), iPad Air with usb-c, M1 Macbook Pro.
People who have patience and dedicated interest in vocals (or limited mid range) can give it a try on Macbooks and can feel surprisingly good. Others can ignore this DAC.
Not suggested for beginers as the pain is more than the gain. Wont sound great or enjoyable out of the box. Better to wait for a revised version in future. (if any)
For beginers, I recommend Sonata Tempo Tec HD Pro as first DAC. It has CS chip signature, more musical (non slapping treble) than this one, costs half, works with any kind of music, no issues on mobile phones and also good with KZs IEMs. If the budget is around 1k then try VE Abigail. If budget is around 10k then try Hidiz S9 Pro.
I can understand adjusting EQ for IEMs but adjusting EQ for DAC is a no-no for me. A lot of time is wasted tuning it and to get the sweet spot.
Thanks, Headphonezone for helping me with the return, your exchange policy is especially useful in these kinds of cases. Without the return policy, I would be furious and have felt like cheated due to the hype and marketing around this DAC. On paper it's good with specs, and the images are gorgeous, but the important aspect of sound and usability is not at all good in my trial. (I tried to submit with “Verified Review” but got “Token Expired” message. Therefore poste...
I've used a couple of USB dacs over the years and this one beats them all by a pretty good margin. The sound is slightly trebleish but I really mean slightly. It is clear, detailed and the bass especially is precise and not scattered if you know what I mean.
Build quality and design wise they get even more points than the sound quality. Extremely well built. You can feel the heft and solidness when holding it. The sharp angles on the metal body are a nice touch. The design and build really belies the price.
This also works on ipad pro with the usb c port. I noticed that the power envelope is different when using this on ipad/Android phone vs when using on PC. It seems to sound slightly better and can be driven to a higher volume when used with pc. The volume range was almost linear when using with PC but on mobile it wasnt. When on Android the volume is just adequate around the 65-70% mark but increases a lot past the 75% mark in a non linear way. Nothing uncomfortable but just a little quirk I noticed.
First things first - Don't expect wonders from this DAC for all your recordings. It can be a pleasure to listen to clean recordings - say Tool's Fear Innoculum. But songs like Rush's Afterimage or Riverside's Panic Room sound terrible - the lower mid range distortion is magnified and you have to spend some serious time tweaking the equalizer settings to suppress the distortion. Using USB Audio Player Pro, the bit perfect mode was disappointing. Basically, almost every album requires some Equalizer tweaks, so you spend way too much time optimizing the settings, as opposed to enjoying the music - which can be frustrating. For comparison purpose: the Sony NW - A105 DAP or the BluSound streamers sound warmer, and more musical. Overall, this is a pretty good DAC as long as play the right kind of music/recording, and are patient with it.
3.5 stars for the audio quality, 0.5 extra for the sturdy build and looks.
Thank you for the honest feedback & thanks for the awesome ratings. Cheers!
I am not a real audiophile like some others here.
I enjoyed this product immensely.
Read my detailed review at https://www.spinningawheel.com/2021/06/3430-astell-and-kern-pe51.html
Would recommend this to anyone without missing a beat (with this you might not miss a beat!!)
Hey Amitabh, thank you for sharing your review.
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