Astell&Kern Fields Players, Amp & In-Ear Monitor in Munich
Astell&Kern is showcasing its latest product introductions at this week’s High End 2019 exhibition in Munich, which are targeted at high-end audio/headphone enthusiasts. They include two portable high-resolution audio players, an amplifier and in-ear monitors, and feature improved performance compared to existing models.
The flagship SP2000 portable player (July availability; $3,500) is in the Astell&Kern A&ultima line. It integrates the latest flagship Asahi Kasei AKM AK4499EQ digital-to-analog converters (DACs). It features two AK4499EQ DACs, arranged in a dual-mono configuration to provide a wider soundstage and better stereo separation and is said by the company to be the first Astell&Kern player to use separate, independent audio channels between the Unbalanced and Balanced outputs, with 6Vrms for Balanced output and 3Vrms for Unbalanced output.
It supports up to 32-bit/768KHz bit-to-bit playback of high resolution PCM audio and native playback of DSD up to DSD512. Other features are: an Octa-Core CPU; a 5-inch touchscreen; 512GB of internal memory which is double that of previous Astell&Kern players; MQA support, pending final testing and certification; and dual-band Wi-Fi with a stereo antenna, for better streaming performance.
The KANN CUBE next-generation player in the Astell&Kern KANN Performance series of portable high-resolution audio players (June availability, $1,500), was recently unveiled at a Tokyo headphone show (for particulars, please see the story at https://tinyurl.com/yyc4ru7x).
The new SP1000 AMP amplifier module for the SP1000 ($800; June availability) delivers high gain balanced 10 Vrms and unbalanced 6.2 Vrms output, supplying more power to drive headphones. It docks with the SP1000 player to provide a one-piece, seamless device for charging and volume control, unlike using a separate amp, which requires additional cables and controls. Equipped with a 3,700mA battery, the SP1000 AMP supports continuous music playback of up to nine hours.
The AKT9iE in-ear monitor (July; $1,100) expands the company’s partnership with headphone manufacturer Beyerdynamic and is an update to the AKT8iE. It is optimized for use with Astell&Kern digital audio players and features a newly designed acoustic vent port and filter that are used to complement the bass and deliver smoother musical highs, says the company. It comes with a pure silver and OCC hybrid cable said to offer low electrical resistivity.