Astell&Kern A&Futura SE300 DAP Music Player Review: High Fidelity Sound in a Small, Well-Built Package

Published On: March 26, 2024
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Astell&Kern A&Futura SE300 DAP Music Player Review: High Fidelity Sound in a Small, Well-Built Package

The SE300 is undeniably a top-tier product aimed for audiophiles seeking a high-end portable player.

Astell&Kern A&Futura SE300 DAP Music Player Review: High Fidelity Sound in a Small, Well-Built Package

By Author: Indiana Lang

Indiana Lang, owner of Emptor Audio and A/V Integration in Orlando, FL, brings extensive AV industry experience from inside sales to custom installations. Starting in the field at 17 and writing about Hifi since 2016, he boasts over 25 certifications from top brands and is the current Editor-In-Chief of HomeTheaterReview.com.

A&Futura’s SE300 DAP music player continues the company’s trend of releasing high-end audio players. The SE300 player is designed from the ground up with the audiophile in mind. It boasts advanced audio components that output a balanced and natural sound. 

The player also exudes the same upscale appearance and high-grade materials that define the rest of their products. It is sleek and angular, sturdy to the feel, and really reflects its cost in its appearance. Audiophiles are going to get a lot of mileage out of this player and will enjoy the comfortable familiarity of its design which feels similar to most modern smartphones.

High Points

  • Extremely high build quality and solid construction that lends itself to a premium feel.
  • Class A/AB Dual Amplifiers
  • Balanced and naturalistic warm sound.
  • Well-designed and streamlined UI that is visually appealing.
  • Beautiful screen that looks great in a variety of different settings.

Low Points

  • Its somewhat bulky size and pointy design can feel awkward to carry.
  • High price point.
Astell&Kern A&Futura SE300 DAP Music Player

Build and Design

I think where the SE300 immediately stands out is with its futuristic and angular design. Its pure aluminum construction gives it a sturdy and premium feel, and the reflective silver body looks nice and sleek. I noticed that on the back side of the player, the glass-like finish was super susceptible to getting fingerprints on it, which were hard to remedy. This is a minor issue though, and the screen and steel sides were much more manageable.

The 5.5-inch 1080p resolution screen is sharp and vibrant and looks vivid. The visual experience using this player is smooth and engaging. If there is one other minor complaint I have about the SE300’s build, it's probably that the size and bulkiness of the player plus its pointy corners can make it uncomfortable to hold or keep in your pocket. It felt awkward and heavy at times, but this wasn’t a huge issue, and there is only so much that can be done with this when it comes to a product like this.

Astell&Kern A&Futura SE300 DAP Music Player on the sofa

The SE300 comes equipped with several different ports that allow for some nice flexibility in headphone choice. On the bottom, you'll find a microSD storage slot and a USB port for charging, or USB listening if that is your preference. At the top of the player, there are three different headphone jacks: 2.5mm, 4.4mm, and 3.5mm. 

There are also buttons on the SE300 which have different functions. On the left side, there are track skip back, play/pause, and track skip forward buttons, which feel snappy and make the listening experience a bit more convenient. The right side features a notched, tactile volume knob that is both responsive and satisfying to use.

The build of the SE300 reflects its price. It feels incredibly sturdy and looks sophisticated, and its touch screen and OS make it familiar to use.

Internal Specs and Audio Performance

Astell&Kern A&Futura SE300 DAP Music Player on the sofa, diagonal view

One of the standout features of the SE300 is its integration of the R-2R DAC (digital-to-analog converter). It is a high-fidelity audio component that uses ultra-precise resistors that convert the digital sound to an analog sound to deliver rich and detailed audio quality. The resistors on it are designed to be as error-resistant as possible, giving music rich depth. As a result, the SE300's sound output is naturalistic and balanced, never overly indulgent, and showcases rich, full audio.

The player offers two amp modes to choose from: Class A and Class B. Class A provides a warmer, analog-like sound. The Class A mode is more battery intensive, but I liked the sound more as it had an inviting warm tone. Class B offers a more dynamic and refined clarity, which leaned a bit cooler by my testing. Both amp modes excel at delivering clean and detailed sound though, allowing complex instrumentation to shine through without muddying the vocals.

It’s worth noting that the bass response on the SE300 is slightly weaker or more subdued on this player. In both amp modes, I felt this was the case. The bass is present and feels agile, but its presence is a bit more subtle, so bass enthusiasts may find it not to their liking,

During my testing, the SE300 performed very strongly when it came to audio performance. Albums like Nirvana's "Nevermind" sounded powerful and rich, with textured instrumentals that came to life on the player. Compared to my iPhone, the SE300 offered a distinct difference in audio fidelity, providing more detail and clarity.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

The player's sound signature remains clean and detailed, offering a complex and layered listening experience. Vocals are clear and well-defined, ensuring they aren't overshadowed by the instrumental sounds.

User Experience

Astell&Kern A&Futura SE300 DAP Music Player horizonal view

The SE300 excels in providing an excellent user experience. Its intuitive and sleek UI makes navigation effortless, and swapping between albums is a breeze. The modern design ensures there is no visual fatigue from extended use, adding to the overall enjoyment of using the player.

In terms of battery life, the SE300 seems to offer somewhere between 10-14 hours of use, which seems to vary depending on your chosen amp mode. Charging the device to full battery takes roughly around 3 hours to charge.

Should You Buy

The SE300 is undeniably a top-tier product aimed for audiophiles seeking a high-end portable player. Priced at $1900, it certainly comes with a premium, but the value it offers in terms of natural and balanced sound, very high-quality build, and sleek design makes it worth the investment for those willing to pay the price. I will say that its high price point and highly specific uses make it slightly off-putting to most consumers, as the SE300 seems very blatantly aimed for a more niche, audiophile audience. 

Conclusion

The SE300 player stands as a flagship product in the realm of high-fidelity portable audio. Its natural and balanced sound, upscale design, and intuitive UI make it an excellent choice for audiophiles seeking uncompromising audio performance. The product seems aimed towards a bit of a niche audience, but If you're looking for a top-of-the-line portable music player that delivers a rich and detailed listening experience, the Astell&Kern SE300 is undoubtedly a strong contender.

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