Interchangeable DAC modules anyone? Pick up the A&K SE180
Editor’s brief: If you have had a run with the Astell&Kern A&futura SE100 or SE200 before, you would have loved the design and the audio quality of those. Now Astell&Kern pushes on with a unique A&futura rendition, with the SE180 that features an interchangeable DAC module. The included DAC module is the SEM1, an 8-channel DAC. You can also opt for the SEM2 Asahi Kasei module that scales up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 natively. And if you didn’t like the older Android interface, this latest SE180 should align with your Android expectations.
SINGAPORE – The SE180 is Astell&Kern’s first player to feature interchangeable all-in-one DAC modules, and it is the third model in the company’s award-winning A&futura series. The SE300 is an evolution of the multi Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC) technology introduced with the SE200, allowing music lovers to experiment with different DACs to find the hi-fi-quality sounds that best suit their musical tastes.
Introducing Teraton Alpha Sound Solution Technology
As a result of extensive R&D, Astell&Kern has released the A&futura SE180, their most cutting-edge player to date and the first to feature their Teraton Alpha Sound Solution technology. Astell&Kern’s patented technology allows for audio playback that comes remarkably close to the way the composer, performer, and record label engineers originally envisioned it.
Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected audio technology over the years, and this includes the ability to effectively remove power noise and provide efficient power consumption and amplification right up to the audio output interface stage, where the digital-to-analogue signal conversion occurs.
New Level of Flexibility – Interchangeable DAC Modules
The new A&futura SE180’s sound quality and versatility have both been upgraded thanks to the device’s innovative swappable DAC design. By isolating the all-in-one module from the main body, we are able to shield it from the main unit’s electromagnetic interference (EMI) and power interference. This establishes a separate framework that keeps outside sounds from interfering with the listening experience.
The SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO 8-channel DAC is a common component in high-end audio systems, and it is installed as standard on the A&futura SE180. The SEM1 DAC can play up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and native DSD256 files, so high-resolution audio enthusiasts can enjoy a wider dynamic range and more granular detail.
The SEM1 module, which features an ingenious double locking mechanism that securely connects each component, slides into place from the top of the SE180 player. The two halves are perfectly matched in terms of design and engineering, and they fit together like a glove. SEM2’s first optional module, the Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ Dual DAC, will support playback of 32-bit/768-kilohertz PCM and native DSD512 audio files.
In order to accommodate a wider range of headphones and in-ear monitors (IEM), both modules feature 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm headphone connections, and they are also capable of playing MQA content from locally downloaded MQA audio files and the Tidal music app.
Other new audio design and feature innovations on the Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 modular DAC digital audio player includes:
- Full high definition display for improved image quality: A&futura SE180 is the first Astell&Kern player to boast a full HD display. This 5-inch touchscreen packs a 1920×1080 pixel resolution, 16.7 million colours and 441 PPI, resulting in a clean and sharp user-interface design.
- Enhanced user interface: A&futura SE180 user-interface offers a more consistent experience with an Android smartphone. A new navigation bar pinned at the bottom of the screen allows users to control playback and skip tracks from any screen, while a single swipe returns to the previous screen. Like the SE200, users can also discern the volume level, file type and bitrate being played thanks to the colour-coded LED light surrounding the player’s volume wheel.
- AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers: Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient. The A&futura SE180 is the first model to feature AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers.
- BT Sink function for simpler connection: This new function on the A&futura SE180 enables Bluetooth connection to an external device, such as a smartphone, and achieves high-quality music playback on the Astell&Kern player.
- Expandable memory: A&futura SE180 features 256GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can carry thousands of hi-res albums with them at all times.
Pricing & Availability:
The Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 with the SEM1 DAC included, will be available in Singapore from June 2021 at a retail price of S$2,299 (including GST). SEM2 DAC will also be available from June 2021 for S$549 (including GST). To keep the SE180 pristine, there is also a dedicated leather case for sale to protect the audio player. The SE180 case is sold separately at S$159 (including GST).
All new products can be found at AV One (https://av1group.com.sg), Connect IT, E1 Personal Audio, Jaben, Stereo Electronics, and Treoo.com.