Astell & Kern’s new SP1000 hi-res audio player upgrades everything but the kitchen sink

astellkern aultima sp1000 header
As the beautiful city of Munich, Germany prepares to host 2017’s High End audio show, Astell & Kern has unveiled its all-new line of hi-res portable audio players, the A&ultima line. And while the name may look strange on the page, the debut player, the SP1000, is kicking off the new series in style.

Like all of Astell & Kern’s hi-res players, the SP1000 touts impressive specs to go along with its stylish new design. The player has been outfitted with dual AK4497EQ DAC (digital-to-analog converter) chips, with an individual chip dedicated to the left and right channels for better stereo separation, a redesigned user interface aims to put music playback front and center, and an Octa-Core CPU. AK claims the powerful new CPU not only allows for swift boot-up speeds, but also near lag-free playback for massive hi-res tracks at up to 32bit/384kHz (if you can ever find anything at that resolution, that is). The player also offers native playback of DSD files up to 11.2MHz.

For connection, the SP1000 includes a USB 3.0 port for brisk data transfer to your computer (twice as fast as previous AK players, according to the company), and boasts 256GB of internal memory, as well as support for up to 512GB of expansion storage with a microSD card. The SP1000 also features fast charging (two hours from empty), and an impressive 12 hours of playback time.

As for physical design, the player features a bezel-less, five-inch LCD screen to maximize space, and a new multi-function wheel on the side to control both volume and power. The SP1000 will launch in both stainless steel (a cool $3,500) and luscious copper (pricing not yet disclosed). Even at the low end, that’s near the top of AK’s portable lineup, but the technology powering the new SP1000 should hopefully make it worth the investment for the most discerning listeners with deep pockets.

Pre-orders for the SP1000 open May 18, and the player is slated for full release in July. More A&ultimate players will be announced in the future.

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