If you’re looking for a portable audio rig and you say the world’s sexiest magic words, “money is no object,” then you’re in luck. Astell&Kern just launched A&ultima SP3000 digital audio player (DAP) and the Odyssey, a “next-generation” in-ear monitor (IEM).
I kid, of course, but you certainly need money-is-no-object moolah for this ensemble. The SP3000 costs a cool $5,799, while The Odyssey is priced a little more modestly at $5,299. If you throw in a high-end cable like Effect Audio’s Centurion, then that’s another USD 4,999.
When it comes to the price of a high-end, portable audiophile kit, it seems that the sky’s the limit. But could you say the same for the sound? The answer is: maybe? The law of diminishing returns applies when it comes to audio quality, and yet, there often isn’t a cheaper way for certain processes. In the case of the SP3000, milling the case from a high-quality block of 904L stainless steel adds a lot to the price tag, for example, and that’s just the start.
Astell&Kern’s new offering is also the world’s first DAP with independent Dual Audio Circuitry. The design enables a complete separation of balanced and unbalanced output (HEXA Audio Circuitry Structure), which Astell&Kern says allows for the “purest possible sonic reproduction.” The DAP also features a new flagship DAC–the AK4499EX from Asahi Kasei.
Alongside the HEXA DAC is Astell&Kern’s unique and updated TERATON ALPHA technology, which combines effective power noise removal, efficient power management and unwavering amplification, and a fully converted audio output interface in order to get the sound to be as close as possible to the source recording.
The SP3000 is built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 Octa-Core processor that also supports aptX-HD and LDAC wireless streaming; alas, no aptX Lossless here, but LDAC is quite decent as it is. The DAP also supports MQA and can process Native DSD 512 file formats.
The Odyssey is the result of a collaboration between Astell&Kern and Empire Ears, a unique 10-driver ‘Quadbrid’ IEM that features Empire’s own Dual Conduction Architecture.
It’s hard to miss it even when across the room, thanks to its handcrafted, one-of-a-kind dichroic faceplate. The plates consist of nine individual polymer layers in three proprietary lamination steps, resulting in unique colour transitions according to the viewing angle.
The 10-driver ‘Quadbrid’ features twin W9+ Subwoofers, 5 Balanced Armatures, dual Electrostatics and a W10 Bone Conductor. It all comes together via a seven-way synX crossover network and EIVEC MKII engine that harmonises all drivers for perfect coherence and timing throughout the whopping 5Hz-100kHz frequency response range.
The unique design also uses both air and bone conduction to transmit sound and helps maximise listener immersion with a sound that you can hear and feel.
The $5,799 Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000 and comes with an ALRAN leather case that has been hand-boarded to emphasise the texture of the leather. The Odyssey retails for $5,299. Both are available exclusively at AV One.