Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000M

Astell&Kern has last Friday during a press event in Beijing, China announced the addition of the SP1000M to A&ultima Flagship Player Line.

Being the latest member of Astell&Kern’s A&ultima line of players which feature the latest technology and high-end audio performance that is available in a portable player.  The A&ultima SP1000M is equipped with two AK4497EQ DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) chips. A separate DAC chip is dedicated to each independent left and right audio channel, producing a wider soundstage and better stereo separation. Coupled with the inclusion of an Octa-Core CPU, the A&ultima SP1000M not only boots faster but is able to process digital audio playback without lag or compromise in sound.

Weighing in at just 203g, the new SP1000M player has been reduced to almost half of the full-sized SP1000 which averages 387.25g.

The DAP is equipped with a 4.1 inch, HD-resolution screen facilitating sharp images and vivid colours to display album art, music playback and player information. The redesigned, music-centric GUI that debuted on the full-sized SP1000 is also implemented on the SP1000M with USB Type-C 3.0 which supports high-speed data transfers. The DAP also provides 10 hours of music playback and includes support for fast charging.

At the launch, the SP1000M is available only in Lapis Blue and features an all-aluminium body.  The DAP will be equipped 128GB of internal memory with a microSD card slot supporting additional memory (currently up to 512gb).

Like the SP1000, the A&ultima SP1000M will include support of native playback of 32-bit/384kHz high-resolution PCM audio and native playback of DSD audio, up to Quad-rate (DSD256) and features 4.2Vrms Balanced output, a Parametric EQ (PEQ), VCXO Reference Clock (Femto Clock) for minimal jitter, Wi-Fi connectivity, support for the AK Connect app, USB DAC function, DLNA networking support, OTA software updates, digital audio output via USB, apt X HD Bluetooth, and support for high-resolution music streaming services including TIDAL, MOOV and Groovers+ (support for streaming services varies by country).

The A&ultima SP1000M will make its official US debut at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, October 5 – 8, 2018.  It is expected to retail for USD 2,399 and will be available in October 2018.

OpenAPK

The company also took the opportunity to announce Android APK support via OpenAPK, allowing users to install additional music streaming services to their player by simply copying and installing the corresponding APK file for the music service they wish to add.

Further Insights

I caught up with Alex An, Director of Astell&Kern with a couple of questions this week to understand more about the A&ultima SP1000M and the Android APK support via OpenAPK.

Beng Yeow: The A&ultima SP1000M being the latest addition to the A&ultima. What is the motivation behind the miniaturisation of the SP1000?

Alex: The letter M describes the characteristics of A&ultima SP1000M and the direction the product pursues. M does not only have one specific meaning but many meanings.

  • MINI: Much smaller than A&ultima SP1000
  • MOBILITY: More portable
  • MAXIMUM: Product having the best audio performance
  • MANIA: Products for special users who enjoy sound close to “original sound” from A&ultima SP1000M.
  • MATE: Anytime, anywhere be with the product
  • MOMENT: A product that becomes the moment with music

Beng Yeow: What was the biggest challenge when developing the SP1000M?

Alex: The biggest challenge was to make the best sound with a physically smaller size.

Beng Yeow: Which group of enthusiast is the SP1000M intended for?

Alex: Audiophile who want to use the flagship player with the best sound, who is more active. So someone who needs a more portable player.

Beng Yeow: The Android APK support has gotten many of the existing users of Astell&Kern users excited, when can we expect an update? And which players will be supported?

Alex: Currently SE100, SP1000M, SP1000 will feature Android APK support. We are targetting a firmware update which includes the Android APK support by the middle of October for the SE100 and SP1000, SP1000M will come with Android APK support pre-installed. As for SR-15, we are still testing if it can support.

Beng Yeow: Thank you, Alex.

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