Astell&Kern has unveiled the SE200, the second model of its premium A&futura line of portable high-resolution audio players (July availability; $1,799).
The SE200 is said by the company to be the world’s first digital audio player to be equipped with DACs from two different manufacturers, ESS and AKM, in one device; it was not designed with one AMP circuit, but separate AMP designs to optimize the different characteristics of the AKM and ESS DACs that are used in the player. The listener can select one of the two DACs to customize the sound characteristics of the track being listened to, and easily switch sound output back and forth between the two DACs. The listener can also further customize the sound by choosing from a variety of DAC filters provided by the DAC manufacturer.
The A&futura SE200 maintains a similar design identity to the previous-generation SE100, combining curves with a trapezoidal shape. After experimenting with different materials for the rear of the SE200, Astell&Kern created a new ceramic rear cover, instead of the glass found on the SE100. The ceramic back material is said not only to improve wireless network performance, but also to give a more premium feel to the player. The aluminum body provides maximum sound quality, while suppressing noise as much as possible, and the use of laser ground extension technology helps to tamp down interference or distortion, says Astell&Kern.
The SE200 supports native 32bit/384kHz and DSD256 playback and features LED lighting around the volume wheel which displays different colors of light, including red, green, blue, and purple to reflect music playback information including volume range, bit-rate of track currently playing and the current DAC that is being used for playback of music. With MQA support and a full decoder built in, the SE200 can unfold MQA-encoded tracks all the way to the original resolution of the file. MQA playback is supported both via downloaded MQA audio files and through the Tidal app, allowing users to stream high-resolution audio via Tidal Masters.
With the addition of an Octa-Core CPU, the A&futura SE200 not only boots faster, but is able to process digital audio playback without lag or compromise in sound. Astell&Kern’s advanced audio design, grounding and signal management technologies used in the SE200 provides more power output with less noise and minimal distortion.
Other features include a 5.0-inch HD touchscreen, 256GB of internal memory with support for microSD cards up to 1TB, Wi-Fi, DLNA networking, USB digital audio output, aptX HD, USB-C for data transfer and fast-charge support, and the ability to use the SE200 as a USB DAC for a Mac or Windows-based PC.
Astell&Kern’s latest user interface and support for Open App service is also included in the SE200, which adds Android APK support, allowing users to install additional music streaming services to their player by simply copying and installing the corresponding APK file for the music service they wish to add. Services supported include Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, SoundCloud, Qobuz, SiriusXM, Tune-In, myTuner, Bandcamp and Deezer (supported streaming services varies by country). Offline content for supported apps can be stored in either internal or external player memory so listeners can enjoy favorite music streaming service tracks on the go.