ASTELL & KERN A&ULTIMA SP1000
Oh, a massive mp3 player!
Really? Get back to your iPod Classic. Putting mp3s on this thing would be like washing a Ferrari with a Daiso sponge. Sure, it can handle everyone’s favourite format (and a lot of it, given the 256GB storage capacity), but what the SP1000 really wants is your acronyms. Think wav, flac, aac and the rest, all enjoyed via the headphone port, optical out or balanced 2.5mm socket. Rumour has it, every time you plug in a pair of $10 headphones an audiophile somewhere screams to the tune of Another Day in Paradise.
But it doesn’t look like a Ferrari…
Quite right. Instead, it’s styled like something straight out of Tony Stark’s labs (audio division), with a stainless steel and copper build that whispers “Hold me and I’ll hold all of your favourites in lossless quality”. It’s all bevelled edges and hard, unforgiving corners – probably quite apt for owners who care more for their curated vinyl collections than for anyone else’s opinions.
Can they really hear the difference?
Between a poxy 96kbps mp3 and 32-bit/384kHz audio? Who can’t? OK, quite a lot of people – and files of the latter quality are rarer than platinum-plated iPods. But if you care about audio then the SP1000 will care for you. Its stunning shell contains an octa-core processor and dual-DAC setup dedicated to delivering the best possible listening experience – which includes native support for 11.2MHz DSD (up to 256 times better quality than CD).
Can I watch movies on it?
You’re slightly missing the whole ‘this machine sounds fantastic’ thing. While it does have a 5in display with 720p resolution, that’s only for the cause of helping you peruse your doubtless massive music collection in all its sharp, bright beauty. In fact, the entire interface has been designed around your audio experience (and not distracting you from it), with minimalist menus, controls and animations. It’s pristine, pared-back and truly premium. Which is good, given the $3k-topping price tag.