A hi-fi design that has been inspired by Switzerland’s Matterhorn – such is the unique approach of Astell&Kern. The milled aluminium facets on the front faces of each separate of the AK500 stack reference the mountain by “capturing the imagery of its rock surfaces”. Well, when the design is as striking and beautiful as this, Brogue does not care one jot how it came about – especially when the system itself is just as impressive when it comes to performance. The high-resolution network player on top shuns mains power, opting for the interference-free current of an on-board battery resulting in less than 1 percent external noise. It also does one-click CD-ripping, DSD audio file playback and boasts up to 4TB of storage space for those large hi-res audio files. In the centre is a 100W per channel power amp, and at the bottom resides the 1,100W power supply because, as mains electricity is not entirely stable, A&K has given the system its own “purer” power supply, which makes the sounds it produces purer. Finally, Brogue particularly admires the LED light bar on the side, illuminating those Matterhorn-esque features.
Astell&Kern £16,000 (out late summer 2015)