Astell & Kern's A&ultima SP2000T hi-res player is official

Astell & Kern launches A&ultima SP2000T hi-res player with 4 DACs and 3 amps
(Image credit: Astell & Kern)

Astell & Kern's SP2000T hi-res music player was teased a couple of weeks ago, but now it's officially broken cover. Here are all the details.

As teased, it's the firm's first hi-res music player with a quad DAC and triple amp system. The OP-amp (operational amp) takes care of all the duties of a regular amp, while the tube amp gives tracks the warmth associated with an analogue amp. And if you want to combine warmth with hi-res clarity, opt for the hybrid amp, which gives you the best of both worlds.

Vacuum tubes usually generate internal microphonic vibrations that can impact sound quality, but Astell & Kern has sought to overcome this with a specially designed modular structure that is physically separate from the PCB (Printed Circuit Board). Flexible silicone covers fix the vacuum tubes in place, minimising mechanical vibrations, while A&K claims that the amp 'floats' in the air using magnetic forces to reduce internal noise.

Unlike last year's SE200, which gave listeners a choice of DACs from different manufacturers, the SP2000T has four of the same ESS ES9068AS DAC chips to convert digital file data into analogue. The chips have built-in MQA 8x rendering, supporting up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM, 96k SPDIF and DSD1024 files.

There are three different-sized headphone ports to choose from (2.5mm, 3.5mm or 4.4mm), while the Replay Gain feature lets the player automatically adjust the volume between tracks to keep it consistent.

Following the firm's A&futura SE180 player, the SP2000T is the second model to use A&K's Teraton Alpha sound tech, which is designed to make audio playback sound as close to the original recording as possible. It does this by removing power noise and providing efficient power consumption and amplification throughout the audio output stage where the digital-to-analogue signal conversion takes place.

And it's all capped off with a 5-inch Full HD display, dual-band wi-fi support and AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. You can connect it wirelessly to a smartphone via Bluetooth using the new BT Sink function and play music back on the SP2000T. Bluetooth 5.0 comes as standard, and it supports 24-bit aptX HD Blueooth and LDAC codecs.

The 256GB of storage can be increased up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Price? The SP2000T will cost £1999 / $2399 / AU$3599 / €2299 when it launches in October. Look out for a full review soon.


Read all of our Astell & Kern reviews

Best portable MP3 players 2021: from budget to hi-res music players

Best audiophile headphones 2021: ultimate high-end headphones

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.