Astell & Kern is no stranger to a premium portable music player or two, but the A&ultima SP3000 turns things up even further. The South Korean audio experts used the same 904L stainless steel found in luxury watches for its new flagship, while cramming it full of high-end hardware. Then it decided that wasn’t fancy enough, and released a version made from pure copper.
The stainless steel (in your choice of black or silver colours) or hand-finished copper chassis surrounds a 5.46in Full HD display and is paired with a watch-style crown for quick controls. A leather case made by French master crafter Alran should keep it damage-free while on the move.
Underneath, the firm reckons it’s the first digital audio player with independent dual audio circuitry, completely separating the balanced and unbalanced outputs for the best possible sound.
Audio processing comes courtesy of an Asahi Kasei AK4499EX DAC, which should handle just about any audio format including MQA and native DSD 512. There’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 CPU for power, with support for aptX HD and LDAC Bluetooth connections, and A&K has overhauled its Android-based UI for easier navigation. It’ll work with all the major music streaming services, and supports Roon multi-room setups.
The A&ultima SP3000 is up for order right now, but you’ll need to be seriously committed to sound in order to afford one: prices are set to start from £3799/$3699/AUS$5499. The SP3000 Copper will set you back a similar amount, but is a limited-run model being sold directly from the Astell&Kern UK website.
If you’re still feeling particularly flush, you might want to pair your new media player with an appropriately pricey set of headphones. The Odyssey in-ear monitors are a collab between Astell & Kern and IEM specialist Empire Ears, with a whopping ten drivers in each ear. Five balanced armatures, dual electrostatic drivers and a pair of woofers are joined by a bone conductor, for what A&K says is a “clear, precise and powerful sound”.
Stated frequency response is an incredible 5Hz-100kHz, and if you haven’t noticed from the pics above, they’re pretty distinctive too. Each monitor has a handcrafted dichroic faceplate made up of of multiple polymer layers, effectively making every pair unique.
You’ll be able to snag a pair later this year from ‘specialist retailers’, according to the firm. They’ll set you back a wallet-busting £3499.
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