Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 Review

A&futura SE180

UI & Usage 

No surprise here, the A&Futura SE180 behaves exactly like the SP1000, SR25, or SA700, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Astell&Kern UI 

The A&futura SE180 doesn’t enjoy the full Android experience, but A&K owns a customized version of Google’s OS.

Thankfully, Astell&Kern has years of experience in this field and I have to praise A&K for it. The layout is well-designed, with a lot of small improvements compared to the previous version. For example, the old, annoying, floating return button can now be hidden as the player finally enjoys a cleaner navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. Said like that, it seems trivial, but I always thought that the button was more of a hindrance than a solution.


There is no “scan media library button”, once you plug your micro-SD card, or disconnect the player from your computer, the SE180 automatically begins to search for new files. And if tagged accordingly, all will be found correctly sorted by artist/genre/interpret. There’s even an MQS folder, where you’ll find all your Hi-Res tracks, in case you’re too annoyed to scroll in your own library and end up listening to “peasant’s level lossless quality music”.

Open APP and WiFi

Thanks to the OpenApp , you can install, almost, any audio app you like. Again, this isn’t as seamless as FiiO, Shanling or iBasso has to offer:

  • first, you have to download the app you want from a computer
  • then you’ll copy the .apk to the player, in the open app folder
  • finally, if the app is supported by the player, you’ll find them in “services”, just under MQS in the menu
  • then you can install your app and launch it.

Astell&Kern SE200

I tried Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal, and Deezer, which all worked… to some degree. If Spotify didn’t give me any problem, Tidal didn’t work correctly the first time (that and the fact that you’ll end up with two Tidal) and Qobuz is just amazingly slow – but I suspect the app to be at fault, more than the player.

Otherwise, the experience is pretty seamless and thanks to the Quad-Core CPU and various optimizations, everything feels buttery smooth, most of the time. And, last but not least, you can transfer files from your computer via Wi-Fi, with AK’s File Drop new software. Not mandatory, but useful if you don’t want to bother connecting a c

USB-C and SD Card

All Astell&Kern players use a USB-C connector, and the SE180 makes no exception. The transfer rate is great and the DAP supports quick charge, even if it takes ages to charge completely. My advice, like an electric car, just charge up to 80%, and chargeback when you arrive around 20%.

The player offers 256Gb of internal memory(!) and relies on micro-SD cards for additional storage. Every type and size are supported, from SDHC to SDXC up to 2TB, even if they are not available yet.

Again, the USB-C port supports two-way transfers and so, the A&Futura SE180 can be used as a DAC on a computer, or a source once paired with a DAC.


Battery Life and Charging

The A&Futura SE180 battery is rated at 3800mAh, a tad lower than the Shanling M6 21 Pro and almost 40% less than the FiiO M11 Pro Ltd!

If the new Sabre chips drain a little more power than before, you can also get the SM2 module, with AKM that drains even more power! In theory, battery life should last the same, but I didn’t have the chance to get the SM2 with my SE180. 

On my first run, it took me 5h to reach the 50% landmark, so the 10h bar should not be too far from a dream. That said, I used streaming apps extensively, so that may have a bigger impact than using local tracks exclusively.

Fast charge works, but expect 3h for a full charge, when the battery is completely depleted. Not so “fast” indeed.



Bluetooth was never Astell&Kern players forte, but it looks like the SE180 made some progress compared to its predecessor.

For the first time, you can use the player as a portable receiver and connect your phone to enjoy the SE180, almost wirelessly. It’s not as posh as FiiO’s integration, for example, but it’s seamless once you’ve tried it;

Compatible with apt-X, AAC/SBC, and LDAC, the SE180 also supports apt-X HD. Also, if LDAC, AAC and SBC get bidirectional support, apt-X (HD) can only send music to a headphone/speakers, no reception. If your source supports LDAC, no worries, if not you’ll be stuck in AAC or SBC

The review continues on Page four, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

Page 1: About the brand

Page 2: Design & Build Quality

Page 4: Specifications

Page 5: Sound performances

4.2/5 - (164 votes)

A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.


  • Reply July 9, 2021


    Hi. I don’t understand. When you talk about that the se180 improves the volumen (150) and the power otuput (6vrms) what DAP are you comparing? Because the SE200 already have that power and volume, so is not an improvement. Would be nice if you compare this with the SE200 and other brands too. Today is difficult go to a store and listen first to buy a DAP, so the reviews are important to get a DAP. Thanks anyway, but i’m not clear why is the best sounding DAP without a real comparisions with others.

  • Reply July 9, 2021


    I went and bought myself one the other day. I agree that it looks and sounds fantastic, but is it just me or is it damn near impossible to actually swap out the DAC unit (which is supposed to be one of its big selling points)?

    I tried very hard the other day – pressing the two side buttons and pulling hard – but couldn’t get it to budge, and didn’t want to go further for fear of damaging the player.

  • Reply August 19, 2021


    Hi, I had to return my M8 for battery issues and unfortunately could not get a replacement. I heard about the M9 but… I do not know. Would you see the SE180 a good alternative or the R8? I have to pair the dap to the Vision Ears VE-8 iem wired with Effect Audio Janus D cable. Thanks for your suggestion. C.

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