Astell&Kern SP2000 Review

Astell&Kern SP2000

Today we look at Astell&Kern’s flagship portable player, the SP2000. It’s selling for $3,499 USD

 

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Disclaimer: The sample of the AK SP2000 DAP was sent to us free of charge for this review on a long term loan. After the review the SP1000 and SP2000 be returned Astell & Kern. AK is not in any way related to Headfonia.

Astell & Kern

The Korean DAP manufacturer Astell&Kern has been around since 2014 and has been since then the driving force of reinventing the portable audio player market. Ever since their first product, the AK100, they have been on a mission to make the best possible DAPs, and if you ask me, they have succeeded.

A&K is a subsidiary of the famous iRiver brand, which is now called Dreamus. The company that rose to fame with their excellent and wildly popular MP3 players. With that extensive knowledge they have launched an über-high-end brand for the niche market that is headphone enthusiasts.

Astell&Kern not only brings us portable audio players alone, no, they have also been collaborating with other big industry players such as Crystal Cables, Beyerdynamic and Jerry Harvey Audio. They have released a number of cables, headphones and In Ear Monitors with these three brands, and continue to do so.

Astell&Kern SP2000

Astell&Kern SP2000

We have reviewed many Astell & Kern portable players here on Headfonia, the latest being the SR-15, the SP1000M and the SA-700.

The SP2000 DAP shares a lot of common features with the original SP1000, so we suggest to read up on that portable player first. You can do so right here.

SP2000

The “new” SP2000 DAP is part of the A&Ultima series together with the SP1000 and SP1000M. That means it’s the third player released in this series and it’s also the new flagship model. We have previewed the SP2000 already right after we received it. You can find that preview article here: https://www.headfonia.com/first-look-sunday-sp2000/. Now after a few months of intensive use, it’s time to give you the full review.

A&ultima SP2000 features the latest technologies of Astell&Kern with a newly developed audio circuitry and amplifier design.”

The SP2000 as a flagship player isn’t cheap and it’s selling for $3,499 USD. There are four different versions of the SP2000: Copper, Stainless Steel (our version), Vegas Gold and Onyx Black.

As before the SP2000 comes with a 3.5mm single ended output which also serves as the 3.5mm optical out (3.5mm) and a 2.5mm (4-pole supported) balanced output. Astell&Kern is holding on to their choice of the 2.5mm connector for their balanced output. How much longer can they stay away from the 4.4mm plug, which seems to become the new standard?

Like the latest AK DAPs, the SP2000 also offers the use of the Open APP Service. It enables you to install specific APK music streaming apps to the device. You can copy the desired APK into the Open Service folder of the product and install the relevant App in the Menu. In this article AK explain how to use the Open App Service: Using Open APP Service

If you don’t feel like going there you can use Tidal, Deezer and V-Link, as they are installed upfront.

Astell&Kern SP2000

Astell&Kern SP2000

You can find out all about the SP2000 portable player on its dedicated web page here: https://www.astellnkern.com/eng/content/shop/features.asp?mcg=CG110000&mpos=0&scg=CG210180&spos=0&tcg=&tpos=0&dpos=1&gcode=SC35590

Design

You either love or hate the typical edgy design by Astell&Kern, but to me this new SP2000 is another beautiful creation. At a first glance you don’t immediately see the differences between the “old” SP1000 and the new SP2000 but when you hold them both in your hands, the differences are easy to spot. Think buttons, back plate and missing amp connections. See the pictures in this article.

Like with the SP1000, the absolute eye-catcher of the SP2000 is the beautiful crown pattern of the power and volume button on the right side of the player. The player measures 3.00 ”(76.3 mm) [W] x 5.19 ”(132 mm) [H] x 0.61 ”(15.7 mm) [D] and sports a 5 inch (720 x 1,280) touch display.

The front is almost all screen except for the part at he bottom where the hidden “home” button is located. The back of the player features a stainless steel panel without screws, which makes the player look even more classy compared to the SP1000 which has a carbon-like back.

Astell&Kern SP2000

Astell&Kern SP2000

Where the SP1000 had a more square shape, the SP2000’s line look more extreme. This can easily be seen on the right side of the player, from the power button down. I like both the design of the SP1000 as well as that of the SP2000, but the latter one does stand out more when it’s not in its leather case.

The review continues on the second page, after the click here. You can also use the jumps below.

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

13 Comments

  • Reply May 12, 2020

    MhtLion

    As always, a great review. You are the best headphone reviewer to my eyes.

    • Reply May 12, 2020

      Lieven

      Hi. Thank you for the nice words. It’s appreciated

  • Reply May 15, 2020

    Claudio

    Good review. I always check your reviews when I buy my equipement. Regarding to A&K product I have to say that they offer premium DACs with great sound. It’s a pleasure have this product, the sound and the contruction are great. I only have a concern, a big concern. The have one of the worse customer service that I ever experimented. I have sr15 and the KANN (old one). I was one of the user affected by the new firmware that crashed the software and I have to sent my KANN to corea. When they sent me back my KANN to Chile I checked that everythin was ok but when i connect my grado sr80 to the 3.5 output for headphones I realized that it wasn’t working. It only sound in one side. I usually use the 2.5 output and the line out and i have this Kann less than an year. I have wrote several messages to the web page (the only way that you can talk with them directly) and I have no answer from them. I know this is a review for other product but i think a product comes with everything not only the DAP. The customer service is very important, even more that the final product because a good service customer will always give you the security that the brand will solve any problem. In this case A&K generate the problem and them gave me more problems because some guy probably made a mistake and broke something in my KANN but the sad part is that they are not answering so my recommendation is to try to check how is the customer support before to buy any expensive DAP because of they don’t take care of any issie you will have a trash that cost more than USD 1.000.

  • Reply May 23, 2020

    tunnel rush

    Thank you for this review, very helpful information!

  • Reply November 21, 2020

    Vladimir Vasquez

    Hi! I have seen in other reviews that SS and CU sounds different. I would like to know what you say about it if you tried CU version.

    Yesterday I have ordered the CU, but I need to know if go for SS because I like detailed sound and good imaging of instruments but also warm sound.

    Thanks in advance.

    Best,

    Vladimir.

    • Reply November 23, 2020

      Lieven

      Send me a CU and I’ll tell you 😉

  • Reply November 25, 2020

    Vladimir Vasquez

    Very nice review. I loved the way you did it. I have ordered the SP2K and it comes on next Monday. You said that to get the most of it, I needed a High end IEMs, for now I just have the Acoustune HS1650CU, they sound really good with AK SPKM. Have you used Acoustune? I’m thinking to own the Empire ears Odin or Wraith but now I can’t afford them because SP2K was very expensive 😀

    Other cheaper IEMs options are Empire ears Legend X, the Campfire Atlas and UM Universal MEST.

    Best,

    Vladimir.

    • Reply November 26, 2020

      Lieven

      The SP2000 and MEST combo is very good!

  • Reply December 28, 2020

    Peter

    Do you think sp2000 would work well with zmf verite closed or Audeze lcd XCs? Looking for a portable player or dac/amp with mqa for them. Unfortunately my chord mojo doesn’t play mqa and I find myself mostly using tidal these days.

    • Reply January 8, 2021

      Lieven

      You would need something more suited for the XC

  • Reply April 14, 2021

    Thurein

    Hi Lieven,

    Kudos for an excellent review on SP2000.
    Currently, I am using Layla CIEM with SP2000.

    What other full sized headphones (open back) do you think I should try out with SP2000? Something that SP2000 can drive with authority.

    Looking forward to your reply.
    Thanks,

    • Reply April 14, 2021

      Lieven

      Hi, thank you for the nice words. I have to say I don’t use any of my full sized headphones with the SP2000, but I’d look at something like the Arya/Ananda

      • Reply April 14, 2021

        Thurein

        Thank you for your reply and something for me to start off.
        I will try Arya when I have a chance at local hi-if shops. 👍

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