The combination of SP2000, Vérité, RAD-0 and tia Fourté, and long streaming sessions, have been primarily responsible for me getting very little done this weekend beyond self-indulgent listening …
Since I’ve just exhausted the battery again, I figured I’d take a few minutes to write up some more thoughts before getting to more practical matters.
Both with full-size, sensibly-efficient, headphones and IEMs the SP2000 sounds fantastic.
As previously mentioned, the new flagship does a convincingly better job driving more demanding headphones than the SP1000M (which was no slouch, by any means). Authority and drive are improved, the background is blacker, there’s more headroom, sense of space in acoustic recordings is more natural and palpable - even if stage doesn’t appear to be different (so far).
These are things that are noticeable just with “listening for enjoyment”. I have not gotten into focused, “critical” or “review/audition style” listening yet. Sure, I’m paying attention, but I am not making notes or analyzing anything at this point … just playing what I want to listen to and getting a feel for the “big picture”.
As with other A&K players, you can run some approved/whitelisted Android streaming clients directly on the device and use WiFi connectivity to access their services. This is one of the primary reasons I have a DAP other than my Cayin N8 - as it cannot stream and nor can it be fed straight from an iPhone without a lot of faffing about!
After the usual OpenAPK/side-loading of the apps, streaming has been a simple and reliable affair. The extra screen real-estate and size vs. the more diminutive SP1000M is very welcome in navigating and interacting with these apps.
TIDAL and Qobuz have been straightforward to install and configure and have been well behaved in playback. I haven’t tried Spotify (I don’t use it anymore anyway). And Amazon Music HD doesn’t appear to work.
This is a crucial feature of the A&K players for me as it is the only mechanism by which you can do on-device streaming. On the SP1000M it was reasonably reliable but had notably shorter reliable range than things like my iPhone.
With the SP2000, which now supports dual-band WiFi with a multi-antenna design, WiFi connectivity is usefully more reliable and consistent and maintains a solid connection even in spots in my home that would deny its smaller predecessor a signal. So far I’ve had no drop-outs or other issues, even while wandering around or sitting on the deck (for the couple of hours the weather was conducive at least).
This is a much needed improvement!
UX & Navigation
The UX is fundamentally the same as the 1000 series players. However, compared to the SP1000M the extra screen space makes for a much easier time interacting with the unit. Hitting the scroll bars, characters on the keyboard, and reading the smaller legends/icons and so on is simply easier here.
You also get more information on the screen at once, with more visible albums or songs, which while not a big deal when playing from on-board files is a significantly better experience when using streaming clients.
Screen Protectors & Cases
In general I don’t use screen protectors. I’ve had every iteration of iPhone, and those have lived in my pocket with no protector or case, and not one of them has sustained any screen scratches or damage.
As the price of DAPs has gone up I’ve started reconsidering that practice - mostly for resale purposes as unlike my phones, I do sell my retired audio gear.
After so many very poor experiences with almost every brand of screen protector, I stuck to only using tempered glass ones. Those are MUCH easier to install/re-install, don’t suffer with bubbles like the plastic/film ones do (as long as you don’t get any dust under them). And they look and work much better too … with no impediment to touch-sensitivity nor reduction in contrast or sharpness of the screen.
For the SP2000, with it’s 5.1" screen dominating the unit, I wanted to put a screen protector on it. I’ve never had good luck with the A&K supplied protectors, to the point I gave up trying to install them several units ago. And alas I couldn’t find one in tempered glass that’s available within a month.
So … I took a gamble on a “Healing Shield” protector.
This is one of those anti-glare, stiffer-plastic, “film” type protectors. Usually these are almost as much of a pain to install cleanly as the softer film type protectors, invariably resulting in bubbles you can’t manage to squeegee out, and that never seem to “just go away over time” as the packaging/instructions often claim.
Color me very pleasantly surprised when I was able to install this one easily, quickly, with no bubbles at all! I’ve only done the front of the unit (it comes with protectors for the antenna area and the copper back of the unit … but this will be in a case anyway), but that only took a couple of minutes (in the usual high-humidity/low dust environment of a bathroom after running the shower, and pre-applying three “tape hinges” to align and position the protector before starting to remove the backing).
No bubbles at all. Touch sensitivity seems about the same, even at the edges of the screen. Though being anti-glare screen-contrast is noticeably reduced … a trade off for not having visible finger-prints or glare.
No doubt I’ll switch to a tempered glass protector if/when one becomes reasonably available, but I was pleasantly surprised with the “Healing Shield” one … enough that I thought it worth mentioning specifically.
I DO tend to keep my DAPs in cases. Sometimes it’s just a felt/wool slip-case … usually if I’m just using them around the house. Otherwise it’s something prettier and more form-fitting.
The A&K players come with a very close-fitting leather case as standard. It’s quite attractive, decently well made, and VERY close fitting. In fact it’s an absolute pain in the arse to get the player back OUT of!
Instead I use the slightly-less attractive, but more practical, Miter case.
They fit nicely, even if they add a tiny bit more size overall then the A&K case, have a nice built-in flip-stand, and you can actually get the player in and out of the case without a fight, while it still being held snugly enough that it won’t come out accidentally.
So far, I’m getting a bit better than the advertised 8 hours or so. The battery meter also seems to still be in its “calibration” phase, as it will show 100% for a disproportionate amount of time, before starting to tick down at a more representative rate.
Over an hour of TIDAL streaming over WiFi and driving the Rosson RAD-0 and I’m still over 90% on the battery, and it took 35 minutes or so drop below 100%.
Back to listening … and absent any issues arriving, most future commentary will be on SOUND.