Astell & Kern SE200 music player promises sonic versatility from multiple DACs

Astell & Kern SE200 music player promises sonic versatility from multiple DACs
(Image credit: Astell & Kern)

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.

(Image credit: Astell & Kern)

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.

(Image credit: Astell & Kern)

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.


See all our Astell & Kern reviews

Best portable MP3 players 2020: from budget to hi-res music players

Last chance! Save 25% on Bowers & Wilkins wireless headphones

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.