Astell & Kern SE100: A&futura Impressions - Reviews

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by Stevemitchell, Jun 25, 2018.
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  1. Stevemitchell
    Started new thread from "Incoming......" now that folks are getting hands-on...

    I guess I've had my SE100 for just over 3 weeks. I've spent many, many hours listening, and my overwhelming impression is more details and clarity. I'm not greatly gifted with the use of superfluous superlatives - just know that this is the most I've ever spent for gear besides my Noble Kaiser's, which I replaced with my A&K T8iEmkii's. So far, I'm very happy.
     
    Tinnitus Man and Mike-WI like this.
  2. Tinnitus Man
    A&futura, SE100

    obj_1_lg.png

    A&futura is a premium line of players with advanced features that bring the original performance to life.
    The SE100, the first model of A&futura, is designed for you to feel the quality of premium Hi-Fi from the moment you hold it.

    Radically different sound by ES9038 Pro 8-channel DAC
    Next Level performance with Octa-core CPU
    5-inch display with HD screen resolution and improved user interface
    Similar audio block design of SP1000 for premium Hi-Fi audio performance


    A&futura SE100 is the first step in your premium audio journey.

    General Specifications

    Model
    - SE100
    Body Color - Titan Silver
    Body Material - Aluminum
    Display - 5inch (720 x 1,280) Touchscreen
    Supported Audio Formats - WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF
    Sample rate - PCM : 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample) / DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo
    / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo
    Output Level - Unbalance 2.0Vrms / Balance 4.1Vrms (Condition No Load)
    CPU - Octa-core
    DAC - ESS SABRE ES9038PRO 8channel
    Decoding - Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit Decoding
    Input - USB 3.0 Type-C input (for charging & data transfer (PC & MAC)) / Connection Mode : MTP (Media Device)
    Outputs - PHONES (3.5mm) / Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported)
    Wi-Fi - 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
    Bluetooth - V4.1 (A2DP, AVRCP, aptXTM HD)
    Dimensions - 2.98 ”(75.8 mm) [W] x 5.22 ”(132.7 mm) [H] x 0.6 ”(15.3 mm) [D]
    Weight - 8.5 oz (241 g)
    Feature Enhancements - Firmware upgrades supported (OTA)

    Audio Performance
    Frequency Response
    - ±0.038dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalance / ±0.028dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz)
    Balance
    - ±0.074dB (Condition: 10Hz~70kHz) Unbalance / ±0.030dB (Condition: 10Hz~70kHz) Balance
    Signal to Noise Ratio - 122dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 123dB @ 1kHz, Balance
    Crosstalk - 138dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 144dB @ 1kHz, Balance
    THD+N - 0.0007% @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Balance
    IMD SMPTE - 0.0006% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Unbalance / 0.0005% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Balance
    Output Impedance - Balanced out 2.5mm (1ohm) / PHONES 3.5mm (1.5ohm)

    Clock source
    Clock Jitter
    - 800 Femto Seconds
    Reference Clock Jitter - 250 Femto Seconds

    Battery
    Capacity
    - 3,700mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer Battery
    Continuous Playback Time - up to 11 hours (Standard - MUSIC: FLAC, 16-bit/44kHz, Volume 75, LCD Off)
    Charge Time - About 2 hours (Standard - 9V/1.67A Fast charging)

    Memory
    Built-in
    Memory - 128GB [NAND]
    External Memory - microSD (Max 400GB) x1

    Astell & Kern Product Page

    Launch Prices - 1699USD, 1499GBP
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  3. Mike-WI
    Thanks for starting thread.
    I am near pulling the trigger on SE100.

    FYI...
    https://us.astellnkern.com/

    A&ultima - Flagship, highest quality materials, most features
    A&futura - Intermediate, most popular features
    A&norma - entry-level, users new to AK family, everything you need to get started in hi-res audio


    Mike

    EDIT: Ordered 6-25-18. Miter case ordered from e-bay.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
    PonDicky likes this.
  4. diver110
    Personally, I would like to see the SE 100 have its own thread.
     
  5. Tinnitus Man
    Copying across my initial thoughts on this DAP from the previous thread (seems more relevant here now this thread is here)

    The UI is pretty snappy. It's different to the old AK Jr, but in a good way. It's still recongnizable from AKs of old (I also have an AK Jr). Scrolling is good, and you can drag the slider bar up and down for even snappier scrolling. Search button works well for searching for album/artist etc. (but you have to go back to the main screen to use it each time).

    Sounds different to my previous AR M20 - cooler, more transparent, more honest I'd say, but I'm not an expert listener by any stretch of the imagination. I also don't have balanced headphones.

    Pros - lots. Snappy UI, sounds great. Cons - The design makes it difficult to pick up from the desk. The side buttons are a bit too small. If you have an artist with many albums, you have to scroll past all of the songs in each album to get to the lower albums. There's no sorting options. You can't stop the screen from blanking out and you're forced to press the power button on top to wake the screen back up (there's no tap-to-wake). If you don't have a USB3 port on your computer, it takes a long time to charge and copy music (charges noticably slower than my old AR M20). I’ve since learnt that the SE100 builds its music database while copying music, so you can forgive that (you don’t have to wait ten minutes for it to rescan the database when you disconnect the USB lead).

    Would I recommend one? It's a subjective choice. I don't want to buy another DAP for a long time to come, so I reasoned that over time I'd save money on constantly chasing the mid-price rainbow. As much as I liked my old AR M20, I hated it crashing every few days (and it having no pause button). I figured that the SP1000 has stood the test of time, so the SE100 should do the same.

    What else did I consider? The Sony WM1A and the HiBy R6. I used to own a ZX2 in the past, but I sold it because it had a fairly small screen and I suffered from Android update angst. I think that HiBy is doing a great job in giving a better Android experience, I'm interested in seeing how they progress into the marketplace.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
    ranfan likes this.
  6. Tinnitus Man
    OK, so I figured out how to copy external playlists onto the SE100. What I had happening before was that the m3u file was being wiped (zero bytes) whenever I tried to copy playlist files into the "Playlists" folder, even when I took a copy of one I created on the SE100, amended it, and copied it back.

    Looks like it's the same as the SP1000 in that the player validates the playlist file as it's being copied (hence why it takes a while to copy over).

    The trick is thus:

    Forget about copying stuff into the "Playlists" folder

    Edit your playlist file and remove the initial path:-
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/01 Homesick.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/02 Kathleen.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/03 Cocoon.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/04 Fallout.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/05 Pacifier.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/06 Hourglass.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/07 Business.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/08 26.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/09 Rango.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/10 Sidewinder.m4a
    Catfish and the Bottlemen/The Balcony/11 Tyrants.m4a
    Public Service Broadcasting/Inform - Educate - Entertain/01 Inform - Educate - Entertain.m4a
    Public Service Broadcasting/Inform - Educate - Entertain/02 Spitfire.m4a

    This is assuming that you've copied everything into the "Internal Storage" folder and havent created a sub-folder.

    Copy your new playlist file into the root of the Internal Storage folder.

    It should then work.
     
  7. PonDicky
    Tinnitus Man,

    Were you able to update the device once you got it home later? If so, did you notice any changes? You mentioned needing to scroll through all the artists songs album by album if they have a lot. In some of the SP1000 videos I've seen there are what appear to be sorting options at the top right. I could be wrong about this as I've never had an A&K player. I'm just curious if that was added in an update or if I am just misunderstanding those icons functions.
     
  8. PonDicky
    Glad you ordered one too, I'm 99% sure it's going to be an awesome device. Now we play the waiting game.

    I caved last night and ordered the A&K red case. I'll make a decision then on which I like better and get rid of the other.
     
    Mike-WI likes this.
  9. Mike-WI
    The Miter cases are cheaper (although at this level it's just crazy money - to me at least) and have a stand that seems useful.
    Arrival is "a few weeks", so likely on a boat delivery.

    Mike
     
  10. Tinnitus Man
    I didn't notice any significant changes to functionality with the new firmware. For the artist view, you do get a highlighted header image for the allbums, but there's a fair amount of scrolling to get to the one you want. There are, however, differnt views available in "album" view, so you get different size thumbnails. I wouldn't say that "artist" view is bad, but you don't get the hiearchy of artist->album->song that you might expect.

    A few screen caps below for the sorting/display options. Not that in Album and Artist menus, you don't get any sort functionality at all. You can only sort in the MQS section.

    In Artist view, you get Album name/art as headings (in this cap, you see the last part of the first album and the start of another.
    20180626_131836205_iOS.jpg

    In Album view, you get to switch between name, and two sizes of art thumbnails:
    20180626_132007310_iOS.jpg

    20180626_132014808_iOS.jpg

    20180626_132022173_iOS.jpg

    In each of these, the hamburger icon with the arrow (top right) is how you add things to the "now playing" playlist. The Hamburger with the bullet points is select mode (tick/untick items to be saved to a playlist)

    In the MQS view, you have a sort icon:
    20180626_132216078_iOS.jpg

    20180626_132222910_iOS.jpg

    Allowing you to sort by song name or album name. In "Artist" view, you can sort by Artist or by song name. I can't figure out the sorting logic for "Song" view - it alternates between song time and sort-of-song title.

    Please note that I don't listen to Ronan Keating, it got swept up in the mad "upload stuff to my new DAP" phase.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
    yaslam, ranfan and PonDicky like this.
  11. PonDicky
    You really went all out going through that, thank you. That explains what I saw, the album view toggle. I'm curious why they didn't include more sorting options, but with the level of polish on this thing as a whole, that's pretty negligible for me.

    I'm guessing in Artist view it sorts albums by either release date or by name. I'm either in for long scroll to get to Let It Be or Yellow Submarine.

    To be honest, I have no idea who Ronan Keating is, but I wouldn't judge you on your dubious taste in music anyway. :)
     
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  12. Tinnitus Man
    I hope you enjoy it as much as I do when you get it. To be fair, the vast majority of my listening is playlist based, so navigation isn’t really a bit consideration for me.

    If anyone else has questions, I’ll be glad to help.
     
    PonDicky likes this.
  13. lesc
    Thank you so much for the information.

    Couple of basic questions from a prospective buyer. My main interest is to use it as a server/streamer for my home stereo.

    1) How long does it take to boot up?

    2) When you have music in both the internal and external memory, do they work as a single volume? Or do you have to select the source before browsing?

    Thanks again for your sharing.

    Les
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  14. Tinnitus Man
    It takes about 15-20 seconds to boot up. I’m pretty sure that it treats internal/external storage as the same. Songs are added to the library as they’re copied on, so location doesn’t matter to it.

    The only time internal/external matters is when you manually edit playlists files.
     
  15. lesc
    Thank you again for your quick answer. Much appreciated.

    Also, another question...

    I know this is subjective, but would you characterize the sound more in the realm of "bright/etched" or "smooth/clear"? Sometimes detailed presentation equals listening fatigue, you know?
     
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