Astell&Kern | Interview  

At High End Munich 2024, Astell&Kern has returned with exciting new launches. We spoke with their team about the latest releases: the SP3000T – their newest flagship DAP, NOVUS – an IEM collaboration with Empire Ears, and the ACTIVO P1, a new surprise from their newly released ACTIVO brand. Read on to discover the innovative concepts and features behind these products and what Astell&Kern has in store for the future.

Der Astell&Kern SP3000T

The SP3000T bears the same name as your iconic SP3000 flagship. What is the concept behind this version? 

AK: SP3000T is a successful combination between our flagship player – SP3000, and the warm sound of tube amplification. It features a stainless-steel body, with 99.9% pure silver plating, which gives the SP3000T a classic look that fully complements the vintage tube amp used in the player. 

The SP3000T uses the latest flagship DAC from Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM), the AKM AK4499EX and the AK4191EQ, same as the current SP3000 flagship, but the difference lies in the number of DAC chipsets. We used 2 x AK4499EX and 2 x AK4191EQ for SP3000T, while the original SP3000 used 4 x AK4499EX and 2 x AK4191EQ). 

Another difference between the two players is the vacuum tube. The SP3000T uses the RAYTHEON JAN6418 MIL-SPEC Vintage Vacuum Tubes. The SP3000T also features our Triple Amp System applied in SP2000T which allows users to customize their sound profile using tube amplification, a digital op-amp, or a hybrid combination of both tube and op-amps. All three modes are available with 2.5mm, 3.5mm or 4.4mm outputs. 

Astell&Kern x Empire Ears Novus

NOVUS marks yet another collaboration with Empire Ears. What is the background or idea behind this collaboration? 

AK: NOVUS has been developed to extract the pinnacle of sound from the Astell&Kern SP3000T, combining the most delicately crafted analog vacuum tube sound with ultra-high-resolution original sound. 

What are the key features of NOVUS? 

AK: NOVUS is an IEM with Quadbridge design that uses 13 drivers. Some of its most important features are: 

  • High-tech driver meeting with bone conduction technology 
  • 24K Pure Gold Plating Faceplates 
  • Sapphire Glass 
  • 6061-T6 Aluminum Shell finished in DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) 
  • 4-Wire Hybrid Copper, Gold & Silver Cable 

What driver concept and sound signature can customers expect? 

AK: NOVUS features a dual conduction structure that combines air and bone conduction. The frequency response, which extends from 5Hz to 100kHz via air conduction, is combined with dual W9+ subwoofers, five balanced armatures, and dual electrostatic devices to provide a wide sound spectrum. 

Activo P1

Tell us more about ACTIVO. Is it a whole new series of DAPs? Which will be the first model? 

AK: ACTIVO is our newest brand – an entry level collection of products created to match a wider range of user preferences, especially those with an active lifestyle. 

How is it different from the other Astell&Kern devices? Does ACTIVO P1 share the same hardware as an entry level SR35, for instance? What about the operating system and user interface? 

AK: ACTIVO and Astell&Kern products do share some similarities in technology, but the concept is quite different. Some key features of ACTIVO are: 

  • Equipped with UX/UI that suits an active lifestyle 
  • Compatibility with a variety of music streaming services 
  • Minimal, compact design that’s easy to use 

Can you provide insights into what else we can anticipate under the ACTIVO line? 

AK: We are preparing a variety of products under the ACTIVO brand, that will fit in the category of affordable audio products that suit a wide range of users. 

Looking ahead, what can we expect from your brand for the remainder of 2024? 

AK: We cannot unveil at this stage, but one thing clear is that there will be upcoming models you would love to listen to.

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