From the onset of Astell and Kern, the products have come across as complete, both in performance, ease of use, ergonomics, and integrity of design. A new company never seems to cross all those T's and dot all of those i's. From the limited purview of the audiophile, we were gobsmacked by their first two offerings,(the AK100 and AK120).
As it turns out, there is quite of bit of manufacturing maturity in Astell and Kern. A and K is a subsidiary of iRIver, (which has had their hot hands in a number of portable units) and iRiver was started by 7 Samsung employees in 1997. So it makes sense that Astell & Kern's first forays into the portable market have the maturity and gestalt of a mature industry leader. Being a South Korean Company with HQ's in the S. Korea, the US, China, and Japan...and a manufacturing capacity of 10 million units a year in China, with 1,000 employees in their plant. It should be noted that iRiver makes more than just portable devices, also producing Tablet PCs, Smart Phones, E-dictionaries, Healthcare devices, and Smart phone accessories. Jae Woo Lee is the CEO overseeing all areas, while US operations are led by Owen Kwon in Irvine, CA.
With a forward thinking company, and lots of experience in their background, we're interested to see what more A and K will come produce. Thus far, we love their players and their outlook.