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Longer-lasting Astell&Kern UW100MKII step up on sound

Artisanal audio crafters Astell&Kern have unleashed their second-gen true wireless earphones, promising even better battery life and superior wireless sound to compete with the best wireless earbuds around. The UW100MKII also build on their predecessor with streamlined looks and clearer voice calls.

Like the first-gen UW100, the MKII foregoes any sort of active noise cancellation. The focus is instead on the best possible audio quality for the cash, courtesy of 32-bit DACs, full-range balanced armature drivers, and aptX Adaptive streaming support.

New for 2023 are a redesigned acoustic chamber and tweaked circuit design, which apparently help reduce distortion and excess noise, while also improving signal strength. Your device connection should now stay stable when streaming at the highest bitrates.

The uprated internals have helped boost battery life, too – though we’ve no clue if that’s because A&K have found room for larger cells, or if the hardware is now more power efficient than the outgoing model. Either way, you’re looking at nine and a half hours of continuous listening (up from six on the original UW100), with the charging case able to boost that figure to a total 29 hours. Ten minutes of juice is enough for an entire hour of extra play time. The case also supports wireless charging for cable-free top-ups.

The UW100MKII have the same pentagonal design as before, only with a new metal finish which A&K says mimics scattered stars in the night sky.

There’s multipoint pairing and Google Fast Pair for easy setup on Android smartphones. The built-in touch controls can be customised through the A&K companion app, which also includes a 10-band equaliser for personalised audio. Qualcomm’s 8th-gen Clear Voice Capture tech is on hand for voice calls, stripping out background noise and focusing on your voice so whoever’s on the other end of the line can hear you clearly.

The UW100MKII true wireless earbuds are gearing up for an October launch, for $280/£269/€280. Music lovers will be able to snap up a set directly from Astell & Kern, as well as all the usual retailers.

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