The Eartastic Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000

Astell&Kern, specialist in premium high-resolution audio devices says it has redefined the headphone amplifier with the introduction of the ACRO CA1000.

Combining high-performance amplifiers with digital audio player (DAP) capabilities in a compact desktop and carriable-friendly form, the ACRO CA1000 is designed to deliver the optimal performance from any type of wired headphone. An array of digital/analogue inputs and outputs also ensures the ACRO CA1000 can be at the heart of anyHi-Fi set-up and become the ultimate system for head-fi fans. This system represents Astell&Kern’s fundamental philosophy of delivering as close to the original sound as possible and enriching the listening experience.

To realise any hidden potential and run the most sophisticated and power-hungry headphones a dedicated amplifier is essential. The ACROCA1000 supports a four-step Gain Level setting that can run high-impedance headphones with a 15Vrms (Condition No Load) output level – without deterioration of sound quality.

Equipped with balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm and unbalanced 3.5mm and 6.35mm outputs, the ACRO CA1000 can accommodate a wide variety of headphones. Using ultra-small relay parts, circuits for each output are physically separated from each other to minimise any internal noise interference that can adversely affect the quality of the signal and sound.

DAC magic

A digital-to analogue converter (DAC) contributes majorly to how close to the original recording the listener will experience. With a pedigree of designing and engineering award-winning premium DAPs Astell&Kern knowledge of DAC technology is unprecedented, says the maker. The ACRO CA1000 arrives with a high-quality, high-performance Quad ES9068AS DAC that it creator says delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound without distortion. The Quad-DAC also supports high-resolution audio playback up native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz, enabling the music fan to get even closer to the original studio sound, while revealing musical details never heard before.

First introduced in the A&futura SE180 DAP, the ACRO CA1000 features Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA technology. The result of extensive research and development, this sound solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound through the audio output interface by use of effective power noise removal, efficient power management and amplification with minimal distortion.

The speaker effect with headphones

In a headphone environment where the left and right channels are clearly separated, ear fatigue can increase when listening over long periods. Activate the Crossfeed function and a more comfortable listening experience is revealed. This mode has the effect of blending the left and right channels, relieving ear fatigue by creating a more natural sound akin to listening to speakers. In this setting Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Levels are adjustable according to listening tastes.

More than just a powerful headphone amp, the ACRO CA1000 also features DAP capabilities, transforming it into the go-to-system for head-fi aficionados. A titling 4.1in touchscreen (up to 60-degrees) enables easy control of the player and amp settings with an intuitive Android OS and feature set taken from its award-winning portable DAPs. Although not entirely mobile as an Astell&Kern DAP, this amp player hybrid system is compact and portable. Equipped with an 8,400mAh large capacity battery, the ACRO CA1000 can provide up to 10.5 hours playback without a separate power supply. This headphone amp also supports USB-PD 2.0 (9V/3A) fast charging, so anyone with a charger that supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) can experience improved charging times – a one hour charge provides 50% battery, while it takes 2.5 hours for a full charge. A green light on the CA1000 will indicate when USB-PD fast charging is active.

An array of inputs and outputs allows connection of digital and analogue sources to expand the systems capabilities. These include Optical, Coaxial, Type-C USB digital inputs/outputs and RCA analogue input/output.

The ACRO CA1000 harbours 256GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can stockpile thousands of hi-res albums. Elsewhere, Replay Gain functionality automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.

Connectivity

A BT Sink function connects the ACRO CA1000 to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the headphone amp.

Elsewhere the ACRO CA1000 boasts Bluetooth 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

Alongside dual-band Wi-Fi support, the ACRO CA1000 features AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient.

The ACRO CA1000’s attractively engineered aluminum body shape and the prominent and tactile volume wheel design are inspired by rugged space-age exploration vehicles that power across planetary terrain. The system still retains Astell&Kern’s signature angular shadow and light motif to seamless fit into the company’s bold and aspirational design language.

The Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 is priced £1,999 / $2,100 / €2,299 and will be available from February 2022.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

General specifications

Body Colour: Moon Silver

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 4.1in, 720 x 1280px touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample rate:

PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)

DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level:

Headphone Out

[Low] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)

[Mid] Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)

[High] Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load)

[Super] Unbalanced 8Vrms / Balanced 15Vrms (Condition No Load)

RCA Out

2Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9068AS x4 (Quad-DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Headphone Outputs: Unbalanced (3.5mm, 6.35mm) / Balanced (2.5mm, 4.4mm)

Analog Inputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Analog Outputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Digital Inputs: Coaxial x1, Optical x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Digital Outputs: Optical(3.5mm) x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm aptX HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 4.12″(104.9mm)[W] x 1.77″(45mm)[H] x 5.85″(148.8mm)[D]

Weight: about 919g (32.41oz)

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