Editor’s brief: When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. South Korea is the bosom of Astell&Kern (AK) and it recently launched its latest SP2000T, successor to its previous SP2000. The latest SP2000T features Quad DAC, Replay Gain, and Triple Amp System, with the amazingly warm Tube amp mode to give nostalgic folks (and those craving for warm sound) the feel of “vacuum tube” sounds. Read more below.
SINGAPORE – Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces its newest member of its A&ultima series, the SP2000T, now retailing in Singapore.
Building on the class-leading sound of the A&ultima SP2000, this latest player is the first to feature a Quad-DAC, a Replay Gain function and a new Triple Amp System allowing music fans to switch between the different sonic characteristics of a normal OP-AMP (operational amp) mode, a vacuum TUBE AMP and a HYBRID AMP mode that combines the tube amp’s warm analog performance and Op-Amp’s high-resolution clarity.
Next Generation Amplifier Technology
Boasting the most advanced amp technology of any portable player, SP2000T owners can toggle between three-amp modes to find the optimal sound to suit the music they are listening to. Based on the set-up from the original SP2000, the OP-AMP configuration offers ultra-clarity and a dynamic playback. Switch to the TUBE AMP mode and the uniquely warm and musical audio associated with vacuum tube amplifiers will be revealed.
To realise the sonic flavour of a vacuum tube amp, the SP2000T is equipped with the portable-friendly dual-triode KORG Nutube. Featuring an anode grid filament structure that operates the same as a triode vacuum tube, this smaller component consumes far less power, yet delivers the same audio with rich overtones. The Nutube also offers a reliable continuous playback time of approximately 30,000 hours with support for the player’s onboard 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone output jacks.
Best of both AMP worlds
The culmination of Astell&Kern’s rich amp design heritage and expertise, the new innovative hybrid mode brings together the distinctive sonic DNA of the detailed OP-AMP and expressive TUBE AMP modes, while providing five options with different mix ratios of each amp’s sound characteristics to best serve the music being played.
Special Internal Design
To overcome internal microphonic resonances generated by the vacuum tubes that can seriously impact sound quality, Astell&Kern’s audio engineers painstakingly designed a clever modular structure physically separate from the PCB (Printed Circuit Board). Firstly, the vacuum tubes are fixed with flexible silicone covers to minimise any mechanical vibration, while the design uses magnetic forces to float the amp in the air to reduce internal noise.
Further steps are taken to eliminate electromagnetic interference caused when internal components are in operation by applying highly conductive, hyper-pure silver plating on the existing shield cans for extra defence against these sound performance affecting disturbances.
Quad-DAC for superior sound
The SP2000T comes equipped with four ES9068AS DACs, with two DACs per channel dedicated to decoding. The result is a more detailed and balanced sound with great depth and spatial realism.
This latest model is also the first to feature Replay Gain functionality that automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.
Introducing Teraton Alpha Sound Solution Technology
Following on from the A&futura SE180 player, the SP2000T is the second model to adopt Astell&Kern’s patented Teraton Alpha Sound Solution. The result of extensive research and development, it is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound. The onboard DAC is not the only factor that determines the quality of sound from a DAP: Power, noise, signal conversion, circuit structure all affect the sound signature. Only when each and every one of these elements are optimised, can a player produce sound as close as the music artist and producer intended.
Teraton Alpha technology 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 (DAC) takes place – audio technology Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected over the years.
Other features include:
- Full HD display: Album artwork pops from the screen with the A&ultima SP2000T boasting 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.
- Connectivity: Alongside with improved dual-band Wi-Fi support, the SP2000T features 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.
- New Bluetooth function: The new BT Sink function connects the A&ultima SP2000T to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the Astell&Kern player.
- Quality wireless sound: A&ultima SP2000T boasts Bluetooth® 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.
- Big on memory: The A&ultima SP2000T harbours 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.
- Vacuum tube amplifier compatible with 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm output jacks
- Replay Gain function uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz
Pricing & Availability:
The Astell&Kern SP2000T will be available in Singapore immediately at a retail price of S$3,699 (including GST), and can be found at AV One (https://av1group.com.sg), E1 Personal Audio, Headphones.sg, Jaben, Stereo Electronics, and Treoo.com.