Of all the Cyber Monday deals still live as I type (and not to put too fine a point on it; time is ticking on that), occasionally an offer makes me sit back, exhale, shake my head and go, "That is utterly ridiculous. But hang it all, it's getting late and I'm in!"
This is that deal, kind reader.
It concerns Astell & Kern's flagship, newest hi-res audio player – the highly revered A&ultima SP3000 – in a Black Friday bundle deal alongside the corresponding in-ear monitors A&K developed to go with it, with the help of Portland-Oregon IEM specialist Campfire Audio.
Now, as far as I'm concerned this kind of high-end, brutalist, aspirational, serious audiophile-grade kit doesn't look right in a deals block, with a strike-through on the 'was' price. Oh but don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining…
The deal then: the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP3000 and Pathfinder IEMs can be yours for £3,799 (normally £5,698) a whopping saving of £1,899, or 33%. The deal is live now at Futureshop, Audio Concierge or Audiologica, while stocks last – or until December 31 at the very latest.
But if, like me, you're serious about hi-res audio in a portable, glorious little setup, this is the deal to put at the top of your wish-list.
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A&K SP3000 + Pathfinder IEMs: was
£5,689 now £3,799 at Futureshop
Oh, this is a deal for the budding audiophile if ever we saw one. It's available on all three finishes (black, copper or silver), but make no mistake, this is a finish only, since the A&ultima SP3000 is the world’s first portable player with a watch-grade 904L stainless steel body. And oh, how we loved it when we compared it to a more budget player. Also, you get a leather case to keep that finish protected. Another way to look at this deal is that you're getting the IEMs optimised for use with the player (comprising a dual-diaphragm BA driver, plus T.A.E.C. and dual custom 10mm dynamic drivers in an aluminium shell) for free. We know. How often do you see a £1,899 set of IEMs for free?
As I said in my September launch coverage of the player: "This is the player dreams are made of – and that's before we even get to the new screen."
What is there to say about Astell & Kern's otherworldly catalogue of portable hi-res music players? That they're some of the best MP3 players in existence? True. That by releasing an update to the excellent Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T, namely this SP3000 in a bizarre but welcome bundle deal, Astell & Kern can only outdo itself because there's no one else at the races? Also correct. Actually there's plenty to say; I said a lot of it in a feature entitled 'I tried to hi-res audio players and if you can, you must spend triple the money'.
Only now, you also get £1,899 in-ears designed to be driven by this very player thrown in. Read that again.
This particular beast has been crafted from metal beloved of luxury watchmakers for the first time ever. Yes, it's extremely durable, and yes it's resistant to corrosion like its older siblings. And it’s still an object of brutalist beauty.
The A&ultima SP3000 is also the world’s first digital audio player with independent Dual Audio Circuitry. This complete separation of balanced and unbalanced output boasts "the purest possible sonic reproduction" – as you can see, A&K isn't shy. And I don't mind.
It’s also the first player to use the new flagship AK4499EX DAC chip from Asahi Kasei, used in the innovative HEXA Audio Circuitry structure that separates digital and analog signal processing.
Other spec highlights include 256GB native storage that's expandable to 1TB with the microSD memory card slot, three headphone ports (3.5mm, 2.5mm and 4.4mm), USB-C charging (A&K says you'll get about 10 hours from it) plus a Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 Octa-Core processor and support for high-resolution aptX HD and LDAC wireless streaming.
It can play just about any hi-res file format going, with support for all key formats (including MQA, Native DSD 512) and streaming-service connectivity. But perhaps the most striking new feature is that A&K's staple, gorgeous watch-style crown rotary dial now joins a new 5.46-in full high-definition display and a new-generation on-screen interface, which makes it easier than ever to find and enjoy your favourite tracks, including via Tidal and Apple Music, my go-to streaming services when hi-res audio is on the menu.
Truly, this is a deal I want to go for, and I know that my audiophile pals (we stay in touch on WhatsApp) will want it too. Look, if you need someone to convince you it's not a good idea, and you should definitely not click to buy, then you'll need to look elsewhere…
More UK Cyber Monday deals
- Amazon: up to 62% off TVs, smart home and clothing
- AO: up to 40% off appliances, TVs and tech
- Argos: up to 50% off toys, tools and tech
- Boots: up to 40% off 1,000s of beauty products
- Currys: up to 40% off TVs, appliances and laptops
- Ebuyer: up to 45% off laptops and PC components
- Emma: up to 65% off mattresses, frames and pillows
- John Lewis: up to 40% off appliances, TVs, laptops
- Jessops: up to £550 off Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm
- Ninja: up to 25% off air fryers and cookware
- O2: up to £600 off iPhone, Samsung and Google
- Samsung: up to £600 off TVs, phones and appliances
- Shark: up to £100 off vacuums
- Simba: up to 55% off mattresses
- Superdrug: 60% off beauty, fragrances and makeup
- Toolstation: up to 30% off smart home, tools and DIY
- Very: save on tech, decor, appliances and furniture
- Vodafone: six months half-price SIMs from £11.50
- See all of TechRadar's Black Friday coverage
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Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.