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Astell&Kern’s Flagship SP3000 DAP Looks Rather Flashy in 24K Gold

Astell&Kern has covered the best DAP they’ve ever made in 24K gold. The limited edition A&ultima SP3000 is available this month for $4,400

Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP3000 DAP in 24K Gold Lifestyle

Astell&Kern has just released the limited edition 24K gold plated A&ultima SP3000. It’s the same flagship DAP (digital audio player) we reviewed last year in a shiny new gold finish. If you’re lucky enough to get one before they sellout, it will cost an extra $700 over the regular finishes. Total price $4,400 USD for gold versus $3,699 for black, silver or copper finishes.

Interestingly, the SP3000 Gold comes with a special leather case and package exclusive to this limited edition. A case will certainly protect your investment, but doesn’t it defeat the purpose of showing off so much gold?

Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP3000 DAP in 24K Gold inside Case

How it’s made?

Astell&Kern started with the innovative Stainless Steel 904L material used for the first time in the SP3000 and plated it with 24K pure gold. However, the highest purity 24K gold is difficult to handle due to its low hardness, so extremely meticulous work went into its creation. Astell&Kern used a wet process for pure gold plating (plating thickness of 0.5um+/- 20%) rather than simply a surface treatment. To fully highlight the SUS 904L material and gold plating, nickel plating was first applied, followed by the 24K gold plating, and then an AF coating was applied to harden the surface and prevent fingerprints.

Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP3000 DAP in 24K Gold Tilted Front Right

A&ultima SP3000

When the original A&ultima SP3000 launched in October 2022, it included several new features implemented for the first time in a portable digital audio player.  Astell&Kern explains these features here:

First Use of AKM’s Latest Flagship DAC with Complete Separation of Digital and Analog Signals in a HEXA-Audio Circuitry Structure

The A&ultima SP3000 was the first product to use Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) latest flagship DAC, the AKM AK4499EX and features a complete separation of digital and analog signals in a HEXA structure design.  Astell&Kern worked with AKM from the initial development stage to develop the DAC and circuit structure.

As a result of this collaboration, the world’s first four AK4499EX DACs, AKM’s latest flagship, were applied to the SP3000, and the innovative HEXA-audio circuitry structure design in which two AK4191EQs that process digital signals are applied separately, complete the amazing sound that can only be found from Astell&Kern.

Most digital players process digital and analog signals together inside the DAC. However, the SP3000’s advanced HEXA structure reduces the noise of the digital signal input using the AK4191EQ, a separate digital delta-sigma modulator, and then the AK4499EX DAC processes the analog signals separately.

By applying this unique design where digital and analog signal processing is physically separated for the first time in a digital audio player, it is possible to experience an incredible level of sound that has never been experienced before.  

Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP3000 DAP in 24K Gold Tilted Rear

Stunning Audio Performance with Independent Dual Audio Circuits

To create not just a great DAP, but a truly innovative DAP, Astell&Kern tried to overcome the limitations of sound by envisioning an independent dual audio circuit for unbalanced and balanced outputs.

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Almost all other DAPs, including previous Astell&Kern models, use the same internal DAC for both unbalanced and balanced outputs. Since the signal from the DAC is divided into unbalanced and balanced then delivered to the AMP, an Audio Switch is essential.  When using a switch, there is a limit to the range of signal sent by the DAC, so most DAPs reduce the signal size first and then when the signal is transmitted back to the amplifier, it is necessary to restore the original signal size. This causes a limitation in improving the audio performance.

To overcome the limitations, Astell&Kern engineers designed a HEXA structure using two AK4191EQs and four AK4499EXs, creating an innovative unbalanced and balanced independent dual audio circuit design. As a result, the SP3000 achieves a Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) of 130dB, the best of any DAP available. You can feel the clean, pure delicacy of sound produced by the SP3000 that you cannot not experience in any other DAP.

Latest Snapdragon Octa-Core CPU

The A&ultima SP3000 is equipped with a Snapdragon 6125 Octa-core processor and 8GB of DDR4 memory, which is twice the amount of RAM commonly used in DAPs.  Along with a redesigned 4th generation user interface, the player features a more powerful system that is stable with fast and fluid movement.

The CPU, memory and wireless communication parts are configured as one module, with the digital circuit parts arranged in the same area creating a single system on a chip (SoC).  This maximizes the efficiency of the overall circuit configuration by providing more audio-only circuit space as well as reducing heat and noise from digital circuits.

New 4th Generation Graphic User Interface

With the newly developed 4th generation UX/UI, the SP3000 is focused on the process and experience of listening to music.

The new theme is designed with a focus on the experience of rediscovering songs that you have forgotten; you can quickly browse through music categories with simple gestures. A convenient search feature along with album art has been added so that you can enjoy a digital display of CD album covers of your music collection. It is designed to give you not only the pleasure of listening to music, but also to create fun when operating the device.

With the new Crimson Theme, one of the main features of the 4th generation UI, the graphics are simple and unintrusive, focusing on usability and intuitiveness. Three key concepts, Edge, Simple, and Dark Mode, were used to improve usability and increase clarity with a style unique to AK. The black and red theme colors are chosen to reduce eye fatigue, maximize battery usage and reduce heat generation.

The player includes 256GB of internal memory with support for microSD cards up to 1TB, dual-band 2.4/5Ghz a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, DLNA networking, USB digital audio output, USB-C for data transfer and charging, and the ability to use the SP3000 as a USB DAC for your Mac or Windows-based PC.  A 5.46” full HD (1920×1080 resolution) touch screen provides a high-resolution display.  The SP3000 supports native playback of high-res PCM music up to 32-bit, 768kHz and DSD512.  

ReplayGain automatically and uniformly adjusts playback volume across different music tracks.  Using AK File Drop, you can freely transfer files wirelessly through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network. Music file management is now possible with a cableless, wireless solution. 

The SP3000 adds support for both aptX HD and LDAC™ codecs to provide audiophiles with multiple options for 24-bit audio playback wirelessly.  Latest generation Bluetooth 5.0 features faster transmission speed and greater range compared to Bluetooth 4.2, therefore providing a more stable wireless connection.  BT Sink allows the SP3000 to connect to an external device via Bluetooth, and function as a Bluetooth DAC. Music from an external device, such as a smartphone can now be played back in high-quality, taking full advantage of the advanced audio innovations found in the SP3000.

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Qualcomm QC 3.0 fast charging allows you to charge your DAP faster and more efficiently than previous models, reaching a full charge in about 3.5 hours.  

In a headphone environment in which the left and right channels are clearly separated, ear fatigue may increase during prolonged listening.  The Crossfeed setting in the SP3000 mixes parts of the original signal from one channel and sends that signal to the opposite channel with a time difference to center the sound image.  This effect provides the headphone user with a sound profile similar to listening to the same music track in a room with full-sized speakers.  Using detailed settings such as Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Level, you can set the level of crossfeed according to your listening preferences.

The SP3000 and SP3000 Gold are certified Roon Ready.

Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP3000 DAP Colors

Price & Availability

  • The A&ultima SP3000 Gold will be available in December 2022 for $4,400 in limited quantities at authorized Astell&Kern dealers worldwide.

For more information:



  1. nwwoods

    December 7, 2023 at 12:33 am

    Are we sure that is a leather case? Looks suspiciously like PU.

  2. ORT

    December 7, 2023 at 8:21 pm

    pAstell&Fern proudly present the new 24K Gold DaaaaP..imp. 😉 It will either make your frAudiophile Phrends green with envy or turn your ring finger the same colour.

    A bit too garish (for this little Cashew!) in the vein of the famed Golden Calf or its replacement…the OSCAR.

    Down Ares! Up Mars!


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