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Astell&Kern talk A&Ultima SP1000, modularity, MQA

  • A&Ultima SP1000 is the new flagship player from Astell&Kern: Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ chipset; one DAC per channel for “wider soundstage and better stereo separation”; Octa-Core CPU for faster boot time, more responsive GUI (redesigned and now running on a 5″ ‘HD’ screen); greater output power; lower distortion; USB C connector for faster file transfer; 12 hour battery life. Stainless steel model (US$3499) available mid June. Copper version to come in July.

    That’s the news but what’s the story?

    As evidenced by their spaceship-like booth at Munich High-End 2017 – and every year larger than any other DAP manufacturer – Astell&Kern are leaders in their field: digital audio players. Like the KANN before it, the SP1000 reflects Astell&Kern’s greater responsiveness to community feedback. The people want less lag from their DAP’s GUI and more output power from its headphone socket.

    Here we see the camera-shy Owen Kwon talk us through the SP1000’s basics:

    Note: Kwon confirms that MQA support is “a matter of time” but, more interestingly, that Astell&Kern will open up the SP1000’s modular platform so that third party manufacturers may bring clip-on modules to market. For example, juicier external amplifiers or ADC/field recorders.

    Further information: Astell&Kern

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    One Comment

    1. Did you get a chance to have a listen? I’d like to get your impressions.It sure is pretty but it is huge compared to the AK240, I guess they have so much more to squeeze into the form factor.

      I’m a huge fan of Astell & Kern, I’ve owned three of the devices AK100MK2, AK120 and AK240.

      I use the AK240 on a daily basis and I’d love to get the SP1000, however I find it to be cost prohibitive and it has now driven the value of the the AK240 further down the secondary market. I’m not sure if I could be tempted to get the AK380.

      I suffer from FOMO when it comes to new shiny devices, I guess I’ll have to dream about owning one of these.

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