Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP3000 Digital Audio Player - Official Discussion Thread

This is the thread to discuss the newly announced Astell&Kern flagship DAP, the Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000.

It’s been 3 years since the SP2000 was released and from the sounds of it, the SP3000 has the snappiest UI yet from A&K.

From Astell&Kern

  • World’s first use of Stainless Steel 904L for DAP body material
  • World’s first DAP with complete separation of digital and analog signal processing
    (Using latest Flagship DAC chip AK4499EX from Asahi Kasei)
  • Stunning Audio Performance with Independent Dual Audio Circuitry
  • Equipped with High-Performance Qualcomm Snapdragon 6125 Octa-Core CPU
  • New Experience in the Graphic User Interface
  • Support for aptX™-HD and LDAC

Written Reviews


Going live around 2 pm PST from CanJam 2022 with Owen from Astell & Kern!

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I might be alone in this … but I find this even more disappointing, and further off the mark, than the Cayin N8ii vs. their original N8.

No doubt it’s an excellent unit … but as an upgrade from an SP2000? Bleh.

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I preordered the silver version today.


I’ve had a lot of questions (not just from here), about my thoughts, or more specifically my attitude towards, the SP3000 … which of course I have NOT heard …

I felt I should clarify …

Taken on its own, it looks like a very strong offering. The A&K stuff has been as much “luxury product” as it has “music player” pretty much since the AK120ii. The SP3000 steps that up a notch.

I have absolutely no doubts that it sounds fantastic.

If I didn’t have a high-end DAP already, and was after one, this would be at the top of a very short list.

The Cayin N8ii is too big, too ugly, and feels like a step back on the build/quality front vs. the N8. AND in balanced tube output, loses 80% of what made the original N8 so compelling (for me). So … why bother?

The other realistic competitors (Lotoo and Luxury and Precision) are not streaming-capable.

But, coming from my current SP2000Cu, it’s a lot less interesting:

  • I have no interest in something larger, nor heavier.

  • 904L steel is lovely, many of my watches use it, but other than for aesthetics, it’s irrelevant here as the screen will be toast long before I’m worrying about the state of the case.

  • The reduction in storage vs. the SP2000 is just daft. I doubt anyone shopping for a near $4,000 DAP is going to balk at another $250, or even $500 to get MORE storage. If it’s that big a deal, add an extra SKU, stuff it with 2TB of storage, and charge another grand for it.

    Until you go back to supporting two cards instead of one, or get the indexing time for a full 1TB card down from ~10 minutes to one or two, onboard storage matters. At least to music-first audiophiles, that want to listen in situations where they cannot stream

  • For mobile listening, the new DAC arrangement is somewhat meaningless. The differences, outside DSD (which, for all intents and purposes, is irrelevant to me), are below the theoretical limit of audibility.

    They are also massively below the noise-floor created between the engines on the plane, the roar of the air outside, and especially the fat, loudly-drunken, sales-fuck sat across the aisle … who seems unable to process the look of abject pity, mixed with utter contempt, that the flight attendant gives him … to his every slurred advance.

  • I’m sure the increased responsiveness/UX is nice. It’s a bonus, though, not something I’d specifically upgrade for. I choose an album or a playlist, hit play, and don’t touch the thing again for an hour or three. Notwithstanding that I don’t see how such simple user interfaces aren’t super-fast in the first-place … even with much less RAM and a basic SoC.

And then … despite all the behind-the-scenes work you’ve done on Android to get proper, bit-perfect, replay … you STILL require using MTP to get music on the bloody thing. I think A&K are unique in that. It’s a shitty protocol, and requires either paid commercial software or the extra-shitty Android File Transfer app on a Mac.

Apple don’t, and won’t, support MTP. And no other DAP requires it; they all mount as standard USB storage. Give it up already and just support class-mode storage.

Everything else? Yeah, looks nice.


Your description of flying … :rofl:

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Roon ARC comes to the SP3000 as it was included in the new FW update last evening.