Astell&Kern Launches New flagship DAP and an IEM Collaboration with Empire Ears
Sep 12, 2022 at 10:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 313
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Astell&Kern, a global leader in high-resolution audio products and accessories, announces the newest digital audio player (DAP) in its flagship line, the A&ultima SP3000. The A&ultima SP3000 is Astell&Kern’s newest flagship product that is the essence of everything the company has learned and engineered over the last 10+ years.

Also announced today, Astell&Kern’s latest IEM collaboration, the Odyssey. Odyssey is the first collaboration between Astell&Kern and Empire Ears.

The A&ultima SP3000 and Odyssey IEMs will make their global debut at CanJam SoCal September 17 – 18, 2022 at the Irvine Marriott in Orange County, California.

A&ultima SP3000 Digital Audio Player ($3,699 – Available September 2022)

The A&ultima SP3000 includes several new features implemented for the first time in a portable digital audio player. These features include:

  • World's first DAP where digital and analog signal processing is completely separated by HEXA-Audio Circuitry DAC design
  • First time Asahi Kasei's latest Flagship DAC, the AKM4499EX has been used in an audio product
  • Stunning Audio Performance through Independent Dual Audio Circuits
  • World’s first use of Stainless Steel 904L for DAP body material
  • Equipped with high-performance Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 CPU
  • New 4th Generation User Interface
The player includes 256GB of internal memory with support for microSD cards up to 1TB, dual-band 2.4/5Ghz a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, DLNA networking, USB digital audio output, USB-C for data transfer and charging, and the ability to use the SP3000 as a USB DAC for your Mac or Windows-based PC. A 5.46” full HD (1920x1080 resolution) touch screen provides a high-resolution display. The SP3000 supports native playback of high-res PCM music up to 32-bit, 768kHz and DSD512.

Other features include ReplayGain, Crossfeed support, AK File Drop to wirelessly transfer music files to the player, support for both aptX HD and LDAC™ Bluetooth codecs, and BT Sink allows the SP3000 to connect to an external device via Bluetooth, and function as a Bluetooth DAC. Music from an external device, such as a smartphone can now be played back in high-quality, taking full advantage of the advanced audio innovations found in the SP3000.

The SP3000 will add Roon Ready support pending completion of testing and final certification by Roon Labs.

The SP3000 in black or silver color will be available in October 2022 for $3,699 at authorized Astell&Kern dealers in the US and Canada.

Astell&Kern Odyssey IEM ($3,399 – Available November 2022)

The latest collaboration with Empire Ears expands Astell&Kern’s already extensive partnerships with premier headphone and In-Ear Monitor (IEM) manufacturers. The limited-edition Odyssey will be sold exclusively by Astell&Kern dealers worldwide for $3,399 in November 2022 and will be available in limited quantities.

At its core, Odyssey features a proprietary Quadbrid system composed of twin W9+ Subwoofers, 5 balanced Armature drivers, dual Electrostatics and a W10 Bone Conductor driver. The 7-way synX cross over network and EIVEC MKII Engine harmonize all 10 drivers of the Quadbrid system, ensuring perfect coherence and timing throughout its remarkable 5Hz – 100KHz frequency response range.

Empire Ears develops and builds several of their drivers rather than outsourcing them from other manufacturers. Designing bespoke high-performance drivers in-house gives them the freedom to develop record-breaking technology unrestricted by industry limitations or compromises. The Odyssey is proof of concept of the incredible engineering at Empire Ears. The Odyssey boasts four of the latest and most advanced IEM driver technologies available:

  • Dual W9+ Drivers - Legendary, unparalleled bass reproduction is made possible by Empire Ears purpose-built, W9+ subwoofers
  • Five Balanced Armature Drivers - Custom spec’d Knowles and Sonion balanced armatures are commissioned with a single-minded purpose of reproducing only the most pure, breathtaking mid-range frequencies
  • Dual Electrostatic Tweeters - Distortion-free, lightning-fast transient response and hyper treble extension from Sonion electrostatic drivers ensure unparalleled transparency
  • W10 Drivers - Otherworldly imaging, nuance retrieval and timbre are achieved via bone conduction from our W10 Bone Conduction Ultra Driver.
Odyssey is bundled with an Effect Audio Ares II cable which boasts a proprietary multi-size stranded 26 AWG UPOCC Litz copper with Ultra FlexiTM Insulation for maximum signal speed transmission, performance, and ergonomics. Each Ares II is terminated with an ultra-premium 4.4 Pentaconn connector.

Accessories included with Odyssey are 4.4mm to 3.5mm Pentaconn adapter, five (5) pairs of Final Audio E-Type Tips (XS/S/M/L/XL) with Aluminum Tip tray, Pandora V2 CNC anodized black aluminum case, Cleaning Tool and EE X AK Microfiber Cloth.

The limited-edition Odyssey will be sold exclusively by Astell&Kern dealers worldwide for $3,399 in November 2022 and will be available in limited quantities.

More information on both the SP3000 and Odyssey can be found below.

Astell&Kern Launches New Flagship Digital Audio Player, the A&ultima SP3000

SP3000_BS_001_3389b2d0-f16b-43a1-aee7-8e0dc8d156a1_480x480.png




  • World's first DAP where digital and analog signal processing is completely separated by HEXA-Audio Circuitry DAC design
  • First time Asahi Kasei's latest Flagship DAC, the AKM4499EX has been used in an audio product
  • Stunning Audio Performance through Independent Dual Audio Circuits
  • World’s first use of Stainless Steel 904L for DAP body material
  • Equipped with high-performance Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 CPU
  • New 4th Generation User Interface
Astell&Kern, a global leader in high-resolution audio products and accessories, announces the newest digital audio player (DAP) in its flagship line, the A&ultima SP3000. The A&ultima SP3000 is Astell&Kern’s newest flagship product that is the essence of everything the company has learned and engineered over the last 10+ years. Available in October 2022 in black or silver, the SP3000 will retail for $3,699 at authorized Astell&Kern dealers in the US and Canada. The A&ultima SP3000 will make its global debut at CanJam SoCal September 17 – 18, 2022 at the Irvine Marriott in Orange County, California.

The A&ultima SP3000 includes several new features implemented for the first time in a portable digital audio player. These features include:

First Use of AKM’s Latest Flagship DAC with Complete Separation of Digital and Analog Signals in a HEXA-Audio Circuitry Structure

The A&ultima SP3000 is the first product to use Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) latest flagship DAC, the AKM AK4499EX and features a complete separation of digital and analog signals in a HEXA structure design. Astell&Kern worked with AKM from the initial development stage to develop the DAC and circuit structure.

As a result of this collaboration, the world's first four AK4499EX DACs, AKM's latest flagship, were applied to the SP3000, and the innovative HEXA-audio circuitry structure design in which two AK4191EQs that process digital signals are applied separately, complete the amazing sound that can only be found from Astell&Kern.

Most digital players process digital and analog signals together inside the DAC. However, the SP3000’s advanced HEXA structure reduces the noise of the digital signal input using the AK4191EQ, a separate digital delta-sigma modulator, and then the AK4499EX DAC processes the analog signals separately.

By applying this unique design where digital and analog signal processing is physically separated for the first time in a digital audio player, it is possible to experience an incredible level of sound that has never been experienced before.

Stunning Audio Performance with Independent Dual Audio Circuits

To create not just a great DAP, but a truly innovative DAP, Astell&Kern tried to overcome the limitations of sound by envisioning an independent dual audio circuit for unbalanced and balanced outputs.

Almost all other DAPs, including previous Astell&Kern models, use the same internal DAC for both unbalanced and balanced outputs. Since the signal from the DAC is divided into unbalanced and balanced then delivered to the AMP, an Audio Switch is essential. When using a switch, there is a limit to the range of signal sent by the DAC, so most DAPs reduce the signal size first and then when the signal is transmitted back to the amplifier, it is necessary to restore the original signal size. This causes a limitation in improving the audio performance.

To overcome the limitations, Astell&Kern engineers designed a HEXA structure using two AK4191EQs and four AK4499EXs, creating an innovative unbalanced and balanced independent dual audio circuit design. As a result, the SP3000 achieves a Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) of 130dB, the best of any DAP available. You can feel the clean, pure delicacy of sound produced by the SP3000 that you cannot not experience in any other DAP.

Latest Snapdragon Octa-Core CPU

The A&ultima SP3000 is equipped with a Snapdragon 6125 Octa-core processor and 8GB of DDR4 memory, which is twice the amount of RAM commonly used in DAPs. Along with a redesigned 4th generation user interface, the player features a more powerful system that is stable with fast and fluid movement.

The CPU, memory and wireless communication parts are configured as one module, with the digital circuit parts arranged in the same area creating a single system on a chip (SoC). This maximizes the efficiency of the overall circuit configuration by providing more audio-only circuit space as well as reducing heat and noise from digital circuits.

New 4th Generation Graphic User Interface

With the newly developed 4th generation UX/UI, the SP3000 is focused on the process and experience of listening to music.

The new theme is designed with a focus on the experience of rediscovering songs that you have forgotten; you can quickly browse through music categories with simple gestures. A convenient search feature along with album art has been added so that you can enjoy a digital display of CD album covers of your music collection. It is designed to give you not only the pleasure of listening to music, but also to create fun when operating the device.

With the new Crimson Theme, one of the main features of the 4th generation UI, the graphics are simple and unintrusive, focusing on usability and intuitiveness. Three key concepts, Edge, Simple, and Dark Mode, were used to improve usability and increase clarity with a style unique to AK. The black and red theme colors are chosen to reduce eye fatigue, maximize battery usage and reduce heat generation.

World’s First Use of Stainless Steel 904L for DAP Body Material

To achieve the goal of the A&ultima series, which is 'to provide the best value that no one can imitate while using the most innovative and uncompromising design and craftsmanship', the SP3000 uses 904L stainless steel material for the player body. Using this material has expanded its value from just a digital device to the realm of a luxury good.

904L stainless steel is harder and more difficult to process than general stainless steel requiring significantly more time and effort. Due to its excellent durability and corrosion resistance, it will not lose its beauty and is why it is used in expensive luxury watches where perfection in all materials and parts must be pursued with an irreplaceable and wonderful luster.

Included with the SP3000 is a French goatskin leather case to protect and highlight the beauty of the 904L stainless steel body. The case is made by ALRAN, located in Tarn in southern France, a historical tannery that was established in 1903 and has been manufacturing leather for over 100 years. It is one of the world’s leading tanneries, well-known for their natural leather manufacturing technology since the 1980’s. ALRAN is recognized as the best goatskin manufacturer and supplies other leading luxury brands.

The leather case included with the SP3000 is developed with ALRAN Tannery's unique Hand-Boarding technology. This is a technology that processes the leather by rubbing it in various directions using wooden planks, so you can feel the texture of the surface. This process is unique compared to how other goatskin cases are produced.

The player includes 256GB of internal memory with support for microSD cards up to 1TB, dual-band 2.4/5Ghz a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, DLNA networking, USB digital audio output, USB-C for data transfer and charging, and the ability to use the SP3000 as a USB DAC for your Mac or Windows-based PC. A 5.46” full HD (1920x1080 resolution) touch screen provides a high-resolution display. The SP3000 supports native playback of high-res PCM music up to 32-bit, 768kHz and DSD512.

ReplayGain automatically and uniformly adjusts playback volume across different music tracks. Using AK File Drop, you can freely transfer files wirelessly through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network. Music file management is now possible with a cableless, wireless solution.

The SP3000 adds support for both aptX HD and LDAC™ codecs to provide audiophiles with multiple options for 24-bit audio playback wirelessly. Latest generation Bluetooth 5.0 features faster transmission speed and greater range compared to Bluetooth 4.2, therefore providing a more stable wireless connection. BT Sink allows the SP3000 to connect to an external device via Bluetooth, and function as a Bluetooth DAC. Music from an external device, such as a smartphone can now be played back in high-quality, taking full advantage of the advanced audio innovations found in the SP3000.

Qualcomm QC 3.0 fast charging allows you to charge your DAP faster and more efficiently than previous models, reaching a full charge in about 3.5 hours.

In a headphone environment in which the left and right channels are clearly separated, ear fatigue may increase during prolonged listening. The Crossfeed setting in the SP3000 mixes parts of the original signal from one channel and sends that signal to the opposite channel with a time difference to center the sound image. This effect provides the headphone user with a sound profile similar to listening to the same music track in a room with full-sized speakers. Using detailed settings such as Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Level, you can set the level of crossfeed according to your listening preferences.

The SP3000 will add Roon Ready support pending completion of testing and final certification by Roon Labs.

The SP3000 in black or silver color will be available in October 2022 for $3,699 at authorized Astell&Kern dealers in the US and Canada.

A&ultima SP3000 Product Video -





Astell&Kern Announces New In-Ear Monitor Collaboration with Empire Ears
Odyssey is the First Collaboration Between Astell&Kern and Empire Ears

Odyssey_001_480x480.png



Astell&Kern
, a global leader in high-resolution audio playback devices and accessories, announces a new collaboration with Empire Ears to produce in-ear monitors (IEMs) under the Astell&Kern brand. The latest collaboration with Empire Ears expands Astell&Kern’s already extensive partnerships with premier headphone and In-Ear Monitor (IEM) manufacturers. The limited-edition Odyssey will be sold exclusively by Astell&Kern dealers worldwide for $3,399 in November 2022 and will be available in limited quantities.

Astell&Kern is always challenging the possibilities of infinite sound and striving for purest sound imaginable. Empire Ears is an uncompromising and prestigious manufacturer of IEMs that combine innovative design with the latest technology. Our two legacies are proof that attention to detail and visionary innovation conceive magnificent design. Together, Astell&Kern and Empire Ears collaborated to create Odyssey, a new IEM that exhibits the world class sound found in both Astell&Kern and Empire Ears flagship products.

Empire Ears’ never-ending pursuit of the extraordinary drove them to build an IEM that is unashamedly without compromise. Nothing else matters, but the most immersive listening experience. With technology harnessed from the Odin and Legend EVO IEM lines, Empire Ears has distilled everything they’ve learned into this epic collaboration to create the next generation in-ear monitor, Odyssey.

Quadbrid Design

At its core, Odyssey features a proprietary Quadbrid system composed of twin W9+ Subwoofers, 5 balanced Armature drivers, dual Electrostatics and a W10 Bone Conductor driver. The 7-way synX cross over network and EIVEC MKII Engine harmonize all 10 drivers of the Quadbrid system, ensuring perfect coherence and timing throughout its remarkable 5Hz – 100KHz frequency response range.

Empire Ears develops and builds several of their drivers rather than outsourcing them from other manufacturers. Designing bespoke high-performance drivers in-house gives them the freedom to develop record-breaking technology unrestricted by industry limitations or compromises. The Odyssey is proof of concept of the incredible engineering at Empire Ears. The Odyssey boasts four of the latest and most advanced IEM driver technologies available:

  • Dual W9+ Drivers - Legendary, unparalleled bass reproduction is made possible by Empire Ears purpose-built, W9+ subwoofers
  • Five Balanced Armature Drivers - Custom spec’d Knowles and Sonion balanced armatures are commissioned with a single-minded purpose of reproducing only the most pure, breathtaking mid-range frequencies
  • Dual Electrostatic Tweeters - Distortion-free, lightning-fast transient response and hyper treble extension from Sonion electrostatic drivers ensure unparalleled transparency
  • W10 Drivers - Otherworldly imaging, nuance retrieval and timbre are achieved via bone conduction from our W10 Bone Conduction Ultra Driver.
Dual Conduction Architecture

The no-compromise philosophy of Empire Ears inspired the development of their Dual Conduction Architecture for IEMs – a revolutionary method of audio reproduction through both air and bone conduction to maximize listener immersion with a sound that you cannot only hear but feel, guaranteeing the purest experience possible. The Odyssey fully exploits the best of both worlds with its pioneering Dual Conduction Architecture (DCA). A full range 5Hz-100kHz frequency response is delivered via air conduction from the dual W9+ subwoofers, five balanced armatures and dual electrostatics while imaging, soundstage, detail retrieval, low frequency extension and reverb is extraordinarily enhanced from 5Hz-40kHz via bone conduction from the W10. Using DCA and Empire’s masterful tuning the Odyssey reproduces the most immersive, pure, and stereophonic sound possible.

synX Crossover Technology

Genetically dissimilar from the rest of the IEM world, Empire Ears synX crossover network truly stands out with countless bespoke methods and technologies protecting it as a unique masterpiece. A marriage of 4 different driver technologies become symphonized by a unique, proprietary 7-way synX crossover network designed to maximize performance from each and every driver.

EIVEC MKII

The all-new EIVEC MKII engine was developed specifically for Odyssey to ensure optimal timing, phasing, and control between the electrostatic and bone conduction drivers – a monumental achievement. Empire Intelligent Variable Electrostatic Control – EIVEC - is Empire’s approach to incorporating electrostatic EST drivers into IEMs. For all the incredible range and resolution, electrostatic drivers are notoriously hard to control, often overpowering other drivers. EIVEC is our solution to that, and the degree of control provided by EIVEC is so precise that the electrostatics can operate independently, performing disparate tasks within the sound stage to deliver layer upon layer of detail and texture for unparalleled performance.

A.R.C. Treated Chassis

ARC (Anti-Resonance Compound) is a proprietary conformal coating that virtually eliminates unwanted vibrations and resonance from within IEMs. This eliminates any unwanted sound and allows the tone of the drivers to be as pure as possible.

Dual Tri-Port Exhausts

Due to the nature of the W10’s extreme output the enclosure’s air volume and vent design were especially crucial for proper tuning. Even the slightest change in diameter and positioning had a dramatic effect on sound quality and performance. By mastering the W10’s volume requirements we’re able to harness its optimal output, capabilities, and potential.

ENIGMA – A Visual Masterpiece

Odyssey_Design_Concept_480x480.png


Enigma is an ultra-exclusive, one-of-a-kind dichroic faceplate that features nine individual polymer layers in three proprietary lamination steps. Each lamination is unique in its ability to filter and reflect specific wavelengths of light. This results in a faceplate that will produce breathtaking color transitions as the viewing angle changes -- literally shifting before your very eye. Enigma is masterfully handcrafted in the USA by an award-winning chemist that currently holds two patents in polymer science for high solids coating chemistry.

Ares II Cable

Odyssey_002_480x480.png


Odyssey is bundled with an Effect Audio Ares II cable which boasts a proprietary multi-size stranded 26 AWG UPOCC Litz copper with Ultra FlexiTM Insulation for maximum signal speed transmission, performance, and ergonomics. Each Ares II is terminated with an ultra-premium 4.4 Pentaconn connector.

Odyssey is designed, engineered, and handcrafted at the Empire Ears facility in Atlanta, Georgia USA, where 5,000 square feet is reserved exclusively for this collaboration. Each stage of Odyssey’s production is hand-built by one master technician and engineer and passed onto the next, guiding each pair along its journey to completion through 10 stations for a total of 9 hands-on hours per set.

Odyssey_010_480x480.png


Accessories included with Odyssey are 4.4mm to 3.5mm Pentaconn adapter, five (5) pairs of Final Audio E-Type Tips (XS/S/M/L/XL) with Aluminum Tip tray, Pandora V2 CNC anodized black aluminum case, Cleaning Tool and EE X AK Microfiber Cloth.

The limited-edition Odyssey will be sold exclusively by Astell&Kern dealers worldwide for $3,399 in November 2022 and will be available in limited quantities.
 
Astell&Kern Stay updated on Astell&Kern at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/astellnkern/ https://twitter.com/astell_kern https://instagram.com/astellnkern https://us.astellnkern.com support@theinvixion.com
Sep 12, 2022 at 11:05 PM Post #4 of 313

Giraku

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I just bought SP2000T...
I'll start saving now :grin:
 
Sep 12, 2022 at 11:10 PM Post #5 of 313

theveterans

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Can't believe it's 256 GB storage. I'm already beyond 256 GB use with my SP2000. What I like about the internal storage is less issues with library management and less playback issues with DSD512 due to its demanding 45 MB/s continuous read speed (not peak)

Will be bringing my SP2000 and A/B it this weekend!
 
Last edited:
Sep 13, 2022 at 12:22 AM Post #8 of 313

Dragon Leader

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Indeed, the 256 GB caught my eye and still just 1TB Micro SD support.
(As far as I know, there are currently no 2TB cards on the market but they are about to come I guess, after all, I have had a 1 TB Sandisk Extreme Pro for over 1.5 years now)

Does anyone know if the USB C Ripper still works with the SP3000?

I wonder how Roon Wireless with DSD will perform.
 
Sep 13, 2022 at 12:23 AM Post #9 of 313
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Indeed, the 256 GB caught my eye and still just 1TB Micro SD support.
(As far as I know, there are currently no 2TB cards on the market but they are about to come I guess, after all, I have had a 1 TB Sandisk Extreme Pro for over 1.5 years now)

Does anyone know if the USB C Ripper still works with the SP3000?

I wonder how Roon Wireless with DSD will perform.
Yes, both the 1st gen and 2nd gen CD Ripper work with the SP3000.
 
Astell&Kern Stay updated on Astell&Kern at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/astellnkern/ https://twitter.com/astell_kern https://instagram.com/astellnkern https://us.astellnkern.com support@theinvixion.com
Sep 13, 2022 at 12:31 AM Post #10 of 313
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Indeed, the 256 GB caught my eye and still just 1TB Micro SD support.
(As far as I know, there are currently no 2TB cards on the market but they are about to come I guess, after all, I have had a 1 TB Sandisk Extreme Pro for over 1.5 years now)
With supply chain issues and rising costs of components, the decision was made to do 256GB to keep the price close to the SP2000, while upgrading the player to a higher end Snapdragon processor and doubling the amount of RAM to 8GB in order to significantly speed up the UI, which is one of the areas that users have mentioned needed improvement.

The current SD spec supports up to 2TB cards and all AK players will support 2TB cards when they are eventually released, since they support the current SD specs.
 
Astell&Kern Stay updated on Astell&Kern at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/astellnkern/ https://twitter.com/astell_kern https://instagram.com/astellnkern https://us.astellnkern.com support@theinvixion.com
Sep 13, 2022 at 2:15 AM Post #11 of 313

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With supply chain issues and rising costs of components, the decision was made to do 256GB to keep the price close to the SP2000, while upgrading the player to a higher end Snapdragon processor and doubling the amount of RAM to 8GB in order to significantly speed up the UI, which is one of the areas that users have mentioned needed improvement.

The current SD spec supports up to 2TB cards and all AK players will support 2TB cards when they are eventually released, since they support the current SD specs.
Do you know the realistic maximum read/write speed of the SD card interface?
 
Sep 13, 2022 at 3:30 AM Post #13 of 313

gadgetgod

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Looks neat both the products!!
 
Sep 13, 2022 at 3:43 AM Post #15 of 313

dennisgerrard

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With supply chain issues and rising costs of components, the decision was made to do 256GB to keep the price close to the SP2000, while upgrading the player to a higher end Snapdragon processor and doubling the amount of RAM to 8GB in order to significantly speed up the UI, which is one of the areas that users have mentioned needed improvement.

The current SD spec supports up to 2TB cards and all AK players will support 2TB cards when they are eventually released, since they support the current SD specs.
What is the battery life since the Chips are so many??
 

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