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Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T – DAP with outstanding Triple AMP System

The new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is said to be a portable hi-res audio player that combines state-of-the-art features such as the Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution, a triple AMP system and an ESS ES9068AS Quad DAC, with a tube-based output stage standing out in particular.

With the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T, Astell & Kern once again expands the already very well-equipped Astell & Kern A&ultima Line with another outstanding portable hi-res audio player, a so-called DAP. This is clearly at the top of the product line, above the previously available models Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000, Astell & Kern A&ultima SP1000 and Astell & Kern A&ultima SP1000M.

In principle, the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is based on the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000, but the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T goes even further, because it has a tube-based output stage as an essential innovation, whereby one can now even choose between three operating modes during playback.

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T – Based on the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000

The new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is based on the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000, which means that it already has an extremely exciting set of features, but is still intended to raise the playback of audio data to a completely new level, according to the manufacturer’s promise.

In essence, it is a portable hi-res audio player that is capable of playing back content in a wide variety of formats. The spectrum ranges from MP3, Ogg Vorbis, APE, AAC and WMA to ALAC, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DFF, DSF and MQA.

The signal processing allows resolutions in Linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 384 kHz as well as native DSD signal processing up to DSD512.

Of course, the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is a DAP (Digital Audio Player) that uses the Google Android operating system, but all solutions from Astell & Kern are designed in such a way that the user does not actually see this operating system, but is presented with a specially developed user interface.

The manufacturer does not reveal which processor the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is based on, only that it is a quad-core CPU with 256 GB of NAND memory. A slot for microSD cards is available for own content. Storage media with a capacity of up to 1 TByte are supported, which is more than enough space to always have your own media library with you when you travel.

In addition to a USB-C interface for data exchange or use as a portable D/A converter, the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T naturally also offers Bluetooth, namely Bluetooth 5.0 from the specialist Qualcomm, so that LDAC is also supported in addition to aptX and aptX HD. A special feature here is Astell & Kern BT Sink, a function with which, for example, a smartphone can be connected via Bluetooth to the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T in order to enjoy playback directly from the smartphone via the high-quality converters and the output stage of the portable hi-res audio player.

  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000TFoto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T

A WiFi module according to IEEE 802.11ac is available for integration into the network. This not only allows direct access to various streaming services, but also streaming in the network, the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is also equipped with Astell & Kern AK File Drop. Audio data can thus be transferred particularly easily to and from the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T.

Elegant Design in Onyx Black

Of course, the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T also presents itself in the familiar design of the Astell & Kern A&ultima Series, whereby the housing is made of stainless steel and shines in Onyx Black. The Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T measures 141.1 mm in height, 78.1 mm in width, and only 17.5 mm in depth, and thus weighs in at 309 g.

The front is occupied entirely by a display, which is the central user interface. This is a 5-inch FHD touch display with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

A rotary encoder and a few buttons on the sides serve to support the intuitive operation.

For headphones, there are three connection options: a classic unbalanced version in the form of a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack, but also a four-pin 2.5 mm jack and a 4.4 mm PENTACONN, whereby the latter two are of course designed for the balanced connection of headphones.

It should be emphasised that the 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack can also be used as an optical S/PDIF interface.

A USB-C interface is available for data transfer via cable, which also serves to charge the integrated battery. This is designed as a 4,200 mAh 3.8 V lithium polymer battery and should allow a playing time of up to nine hours. It can be charged in 3.5 hours using a mains adapter with fast charging, whereas the usual 5 V for USB charging takes around five hours.

Quad DAC for highest perfection

The signal processing of the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is done by a so-called Quad-DAC configuration. In fact, four ESS ES9068AS DACs are used, i.e. two D/A converters per channel, which, according to the manufacturer, can achieve a particularly detailed, dynamic sound free of any artefacts and with a minimum of noise.

Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution

Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution was already an important feature of the last models introduced. The manufacturer refers to this as Next Generation Amp Technology. This new Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution should not only refer to the special amplifier circuitry, but also include the audio interface as an interface between D/A converter and amplifier, as well as the power supply of the amplifier stage.

Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution is Astell & Kern’s ultimate sound solution for creating faithful audio reproduction through effective noise reduction, efficient power consumption and uncompromising amplification via the audio output interface, the company says of this new technology.

  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T

Triple AMP System

A very special feature of the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is the Triple AMP System, as the manufacturer emphasises. First of all, there is an output stage built using the finest OP amps, but the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T also has a tube output stage based on the Korg Nutube 6P1. This is the second option, and the third variant is a so-called hybrid mode, which is supposed to combine the best of both worlds.

Astell & Kern speaks of an extremely clear and dynamic reproduction in the OP Amp Mode, whereas the Tube Amp Mode delivers a unique warm and round sound. The Hybrid Amp Mode represents a fresh combination of retro vibes and high-resolution output, according to the company.

By the way, just as Astell & Kern visualises the different resolutions of the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T by means of different colours of an LED strip – 16 bit, 24 bit and 32 bit – the respective amp mode is now also displayed, red for the OP amp mode, orange for tube amp mode, and turquoise for the hybrid amp mode.

Finally, it should be mentioned that Astell & Kern speaks of a particularly high-quality construction for the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T, for example, that everything has been done to prevent microphonic effects in the tubes used. The tubes are mounted on their own circuit board, which is fixed with flexible silicone covers. The shielding inside has also been optimised once again, whereby the company speaks of Silver Plating Shield Can.

The new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T should be available in specialist shops within the next few days. The recommended retail price is € 2,499.

Getting to the point

With the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T, the specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern wants to offer an outstanding solution in the field of portable hi-res audio players. The new flagship of the Astell & Kern A&ultima Series shines first and foremost with a new tube-based output stage, whereby the user can choose between three modes – OP Amp, Tube Amp or Hybrid Amp. A Quad-DAC setup and Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution should also contribute to the fact that the new Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T is a true high-end solution. The T in the name stands for True-sound philosophy, Timeless value, Triple Amp System and Tube Vintage Vacuum Tube Amplifier.

PRODUCTASTELL & KERN A&ULTIMA SP2000T
Price€ 749,-
BrandASTELL & KERN
ManufactureriRiver Ltd.
Distribution AustriaAudio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Distribution Germanyheadphone.shop GmbH
Distribution SwitzerlandPortacomp AG
More about this manufacturer at HiFi BLOG

About Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.com, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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