Astell & Kern Announces New SEM4 Dual-DAC Module

Posted on 25th April, 2022

Astell & Kern Announces New SEM4 Dual-DAC Module

The SEM4 Asahi Kasei AK4493SEQ is the fourth DAC module in Astell & Kern's series and the first to feature DAR technology.

Astell&Kern's A&futura SE180 player certainly raised eyebrows when it was launched due to its clever interchangeable DAC modules. This development lets you personalise the DAP's sound through optional DAC cartridges. The A&futura SE180 player (£1,399) comes bundled with the SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO DAC as standard, and now there are three optional modules with the release of the latest - the SEM4 Asahi Kasei AK4493SEQ dual DAC.

Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 SEM4 DAC

The SEM4 sports 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm headphone ports, just like its stablemates, the SEM1, SEM2 Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ dual DAC and the SEM3 ESS ES9038Q2M quad DAC. However, the SEM4 also adds Digital Audio Remaster (DAR) upsampling tech.

Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 SEM4 DAC

Digital Audio Remaster

DAR is said to convert whatever file is playing to a higher sample rate at a maximum of 384kHz or DSD256. Astell&Kern says that the module, for instance, will upsample 44.1kHz PCM to 352.8kHz and 48kHz PCM to 384kHz for playback, while PCM files over 96kHz will be converted to DSD256, and DSDs below DSD256 will be converted to DSD256. All of this is said to result in “a more refined and richer sonic performance,” according to Astell&Kern.

Furthermore, the dual AK4493SEQ DAC supports files beyond its upsampling rates and natively plays back 32-bit 768 kHz PCM/ DSD512 high-resolution digital audio files.

Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 SEM4 DAC

Additionally, the SEM4 benefits from the US company's Velvet Sound technology which promises more “natural” and analogue-like sonics with low noise and distortion. Finally, thanks to “carefully selected advanced switch and capacitor components”, you get up to 14 hours – the longest among SE180 modules - due to its low-power consumption design.

The Astell & Kern SEM4 DAC is priced at £369/ €429 and is available from May.

Visit Astell&Kern for more information


    Jay Garrett's avatar

    Jay Garrett

    StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.

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