What can we say about Astell & Kern’s admirable catalog of high-resolution portable music players? Luxury meets innovation? It is true, at all levels. That the South Korean class leader’s work includes some of the best MP3 players around? Correct too.
And now there’s a new kid in town, an update to the fantastic Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T, namely the SP3000.
Featuring what A&K tells us is a “reinvented user interface”, the A&ultima SP3000 is also the world’s first portable player with a watch-grade 904L stainless steel body and the latest high-performance audio circuitry. Essentially, 904L stainless steel is a premium metal that has never been used in a portable player – until now.
Although this particular beast was crafted from metal beloved of luxury watchmakers for the first time – yes, it’s extremely durable and yes, it’s corrosion resistant – like its older siblings, it’s always an object of brutal beauty.
A&ultima SP3000 is also the world’s first digital audio player with dual independent audio circuitry. This complete separation of balanced and unbalanced output delivers “the purest sound reproduction possible” – as you can see, A&K isn’t shy about this one.
It is also the first to use Asahi Kasei’s new flagship AK4499EX DAC chip, used in the innovative HEXA Audio Circuitry structure that separates digital and analog signal processing.
Other spec highlights include 256GB native storage expandable to 1TB with the microSD memory card slot, three headphone ports (3.5mm, 2.5mm and 4.4mm), USB-C charging (A&K says you’ll get around 10 hours of it) plus a Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 Octa-Core processor and support for high-res aptX HD and LDAC wireless streaming.
Opinion: He’s the player dreams are made of – and that’s before we even get to the new screen…
The SP3000 can play just about any high resolution file format, with support for all key formats (including MQA, Native DSD 512) and streaming service connectivity. Oh, and it’s also Roon Ready. Even if it fits in the hand, I’m sure it could become the talent hub of your living room hi-fi system.
But perhaps the most striking new feature is that A&K’s stunning watch-style rotating crown dial now joins a new 5.46-inch high-definition display and next-gen on-screen interface, which brings should make it easier than ever to find and enjoy your favorite tunes, including through Tidal and Apple Music, my access to streaming services when Hi-Res Audio is on the menu.
Astell & Kern’s unique Teraton Alpha technology has also been refined for the SP3000. The technology combines effective power noise suppression, efficient power management and unwavering amplification, along with a fully converted audio output interface. The Hexa DAC structure and dual independent audio circuitry, first implemented in the SP3000, are paired with the Teraton Alpha sound solution to deliver incredibly authentic sound here – something that will have audiophiles everywhere seated. and take note of it.
And to top it off, the SP3000 comes with a premium leather case to protect and showcase the beauty of the 904L stainless steel body. It is made by Alran, a company that has been making leather by hand since 1903 in Tarn, France. This case is developed with Alran’s unique Hand-Boarding technology, which apparently involves rubbing the leather in different directions using wooden boards, so that the user can feel the texture of the surface.
The Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000 is available for pre-order now. Prepare for the prices (and save for Christmas), as they are: $3,700 / £3,799 / AU$5,499 / NZ$6,499.
Oh, what if you really want to invest in hi-res portable audio, A&K collaborated with high-end in-ear monitor company Empire Ears to produce Odyssey, possibly the finest next-gen IEMs I’ve ever seen.
Considered the perfect in-ear partner for the A&ultima SP3000, the Odyssey is a handcrafted, high-performance wired in-ear monitor that combines a scintillating, multi-layered design with the latest audio technologies from both renowned brands. to promise clear, precise and powerful sound thanks to its 10-speaker Quadbrid system… yes, all in one earphone.
You get two W9+ subwoofers, five balanced armature drivers, two electrostatics and a W10 bone driver, with a seven-way synX crossover network and an EIVEC MKII engine that seemingly harmonizes all 10 drivers for consistency and synchronization. perfect in a remarkable frequency of 5 Hz to 100 kHz. frequency response range.
The Odyssey is priced at $3,400 / £3,499 / AU$4,999 / NZ$5,799.
We’ve yet to hear these objects of hi-res audiophile beauty. But watch this space…