Astell&Kern (A&Ultima) - SP2000 Digital Audio Player - Official Thread

If money weren’t a consideration for me I would love a Cayin N8. Of course @Torq is the expert in regards experience with this Dap. It’s such a feature packed well engineered piece of tech.


It depends if we’re talking about “best sound quality” in objective (i.e. highest fidelity), or subjective (preference), terms.

For the former, you’d be using the solid-state outputs on either player, and it’s pretty much a wash - there’s no clear winner for me there, they’re just slightly different.

For the latter, for me (and which might well be different for someone else), I find the Cayin N8’s NuTube output to be generally the most enjoyable (there are times when it isn’t), but it doesn’t have as high a fidelity as either unit’s solid-state outputs.

But if you don’t care about streaming, don’t need the extra storage (ironically less storage is easier to deal with when you DO have streaming available) and don’t mind the less fluid/flexible UX, then having the NuTube option on the N8 is really nice.


Perhaps a silly question from a DAP newbie: Does the unit behave like a smartphone in that it runs the Android versions of Qobuz/Tidal/Deezer and therefore has the ability to download music for offline access? I do have a smallish number of Redbook/HiRes files I would load on it, but by far the best scenario for me would be to have the ability to store a large amount of offline music from the streaming services for commuting and travel.

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You can side-load (i.e. not via the Google Play store) various approved/validated Android steaming clients. If they support offline content, then it’ll work on the SP2000 (and various other A&K players).

Check out the FAQ for the “Open APP Service”, which is what A&K call this ability.

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@Torq In the head-fi thread of the SP2k many owners lament (some don’t) about sound changes after FW updates. Did you also find that the sound alters every time there is a new firmware installed?


I’ve measured the before/after output pre/post firmware changes and haven’t found any differences there, either.

And for what it’s worth, comparing an SS to a CU unit only yielded differences that were a) within the range of reasonable run-to-run measurement variation and b) well beyond the audible range of frequencies anyway.

Same was true with the various versions of the AK380 too …


Haha, that’s funny. How our brains can trick with our perceptions. Thanks!

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Speaking of firmware changes, A&K released a new firmware v1.21 two/three days ago, I’ve updated my SP2000 immediately from v.1.19 and I didn’t notice any changes in sound but people on Headfi claim that the SP2000 sound is back to its glory. The only issue with the new firmware is that it takes a lot longer to index the music files from the SD Card. After several user reporting the issue to A&K, they pulled the firmware and will be releasing another version in the coming days. I wonder if you have updated to v1.21 and if you noticed any changes in sound.

No, I didn’t update to v1.21.

I usually give new firmware releases a week or so before I install them.

Not because I’m worried about changes in sound … just to let other people discover any issues before I install something that can’t be rolled back.


Wise move! I’ll start doing the same…thanks for the tip.