If you're looking for a unique Christmas present for your favourite rapper or entrepreneur, Astell&Kern may have just the thing: the new SP3000 digital audio player is utterly unique, because A&K says it's the only digital audio player in the world made of gold.
It's not solid gold, because that would take the already pretty hefty price tag into an orbit so high only Jeff Bezos's rockets could reach it. It's plated with 24 karat gold to deliver something that looks, well, a million dollars. Thankfully that doesn't also describe the price you'll pay for it.
Gold's often used in high-end hi-fi equipment due to its excellent conductivity and its resistance to rust and discolouration, and here it's applied using a wet process rather than the more common surface treatment. The device is first plated with nickel, then with the 24K gold, and then it's coated with a tough protective layer to harden the metal and prevent fingerprints from spoiling its luxury looks. It also comes with a leather case to protect it when you're out and about.
What's behind the gold in A&K's new audio player?
Beneath the fancy metal there's the A&ultima SP3000 DAP, which separates balanced and unbalanced outputs for the best possible sonic reproduction. It was the first A&K portable to use the flagship AK4499EX DAC from Asahi Kesa, and it's powered by an octa-core Snapdragon. It supports both aptX-HD and LDAC wireless streaming although for the best possible results you're going to want to connect a set of high quality wired headphones to get the full benefit of its clever circuitry.
Although the SP3000 is designed for listening on the go, it also works well as a streaming hub for your existing hi-fi system – and unlike other streamers it doesn't mean you'll have to move things around to make room for it.
The price isn't quite in "if you have to ask you can't afford it" territory: the RRP is £4,399 / $4,400 / AU$7,288. If that's a little beyond your budget, the equally attractive but gold-free A&ultima is $3,799. Both the SP3000 Gold and the A&Ultima are available now from astellnkern.co.uk.