Home Reviews Astell&Kern A&futura SE200 Review

Astell&Kern A&futura SE200 Review

3

Usability

Like the other AK DAP offerings, the SE200 runs on a highly customised variant of Android. While such customisation allows users a smooth, fluid musical playback experience, it lacks Google Play Services. For those who play music from streaming services, the SE200 supports 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) with Deezer, TIDAL (without off-line storage support) V-Link apps pre-installed. Music streaming service apps validated by AK can be added via the Open APP service. At the time of writing, there is a total of 33 validated apps. For more information about the Open APP service, you can visit AK’s support page. Bluetooth codec wise, the DAP supports aptX HD. Similar to the SR25, the SE200’s support for Bluetooth 4.2 and not 5.0, as well as its lack of 5 GHz Wi-Fi, are chinks in the DAP’s amour.

Equipped with an Octa-Core CPU, the SE200’s UI is responsive to touch with no app compatibility issues experienced during the review process. True to the philosophy of the A&futura line to pursue fundamentally different sound than those found in typical DAPs, the highlight of the SE200 is the multi-DAC set-up which AK claims to have spent twice the usual amount of time on development and tuning. It sports an amplifier circuit with independent sections designed and optimised to the respective DAC’s characteristics. The SE200 separates the signals for balanced and unbalanced channels to minimise distortion and maximise performance, which I considered a standard implementation in any AK DAP offering. In a unique configuration of multi-DAC, this equals two sets of independent balanced and unbalanced channels.

The SE200 delivers playback support up to 32-bit / 384 kHz with native DSD256 and MQA playback, which in my opinion is a standard one can expect from AK’s future DAP offerings given the recent alignment of the A&norma series with the introduction of the SR25.

With 256 GB of internal storage onboard, the SE200 offers twice the storage capacity of SE100 and matches that of the A&ultima SP1000M. And if 256 GB is insufficient, the device supports via its microSD slot external storage of up to 1TB, which is the largest capacity microSD card available at the time of this review.

Referencing the battery life of the SE200 from the device’s specifications, it does appear that the single AK4499EQ DAC draws more power than the pair of ES9068AS DACs, with the former registering 10 hours of continuous playback and the latter registering 14 hours. These are based on the following parameters; FLAC, 16-bit / 44.1kHz, 3.5 mm single-ended, Volume 50, EQ OFF, LCD OFF. Using the same parameters, we registered an average battery life over three cycles of testing of 11 hours, 23 mins, and 6 seconds on the AKM and 15 hours, 1 min and 24 seconds on the ESS.

Like all good DAPs, the SR25 can be used as a USB-DAC, supporting up to 24 bit / 192 kHz and DSD256, a feature that will allow one to experience an enhanced audio experience when working on the PC, be it a laptop or desktop, by simply connecting it to the DAP via USB.

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

3 COMMENTS

  1. ’m planning to replace my SA700 by the SE200.
    What was your experience related with the working temperature?
    I normally listen in DSD format, and the SA700 is uncomfortable since it gets really hot.
    How was the experience with the SE200?

    • Hi Eleazar, most if not all Digital Audio Players will heat up while playing back audio files in the DSD/DSF formats, some more than others. The SE200 definitely warms up after an hour of use but not to the extent that it is unbearable.

      Hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      BY

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