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Astell&Kern A&futura SE100 Review

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Goh Beng Yeow
Goh Beng Yeow
Goh Beng Yeow, the Founder / Editor at Porta-Fi™, is a recipient of the IT Youth Award in Singapore. Twice nominated for EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, Beng Yeow has previously founded startups such as PDALive.com, Coded Pixels Consultants and was a Tech writer for TODAY, a national daily newspaper under MediaCorp. Since 2017, he has been writing, editing and producing commentaries, interviews, news and reviews on Porta-Fi™. In 2019, Beng Yeow was appointed Advisor to LHDC™, the industry's latest low latency and high-definition Bluetooth audio codec.
Usability

Powering on the A&futura SE100, one would be greeted by the familiar UI first introduced on the A&ultima SP1000. Running on the same custom Android 6.0, the A&futura is similarly equipped with an octa-core CPU. Astell&Kern have recently updated the firmware to bring alignment of functionalities its A&ultima and A&futura lines. The update sees the addition of the Virtual back button, Open APP service function (aka OpenAPK) as well as the Deezer APP service to the A&futura SE100.

Open APP service is a highly anticipated feature since the company’s official announcement in early October as it adds support for streaming music apps designed for Android devices, 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.

Astell&Kern A&futura SE100

Photo Credit: Alex An

The inclusion of the Virtual back button aids to improve the user experience, which in my personal opinion addresses the lack of a consistent back button location throughout the UI which was one of my sole complaint of what is otherwise, an intuitive and responsive UI with a clean and minimalist feel to it.

Supporting both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the wireless capabilities of the A&futura SE100 make it a capable device for real-time wireless audio streaming which is trending today. The Wi-Fi supports 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz) while Bluetooth 4.1 is implemented with support for A2DP, AVRCP as well as aptXTM HD codec.

The availability of Open APP has made it possible for the A&futura SE100 to perform real-time wireless audio streaming, with Internet connectivity via Wi-Fi through a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The DAP has an internal storage of 128GB and a microSD card slot supporting up to 512GB microSD card, the highest capacity available at the time of this review. Providing potentially 640GB of memory storage for music files and streaming services such as Tidal which offers Offline Mode to store albums or playlists when you have Internet connectivity, enabling the ability to listen to music on the go without Internet connectivity.

Astell&Kern A&futura SE100

The A&futura SE100 also features a bi-directional USB Type-C port that can be used to charge and transmit data, supporting USB 3.1 Gen 2 which allows file transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. Although the device supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, the package does not include the 9V/1.67A charger which would allow 15W charging power on the DAP, reducing the charging time to 2 hours from 5 hours on conventional charging (5V/2A). Do invest in a 9V/1.67A USB charger if you own an A&futura SE100.

During the review period, I was able to achieve an average playback time of 10 hours and 42 minutes from the device’s internal 3,700 mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer battery, not too far from the 11 hours on the specifications provided by Astell&Kern.

The A&futura SE100 supports audio playback of up to 384 kHz/32 bit as well as DSD up to DSD256, formats supported include WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF.

Part 1: Introduction, Design and Build
Part 2: Usability
Part 3: Sound Quality
Part 4: Product Specifications
Part 5: Review Ratings, Summary

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