Astell & Kern – SA700
The Astell & Kern – SA700 pays homage to the AK120, one of the company’s first high-resolution digital audio players (DAPs). While the SA700 pays homage to the past. It’s also a forward-thinking statement piece with meticulous attention to industrial design and a sound so good and seductive that it’s arguably my favorite high-resolution DAP to date.
The main thing a potential buyer looks for in a Hi-Fi player is, of course, sound quality. And the Astell&Kern SA700 handles this issue admirably: it sounds great, is versatile in terms of genres, and has excellent recording quality.
The benefits of the player do not stop there: almost all major music formats are supported, and there is a choice of the familiar 3.5mm jack paired with a 2.5mm balanced jack. All of this is housed in a sleek stainless steel case.
Astell & Kern – SA700 DESIGN
The colorful, retro volume dial on the SA700 was inspired by the design of A&K’s old classic, the AP120. It also has that boxy feel to it. However, the technology used in the SA700 is completely novel.
A&K used AKM’s AK4492ECB DAC chips for its dual DAC. It is the first player to use VELVET SOUNDTM technology in these components.
The Astell & Kern SA700 feels very different in your hand if you’re used to the shape of your phone. It’s smaller, thicker, sharper, and more substantial.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a solid block of stainless steel, but it has a glass-covered touchscreen on the front and plenty of high-resolution audio technology on the inside.
The large volume knob on the right creates the asymmetric shape, which is flanked by swooping, textured guards that blend into the angular body. It’s a great contrast to the otherwise blocky design, and it gives the SA700 personality.
When you turn on the player, the volume knob is illuminated by a bright LED behind it, which turns red at high volumes.
When it comes to connections, the player has a 2.5mm balanced jack on top, as well as a standard 3.5mm jack. It is also Bluetooth with aptx HD support for wireless listening.
Astell & Kern – SA700 Audio quality
The SA700 outperformed full-sized headphones in terms of power and the finesse with which it can handle sensitive IEMs, with 4.0Vrms available from the 2.5mm balanced output and a not-to-be-missed 2.0Vrms from the 3.5mm single-ended output. It sounds absolutely fantastic.
The SA700 has a velvety, controlled, and nuanced sound. While there is plenty of detail and texture, the SA700 steers clear of the sterile or cold end of the spectrum. The SA700’s ability to immerse you in music album after album, without any hint of fatigue, has always impressed me.
Take some well-recorded source material and a pair of headphones capable of appropriate levels of fidelity, and the SA700 will envelop you in a silky, enveloping sense of ‘head-stage,’ with visceral and believable levels of imaging and distinct, placeable instrumental parts, all placed in a diffuse, 3D space.
Last Thought about Astell & Kern – SA700
The SA700 is a versatile, well-built, and simple-to-use unit with an enticing sonic signature. The sound reproduction was organic and warm, with all of the detail you’d expect from a high-resolution file.
If you want every last bit of control or nuanced detail from your higher-resolution audio files, this may be the player for you. Others, including those in the Astell&Kern portfolio, offer this.
- DAC: 2 × AK4492ECB
- Output power: 2.0 Vrms single ended, 4.0 Vrms balanced
- Output impedance: 1.8Ω balanced, 1.9Ω single ended
- Frequency range (single): 20 Hz – 20 kHz (±0.24 dB), 10 Hz – 70 kHz (±1.95 dB)
- Frequency range (balanced): 20 Hz – 20 kHz (±0.24 dB), 10 Hz – 70 kHz (±1.94 dB)
- Signal/noise ratio: 120 dB single ended, 123 db balanced
- Channel separation: 134 dB single ended, 138 dB balanced
- THD + noise: 0.0006% single, 0.0004% balanced
- Format support: WAV, FLAC, MP3, WMA, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA
- Max resolution: 382 кГц/32 бит, DSD до DSD256
- Screen: 4.1″, 720 × 1280
- WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth: V4.2 with aptX HD support
- Input: USB 3.0 Type-C
- Outputs: 3.5 mm TRS, 2.5 mm TRRS
- Battery: 3150 mAh
- Playback time: up to 8.5 hours
- Charging time: ~ 4.5 hours
- Internal memory: 128 Gb
- Memory card support: MicroSD
- Dimensions: 59 mm × 116 mm × 17 mm
- Weight: 303 g.