Last year, high-end audio hardware brand Astell&Kern launched the first digital audio player (DAP) to incorporate three digital-to-analog converters, with the SE200. Now the company has gone one better with the upcoming A&ultima SP2000T, while also debuting a triple amp design.
The basic job of a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is to convert digital file data into analog audio signals, and different designs come with different characteristics.
Where the SE200 employed DACs from two manufacturers, which gave listeners the opportunity to tap into those differences while also taking advantage of manufacturer-specific filters to further tweak the sound, A&K has opted to stick with just ESS for the quad-DAC SP2000T.
This latest addition to the company’s flagship line features four Sabre ES9068AS DAC chips with built-in MQA hardware rendering, each supporting up to 32-bit/384-kHz PCM and DSD1024 audio for the promise of “a more balanced, detailed sound signature.” MQA (or Master Quality Authenticated) audio technology was developed to deliver the sound quality of an original master recording in a file format small enough for streaming, with Tidal being one such platform that uses the technology.
The SP2000T also debuts the company’s next-gen amplifier technology in the shape of the Triple Amp System. Users can plug headphones into the 2.5-mm, 3.5-mm or 4.4-mm ports and choose between a tube-amp mode, an op-amp mode brought over from the player’s SP2000 stablemate, and a new hybrid-amp mode that combines the two.
A new feature called Replay Gain will automatically adjust playback volume to ensure a consistent level for various tracks, and the player also rocks A&K’s Teraton Alpha sound technology, which “effectively removes power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification right through to the audio output interface stage where the digital-to-analog signal conversion takes place.”
Other given specs include a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution touchscreen for playback control and display of album artwork, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity with support for LDAC and apt-HD codecs. More detailed information is expected to be released closer to the player’s October launch, when pricing will also be announced.
Product page: A&ultima SP2000T