The convenience of a streaming service for your music is all well and good, but when it comes to quality, you still can't beat dedicated hi-res tracks if you're going all-digital.
Enter Astell & Kern's two new portable music players, the top of the line A&ultima SP2000, and it's beefy stablemate the Kann Cube.
Both are audiophile-grade devices dedicated to music playback at the highest-possible quality. And both are going to make your pockets bulge thanks to the chunky, angular designs with which they house their amps and capacious storage.
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Big and bold
First up, and pictured up top, is the A&ultima SP2000, the company's flagship product. It's using Asahi Kasei DACs (AKM AK4499EQ) in a dual, mono setup, and can support playback of 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512 files. Power and volume on the angular player is handled by a chunky dial on the right hand side.
It's powered by an octa-core CPU, and has a healthy 512GB of storage space onboard – useful, seeing as hi-res audio files can quickly take up a lot of data space. Should you want to stream in rather than use your own side-loaded files, it'll have dual-band wi-fi onboard too, backed by a stereo antenna.
You're looking at a £2999 / $3500 price tag for the A&ultima SP2000 when it launches in July, with stainless steel and copper variant on offer.
If you're after something a bit more affordable, and can handle the extra chunkiness that accompanies it, take a peek at the $1499 Astell & Kern Kann Cube. Building on the well-received original Kann, it's capable of twice the power output of its predecessor, with a new amp that strives to destroy distortion.
Two 8-channel ESS Sabre ES9038PRO DACs in a dual-mono configuration are onboard with hi, mid or low gain options, opting for a quad-core processor over the flagship model's 8-core variant. 3.5mm and 5-pin XLR sockets are both supported.
You'll get 128GB of storage onboard, expandable by microSD, and nine hours playback per charge from its 7400mAh battery. File support includes 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 while, as with the SP2000, there's support for a wide range of streaming apps including Spotify, Amazon Music, Qobuz, Deezer and the all-important hi-res supporting Tidal. Expect to see this onsale around the same time as the SP2000.
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