About the Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000M
High-res audio in a compact form
High-res audio in a compact form
The thing that struck me about the Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000M when I held it was how small and light it felt. This player shares many features with the company's high-performance SP1000, but it's smaller and only about half the weight — nice. Plugging in my headphones, I was treated to high-resolution digital music with clean, detailed sound. Very nice — but not surprising.
The player has a 4.1" touchscreen with simple, intuitive controls. And it has a rotary control wheel for dialing in the volume level with fine adjustments.
Built for high-performance audio
The SP1000M has dual digital-to-analog converters (DACs), one for each stereo channel. This ensures outstanding detail and dynamic range, a completely quiet background, and a spacious soundstage.
These powerful AKM AK4497EQ DACs do native playback of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files. You also get bit-perfect playback for PCM-based files up to 32-bit/384kHz. And this DAC configuration produces a surprising amount of detail from your CD-quality and compressed music files, too. The player is compatible with MQA, a high-resolution audio format.
A voltage-controlled high-precision clock tames detail-smearing jitter. This ensures your music will sound as natural and finely detailed as possible.
Built-in Wi-Fi lets the SP1000M easily connect your home network. Wirelessly stream audio (including high-res audio) from your computer, digital music server, smartphone or tablet. And you can stream wirelessly to any DLNA-compatible speakers on your network or to a Bluetooth speaker.
Storage for your music files
The player features 128GB of internal memory — great for the larger file sizes of high-res audio. The microSD card slot can handle cards up to 400GB, for a total possible capacity of 528GB.
Fast charging and file transfer
The SP1000M uses USB 3.0 for charging the player's built-in battery and transferring files. Get a full charge in as little as three hours, plus transfer files at a rate of up to 10GB per second.
- dual AKM AK4497EQ digital-to-analog converters for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
- up to 32-bit/384Khz for PCM and 11.2MHz for DSD
- one DAC each for the left and right channels for proper stereo separation
- native DSD playback (up to 11.2MHz)
- plays MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, AIFF, WMA, DFF, DSF, MQA
- 128GB internal flash memory
- microSD card slot for cards up to 400GB (up to 528GB total memory)
- built-in rechargeable battery with up to 10 hours of operation
Display and Controls:
- 4.1" high-definition touchscreen display
- simplified home screen focuses primarily on music playback
- analog knob on the side controls volume and power
- 20-band EQ with 0.5dB-step adjustments and user-created presets
Processing and Wireless Features:
- octa-core CPU for increased processing speed
- quick boot up, snappy controls, and lag-free operation when playing large digital music files
- built-in Wi-Fi for streaming and downloading music from a networked computer
- Bluetooth 4.1-compatible (A2DP, not recommended for files with sampling rates greater than 48kHz)
Connections and Specs:
- high-speed USB 3.0 type-C port (cable included)
- quick drag-and-drop file transfer and fast battery charging
- 3.5mm unbalanced headphone/optical output
- 2.5mm balanced output (only 4-pole connection supported)
- output level: 2.1Vrms (unbalanced)/ 4.2Vrms (balanced)
- output impedance: 2 ohms (3.5mm headphone output)
- total harmonic distortion: 0.0007% (1kHz, unbalanced output)
- signal-to-noise ratio: 120 dB
- 2-5/8"W x 4-5/8"H x 5/8"D
- includes leather case
- weight: 7.16 ounces
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # 3PPF328C-CMLAN1
What's in the box:
- High-resolution portable digital music player (Lapis Blue)
- Black leather case
- 40" USB-C cable (Type A USB on one end and USB-C on other end)
- Micro SD card slot cover
- 4 Clear screen protectors
- Quick Start Guide
Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000M reviews
The performance of the SP1000M is nothing short of amazing! I've been sitting here for going on three hours now just stepping through my music collection and enjoying every minute. The level of detail is excellent but non-fatiguing. The balance from high to low frequencies is just about perfect without using the eq function, but it is nice to have the option available. The bass is detailed and plays deep, the treble is very natural sounding and extended. Vocals sound spectacular! It is very easy to tell the difference between a less than optimal recording and a good one, but even the bad recordings are still enjoyable. Not sure how they did that, but I like it! One "downside" is that the presentation is so clean and effortless that it is easy to keep turning up the volume. I haven't even used the balanced output yet but hope to do so soon. I've mostly been streaming lossless files from my PC using the MQS Streaming Server app and so far it has worked flawlessly. Fit and finish is excellent as expected and the physical size is just about perfect. No complaints in the looks department, this is a very nice looking piece of gear! I really can't say enough good things about the SP1000M! Very happy that I went ahead and took the plunge and bought it. I'm also very pleased with the level of service from Crutchfield. Ordered it yesterday, got it today, no complaints! Thank you!!
Pros: Amazing sound quality. Lots of ways to enjoy your music collection: Many file formats supported, trouble-free NAS and PC streaming, Internet streaming apps. Excellent build quality.
Cons: No getting around the price but if you want truly high end sound in a portable package, look no further.
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More details on the Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000M
High-Res Portable Digital Audio Player: The Astell&Kern SP1000M is a portable high-resolution music player that delivers true audiophile quality playback. It is a slightly smaller version of the SP1000, but retains many of the desirable components and features. Several new refinements make the SP1000M even better than its predecessor.
Design: The design and vivid blue color of the SP1000M was inspired by one of the world's oldest gems, the Lapis Lazuli. The device comes with a luxurious case made of a premium vegetable leather made from an Italian tanner named Ra Perla Azura. The body is made of lightweight, durable aluminum.
Retained Features: Like its predecessor, the SP1000M is driven by the Exynos 7420 Octa-core processor and dual AKM AK4497EQ DACs (digital-to-audio converters), which allows the player to produce the exact musical detail present in the original recording without distortion and provides a quick, lag-free operation. It is equipped with both balanced (2.5mm) and unbalanced (3.5mm) analog outputs. The SP1000M has a slightly smaller 4.1" HD display with a 720 x 1280 resolution, and a 10-hour rechargeable battery (compared to 5" and 12-hours for the SP1000). The unit measures 2-13/16" (w) x 4-5/8" (h) x 11/16" (d), and weighs 7-1/2 ounces.
Digital Storage: The SP1000M has a built-in 128 GB internal memory, plus a microSD card slot (400 GB max) for a total memory capacity of 528 GB.
Compatible Audio Files: The SP1000M supports the following audio file formats - WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE , AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, and DSF.
- PCM Sample Rate: It supports 8kHz - 384kHz (8/16/24/32 bits per sample)
- DSD Native:
- DSD64: 1-bit / 2.8MHz (Stereo)
- DSD128: 1-bit / 5.6MHz (Stereo)
- DSD128: 1-bit / 11.2MHz (Stereo)
MQS (Mastering Quality Sound): The Astell&Kern SP1000M natively supports MQS (24-bit/4-192kHz), which is the closest quality to the original sound intended by a recording artist. Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) is an acronym of collective lossless and high-resolution audio source formats that typically come encoded with 24-bit, 44-192kHz of bit/sampling rates. Since MQS delivers about 6.5x more detail than a conventional CD (16bit/44.1kHz), listeners can enjoy a more realistic music experience.
Femto Clock: The Astell&Kern SP1000M uses a voltage-controlled crystal oscillator (VCXO) high-precision clock with a reference jitter value of 200 femtoseconds. Femto clocks are typically used in high-end audio components. The clock is measured in femtosecond units (one quadrillionth of a second -- or 1/1000 trillion) which allows the device to create a more accurate frequency value and make fine jitter corrections. Typical clock jitter in the SP1000M is measured at 30 picoseconds (or 30/1-trillionth).
20-band Parametric EQ: The SP1000M features a parametric EQ and an audio DSP to allow you to make detailed adjustments in the original sound to suit your tastes. The devices has a 20-band EQ with ±0.1dB adjustments, plus variable gain and Q values. You can set the EQ curve by simply "drawing" the curve on the touchscreen. The EQ frequency bands include: 30Hz, 45Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, 180Hz, 250Hz, 380Hz, 500Hz, 750Hz, 1kHz, 1.5kHz, 2kHz, 3kHz, 4kHz, 6kHz, 8kHz, 12kHz, 14kHz, and 18kHz. You can adjust the gain from -5dB to +5dB in 0.1dB increments, and the Q from 0.1 to 4.0dB in 0.1dB increments. If you choose not to activate the Parametric EQ, you can use the Pro EQ presets recommended by professionals.
USB DAC: You can use the SP1000M as an external USB DAC which supports Native DSD playback. With the Dual DACs and the exclusive DSD chip, the SP1000M delivers much better sounding audio than your computer's built-in sound card. Connect the unit via USB from your computer and listen to your stored digital music with headphones, powered speakers, or home stereo. The USB DAC is compatible with the following computer operating systems and audio formats:
- Computer OS: Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 (32-/64-bit versions) and Mac OS X 10.7-up.
- Audio Formats: PCM (8-384 kHz (8/16/24/32-bit) and DSD (2.8/5.6/11.2 MHz).
Balanced/Unbalanced Outputs: The Astell&Kern SP1000M offers both balanced (L+/L-/R+/R-) and unbalanced outputs (L+/R+/GND). Balanced outputs have an additional "cold" signal to compliment the hot signal, which reduces external noise and increases output. The balanced output is a 4-conductor 2.5mm port (1 ohm) on the top of the device. You can also connect an external audio device to the SP1000M by connecting to both the earphones port (ground) and the balanced port (LR), using an optional balanced cable available from Astell&Kern. The Micro USB and four contacts on the bottom of the SP1000M provide a balanced output to an Astell&Kern expansion device, such as the SP1000M Amp or SP1000M Cradle (sold separately).
USB-C: The SP1000M has a USB-C port on the bottom of the unit for connecting the unit to your computer for downloading music files and for charging the battery. USB Type-C allows file transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps and supports both data transfer and charging from the same cable. USB 3.0 protocol transfers data twice as fast when compared to many other Astell&Kern players. The SP1000M is compatible with Windows 7, 8/8.1, and 10, as well as Mac OS X 10.7 or later.
Wi-Fi Capability: The SP1000M features built-in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n--2.4GHz), allowing you to connect the device and your computer to the same network for streaming and downloading music. With the MQS Streaming Server software installed on your PC or Mac, you can use the SP1000M to access music files stored on your computer's hard drive or a connected HDD. In addition, the Wi-Fi connection allows you to receive notifications of new available firmware updates (OTA Upgrades), allowing you to download them on the spot.
Bluetooth w/ apt-X HD: The SP1000M also has built-in Bluetooth V4.1 with A2DP/AVRCP support for connecting a Bluetooth device to listen to music wirelessly. Qualcomm's apt-X HD allows audio to be wirelessly streamed in significantly higher quality than over standard Bluetooth.
AK Connect (DLNA): The SP1000M can stream or download music files stored on a computer on the same network via DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance). Using the AK Connect app (available for iPad running iOS 8.0 or later or Android devices running version 4.2 and up), you can connect to a NAS or PC and control it with a smartphone or tablet.
Rechargeable Battery: The SP1000M is equipped with a built-in rechargeable 3.7-volt Lithium-ion battery (3300mAh). The battery charges via USB in about 3 hours (with a 9V/1.67A fast charger). A fully charged battery can provide up to approximately 10 hours of continuous playback time (based on FLAC 16-bit/44kHz file at 50% volume (level 75 of 150), with the LCD off).
Protective Film: The unit includes a number of protective films to keep the touchscreen and the rear panel scratch-free.
- Frequency Response:
- Unbalanced: 20-20kHz (+/-0.062dB), 10-70kHz (+/-0.68dB)\
- Balanced: 20-20kHz (+/-0.061dB), 10-70kHz (+/-0.67dB)
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR):
- Unbalanced: 120dB @ 1kHz
- Balanced: 123dB @ 1kHz
- Unbalanced: 138dB @ 1kHz
- Balanced: 144dB @ 1kHz
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD+N):
- Unbalanced: 0.0007% @ 1kHz
- Balanced: 0.0006% @ 1kHz
- IMD SMPTE:
- Unbalanced: 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1)
- Balanced: 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1)
- Output Impedance:
- Headphone Out 3.5mm: 2 ohm
- Balanced Out 2.5mm: 1 ohm
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