A&K intros upgradable DAC portable


Astell&Kern introduces the SE180, the third model in its A&futura series and the first player to feature interchangeable all-in-one DAC modules. Expanding on the multi-DAC innovation first introduced with the SE200, music fans can customise their sound with different DACs to find the sonics that suit them.

The A&futura SE180 is the company’s most advance player yet and is the first model to boast Teraton Alpha Sound Solution technology for improved audio, an enhanced user-interface design, a full HD display and added advanced connectivity functionality. The interchangeable DAC design not only offers flexibility for the user but also improves the sound performance. By physically separating the main body from the module, power and radio frequency (RF) noise generated by the main unit is “completely blocked”. 

The module slots into place from the top of the player and features a double locking mechanism that securely connects each component. The A&futura SE180 arrives with a default module featuring the SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO, an 8-channel DAC traditionally used for premium home audio equipment. This DAC is capable of playing up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and native DSD256 files.

The SEM2 Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ Dual DAC will be the first optional module available on launch with the ability to play files up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512. Both modules support 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphones connections, while there is support for MQA playback via downloaded MQA audio files and through the Tidal music app. The next DAC module will be released later in the year with another model following in the first half of 2022.

The Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 (with SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO DAC module) is priced £1,399 / $1,499 / €1,599 and will be available from May. The optional Astell&Kern SEM2 DAC (Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ Dual DAC Module) is priced £319 / $349 / €379 and will also be available from May.


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