Astell & Kern UW100MKII Review Leave a comment

In the headphone world, Astell & Kern are best known for their players. But they also make some impressive IEMs, though true wireless technology is a relatively new avenue for them. What can you expect from the UW100MKII in terms of design and performance? And does it live up to the Astell & Kern brand?

What’s in the Box?

  • UW100MKII earbuds
  • Charging case
  • 4 sizes silicone ear tips
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Warranty card
  • User guide

Look and Feel

While the design sports the retro-futuristic aesthetic that A&K’s players are known for, the build is just a tad bulky. Though the charging case is smaller in this iteration, there’s still a robustness  to the design, and the shells look pretty big in the ears when compared to competing models. But this is unsurprising given the high-performance DAC under the hood. I had no issues with comfort, and the natural sound isolation was quite effective.

Astell & Kern UW100MKII Review: Best true wireless earbuds on the market?

Astell & Kern UW100MKII Review: Charging case size

Design and Functionality


The UW100MKII employs Bluetooth 5.2 and supports the aptX Adaptive hi-res codec. Pairing was seamless after the first connection, and I never experienced any dropouts, even in a busy city environment.

DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter)

A&K uses 32-bit DAC technology in its design, standing out as one of the few wireless earbuds in this price range that offer this level of digital to analogue conversion performance. You’ll also be able to switch between DAC filters, such as “Slow Roll-Off” and “Sharp Roll-Off”.


The UW100MKII employs touch sensors on the earpieces to control its functions. In addition to activating ambient mode, you’ll be able to navigate all the usual controls, such as volume, play/pause, track skipping and call answering.

Battery Life

You’ll get about 29 hours of total charge from the UW100MKII, with 7.5 hours of playback at a time. This is pretty impressive for a wireless IEM with such a sophisticated DAC, and in terms of battery life, it beats competing models such as the Sennheiser Momentum 3.

Extra Features

The UW100MKII comes with a companion app that allows you to fully customize the equalizer, as well as choose between presets. You can also navigate the various DAC filters and customize tap gestures. Finally, you can choose between different levels of ambient mode, which allows in sound from the outside environment. There’s no ANC, but given the effectiveness of the natural sound isolation, the ANC would be redundant and would also affect the sound quality.

Astell & Kern UW100MKII Review: Design and Features

Sound Impressions


For the most part, the soundstage feels relatively flat, which is unsurprising for wireless earbuds. You won’t sense much height, and the more nuanced differences in depth placement are often hard to discern. That being said, you will get a small taste of forward and behind-sitting instruments, and the stereo field is reasonably wide.


The bass is tight and edgy, maintaining a moderate presence in the mix throughout the low-end.  And even the sub-bass frequencies feel a touch more reserved than you would find in competing models, such as the Sony WF-1000XM5 and Sennheiser Momentum 3. But the bass is certainly clean and textured, revealing plenty of low-end detail and grip.


I should note that there’s an ever so slight veil over the mids that you forget after a while. But especially when you first start playing music, this mildly cloudy quality can be noticeable. That said, the level of resolve is impressive, and certainly, the quality DAC seems minimize any hint of compression that you often find in wireless buds. There’s plenty of meat on the bone in the mids, and you’ll get that grand, all-encompassing feel, even if the upper-mids are slightly favored. Finally, there’s a mildly refined quality to the sound that feels very A&K-ish. So certainly, the brand’s somewhat fluid sonic quality is present in this sound signature.


The highs have decent transparency, although detail in the top treble registers can sometimes feel a tad smoothed over. Overall, this is an easy-listening high-end that never feels too sharp. On the flip side, you can expect more snap than sparkle, and there’s a richness to the highs that gives a bit of weight and color to the tone.

Final Verdict

Although I found few faults with the UW1000MKII, it may not be my favorite wireless model in this price range, considering the notably expansive soundstage of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 and the plethora of extra features offered by the Sony WF-1000XM5 companion app. Still, the presentation in both sound and design is unmistakably Astell & Kern. So, if you’re a fan of the brand, it’s likely that you’ll gravitate towards these unique earbuds.

You can buy the Astell & Kern UW100MKII at Audio 46.

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