Today we are taking a closer look at the new Diana monitor from Astell&Kern and JH Audio.
Disclaimer: The Diana was sent to us for the purpose of a review. Astell&Kern is not affiliated with Headfonia and not a site advertiser. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity.
The Korean DAP manufacturer Astell&Kern has been around since 2014 and has been since then the driving force of reinventing the portable audio player market. Ever since their first product, the AK100, they have been on a mission to make the best possible DAPs, and if you ask me, they have succeeded.
A&K is a subsidiary of the famous iRiver brand. The company that rose to fame with their excellent and wildly popular mp3 players. With that extensive knowledge they have launched an uber-high-end brand for the niche market that is headphone enthusiasts.
Astell&Kern not only brings us portable audio players alone, no, they have also been collaborating with other big industry players such as Crystal Cables, Beyerdynamic and Jerry Harvey Audio. They have released a number of cables, headphones and In Ear Monitors with these three brands, and continue to do so. Together with JH Audio, Astell&Kern has launched their Diana IEM, the monitor of honour for this review today.
Diana is a triple balanced armature design with a three way layout. It features JH Audio’s patent pending FreqPhase technology and their newly introduced acoustic bore and chamber design, which we already found in the Billie Jean. It’s basically an external sound chamber on the nozzle that starts after the bores have ended.
It has an impedance of 18 ohms and no declared sensitivity. I found the Diana very easy to drive to loud volumes, and definitely easier than the most of my other IEMs. Diana is available in two different colour combinations: red/gunmetal and black/gunmetal.
The Diana can be acquired by any authorized Astell&Kern dealer around the globe for 699$, or from the Astell&Kern online store if there is no dealer or distributor in your area.
Since my unit came without any retail packaging I can only comment on the contents by looking at the photos of Astell&Kern.
When purchasing a set you will get of course the IEMs, an eight wire silver and copper cable terminated to a 2.5mm balanced connection, a pigtail adapter to 3.5mm stereo plug, three pairs of silicone ear-tips and a Van Nuys carrying pouch.
I find the pigtail adapter and 2.5mm terminated cable is a nice idea, as most modern DAPs come with a balanced output you don’t have to get an aftermarket cable just for that. AK provides. The selection of ear-tips is rather steep for my taste, as ear-sizes are usually very different. Additional tips would have been very welcome if you ask me. Maybe throw in some extra foam tips for people who like the extra isolation.
Build Quality and Comfort:
I’ve said it in the Picture Sunday post about the Diana already, but this is the nicest built universal IEM I have held in my hands – period. The full metal body consists of two pars, the gunmetal bottom and the striking red top. The combination oozes of luxury to me and I can’t help but think of an engine when looking at the Diana.
On top of the face plates you’ll see the respective logos of AK and JH Audio. Even these two are perfectly machined out of the aluminium. There is nothing that would raise my concerns about finish and build quality. It’s simply outstanding.
The nozzle of the IEM is longer than most others I’ve come across, the reason for this is the external sound chamber that adds a good two to three millimetres to the length. When the ear-tips are on the nozzle you won’t notice their size anymore, as then it looks just like a regular long one.
What I find a bit confusing about the Diana is the alignment of the 2-pin socket. Unlike every other 2-pin I have seen so far it’s orientation is rotated by 90°. This makes it very hard for cable-rollistas like myself to connect a different aftermarket cable.
Fit and comfort wise the Diana again wins, it fits my ears very well and I can get a good seal with the provided medium sized tips. Diana goes in deep when it comes to insertation. It blocks out noise well enough. Though I wouldn’t expect isolation levels like the ones from a CIEM.
The review goes on on the next page.