I love music and appreciate the great sound quality. However, there are a lot of people who are fanatical and picky and will go out of their way to achieve the best possible sound quality even when they are on the go. It is precisely these kinds of people that Astell & Kern created its latest model of the Korean company’s A & ultima series.
The A & ultima SP2000T is the latest player from Astell & Kern and the first to feature a Quad-DAC, Replay Gain function and a new Triple Amp system that allows listeners to switch between the different sound characteristics of a normal OP-AMP (operational amplifier) ââmode, an amo vacuum tube and a hybrid amp mode that combines the warm analog performance of a tube amp with the resolution and clarity of an op-amp.
To achieve the sonic flavor of a tube amp, the SP2000T features a portable KORG Nutube dual triode. The amp has an anode grid filament structure that works the same as a vacuum tube or a triode valve. It’s a small component and consumes a lot less power than a traditional tube, but it delivers the same sound with warmth and richness. The Nutube also offers a reliable continuous play time of approximately 30,000 hours with support for the player’s built-in 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone output jacks.
The culmination of Astell & Kern’s expertise, the innovative new Hybrid Mode blends the distinctive sound of a detailed operational amp and expressive tube amp modes, with five options for mixing different ratios of each amp’s sonic characteristics to better adapt to the music being played.
To overcome resonances generated by vacuum tubes that could impact sound quality, engineers at Astell & Kern designed an intelligent modular structure that physically separates it from the printed circuit board. First, the vacuum tubes are secured with flexible silicone covers to minimize mechanical vibration, while the design uses magnetic forces to float the amp in the air to reduce any internal noise.
Other measures have been taken to eliminate electromagnetic interference caused when internal components are operating. This is done by applying a highly conductive, hyper-pure silver plating to existing protective cases for additional defense against disturbances that can spoil sound.
The SP2000T is equipped with four ES9068AS DACs. Two DACs are used per channel and dedicated to decoding. Astell & Kern says the result is more detailed and balanced sound with greater depth and spatial realism. This new model is also the first to offer the Replay Gain feature which automatically and evenly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit / 192kHz, so that playlists can be enjoyed without the listener does not have to constantly seek the volume control.
The SP2000T is the second model to adopt Astell & Kern’s patented Teraton Alpha Sound solution. This is designed to provide audio playback at a level close to the original sound. The on-board DAC is not the only factor that determines the sound quality of a music player: power, noise, signal conversion, circuit structure can all affect the sound signature. Only when all of these are optimized can a player sound as close as expected by the artist and music producer. Teraton Alpha technology suppresses power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification all the way to the audio output interface stage where digital-to-analog signal conversion (DAC) takes place.
Thanks to a Full HD display, the SP2000T can display album artwork in great detail. The 5-inch touchscreen has a resolution of 1920 Ã 1080 pixels and can display up to 16.7 million colors and 441 PPI. The advantage of this type of display is that it looks as good as the screen of a smartphone.
Other new features of the SP2000T include enhanced dual band Wi-Fi support with AK File Drop to facilitate music file transfers over Wi-Fi. smartphone or an FTP program located on the same network to make music management more convenient. The new BT Sink function connects the A & ultima SP2000T to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, allowing high quality music to be played on the Astell & Kern player.
In addition, the A & ultima SP2000T features Bluetooth 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones. There is also support for 24-bit aptX HD and LDAC codecs, providing the highest possible Bluetooth wireless sound quality. There’s also 256GB of built-in storage which can be expanded up to 1TB using a microSD card, allowing users to carry thousands of high-resolution albums with them.
Price and availability: The The Astell & Kern A & ultima SP2000T digital audio player is priced at Â£ 1,999 / $ 2,399 / â¬ 2,299 and will be available for purchase from October.
More information: www.astellkern.co.uk and www.astellkern.com
- Triple Amp System takes portable music to a new acoustic level.
- Vacuum tube amplifier compatible with 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm output jacks.
- Equipped with ESS ES9068AS QUAD-DAC for balanced and ultra detailed sound.
- New TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology.
- The Replay Gain function evenly adjusts the playback volume from sound sources up to 24-bit / 192kHz.
- Dual band Wi-Fi support for improved wireless connection.
- Internal mechanical design to minimize noise.
- Support for apt-X HD and LDAC Bluetooth audio codecs