Astell&Kern’s SP2000T is a £2K tube that audiophiles can take anywhere

Mind the DAC
27 August 2021 / 13:11BST

There’s nothing like the vintage sonic warmth of a tube amp. Trouble is, it’s a little tricky to stash one in your satchel. Enter Astell&Kern’s A&ultima SP2000T: building on the operational amp setup of the SP2000 before it, the updated premium player packs a dual-triode KORG Nutube into its classy aluminium chassis. That means you can pick between high-res clarity, analogue vibes or a hybrid of the two – all in an audio device that’s compact enough to accompany you on your commute. Connectivity is dealt with by dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 (backed up by 24-bit aptX HD and LDAC support), while 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm output ports mean you shouldn’t have a problem plugging in. Add a new quad-DAC setup (two per channel), plus replay gain smarts for uniform playback volume, and the SP2000T almost does enough to justify its £1999 price tag. Almost.