Kudos to Astell & Kern’s work ethic; just weeks after launching its latest entry-level portable music player, the formidable A&norma SR25, the brand is already announcing its next offering.
The newbie in question is the A&futura SE200, which joins the SE100 in the premium A&futura range and, the company claims, is the world’s first player to utilise a multi-DAC set-up.
Now, digital players these days often have dual or even quad DAC configurations, but the SE200 actually uses a combination of DAC chips – two Sabre ESS9068AS DACs (in a dual configuration) as well as a single AKM4499EQ (as found in Astell & Kern’s top-of-the-line SP2000 player).
This unique multi-DAC implementation allows owners to customise the SE200’s sound based on their preferences and music type, with DAC filters offering opportunities for further fine-tuning.
To prevent the ESS and AKM DACs from detrimentally interfering with each other, and to thus preserve the integrity of the music signal, Astell & Kern has used independent circuits for each, within which balanced and unbalanced signals are also separated.
While the SE200 very much shares the design DNA of its siblings - what with its trapezoidal aluminium body - the trademark volume wheel is now divided In two to represent the two types of DAC on board. Its LED is colour coded to display volume, bit-rate and DAC status, too.
Spec-wise, there’s 256GB of storage onboard - twice that available on the SE100 and the SP1000M that sits above it in the company's line-up - and up to 1TB of additional capacity can be added via a microSD card. Battery life is a very reasonable 14 hours, too – up from both of its aforementioned siblings.
Power output through the 2.5mm (balanced) and 3.5mm (unbalanced) headphone jacks has also been increased from 4V to 6V and 2V to 3V respectively.
Other familiar Astell & Kern features are present and correct, such as built-in wi-fi and music streaming apps, support for aptX HD Bluetooth, and native file compatibility up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256.
The Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 is available now, priced at £1799 ($1799 / AU$2999), sitting the brand’s line-up between the SE100 and SP1000M. If Astell & Kern's long-running track record is anything to go by, we could be looking at another excellent music player.
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