Astell & Kern A&futura SE200

Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 – The world’s first Multi-DAC DAP

iRiver Ltd., the specialist for portable hi-res audio players, presents once again a new solution from the Astell & Kern brand, namely the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200. According to the company, it is the first of its kind to be designed as a so-called Multi-DAC DAP. This means that converters from ESS Technology and Asahi Kasai Microdevices Corporation will be used in a single device.


iRiver Ltd. has been known for years as a proven specialist for portable hi-fi audio players. With the brand Astell & Kern, the company is not only one of the pioneers in this segment, but also clearly defines the premium and high-end segment. Numerous solutions of the last years set standards, this must be clearly stated, and the company wants to secure this leading position in the future, so that with the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 they now present a very extraordinary solution, which according to the manufacturer is so far unique on the market.

According to iRiver Ltd., the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 will be the first portable digital audio player that does not rely solely on one manufacturer’s DAC, but has two on board. The new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 features a D/A converter from the specialist ESS Technology on the one hand, but also a DAC from the no less famous expert Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation, AKM for short. But that’s not all, each DAC of the Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 can rely on its own output stage to really bring out the advantages of the two converters to the best possible effect.

It is interesting to note that the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200, as its name suggests, is not to be found in the manufacturer’s absolute top field. Therefore, iRiver Ltd. has divided the current Astell & Kern brand solutions into the families Astell & Kern KANN, Astell & Kern A&norma, Astell & Kern A&futura, and at the top Astell & Kern A&ultima. The new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 is thus definitely in one of the upper, but not the top, product ranges.

The Astell & Kern A&futura range is of course already referred to as the Premium Line by iRiver Ltd., the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 represents the second model after the Astell & Kern A&futura SE100.

The idea behind the special concept of the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 and its Multi-DAC construction is that they wanted to create a unique solution here, a solution that has never been created by anyone before, and which can achieve the optimum in reproduction in two “flavours”.

Here, as described, two completely different D/A converters are combined, specifically an AKM AK4499EQ and two ESS ES9068AS, not leaving it at that, but relying on two different output stages to bring out the characteristics of the two D/A converters and their filters to the fullest. The user can even access the filters, so that the signal conversion and sound characteristics can be adjusted to suit his or her own preferences.

This even goes so far that for each of the two DACs output stages are available for unbalanced and balanced outputs.

At the heart of the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 is an Octa-Core processor that provides sufficient power for signal processing including smooth navigation via the 720 x 1,280 pixel touchscreen display. In its core, the new DAP once again works with Google Android, of course, but the user doesn’t notice a thing, since only the special interface New Blue UI from Astell & Kern is accessible. Selected apps can still be installed, for example to access various streaming services. The manufacturer refers to this as the Astell & Kern OpenApp Platform.

The internal memory of the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 is equipped with 256 GByte, whereby it can of course be expanded using microSD cards. These cards can have up to 1 TByte as storage capacity.

WiFi according to IEEE 802.11n as well as Bluetooth 4.2 are available for connecting to the outside world. In the latter case, aptX and aptX HD are supported in addition to A2DP and AVRCP. Of course, a USB-C interface should not be missing, which is primarily used to charge the integrated battery of the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200, but also to use the player as an outstanding D/A converter on a Mac or PC. In addition, you can also simply transfer data to the player.

Speaking of data, the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 is capable of processing audio data in Linear PCM format with up to 32 bits and 384 kHz, with DSD it supports native processing of content up to DSD 256. Content in MQA can of course also be processed with the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200, this should not be forgotten at this point.

The case of the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 presents itself in noble aluminum as well as ceramic applications on the front and back, whereby the manufacturer speaks of Moon Silver. In addition to the touchscreen already mentioned, keys are also available for the most important functions, as well as a rotary encoder on the side. This is equipped with an LED lighting, which can shine in different colors, in order to indicate directly, whether contents are displayed in 16 bit, 24 bit, 32 bit or DSD.

As we have already mentioned, the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 offers both unbalanced and balanced output stages per DAC and thus, of course, corresponding connections. In total, this results in no less than four headphone connections, i.e. one 2.5 mm 4-pin balanced per DAC, plus one 3.5 mm stereo mini jack as unbalanced output.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the integrated 3,700 mAh 3.8 V lithium polymer battery of the Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 should deliver a playing time of up to ten hours when using the AKM DAC. If the DAC from ESS Technology is used, a playing time of up to 14 hours is available. Charging the battery should take about two and a half hours.

The new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 measures 76.9 mm in width, 132.2 mm in height, and 15.8 mm in depth and weighs 274 g.

According to the manufacturer, the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 should be available shortly. The company is talking about a worldwide delivery in July 2020.

Getting to the point

According to iRiver Ltd., the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 will be the first portable digital audio player that does not rely solely on the DAC of one manufacturer, but has two on board. Thus the new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 features a D/A converter from the specialist ESS Technology on the one hand, but also a DAC from the no less highly praised expert Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation, AKM for short. But that’s not all, each DAC of the Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 can rely on its own output stage to really bring out the advantages of the two converters to the best possible effect.

Manufacturer:iRiver Ltd.
Distribution:Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Price:US$ 1.799,-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

code