The new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 offers two discrete DACs in one device for the truly discerning listener
Despite the rise of smartphones as many people’s principle audio device, there continues to exist a niche market of portable audio players that typically offers better sound than you will get from a phone. South Korean high-end audio specialists Astell & Kern have revealed their latest high-end player and it features a unique wrinkle not seen on any other device in its class. The new Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 includes discrete DAC audio circuitry from two different suppliers combined in the one device making it effectively two players in one.
DAC stands for digital-to-analog converter and it is a critical component in the audio listening experience. Most smartphone makers (with LG being a notable exception) just use the integrated DAC built into their SoC of choice leaving space for audio makers like Astell & Kern to continue making portable audio devices that are built around a high-end DAC. Like most things, the more you pay, the better the quality – in this instance, Astell & Kern have included a top-notch DAC from AKM (AK4499EQ) and ESS (dual ES9068AS).
Why two? It certainly offers a novelty factor, but it does highlight that each DAC will produce a sound with different sonic qualities. In some instances, a DAC will be suited to one type of music than better than another. With two DACs onboard, the chances are you are going to be able to find just the right settings for the all the genres that you like to listen to. In this case, each DAC also has tailored audio circuitry with the DAC makers offering custom filters for each DAC further refining the listening experience.
Clearly, the Astell & Kern A&futura SE200 is for the most discerning of listeners, and probably one with an eclectic taste in music. At US$1,799, you are going to have to really love your music to invest in one, but for those who this device is targeted at, it will be an investment well worth it.