Something the high end Astell&Kern players always impress with is the sound stage. It’s no different with the SP2000T and you get a wide and deep stage, as long as you feed it with quality recordings.
The tuning is more to the neutral side, though there is a catch here with the Tube mode, but more on that later. The SP2000T is linear and balanced in all modes, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s one of AK’s strongest points. Body-wise, the SP2000T isn’t light sounding and it isn’t thick sounding, but it sits just in between.
No matter the amplification mode, you always get a detailed and precise, yet natural and musical rendering (especially in tube and hybrid mode). All modes are dead silent and there is zero noise and a pitch-black background. The SP2000T’s sound stage, spaciousness and airiness are good but there is room for improvement here.
Like with all AK DAPs, the separation and layering are good, and especially the mid timbre and depth are impressive. For me the original SP2000 with the dual Asahi Kasei AK4499EQ DAC chips still is the best technical and more high-end performing DAP, but more on that in the comparison section later in this article.
With the SP2000T, you at all times get good energy, clarity and cleanness and this especially in OPAMP mode. The SP2000T’s dynamics are impressive in all modes.
The AK SP2000T’s bass is musically engaging with a tight and punchy delivery. Bass has good impact, but its presence is always civilized and controlled. If you want more bass, you will have to go for a bass focused IEM or earphone. Bass detail is good as well as the depth and layering. There is a nice sub rumble, but your IEM or headphone of course must be able to portray it.
The mid section has a very nice timbre, especially in hybrid and tube mode. Mids are spacious, airy and natural sounding. Vocals are perfectly situated, though they’re probably a tiny bit more to the front. Vocals carry a nice energy, especially in OPAMP amplification mode. Mid depth and layering are always good. Feed your SP2000T’s bad quality recording and the mids will suffer a lot. There in the mids still is room for improvement for wat concerns precision and decay, but that goes for the top and bottom end as well.
The treble section perfectly connects to the mids and the bass section, resulting in a balanced and linear presentation. The highs carry more than enough energy, but they never become harsh or sibilant. The top end presentation is musically smooth and natural, especially with the Tube amplification mode, but they stay lively and exciting as well.
The SP2000T’s tuning is on the safer side (especially when compared to the SP2000 flagship). The AK SP2000T has good technicalities combined with a musical delivery and an engaging character. It’s easy on the ears and no matter what amplification mode you select, the SP2000T is so easy to like.
Sound Amplification Modes
I have read statements that there is little to no difference between the 3 amplification modes, but I fully disagree. If you can’t easily spot the differences between the different modes, either your gear isn’t revealing enough, or your ears aren’t as good as you think they are.
The OPAMP mode to me is the technically strongest and most articulate mode. It has the best PRaT, precision, and liveliness, as well as clarity. It’s the typical solid state rendering you find in the SP1000 and SP2000 as well. The vocals here have more energy, and the top end is presented in a more energetic and sharper way.
The Tube amplification mode is slower, softer and slightly fuller in bass and body. It’s very easy on the ears with a soft and laid-back presentations. You also get a smoother, rounder top end rendering which is very easy on the ears. It’s a very musical and engaging mode but it isn’t as revealing and precise as the OPAMP mode. The Tube mode is less precise, darker, softer, fuller and warmer. The full tube mode probably is the mode I listen to least of all. For most of my IEMS and the music I prefer, this mode ends up being a bit too soft and rounded. I miss the excitement and energy here, but at the same time some IEMs really can use this this mode’s softening effect.
The Hybrid mode probably is the one I end up using most of the time. It, as AK says, really combines the best of both modes. You get a bit more fulness and smoothness compared to the OPAMP mode, together with the precision and speed of the OPAMP section. It combines the technical strength of the OPAMP amplification with the musicality and body/presence of the Tube mode. You get a crispier top end and clean vocals, combined with a good amount of low end and a high musical delivery. It’s very easy to enjoy.
More on Sound can be found on the last page of this article. Click here.
Page 1: Astell&Kern, SP2000T, Design, Lay-out, Inside
Page 2: Amplification Modes, accessories & price, Usability & UI & Versatility, Sound Intro
Page 3: Sound General, Sound Classics, Sound AMP modes, Vs SP2000, Vs Cayin N8ii, Conclusion
Page 4: Sound Vs SP2000, Vs Cayin N8II, Conclusion