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 – Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces the SE180, the third model in its award-winning A&futura series and the audio specialist’s first player to feature interchangeable all-in-one DAC modules. Expanding on the multi Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC) innovation first introduced with the SE200, music fans can now customise their sound with different audio-flavoured DACs to find the hi-fi-grade sonics that suit their music profile.
Introducing Teraton Alpha Sound Solution Technology
The A&futura SE180 is the company’s most advanced player yet and is the first model to boast Astell&Kern’s Teraton Alpha Sound Solution technology, a result of extensive research and development by Astell&Kern. The patented technology by Astell&Kern enables audio playback to be produced to be close to the original sound, as the music artist and producer intended.
It also effectively removes power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification right through to the audio output interface stage where the digital-to-analogue signal conversion takes place – an audio technology Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected over the years.
New Level of Flexibility – Interchangeable DAC Modules
The new A&futura SE180 features an innovative interchangeable DAC design that not only offers a new level of audio flexibility for the user but also improves the sound performance. By physically separating the main body from the all-in-one module, power and radio frequency (RF) noise generated by the main unit is completely blocked. This creates an independent structure that prevents noise from interfering with music playback.
The A&futura SE180 comes with a default module – the SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO, an 8-channel DAC traditionally used for premium home audio equipment. The included DAC provides a wider dynamic range and greater detail, while audio file support is extensive for high-resolution fans, with the SEM1 DAC capable of playing up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and native DSD256 files.
The SEM1 module slots easily into place from the top of the SE180 player and features an innovative double locking mechanism that securely connects each component. Both pieces are expertly engineered, and designed to fit seamlessly. Another module – the SEM2 Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ Dual DAC will be the first optional module available with the ability to play files up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512.
Both modules support 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone connections for accommodating a greater variety of headphones and in-ear monitors (IEM), while there is support for MQA playback via downloaded MQA audio files and through 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).