Astell & Kern's outrageously expensive tube-amplified SP3000T hi-res music player and Novus in-ears are now available

Astell&Kern's SP3000T digital audio player with the Novus IEMs
(Image credit: Astell&Kern)

Astell & Kern has announced availability for its A&ultima SP3000T hi-res music player and the new Novus in-ear monitors, two high-end products unveiled at CanJam NYC earlier this year.

The new top-of-the-range SP3000T takes all the technology from the flagship (and five-star) SP3000 digital audio player (DAP) and throws in the analogue warmth of tube amplification, allowing users to customise their sound using Astell & Kern’s Triple Amp System. 

This means a listener can choose to use the tube (or valve) amp, a digital op-amp or a hybrid of both during music playback – each with their own unique sound signatures. 

In Tube Amp mode, the SP3000T calls on Dual Raytheon JAN6418 MIL-SPEC vintage vacuum tubes to create that familiar tube warmth, while the Op-Amp mode focuses on clarity, with an extremely low noise floor. Can’t decide? Opt for Hybrid Amp Mode to get a taste of both, which promises to further enhance both resolution and clarity.

As for design, the SP3000T features a stainless-steel body with 99.9% pure silver plating, and caters to all headphone connections with a choice of 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm ports.

Powering the hi-res player is a Snapdragon 6125 Octa-core processor and 8GB of DDR4 memory, which is twice the amount of RAM more commonly used in digital audio players. There’s also Asahi Kasei Microdevices' latest flagship DAC, the AKM AK4499EX, which offers complete separation of digital and analogue signals for the purest sound reproduction. Hi-res support is extensive, with playback up to 32-bit/784kHz PCM, DSD512 and MQA files supported, and aptX HD and LDAC Bluetooth codecs on board.

The Astell & Kern A&ultima SP3000T is available to buy now for £3199 / $2999 / €3599.

The Astell&Kern X Empire Ear Novus IEMs in gold and black

(Image credit: Astell&Kern)

Also coming soon are the Astell & Kern X Empire Ears Novus, a pair of high-end in-ear wired headphones that follow in the footsteps of the Odyssey IEMs, which was the first collaboration of these two brands back in September 2022.

The Novus in-ears have been developed without compromise, with all components and materials selected to create a flagship sound capable of extracting every last detail from your music.

The purpose-built W9+ drivers are encased in “diamond-like carbon” aluminium shells with 24K gold-plated faceplates and sapphire glass.

This rigid design is complemented by a custom-made four-wire hybrid copper, gold and silver cable reinforced with black macro-molecular fibre and a 4.4mm balanced jack.

There’s a bit more of a wait on the Novus IEMs, but you’ll be able to pick them up towards the end of May for a pretty substantial price tag of £4999 / $4999 / €5799.


Read our full review of the Astell & Kern SP3000

Check out our pick of the best portable music players

Can't stretch to £5000? Here are our favourite in-ear headphones for all budgets

Verity Burns

Verity is a freelance technology journalist and former Multimedia Editor at What Hi-Fi?. 

Having chalked up more than 15 years in the industry, she has covered the highs and lows across the breadth of consumer tech, sometimes travelling to the other side of the world to do so. With a specialism in audio and TV, however, it means she's managed to spend a lot of time watching films and listening to music in the name of "work".

You'll occasionally catch her on BBC Radio commenting on the latest tech news stories, and always find her in the living room, tweaking terrible TV settings at parties.