May 18, 2024


Buzz The Music

Astell&Kern Reveals New A&ultima SP3000T Digital Audio Player And NOVUS IEMs

High-end Korean audio brand Astell&Kern has announced a couple of new products just in time for High-End Munich 2024. The big name in high-res audio players has unveiled the SP3000T, a portable player with tube amplification for analog warmth.

Also shipping this month are A&K’s new NOVUS in-ear monitors which had been produced in collaboration with Empire Ears. The new IEMs combine A&K’s audio engineering with Empire Ear’s technology to provide a pair of earphones that should match the new SP3000T perfectly.

The Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000T features an innovative Triple Amp System with customized sound profiles that can either use tube amplification, a digital op-amp or a combination of both technologies. The SP3000 has outputs for headphones with 2.5mm, 3.5mm or 4.4mm connectors.

A&K says the SP3000T has been specifically designed with personal listening preferences in mind. The Tube Amp Mode uses Dual RAYTHEON JAN6418 MIL-SPEC vintage vacuum tubes (or valves as the Brits still call them) to create a uniquely warm and soothing tone. Meanwhile, the Op-Amp Mode focuses on dynamic clarity and a low noise floor.

Encased in stainless steel and with 99.9% pure silver plating, the SP3000T has classic lines that go well this the vintage tube amp vibe. The design was recently awarded a coveted iF Design Award. Inside the SP3000 is a Snapdragon 6125 Octa-core processor and 8GB of DDR4 memory, which is double the amount of RAM used in most DAPs.

A Hybrid Amp Mode can enhance resolution and clarity by bringing together the advantages of classic analog and high-resolution output. The SP3000T uses Asahi Kasei Microdevices’ (AKM) latest flagship DAC, the AKM AK4499EX. The circuitry separates digital and analog signals to produce a high-quality sound.

Astell&Kern’s second product is the result of another collaboration with Empire Ears. The limited-edition NOVUS IEMs are premium earphones aimed at audiophiles who want to hear every detail in a recording.

The NOVUS IEMs build on the success of A&K’s previous collaboration with Empire Ears, the Odyssey IEMs. The NOVUS IEMs have been developed to extract all the audio signals from the SP3000T by combining analog vacuum tube sound with ultra-high-resolution original sound.

A&K says that every component and material used to make the NOVUS has been selected without compromise. Thanks to dual purpose-built W9+ dynamic drivers, A&K claims the new earphones produce an “unparalleled in-ear audio experience.”

The drivers are encased in 6061-T6 ‘diamond-like carbon’ aluminum shells with 24K Wet Gold-Plated faceplates and sapphire glass. Accompanying the rigid design is a custom-made four-wire hybrid copper, gold and silver cable reinforced with black macro-molecular fiber and a 4.4mm balanced jack.

Pricing & Availability: The A&ultima SP3000T is available now from Astell&Kern and priced at $2,999 / £3,199 / €3,599. The Astell&Kern X Empire Ears NOVUS will be available towards the end of May and will retail for $4,999 / £4,999 / €5,799.

More info:

Tech Specs:


  • Body: Stainless steel with pure silver plating.
  • Display: 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 Full HD touch screen.
  • Supported audio formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA.
  • Sample rates: PCM 8kHz ~ 768kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample) / DSD Native DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz) Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256 (1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo / DSD512(1bit 22.4MHz), Stereo.
  • Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 768kHz Bit to Bit playback
  • Output Level: Unbalanced 3.3Vrms │ Balanced 6.3Vrms (condition no load).
  • DAC: AKM AK4191 x2 (Dual Modulator) & AKM AK4499EX x2 (Dual DAC).
  • Input: USB Type-C input (for charging & PC & Mac).
  • Outputs: Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Optical Out(3.5mm), Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported | 4.4m, only 5-pole supported).
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz).
  • Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP │ Qualcomm aptX HD, LDAC, LHDC).
  • Playback time: about 10 hours (Standard: FLAC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.50, LCD Off, LED On, OP AMP mode).
  • Memory: 256GB [NAND], microSD x1 (Max. 1TB).
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 84.7 x 141.5 x 18mm.
  • Weight: 483g.


  • Drivers: 13 driver Quadbrid, Dual Conduction (2 x W9+ dynamic drivers, 5 x Balanced Armature Drivers: 1 x Sonion driver, Quad Proprietary NOVA Drivers by Knowles, 4 x Electrostatic Drivers by Sonion, 2 x Bone Conductors by Sonion)
  • Connector: 4-wire hybrid copper, gold and silver 23.7AWG Litz Type 4S, Cable Structure reinforced with black macro-molecular fiber.
  • Housing material: 6061-T6 aluminum finished in DLC Shell: DLC – Diamond-Like Carbon Logo Grid: DLC – diamond-like carbon faceplates in 24K gold.
  • Frequency response: 5Hz-100kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 108.1dB @ 1kHz, 1mW 2 ohms @1kHz.
  • Impedance: 2Ω @ 1kHz.