To touch the beautiful: Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000

To touch the beautiful: Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000

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For anybody not a secret that the players Astell&Kern are mostly expensive — you could even say, very. To spend 3-4 thousand dollars (in rubles will not translate to inner peace) on portable audio for many an impossible task, and to some extent strange, but there are those for whom to get the player from one player to the luxury segment of the market — the most coveted gift. However, this review not only for them: and others will try to prove that their money receive the quality — the best that now exists in the world of portable.

A&ultima SP1000 recently became a real leader among players Astell&Kern. Someone will remember AK380, but now he had the long-awaited replacement. There are from the manufacturer and available models — AK70 MK II, KANN and the recently released SE100. However, to talk about A&ultima sp1000 was easier, I invite you to ignore the price and focus on features and we offer audio capabilities.

One of the innovations of this player in the first place is to note the increased screen size — now it is a full 5 inches, which is also reflected in the size of the device. The usual (and outdated) micro-USB was replaced by the modern USB-sound C. answer two AK4497EQ upgraded DAC and amplifier, which allowed to improve the basic sound characteristics.

And not to mention the increased battery capacity (it is necessary to use a large building), support Quick Charge, 8-core processor and redesigned interface. However, everything in order.

Specifications

  • DAC: 2 × AK4497EQ
  • Output level: 2.2 Vrms normal output, 3.9 Vrms balanced
  • Output impedance: balanced output 1Ω, 2Ω usual
  • Frequency range (normal exit): 20 Hz – 20 kHz (±0,062 dB) 10 Hz – 70 kHz (±0,68 dB)
  • Frequency range (balanced output): 20 Hz – 20 kHz (±0,061 dB) 10 Hz – 70 kHz (±0,67 dB)
  • The ratio signal/noise: 120 dB normal output 122 dB balanced
  • Channel separation: 138 dB normal output 143 dB balanced
  • Total harmonic distortion+noise: 0.0005% of normal output, 0,0008% balanced
  • Formats supported: WAV, FLAC, MP3, WMA, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF
  • Max resolution: 384 kHz/32 bit, DSD up to DSD256
  • Screen: 5″, 730 × 1280
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: V4.1 with aptX support for HD
  • Input: USB 3.0 Type-C
  • Outputs: 3.5 mm TRS (supports digital output via optical) and 2.5 mm TRRS
  • Battery: 3400 mA/h
  • Work time from a single charge: up to 12 hours
  • Charging time (Quick Charge): ~ 2 hours
  • Built-in memory: 256 GB
  • Memory card: MicroSD
  • Dimensions: 76 mm × 132 mm × 16 mm
  • Weight: 388 g

Equipment

Signature black box hides already familiar to many a casket of wood, which hides a magnificent player and a package (perhaps this is a rare case when a device wants to store in the box).

Along with A&ultima sp1000 we found a USB charging cable-C, a paperclip to eject memory cards in the form of a logo Astell&Kern, the protective film and…the cover of the skin. Speaking of players, A&K, not to mention that these devices must be worn without any protector, except that the protective film on the screen to stick. The design of the players Astell&Kern is so interesting that you want not only to show it around in all its glory (and if in a brass case, as we have — very chic), but to make the tactile sensations as pleasant as possible. Here, the case clearly would be superfluous.

Appearance

A&ultima SP1000 — pronounced representative of the line: the familiar angular asymmetrical forms, the wheel volume, the rear panel of carbon fiber. In the case of this player you can select from two colors: silver and copper. And it’s not just the colors — the choice depends on the material of the shell. In the first case is stainless steel, the second — real copper. Of course, the latter is easier scratched, and although the Astell&Kern are said to have covered the body in all possible protective equipment, careless use it will become worthless. On the other hand — who will be sloppy to treat player 3 $ 500? The more beauty, as they say, demands sacrifice.

Almost the entire front panel of the player is the screen, which boasts excellent color reproduction and viewing angles. Under the display manufacturer has placed a touch-sensitive button, which performs the role of “Home” button.

On the left side is traditionally three buttons and fast forward / rewind playback, the opposite wheel, which is responsible for volume adjustment, which is combined with the power button and lock screen. At the ends there are connectors findings (normal and balanced), slot for memory cards and USB-C connector. With the help of USB type-C can not only charge the player, but connect it to a computer to transfer files, and output the signal to the USB DAC.

Really feel the weight of the player, which is about 400 g. Therefore, despite the fact that the manufacturer is positioning this device as a portable, since it is much nicer to listen to music at home or on the go — but certainly not during an evening walk in the Park. What luxury car owners also prefer not to roll out their winter.

Interface

With the new firmware and the player interface has become more modern, adding new effects and animations. Everything works very smoothly, no lag and other artifacts. Although there are unchanged things: on the playback screen in the center is the album cover, and below the add button in the playlist, view additional information and control the order of playback. At the bottom placed buttons for rewind and playback, as well as the name of the track.

To gain access to other sections will need to swipe from the edge of the screen. To open the current playlist, you need to conduct right-to-left; on the other hand, you can find lists your music by albums, artists, and genres, playlists and other elements of the panel library. Quick settings and notifications are available by swipe from top down: here you can enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, EQ mode, USB and other commonly used options like brightness of the screen.

The equalizer is present, but it is unlikely that you will often to use it: A&ultima SP1000 is clearly designed for listening to more natural sound. Among other settings — output mode audio over USB (DoP or conversion to PCM), enable S/PDIF output, Connect AK and others.

Sound

Astell&Kern don’t change yourself — the flagship will turn out neutral, although a slight bias towards the bass I found. I am glad that the mid frequencies in a high crystal, are what should be in the top player.

Bass.Realistic, but at the same time massive, is one of the strengths of new products. Not the “pounding in the skull”: even natural instruments sound very lively. The bass is so well balanced that every track feels like home.

The mid-range.Detailed and in-depth — they are in place, periodically replacing each other. Imaginary scene worked out on a solid five, so you begin to give preference to live recordings and classic music.

High frequency.High frequency good unconditionally. The supply of clean and tidy, the level of distortion is low (more precisely, it is almost there). Emotional elaboration of images, transmission of nature of the tools, the pleura can just fine.

To listen A&ultima SP1000? Of course, not with budget headphones. It is best to match some of the “gags” from Campfire Audio, but with Fostex and Audio-Technica can “rock”. In General, the principle works, a foremost player need the same headphones.

If you have previously amongst players, A&K best sound was AK320, now it is obviously SP1000.

Conclusion

Here you can write about what this player is not for everyone (not only on the size of the purse) that good sound is expensive…but better not do that. You just have to understand that with its high price A&ultima sp1000 offers the best sound and feel on the market of portable audio.