Astell&Kern launches powerful flagship digital audio player for well-heeled music lovers
Astell&Kern has been striking fear into the wallets of mobile music lovers for a few years now, putting out high-spec portable audio gear with a hefty price tag. And so it is with the company's A&ultima SP2000 flagship, which was launched at High End Munich last week.
If you're wanting to listen to music on the move, there are portable players to suit every budget, taste and ear. The Astell&Kern A&ultima SP2000 is aimed far, far away from the cheap and cheerful MP3 device end of the market, but comes with some impressive specs that might just make it worth saving up for.
The SP2000 features an octa-core processor, and double the internal storage of other Astell&Kern players, at 512 GB – that's enough room for more than 8,000 FLAC format tracks. But if you do look as though you're running out of space, microSD card expansion is possible.
Astell&Kern completely redesigned the op amp and analog amp block configuration to make the most of the two Asahi Kasei AK4499EQ Digital-to-Analog-Converters in a dual mono arrangement, so arranged to deliver a wide soundstage and improved stereo separation. The player supports high resolution PCM audio formats up to a whopping 32-bit/768 kHz, as well as native DSD512 (22.4 MHz) playback, without compression or loss, And there's support for MQA audio, too.
Loading tracks from the internal drive or streaming over dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi is controlled via a 5-inch, 720 x 1,280 pixel touchscreen display that should prove big enough for clearly displaying album art while the music is playing. There's Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX HD support cooked in as well.
The SP2000 is able to put out 6 V RMS for balanced and 3 V RMS for unbalanced outputs thanks to separate, independent audio channels between the outputs – a first for Astell&Kern players. And its 3,300 mAh/3.7 V Li-ion battery should be good for up to 10 hours of playback per charge.
The A&ultima SP2000 is due for release in July for US$3,499. If that's a little rich for your taste, but you still want to carry a new Astell&Kern player around, the Kann Cube will be available in June for $1,499.