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Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module
Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module

Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module

With the Astell & Kern SEM3, Astell & Kern presents another module for the Astell & Kern A&futura SE180 and its modular concept. The focus here is on signal processing that uses four ESS ES9038Q2M DACs.

The new Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module is now another option available for the Astell & Kern A&futura SE180 to flexibly adapt the sound character or the technical features to one’s own needs.

The modular structure of the Astell & Kern A&futura SE180 from the Astell & Kern A&futura Line makes it possible to use different D/A converters and output stages; the manufacturer Astell & Kern refers to this as a multi-DAC concept.

Astell & Kern A&futura SE180 – DAP with Modular Multi-DAC Concept

The specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern presented the Astell & Kern A&futura SE180 in spring 2021 and described it as a solution that leaves hardly anything to be desired even for audiophile users. The main argument for this was the said modular multi-DAC concept, which offers the user the possibility to use different D/A converters and output stages.

Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module
Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module

Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Modules – The Third in the Group

At the time of its market launch, Astell & Kern offered two modules: the Astell & Kern SEM1 All-in-One Module and the Astell & Kern SEM2 All-in-One Module.

As is well known, the Astell & Kern A&futura SE180 is delivered ex works with the Astell & Kern SEM1 All-in-One Module, which uses an ESS ES9038PRO 8-channel DAC that can process signals with up to 32 bits and 384 kHz in Linear PCM format, as well as DSD up to DSD256 natively.

Alternatively, the Astell & Kern SEM2 All-in-One module is available. This uses a dual DAC design based on the AKM AK4497EQ from Asahi Kasei. This DAC is capable of processing signals with up to 32 bits and 768 kHz in Linear PCM, as well as DSD including DSD512 natively.

Now follows the new Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module, which once again focuses on a D/A converter from ESS Technology Inc, namely an ESS ES9038Q2M.

In fact, four of these DACs are used, which is called a Quad DAC Structure.

The module is able to process signals in Linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 768 kHz as well as DSD including DSD512 and also signals encoded in lossy MQA are supported.

  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module

Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution

As with the two previous modules, the manufacturer also refers to this as a solution with Next Generation Amp Technology, which has also been given a new name: Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution.

The new Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One module has both unbalanced and balanced outputs, specifically a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack, a 2.5 mm stereo mini-jack and a 4.4 mm PENTACONN.

The module has two operating modes, namely Normal Gain with 2 V at the unbalanced and 4 V at the balanced output, as well as High Gain with 3 V at the unbalanced and 6 V at the balanced output.

The new Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One module should be available in specialist shops within the next few days, with a recommended retail price of € 479.

Getting to the point

With the modular design of the Astell & Kern A&futura SE180, Astell & Kern is pursuing an extremely exciting concept. This allows the user to access different converters and output stages in order to adapt the possibilities and the sound character of the DAP as best as possible to his own needs and ideas. The new Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module is already the third such module available, using four ESS ES9038Q2M DACs. The Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module thus achieves a more detailed and balanced sound with great depth and spatial realism.

PRODUCTASTELL & KERN SEM3 ALL-IN-ONE MODULE
PriceAstell & Kern A&futura SE180 € 1.799,-
Astell & Kern SEM3 All-in-One Module € 479,-
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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