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Astell&Kern new flagship A&Ultima SP2000

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by beaux, May 7, 2019.
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  1. mthaynes
    got mine and am enjoying it. works very well with my HD800s. should be noted that I have a short cable with balanced mini plug on the HD 800 custom cables which are black dragons. From my experience AK240 and 380 the AK platform is very sensitive to cable length and thickness.

    The best cable is have found are the crystal cables that were made for the AK platforms.

    in my car (yes I know car audio blows but hear me out). I have a 2013 GTS Cayenne with the Burmester sound option. 10 speakers and 1000 watts. I used my 240 and 380 to drive this system. I tried a bunch on mini plug to mini plug setups from audio quest, monster cable - anything I could get my hands on. The best was a cheep Monster cable set up. then I tried the Crystal cable. it did not take a long listening. after 10 seconds I was like how did I not have this in my life!!! Sad to say the cable is no longer available.

    I have just ordered the AK mini to mini plug to give it a try, but I have to ask. Jason - please bring back the Crystal Cable options to AK. yes that are expensive but so worth it.

    On to my observations of the SP2000

    the biggest listening change over my old AK 380 is the EQ settings. there are a lot of other changes, but this one stood out to me.

    The "proEQ" setting on the AK 380 was much louder than when the EQ was turned off. the SP 2000 is exactly the opposite. The "Normal EQ" setting on the SP2000 is much quieter than when the EQ is turned off.

    is there any place the the settings for the default EQ "normal EQ". posted anywhere. would like to know as I would be interested in adjusting the sound slightly with my own EQ settings, but don't want to start from scratch.

    Thanks for the help
  2. twister6 Contributor
    The idea of dropping the volume when EQ enabled is to create headroom for adjustment so you don't saturate as you raising the gain of various bands. That is a proper way of EQ implementation.
  3. mthaynes
    Agreed. but it does not support the original programing on the AK 380's delivered EQ program. Also note the variance between non-eq and EQ is extreme. I don't think that if you built a custom EQ with all the settings set to max that it would rival the non-eq setting on the SP2000.

    While dropping the volume of the eq does stop users from making bad adjustments. I personally would rather have an EQ that allowed me within reason to make bad deigns. proper EQ means having respect for the adjustment tool that you have been given access too.

    as a consumer product I can agree with the safeguard that stops people from doing bad things. but I would argue that the 380 / 2000 are not a consumer products per say, but rather expert tools. Just my personal opinion
  4. Giraku
    Personally, I don't use EQ. EQ operation is done in frequency domain. Manipulating the original signal in frequency domain to adjust amplitude at certain frequencies always messes up with the phase information. Altered phase may cause unwanted effect on staging/imaging. To my ears, every time I play with EQ, I found sound stage and air/distance between instruments got messed up. This is the reason why I always bypass EQ.
    Sound Eq, raelamb and bmichels like this.
  5. Torq
    I was running a combination of the SP1000M (Blue) and the Cayin N8 (Brass-Black), to cover my "travel/streaming" and "transportable" DAP needs, respectively. But the new DAC and amp setup in the SP2000, along with the increased storage (something I'm always fighting against, even with a 1 TB card), was tempting enough that I wanted to see how the SP2000 faired. And, at least with full-size cans, it's convincingly better than the SP1000M. The copper finish was just an additional incentive to jump-in.

    Lots more listening to do to see if the extra weight is offset by sound quality and storage improvements for travel/streaming purposes - as that's how it'll probably get used.

    Gratuitous how-much-copper-can-we-have shot ...

    AKSP2000 - Verite Cocobolo (1536).jpg
  6. noplsestar
    great to see you got the Sp2kcu! I am looking forward to reading your comparisons with N8! What about lesser demanding headphones like Stellia, does it also sound „better“ on the SP2k compared to the SP1000M?
  7. jmills8
    I demoed the sp2000 CU , pretty much similar to the sp1000SS. On my th900 had to put the sp2000 at 120 volume.
  8. gazzington
    Sounds like it's not worth the massive price for a small improvement on sp1000
    jmills8 likes this.
  9. Sound Eq
    i am not sure if i understood correctly, but in my books eq in all ak daps is not great, thanks god i do not use eq anymore and i just enjoy AK daps without eq
  10. jmills8
    Maybe for iems but not for headphones. Maybe for classical or female easy to push music. Not good for Rock , Metal , Synths , Indie , EDM. My little Hifiman R2R pushes my headphones deeper and gives better detail.
  11. jmills8
    Its eq is blah and without eq it sounds THIN , lacks DEPTH. Besides that yeah it sounds good but many daps sound good. I want great not good.
    Tawek likes this.
  12. EndGameSearch
    I’ll restate my question. The built in EQ on most DAPs only works with their default music players, not with the apps you load, such as Tidal or Qobuz. I use digital EQ via Roon to tweak the signature on most of my HP’s and some of my Iem’s when using my desktop rigs. In this instance, I would like to use EQ to mimic the Audeze plug-in integrated into Roon for the LCDi4. The settings I use on other devices works well and I do not enjoy the i4’s nearly as much without it. When using my phone as a source for Hugo 2 I use the app called “Boom”. It is a Tidal player which also allows you to add EQ. It works well, but I’m looking for a solution that sounds as good (or nearly as good) as Hugo 2 and supports system wide EQ.
  13. Sound Eq
    AK eq works system wide as well, even with that feature its a bad eq period, so built in eq of AK will work with tidal and other apps
  14. EndGameSearch
    Thank you. Now to determine if bad eq is better or worse than no eq.
  15. Sound Eq
    no way can i be convinced that using eq on AK daps can match sound quality of without EQ. Simply AK is stubborn about their approach, wish to know who on AK team is the reason for such decisions to have some serious talk with that guy or lady. As he or she is stubborn as hell, not caring about any other feedback from people
    dhc0329 likes this.
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