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Astell&Kern

Head-Fi Hero: Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 redefines the headphone amplifier with digital audio player capabilities

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium high-resolution audio devices has redefined the headphone amplifier with the introduction of the ACRO CA1000. Expertly combining high-performance amplifiers with digital audio player (DAP) capabilities in an incredibly compact desktop and carriable-friendly form, the powerful ACRO CA1000 delivers the optimal performance from any type of wired headphone. An array of digital/analogue inputs and outputs also ensures the ACRO CA1000 can be at the heart of any hi-fi set-up and become the ultimate system for head-fi fans. This system represents Astell&Kern’s fundamental philosophy of delivering as close to the original sound as possible and enriching the listening experience.

Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 key features at a glance:

  • Powerful headphone amplifier with digital audio player capabilities.
  • Features a four step Gain Level that drives high impedance headphones with a 15Vrms output or below.
  • Features 3.5mm, 6.35mm unbalanced, and 2.5mm 4.4mm balanced headphone output to handle a wide variety of headphones.
  • An array of digital/analogue inputs and outputs ensures it can at the heart of any hi-fi set-up.
  • Onboard ESS ES9068AS Quad-DAC delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound.
  • Supports high-resolution audio playback up native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz.
  • Crossfeed reduces listening fatigue by creating a more natural sound akin to listening to speakers.
  • Boasts Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology.
  • A 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280px touchscreen tilts up to 60 degrees for easy control.
  • Support for Bluetooth® 5.0 provides greater range and a more stable wireless connection.
  • Support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.
  • Built-in battery provides up to 10.5 hours playback.

Headphone amp

To realise any hidden potential and run the most sophisticated and power-hungry headphones a dedicated amplifier is essential. The ACROCA1000 supports a four-step Gain Level setting that can run high-impedance headphones with a 15Vrms (Condition No Load) output level – without deterioration of sound quality.

Equipped with balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm and unbalanced 3.5mm and 6.35mm outputs, the ACRO CA1000 can accommodate a wide variety of headphones. Using ultra-small relay parts, circuits for each output are physically separated from each other to minimise any internal noise interference that can adversely affect the quality of the signal and sound.

DAC magic

A digital-to analogue converter (DAC) contributes majorly to how close to the original recording the listener will experience. With a pedigree of designing and engineering award-winning premium DAPs Astell&Kern knowledge of DAC technology is unprecedented. The ACRO CA1000 arrives with a high-quality, high-performance Quad ES9068AS DAC that delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound without distortion. The Quad-DAC also supports high-resolution audio playback up native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz, enabling the music fan to get even closer to the original studio sound, while revealing musical details never heard before.

First introduced in the A&futura SE180 DAP, the ACRO CA1000 features Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA technology. The result of extensive research and development, this sound solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound through the audio output interface by use of effective power noise removal, efficient power management and amplification with minimal distortion.

The speaker effect with headphones

In a headphone environment where the left and right channels are clearly separated, ear fatigue can increase when listening over long periods. Activate the Crossfeed function and a more comfortable listening experience is revealed. This mode has the effect of blending the left and right channels, relieving ear fatigue by creating a more natural sound akin to listening to speakers. In this setting Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Levels are adjustable according to listening tastes.

DAP credentials

More than just a powerful headphone amp, the ACRO CA1000 also features DAP capabilities, transforming it into the go-to-system for head-fi aficionados. A titling 4.1-inch touchscreen (up to 60-degrees) enables easy control of the player and amp settings with an intuitive Android OS and feature set taken from its award-winning portable DAPs.

Although not entirely mobile as an Astell&Kern DAP, this amp player hybrid system is compact and portable. Equipped with an 8,400mAh large capacity battery, the ACRO CA1000 can provide up

to 10.5 hours playback without a separate power supply. This headphone amp also supports USB-PD 2.0 (9V/3A) fast charging, so anyone with a charger that supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) can experience improved charging times – a one hour charge provides 50% battery, while it takes 2.5 hours for a full charge. A green light on the CA1000 will indicate when USB-PD fast charging is active.

An array of inputs and outputs allows connection of digital and analogue sources to expand the systems capabilities. These include Optical, Coaxial, Type-C USB digital inputs/outputs and RCA analog input/output.

The ACRO CA1000 harbours 256GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can stockpile thousands of hi-res albums. Elsewhere, Replay Gain functionality 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.

Connectivity

A BT Sink function connects the ACRO CA1000 to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the headphone amp.

Elsewhere the ACRO CA1000 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.

Alongside dual-band Wi-Fi support, the ACRO CA1000 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.

Out of this world design

The ACRO CA1000’s beautifully engineered aluminum body shape and the prominent and tactile volume wheel design are inspired by rugged space-age exploration vehicles that power across planetary terrain. The system still retains Astell&Kern’s signature angular shadow and light motif to seamless fit into the company’s bold and aspirational design language.

The Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 is priced £1,999 / $2,100 / €2,299 and will be available from February 2022 from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

General specifications

Body Colour: Moon Silver

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280px touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level:

Headphone Out

  • [Low] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [Mid] Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [High] Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [Super] Unbalanced 8Vrms / Balanced 15Vrms (Condition No Load)

RCA Out

  • 2Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9068AS x4 (Quad-DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Headphone Outputs: Unbalanced (3.5mm, 6.35mm) / Balanced (2.5mm, 4.4mm)

Analog Inputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Analog Outputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Digital Inputs: Coaxial x1, Optical x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Digital Outputs: Optical(3.5mm) x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 4.12″(104.9mm)[W] x 1.77″(45mm)[H] x 5.85″(148.8mm)[D]

Weight: about 919g (32.41oz)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Audio specifications*

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.024dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.018dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced / ±0.048dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) RCA
  • ±0.059dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.056dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced / ±0.048dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) RCA

S/N: 107dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced / 119dB @ 1kHz, RCA

Crosstalk: -105dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -124dB @ 1kHz, Balanced / -121dB @ 1kHz, RCA

THD+N: 0.005% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.002% @ 1kHz, Balanced / 0.0004% @ 1kHz, RCA

IMD SMPTE: 0.0008% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced / 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced /0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) RCA

Output Impedance: 3.5mm, 6.35mm (1ohm), 2.5mm, 4.4mm (2ohm), RCA (2ohm)

Clock Jitter: 25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

* Audio specifications will be based on Low Gain setting.

Built-in Memory: 256GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery Capacity: 8,400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: about 2.5hours (9V / 3A PD2.0 Fast Charging) | 7hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: about 10.5hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.40, LCD Off, Low Gain)

Supported OS: Windows 7, 8, 10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 and above

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Astell&Kern

A&norma SR25 MKII: Astell&Kern unveils the second-generation model of its award-winning, ultra-portable hi-res audio player

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces the second generation model of its popular and award-winning entry-level player, the A&norma SR25 MKII. Every aspect admired about the original SR25 is retained with the new model improving on the audio performance, adding new features, such as a balanced 4.4mm headphone jack, and tweaking its already eye-catching and ultra-compact design. The A&norma SR25 MKII represents the perfect entry-point into Astell&Kern’s unrivalled world of high-resolution music playback on-the-move.

Astell&Kern A&norma SR25 MKII feature upgrades include:

  • Improved sound performance
  • 4.4mm headphone jack to deliver enhanced dynamic range, bass response, wider soundstage, clearer imaging and more detail in the audio source.
  • Replay Gain function to uniformly adjust volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
  • AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers.
  • BT Sink function for simpler connection of the SR25 MKII to an external Bluetooth device
  • Extra internal silver-plated shielding, first seen in the higher-end SP2000T, to protect from electromagnetic interference.
  • New, more defined volume wheel design.
  • New darker and stylish Mercury Dark Silver finish.

Even more balance and detail

This new pocket powerhouse may have a familiar look and feel but it delivers superior sound through Astell&Kern’s latest advanced audio design technology. Presenting more detail than its predecessor, the natural high-resolution sonics deliver clearly defined upper and lower ranges and a deeper, more rounded sound.

The addition of the balanced 4.4mm headphone jack, joining the 2.5mm (balanced) and 3.5mm (unbalanced) outputs, means music fans can connect an even wider variety of headphones, IEM’s and devices. The 4.4mm balanced output provides improved dynamic range and bass response, supports a wider soundstage, while capturing clear imaging and subtle details in the audio source.

As with the first-generation model, the SR25 MII handles an array of high-resolution music formats and sample rates. Support for native playback of DSD256 and 32-bit/384KHz PCM high-resolution audio, brings every music fan closer to hearing the artist’s original studio sound. Should you want to listen to your favourite hi-res music over a wireless connection, the SR25 MKII features the latest high-definition Bluetooth wireless codecs: LDAC and aptX™ HD.

Replay gain

The SR25 MKII also adds Replay Gain functionality to the mix. This 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.

Extra connectivity options

First introduced in the A&futura SE180 player, AK File Drop ensure 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. Secondly, the new BT Sink function connects the SR25 MKII to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the Astell&Kern player.

Added internal protection

Astell&Kern players apply shield cans to eliminate electromagnetic interference caused when internal components are in operation. First introduced in the higher-end A&ultima SP2000T, the SR25MKII has taken further measures by applying highly conductive, hyper-pure silver plating on the existing shield cans for extra defence against these sound performance-effecting disturbances.

Refined design

The SR25 MKII inherits the overall design identity of the original SR25 model, sporting the recognisable angled top and bottom bezel edges to give the impression the smaller inner rectangle is floating freely from the main body. The new look pattern on the side volume wheel is also more defined and tactile, drawing more attention to this area of the player. Lastly, the new darker hue of silver (Mercury D. Silver) stands apart from the original’s Moon Silver livery.

Protect your A&K player

A protective case in a choice of three eye-catching finishes is available to compliment the SR25 MKII and safeguard this premium player from the vagaries of a life on the road. Made from a soft and durable LASKINA® polyurethane fabric from Italy, this memory material offers protection against external shocks and scratches, while providing excellent grip. The fabric also mimics the texture of classic, high-end leather, for a luxurious and vibrant look, including natural leather-style creases and shine. Finishes include Denim Blue, Orange and Black.

The Astell&Kern A&norma SR25 MKII is priced £699 / $749 / €799 and will be available early November from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

The Astell&Kern A&norma SR25 MKII case is priced £59 / $60 / €69 and will be available early November from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

General Specifications

Model: SR25 MKII

Body Colour: Mercury Dark Silver

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 3.6-inch HD 720 x 1280 px touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA

Sample rate PCM : 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample) DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo

Output Level: Unbalanced 2Vrms │ Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: Ciruss Logic CS43198 x2 (Dual-DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Input: USB Type-C input (for charging & PC & MAC)

Outputs: Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported / 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

Bluetooth: V4.2 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 2.5” (63.5mm)[W] x 4.26” (108.3mm)[H] x 0.63” (16.1mm)[D]

Weight: about 178g (6.27oz)

Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Operating Temperature: 0℃ ~ + 40℃ (32℉~ 104℉)

Audio performance

Frequency Response

  • ±0.014dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.011dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.010dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.012dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

S/N

  • 122dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 124dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk

  • -138dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • -144dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N

  • 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE

  • 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced
  • 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced

Output Impedance

  • Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (1.2ohm)
  • Balanced Out 2.5mm (1.8ohm), 4.4mm (1.7ohm)

Clock Source

Clock Jitter: 25pS (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

Storage Capacity

Built-in Memory: 64GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery

Capacity: 3,150mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: about 2.5hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: about 20hours (Standard : FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.50, EQ Off, LCD Off)

Supported OS

Supported OS: Windows 7,8,10(32/64bit) MAC OS X 10.7

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Astell&Kern’s latest IEM, the AK ZERO1, features three different types of drivers for a new hybrid sound

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces its latest in-ear monitor (IEM), the AK ZERO1, featuring three different types of drivers to deliver a ground-breaking hybrid sound. Composed of a micro planar dynamic driver, dual balanced armature (BA) drivers and a dynamic driver, this unique design combines the sonic characteristics of each driver to produce an unprecedented natural audio. Astell&Kern has set new standards in IEM engineering to get the music fan closer to the original studio sound.

Astell&Kern AK ZERO1 features and innovations include:

  • Three different types of drivers: Planar, balance armature and dynamic
  • Perfectly harmonised driver structure
  • Precision crossover network design
  • Acoustic chamber created using 3D printed technology
  • Precise CNC-machined metal housing
  • Hi-fi-grade pure silver-coated OFC cable for improved transparency of the audio signal

Micro planar dynamic driver

The Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver is a specially developed, highly advanced driver that allows a planar driver design, normally difficult to scale down for headphones, to be applied to in-ear monitors. Adopting a sturdy and lightweight planar membrane to minimise frequency loss, this is combined with a vibration panel boasting a high-polymer and thin metal film to create crystal clear and dynamic high frequencies.

Dual balanced armature and dynamic drivers

The AK ZERO1’s driver system also features dual BA drivers, using custom-designed coils to deliver transparent vocals with super-low distortion. Couple this with the single 5.6 mm dynamic driver to ensure rich, controlled and deep low frequencies and the AK ZERO1 is poised to deliver its pioneering hybrid sound.

Crossover design

To realise this new sound through the ideal frequency response, a Crossover Network design was generated based on a thorough understanding of each driver’s parameters. Once established, each driver is carefully placed in the optimal position, enclosed in specifically designed acoustic chambers manufactured with 3D printing technology. These precision enclosures cleverly eliminate unnecessary movement and resonance from the drivers to ensure a stable performance. Lastly, the main precision-tooled housing reduces internal and external vibrations to deliver the most focused and accurate sound possible.

Hi-fi grade pure silver-coated cables

To further maximise the audio performance the AK ZERO1 arrives equipped with a pure silver-coated OFC cables. Exquisitely crafted with high-purity silver plating and copper, alongside aluminum plugs, this design strives to maintain transparency of the audio signal. Elsewhere, the MMCX connectors ensure a prime-quality connection between the ear housing and cable, offering a long-lasting and stable performance.

NEW 4.4mm MMCX Cable accessory

For discerning audiophiles looking to experience the highest quality audio possible from their AK ZERO1 IEMs or any other MMCX-connector compatible headphones, Astell&Kern is launching an optional 4.4mm cable. The PEP11 sports larger aluminium-machined 4.4mm plugs and features the same top-quality high-purity silver plating and copper cable.

Signature Astell&Kern design

Astell&Kern’s recognisable bold diagonal design language continues on the AK ZERO1, with the premium cut metal surface brilliantly reflecting the light. The shape of the housing and the slender ear nozzles have been carefully designed and refined to not only provide a secure and comfortable fit, but to deliver the sound efficiently and accurately through your ears. To further provide a snug fit, five different-sized pairs of silicone ear tip and one set of foam tips are supplied, along with a carry case to keep your IEMs pristine during transit.

The Astell&Kern AK ZERO1 is priced £649 / $699 / €749 and will be available from November from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

The Astell&Kern PEP11 is priced £119 / $130 / €139 and will be available from November from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

Technical specifications

AK ZERO1

Drivers: Hybrid Drivers

  • Special Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver x1
  • Custom Balanced Armature Driver x2
  • 5.6mm Micro Dynamic Driver x1

Connector type: MMCX

Housing material: Aluminum

Frequency Response: 25Hz–30KHz*

SPL: 96dB@1KHz (1mW)*

Impedance: 16Ω@1KHz*

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.7%@1KHz

PEP11

Connector type: MMCX

Cable core: 4

Cable material: Silver, Copper

Plug: 4.4mm

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Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern’s latest A&ultima SP2000T portable digital audio player packs a next gen triple amp system

August 27th 2021, UK Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces its newest member of its A&ultima series, the  SP2000T. 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.

Astell&Kern A&ultima SP2000T new audio design and feature innovations include:

  • Triple Amp System takes portable music listening to a new acoustic level.
  • Vacuum tube amplifier compatible with 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm output jacks.
  • Equipped with an ESS ES9068AS QUAD-DAC for balanced and ultra-detailed sound.
  • New TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology.
  • Replay Gain function uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi Support for improved wireless connection.
  • Internal mechanical design to minimise noise.

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 minimize 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-effecting disturbances.

QUAD-DAC FOR SUPERIOR SOUND

The SP2000T comes equipped with four ES9068AS DACs, with two DACs per channel dedicated for 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 effect 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.

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.

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.

Elsewhere 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.

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.

The Astell&Kern A&ultima SP2000T is priced £1,999 / $2,399 / €2,299 and will be available from October from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

Technical specifications*

Body Colour: Onyx Black

Body Material: Aluminum

Display: 5.0-inch touchscreen, FHD 1920 x 1080 pixels

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level: Unbalanced 3Vrms │ Balanced 6Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9068AS x4 (Quad-DAC)

Vacuum Tube: KORG Nutube 6P1

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Input: USB Type-C input (for charging & PC & MAC)

Outputs:

  • Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Optical Out (3.5mm)
  • Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported / 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth®: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 3.07″ (78.1mm)[W] x 5.55″ (141.1mm)[H] x 0.68″ (17.5mm)[D]

Weight: about 10.89oz (309g)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.024dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.038dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.027dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.052dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

S/N:

  • 121dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 123dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk:

  • -137dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • -142dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N:

  • 0.0003% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 0.0003% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE:

  • 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Unbalanced
  • 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Balanced

Output Impedance:

  • Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (1ohm)
  • Balanced Out 2.5mm (1.5ohm), 4.4mm (1.5ohm)

Clock Source

Clock Jitter: 25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

*Audio specifications will be based on Operational (OP) AMP.

Storage Capacity

Built-in Memory: 256GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery

Capacity: 4,200mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: About 3.5hours (9V / 1.67A Fast Charging) | 5hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: About 9hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.50, LCD Off, LED On, OP AMP Mode)

Supported OS 

Windows 7, 8, 10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7

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Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio collaborate on the stunning AK Solaris X in-ear monitors

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, has teamed up with Campfire Audio, a U.S. designer and manufacturer of premium hand-built earphones, to introduce the AK SOLARIS X in-ear monitor (IEM). Based on Campfire Audio’s Solaris 2020, this X model is designed and tuned especially for Astell&Kern, re-imagining the original’s sonics to faithfully convey a deep, rich but natural sound, synonymous with Astell&Kern.

Hand-assembled in Portland, Oregon, USA by skilled craftsmen, ensuring each individual earphone is manufactured to the highest quality standards, the AK SOLARIS X is a culmination of Campfire Audio’s acclaimed acoustic technology and design. Featuring a custom-made balance armature (BA) driver and a dynamic driver hybrid system, alongside a patented Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber (T.A.E.C.) technology and a 3D Printed Acoustic Chamber, the SOLARIS X delivers music as the artist intended and the perfect companion to Astell&Kern’s high resolution portable digital audio players.

Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber technology

The custom BA driver, designed specifically for the AK SOLARIS X, is smaller in size than its predecessor but still offers a wideband performance that extends high frequencies without sibilance or fatigue. Working in the tandem with Campfire Audio’s patented T.A.E.C. technology, that optimises the driver performance by adjusting the volume of space available in front of the driver and provides a direct passage from the driver to your ear, the new driver delivers unsurpassed clarity and a smooth, extended top end.

Polarity Tuned Chamber

Another BA driver provides rich delivery of the mid-range frequencies, while the custom 10mm dynamic driver is optimised for the Polarity Tuned Chamber. By deploying particular volume cavities, both in front and behind the dynamic driver, bigger sounds can be drawn from smaller drivers. In the case of this hybrid design it can also specifically target the AK SOLARIS X‘s driver performance with the result a deeper and more refined mid-to-low frequency.

3D-printed acoustic optimised construction

Campfire Audio’s high-end earphones are highly acclaimed by audiophiles around the globe, so it’s no wonder the attention to detail is key to delivering superior musical experience from the AK SOLARIS X. Each earphone integrates a 3D-printed, acoustically optimised interior chamber to enable the drivers to deliver the highest audio quality possible and create a natural and accurate sound.

4N Pure Silver Litz Cable design

The AK SOLARIS X comes with a balanced 2.5mm pure silver cable (a 3.5mm adapter is supplied) allowing the earphones to reach their full performance potential. The Pure Silver Litz Cable consist of four 4N (99.99% purity) conductors designed to provide the most transparent and extended sounds possible. The soft-touch jacket that wraps around each conductor ensures both flexibility and durability, while the beryllium/copper MMCX connectors are more resilient against wear and tear, compared to regular brass connectors.

Eco-friendly cork case

To support people with disabilities and allow them to live independently, Campfire Audio sourced a small boutique shop in Portugal, who work-side-by-side with people with physical disabilities, to hand make the AK SOLARIS X’s carry case. To keep these earphones in pristine condition while in transit, the protective case is made from eco-friendly cork material for long-lasting durability.

The Astell&Kern AK Solaris X is priced £1,499 / $1,500 / €1,799 and available in the UK exclusively in-store at Harrods and Selfridges from mid-July.

For more information visit www.astellkern.co.uk

Technical Specifications

Transducer Type:

Specially Customed New Single BA Driver + T.A.E.C. [High]

Single Updated Custom Balanced Armature Driver [Mid]

Specially Tuned 10mm Dynamic Driver [Mid + Low]

Frequency Response: 5Hz-20kHz

SPL: 94dB @ 1kHz: 9.16mVrms

Impedance: 8.1 Ohm @ 1kHz

Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 1%

About Campfire Audio

Campfire Audio springs from a passionate focus on refined audio reproduction.  Each model in our earphone line is designed and assembled by hand in our Portland, Oregon workshop; our earphones are second to none in performance and finish. With a small team of highly skilled and dedicated craftspeople, we continuously experiment with materials and techniques to create something unique and special for the people who care most about it.

Visit: campfireaudio.com

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Astell&Kern

Shape your sound with Astell&Kern’s A&futura SE180 modular DAC digital audio player

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-DAC innovation first introduced with the SE200, music fans can customise their sound with different audio-flavoured DACs to find the hi-fi-grade sonics that suit them.

The A&futura SE180 is the company’s most advance player yet and is the first model to boast Astell&Kern’s TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology for improved audio, an enhanced user-interface design, a full HD display and added advanced connectivity functionality.

Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 new audio design and feature innovations include:

  • Interchangeable all-in-one DAC modules
  • New TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology
  • Full HD display for improved image quality
  • Enhanced user interface more consistent with an Android smartphone experience
  • AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers
  • BT Sink function for simpler connection of the SE180 to an external Bluetooth device

INTERCHANGEABLE DAC MODULES

The innovative interchangeable DAC design 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 module slots easily into place from the top of the player and features an innovative double locking mechanism that securely connects each component. Expertly engineered, with flowing smooth lines between each part, there isn’t a noticeable trace of two separate elements in play.

The A&futura SE180 arrives with a default module featuring the SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO, an 8-channel DAC traditionally used for premium home audio equipment. This 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 SEM2 Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ Dual DAC will be the first optional module available on launch 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 headphones 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. The next DAC module will be released later in the year with another model following in the first half of 2022.

INTRODUCING TERATON ALPHA SOUND SOLUTION TECHNOLOGY

The result of extensive research and development, Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution 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 effect 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.

With the A&futura SE180 the first to harbour TERATON ALPHA technology, it 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.

ENHANCED USER INTERFACE DESIGN

The A&futura SE180 user-interface has been enhanced to offer an experience consistent 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.

FULL HD DISPLAY

Album artwork pops from the screen with the 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.

CONNECTIVITY

The A&futura SE180 is also the first model to feature 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 newly introduced BT Sink function connects the A&futura SE180 to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the Astell&Kern player.

Elsewhere the A&futura SE180 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.

The 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.

To keep the A&futura SE180 in pristine condition but still stylish, a Black or Navy leather case is available. Using quality Badalassi Carlo Minerva leather, this material is made from a process called ‘full vegetable tanning’, a traditional method used in Italy for over 200 years, that brings out the special characteristic of leather while creating a natural tanning look. A variety of trees and plants are involved in this tanning process which takes about 40 days to complete, while containing oil that allows the leather to shine the more it is used.

The Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 (with SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO DAC module) is priced £1,399 / $1,499 / €1,599 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk

The optional Astell&Kern SEM2 DAC (Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ Dual DAC Module) is priced £319 / $349 / €379 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk

Technical Specifications

Astell&Kern A&futura SE180

Body Material: Aluminium

Colour: Moon Silver

Display: 5-inch, 1920×1080 FHD

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA

Services: (Tidal Masters), Local files, External USB, MQA-CD (ripped)

Input: USB Type-C input (for PC & MAC)

Charging: 9V 1.67A / 5V 2A

Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions:

  • 3.03″(77mm)[W] x 5.09″(129.2mm)[H] x 0.78″(19.9mm)[D] (Only body)
  • 3.03″(77mm)[W] x 5.4″(137.2mm)[H] x 0.78″(19.9mm)[D] (Combined with a module)

Weight: 9.88oz (280g)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

SAR: Body 10g SAR (W/Kg) _ WLAN 2.4Ghz: 0.016

Clock Jitter: 25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 800 Femto Seconds

Wheel: LED Light (LED Indicator)

Built-In Memory: 256GB (NAND)

External Memory: microSD Card x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery Capacity: 3,800mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer Battery

Charge Time: About 5hours (Standard: 5V / 2A Charging), about 3hours (Fast: 9V / 1.67A Charging)

Supported OS: Windows 8,10(32/64bit) Mac OS X 10.7 and up

Astell&Kern SEM1 DAC

Body Material: Aluminium, Stainless Steel, Polycarbonate

Body Colour: Moon Silver

Sample Rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo /
  • DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo

Outputs: Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported / 4.4mm, only 5-pole supported)

Output Level:

  • [Normal Gain] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [High Gain] Unbalanced 3Vrms / Balanced 6Vrms (Condition No Load)

DAC: ESS ES9038PRO (Single DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit-to-Bit playback

Dimensions: 3.03″(77mm)[W] x 2.99″(76mm)[H] x 0.78″(19.9mm)[D]

Weight: 3.53oz (100g)

Playback Time: About 10.5hours (FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Vol.50, LCD Off)

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.04dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced /
  • ±0.04dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.07dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced /
  • ±0.06dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

Signal-to-noise ratio:

  • [Normal Gain] 122dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 126dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] 125dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 129dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk:

  • [Normal Gain] -138dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -145dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] -138dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -147dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N:

  • [Normal Gain] 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] 0.0007% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE: 0.0004%, 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Unbalanced / 0.0004%, 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Balanced

Output Impedance: 3.5mm (1ohm) / 2.5mm (1.5ohm) / 4.4mm (1.5ohm)

Astell&Kern SEM2 DAC

Body Material: Aluminium, Stainless Steel, Polycarbonate

Body Colour: Moon Silver

Sample Rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 768kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo /
  • DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo / DSD512(1bit 22.4MHz), Stereo

Outputs: Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported / 4.4mm, only 5-pole supported)

Output Level:

  • [Normal Gain] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [High Gain] Unbalanced 3Vrms / Balanced 6Vrms (Condition No Load)

DAC: AKM AK4497EQ x2 (Dual DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 768kHz Bit-to-Bit playback

Dimensions: 3.03″(77mm)[W] x 2.99″(76mm)[H] x 0.78″(19.9mm)[D]

Weight: 3.53oz (100g)

Playback Time: About 10.5hours (FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Vol.50, LCD Off)

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.07dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced /
  • ±0.06dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.68dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced /
  • ±0.67dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

Signal-to-noise ratio:

  • [Normal Gain] 122dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 124dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] 125dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 127dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk:

  • [Normal Gain] -138dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -145dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] -138dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -147dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N:

  • [Normal Gain] 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] 0.0008% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE: 0.0002%, 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Unbalanced / 0.0002%, 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Balanced

Output Impedance: 3.5mm (1ohm) / 2.5mm (1.5ohm) / 4.4mm (1.5ohm)

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