Synergy – Part 3
Because of its sonic characteristics, the SP1000M easily matches up with any type of earphone and no matter the tuning. The SP1000M has more than enough power to drive any IEM and it gives lighter sounding gear that bit of oompf you want from it, but without altering the sound signature too much. If you want the M to make your IEMs bass heavy, forget about it.
The M performs best with higher end IEMs that can show the player’s real potential, and so we’ve chose 3 completely different IEMs for this test: The Shozy & AAW Pola with the electrostat tweeter, the Obravo Ra C Cu with the AMT and huge dynamic driver and the Meze Audio Rai Penta (Dynamic and BA drivers)
Every single time I go back to the $10K Ra C Cu, my ears need a song or two to adjust to the typical sound of Ra. The volume on the M has to go up all the way to 75 to reach my normal listening volume with these IEMS, but the SP1000M drives it without issue. The sound stage is impressive both in width as in depth. The layering from bass to treble as well as the detail retrieval and separation are excellent. Voices are natural and have so much emotion and while treble is soft and easy, it’s still extended and clear. The Ra C Cu isn’t always easy to pair up with but this combo is extremely good. Sure, you can buy a small car for the same money, but it does sound impressive.
Pola, the Shozy/AAW collaboration result is one of the 2019 highlights for me already. With the SP1000M you get good body, a great sound stage, perfect voices, sublime treble, great layering and impressive depth. It’s a very clear and energetic combo which stays musical all the time. The SP1000M is the kind of DAP that easily does it all, and as a result this Pola & M combo just sounds really good. Try The Dark Side (alternative reality version) from Muse on it and you’ll be blown away.
Another IEM that will make audiophile’s jaws drop is the Meze Audio Rai Penta. It’s not officially out yet in the EU and US but we’ve been so lucky to have a set right here for a while already. The Rai Penta has the typical audiophile tuning: lighter in presence, great detail and transparency, a wide and deep sound stage and perfect tightness and speed. The M manages to make every quality of the Rai Penta shine: bass is tight but goes deep with excellent layering. Mids are spacious, soft and have excellent vocals and Treble is extended, energetic and precise. M gives Rai Penta just enough kick and body to keep everything musical. In fact the M and Rai Penta share the same USP: High-end sound with a musical delivery. How can we not like this?
With the SP1000M Astell&Kern has built another great top level portable player. The M sound-wise is different enough from the SP1000 for AK to “have” two flagships in the product line-up. Not many people will own both as you’ll normally prefer one signature over the other, but at the same time both of the top DAPs are compatible.
The M obviously stands for Musical. And Mini. And maybe also Magestic, cause that’s how it sounds. For many the SP1000M will be their end level high end DAP, and that’s exactly what it is.
The SP1000M is easy to use in the sense that it pairs perfectly with anything you hook up to it in both single ended or balanced mode, though we feel the balanced AK outputs always to be the best of both.
The SP1000M has made its entry to the recommended DAP list, and I wonder what unit will ever kick it out. For the moment, not a single one. It’s nice.