With its dual DACs, the Astell&Kern SE200 could just be the ultimate music player
June 29, 2020

Over the years, Astell&Kern have built a devoted following among audiophiles with devices like the A&K Kann and the Cube, which delivered high fidelity with powerful output and low noise.

The A&K SE200 is positioned as the world’s first dual-DAC music player. Now dual DAC’s are not unknown in the industry, with many flagship portable players having them. [The Kann Cube, for instance had two 8-channel ES9038PRO DACs]

So what makes the Astell & Kern SE200 different?

The SE200 actually uses a combination of three flagship DAC chips. That’s two Sabre ESS9068AS DACs in a dual configuration) as well as a single AKM4499EQ (which is found in A&K’s flagship SP2000 player).

This multi-DAC implementation means if you are lucky to own one, you can customise the SE200’s sound based on your preferences and music type, with the DAC filters offering opportunities for further fine-tuning.

To prevent the ESS and AKM DACs from detrimentally interfering with each other, and to thus preserve the integrity of the music signal, Astell & Kern has used independent circuits for each, within which balanced and unbalanced signals are also separated. In terms of a distinction from a design perspective, the SE200’s trademark volume wheel is divided In two to represent the two types of DAC on board. Its LED is colour coded to display volume, bit-rate and DAC status.

In terms of specs, the SE200 has 256GB of storage upgradeable up to 1TB via microSD, as well as aptX HD Bluetooth wireless, and 32-bit/384kHz file and DSD256 playback. The claimed battery life is a rather impressive 14 hours.

Of course, privilege comes at a price. The Astell & Kern SE200 music player is priced at $1,799. In our part of the world, head to Dubai Audio, aficionados of hi-end sound and Astell&Kern’s distributor in the Middle East.

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: editor@t3me.com.
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