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Astell & Kern launches a new premium portable audio player built with luxury watch-grade steel

Astell & Kern A&ULTIMA SP3000
(Image credit: Astell&Kern)

Astell & Kern has revealed its latest high-end portable audio player, the A&Ultima SP3000, with a striking design constructed of high-quality 904L stainless steel – the same grade used for Rolex watches.

The A&Ultima SP3000 is the first portable music player to use the new flagship AK4499EX DAC chip from AKM with a HEXA DAC structure that separates digital and analogue signal processing. There’s also independent dual audio circuitry with complete separation of balanced and unbalanced outputs. All of which Astell & Kern says helps the SP3000 produce an authentic, noise-free sound.

Astell & Kern A&ULTIMA SP3000

(Image credit: A&ULTIMA SP3000 )

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 Octa-Core processor, the SP3000 runs an overhauled version of Astell & Kern’s Android user interface, now in its 4th generation, accessible by a generous 5.46-inch HD touch screen.

With wi-fi connectivity and Bluetooth 5 supporting aptX-HD and LDAC streaming, the SP3000 can handle a comprehensive inventory of audio formats, including FLAC, AIFF, MQA and Native DSD512. There’s also wide-ranging music streaming service compatibility, and it's Roon Ready, meaning the SP3000 can easily be used as a hub for a hi-fi system. But if you do want to take it out and about, there’s a claimed 10 hours of playback for standard content (FLAC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz).

The Astell & Kern A&ultima SP3000 is available for pre-order now, priced at £3800 / AU$5499 (around $4405) in a choice of black and silver finishes, which Astell & Kern say are highly durable and resistant to corrosion. A hand-finished leather case made by French brand Alran is included for a bit of extra protection.

Astell & Kern Odyssey IEM

(Image credit: Astell&Kern)

Astell & Kern has also revealed a new collaboration with luxury in-ear monitors (IEMs) brand Empire Ears to produce a pair of wired in-ear headphones designed to partner with its portable players. Combining drivers and technology from Empire Ears with Astell & Kern’s component selection and tuning, the Odyssey IEMs feature a massive 10-driver Quadbrid system. Crammed inside are twin W9+ subwoofers, five balanced armatures, dual electrostatics and a W10 bone conductor for good measure.

Available in a hand-made multi-lamination design, the Odyssey will launch in the final quarter of 2022, priced at £3500 / AU$4999 (around $4057).

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Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre. Her mixing credits include productions at The National Theatre and in the West End, as well as original musicals composed by Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos, Guy Chambers, Howard Goodall and Dan Gillespie Sells.