Hi Fi News

Astell&Kern A&futura SE200

Once upon a time there was just Astell&Kern, the company building its reputation on superior digital audio players (or DAPs) aimed at those for whom playing music from their phone just wasn’t enough. In an era when the multifunctional pocket device is designed to take over every task you could imagine, from browser, emailer, camera, music player and – well – phone, the idea of carrying a dedicated audio device around may seem like something of an anachronism. ‘An MP3 player, grandad?’.

However, the Korean company with the strange name – we’re told Astell means ‘stars’ in Latin (well, almost) and Kern means ‘centre’ in German – has built itself a strong market, with machines running all the way up to £4000 or so. Along the way the lineup has diversified into a complete audio system, the AK500 series, and a nifty desktop DAC/amp, the ACRO L1000, with its matching ACRO S1000 speakers – not to mention a range of headphones to use with its players.

CUTE BUT COMPLEX

Portables now span four series – Kann, A&norma, A&futura and A&ultima – with the £1799 SE200 a new addition to the midrange A&futura lineup. It sits above the £1699 SE100 and, as we’ll discover, is an intriguing exercise in the kind of product-differentiation the company

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