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Astell & Kern A&futura SE180 evaluation

It’s a scientific reality of life that people have completely different tastes and preferences, and equally true is that almost all merchandise on this world merely can not enchantment to all of them. Very similar to the geniuses behind Celebrations and mixed-flavour crisps multi-packs, Astell & Kern desires to please as many as doable (effectively, these enthusiastic about premium music gamers anyway), and is attempting to take action by means of its quirkiest mannequin but.

The brand new SE180 is the third mannequin in Astell & Kern’s near-flagship A&futura vary, following the inaugural SE100 and SE200, each of which gained What Hello-Fi? Awards in 2019 and 2020 respectively. The latter launched a multi-DAC idea that noticed two user-selectable DAC configurations constructed into the participant, and the SE180 right here expands on that with an interchangeable DAC module design. The thought is that Astell & Kern releases a collection of DAC modules, all with completely different sonic characters, that house owners of the SE180 can then swap in for the usual equipped one in the event that they so want.

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Music player: Astell & Kern A&futura SE180

(Picture credit score: Astell & Kern)

On the time of scripting this evaluation, there’s one separate module available on the market to this point, the SEM2 (£319, $349, AU$499), which includes twin Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ DACs that help 32-bit/768kHz and native DSD512 information. The subsequent might be launched later in 2021, with one other mannequin set to observe within the first half of 2022. These detachable modules, Astell & Kern says, have completely different DAC and amplifier configurations and parts, in addition to various tuning and outputs. Flexibility apart, the modular design also needs to assist with sound high quality – as the principle physique and modules are bodily separated, energy and radio frequency noise generated by the previous ought to theoretically be blocked.

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