Astell & Kern SP3000T Review

There aren’t many audio products that have reached the prestige of Astell & Kern’s line of flagship audio players. The SP3000 is the pinnacle of most audio players, featuring some of the best new technology that innovates what DAPs can do. Just like the SP2000, the SP3000 is now followed by the SP3000T. Does adding a vacuum tube to one of the best players on the market make it worth its $2999 asking price?

Astell & Kern SP3000T With box

What You Get

  • SP3000T DAP
  • MicroSD slot cover
  • USB-C to USB-C charging cable
  • Screen protectors
  • Cloth cover
  • Leather case
  • Quick start guide
  • Warranty info

Astell & Kern SP3000T wheel


You can never go wrong with a flagship design from A&K. Their stainless steel chassis has the same classy, edged shape as their other high-end units. Everything about it feels like a luxury product, its volume dial even resembles a diamond. Adding the vacuum tubes on the back of the device adds even more to its aesthetic with its red glow. Like most A&K products, I highly suggest using a case, and thankfully the SP3000T provides one. While I’m not crazy about the color of the case, it makes the player feel much better to hold it in your hand.

In terms of ins and outs, the SP3000T keeps things very clean. You have a USB-C charging port on the bottom, playback buttons on the side, and headphone ports on the top. The SP3000T gives you 3.5mm, 4.4mm, and 2.5mm outputs.

Astell & Kern SP3000T Tube


The guts of the A&K consist of a flagship DAC chipset courtesy of AKM, and a SNAPDRAGON 6125 OCTA-CORE CPU. This AKM chip is the same as the SP3000, the AK4499EX that helps separate digital and analog signals. Using this design, the SP3000T can reduce noise more effectively than most DAPs. It’s what makes those blank spaces in between instruments more possible. Of course, there are the vacuum tubes, which are dual RAYTHEON JAN6418 MIL-SPEC vintage tubes. Within the SP3000T’s UI, you can switch between using the tubes and using a hybrid current. Other features include A&K’s Crossfeed integration and a triple amp system.

Sound Impressions

So many components are included in A&K’s DAPs that reveal so much about the music you’re listening to. The past few A&K DAPs have included similar chipsets, but the tube on the 3000T adds so much. Normally, I don’t prefer that much warmth to my sound profile, but when it’s handled like this it’s hard to deny. The warmth that the SP3000T adds a ton of color to all kinds of headphones and IEMs.

My preferred method of listening to the 3000T was in its hybrid mode, where the extended warmth is more controlled. Using the Sennheiser 660S2 in Hybrid5 mode, the added warmth inhabits less space but still has a prominent texture. This keeps you enjoying the sound signature you like from your headphones, while still featuring the effect you want from a tube. That’s not to say the tube is distracting without it though, as the warm timbre is still authentic.

Just like most flagship A&K players, the 3000T is incredibly pure. Its profile leans your headphones and IEMs toward clean sonic potency with or without the tube. There’s also the Crossfeed feature that makes a return, taking your tracks and manipulating their stereo image to mimic the soundstage that speakers give you. I find this implementation to be a bit more picky with certain headphones. For instance, the Audeze LCD 5 felt thinner in its frequency response compared to listening in standard stereo. There’s more of a full headspace that wraps around you with its natural sound field, but Crossfeed takes that away and points the soundstage toward your head. This is nice for live albums though, as they communicate more distance and angled performances. I much preferred how Crossfeed responded on the Liric II. The soundstage wrapped around you better, and the sound signature retained more fullness.


It’s rare to find a player that can match the prestige of A&K’s SP3000. Only they can outdo a flagship product like that, and that’s exactly the spot that the SP3000T fills. If you’ve heard the SP3000, the 3000T only works to make it better. The sound it can replicate is undeniably pristine, with great results from an assortment of headphones. I can’t wait to keep listening to more pairing with the SP3000T to see what else the SP3000T can do.

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The Astell & Kern SP3000T is available from Audio46.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.