Astell & Kern wants to present a headphone amplifier with integrated D/A converter at the highest level with the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp. What is striking here is that one speaks of a portable, not mobile system…
Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp, the outstanding performance offered by Astell & Kern solutions in the form of portable hi-res audio players is now available as a D/A converter and headphone amplifier. And it does so in such a way that it offers a solution that is portable, but which nevertheless fits best into the area of desktop audio solutions and is thus presented as the new offspring of the Astell & Kern ACRO Series.
The fact that the manufacturer refers to this as a Carryable Headphone Amp is intended to underline the claim of being able to offer a solution for high-quality music enjoyment anywhere.
Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp – Powerful audio anywhere
The Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp is a headphone amplifier that combines the features and portability of a high-performance amplifier and a DAP. It is based on Astell&Kern’s fundamental philosophy of delivering original sound, according to the manufacturer’s promise.
The first thing that stands out is the quite unusual shape of the cabinet that the developers chose. The cabinet, made entirely of aluminium by CNC production, measures 104.9 mm in width, 45 mm in height and 148.8 mm in depth and weighs 919 g. The top is almost entirely made of aluminium.
The top side is almost entirely occupied by a display, which is a 4.1-inch touch screen display with 720 x 1,280 pixels.
The special feature here is that the display can be folded up by 60°, turning the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp into a miniature desk device.
The front side offers connections for headphones in various designs, directly above on the top side there are some buttons, and on the right side there is a massive rotary encoder.
The other interfaces are on the back of the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp.
Let’s go into detail about the interfaces, because the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp offers a variety of different connection options.
First and foremost, a coaxial and optical S/PDIF interface are available for source devices, and it also has a USB for connection to a PC or Mac, namely as a USB-C interface.
For analogue signal routing, the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp offers not only a pair of RCA sockets as input, but also a pair of RCA sockets as output, which means that it can also be integrated into a classic hi-fi chain or allows the direct connection of active speaker systems, for example.
Four options are available for headphones, two each for unbalanced and balanced headphones. In addition to a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack and a 6.3 mm stereo jack, there is also a 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm jack on the front.
Another USB-C port is also available, but this is for the power supply.
The Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp also has a slot for microSD cards, so that audio data can be played directly from the corresponding media. The internal memory, which is also mentioned here for the sake of completeness, is equipped with 256 GB NAND. The manufacturer thus fulfils its promise to offer a combination of DAP and powerful headphone amplifier.
WiFi and Bluetooth
The new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp is equipped with a WiFI module according to IEEE 802.11ac in order to be integrated into the network. But that’s not all: direct connection with a smartphone or tablet as a source is also possible, without having to integrate them into the network. For this purpose, the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp features Bluetooth 5.0 from the specialist Qualcomm with support for SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD and LDAC.
Wireless HiFi Sound via BT Sink
As with some of the DAP models recently presented by Astell & Kern, the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp also offers the so-called BT Sink.
This is how the manufacturer describes the possibility of using this solution via Bluetooth as a receiver as well as a transmitter. One option is the classic one we have already described, i.e. using a smartphone or tablet as a source. But there is also the option of using the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp as a transmitter to control active loudspeaker systems via Bluetooth and thus “wirelessly”. This should also be possible up to Hi-res audio with 24 bit via the corresponding codecs.
AK File Drop
One more thing on the subject of WiFi: the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp supports AK File Drop, the function for transferring audio data directly to and from the device via WiFi, be it via smartphone, tablet or PC.
Quad DAC with 32 bit and 384 kHz as well as native DSD512
The signal processing is based on a so-called Quad-DAC, which is built into the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp on the basis of four ESS ES9068AS DACs from the specialist ESS Technology Inc. and which supports signal processing from Linear PCM up to 32 bit and 384 kHz as well as native DSD up to DSD512.
The new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp can also fully develop data encoded in lossy MQA and thus reproduce it in the best possible quality.
Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA
The new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp also features the so-called Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution.
According to Astell & Kern, TERATON ALPHA is the company’s ultimate sound solution for producing faithful audio reproduction via the audio output interface through effective noise reduction, efficient power management and amplification with minimal distortion.
Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA features Astell & Kern’s patented technologies, which are the result of tens of thousands of hours of continuous research and development to produce sound that is very close to the original sound intended by the artist and producer. This includes a special circuit design and the power supply already mentioned, as well as particularly sophisticated shielding of the circuits with silver.
Particularly powerful output stage
Astell & Kern promises that the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp can optimally drive almost any headphone, from in-ear headphones to the most demanding over-ear headphones.
To achieve this, it offers a particularly powerful output stage that provides 2 V rms at the unbalanced output and 4 V rms at the balanced output in “Low” mode. In the “Mid” mode it is 4 V rms or 8 V rms, in the “High” mode even 6 V rms as well as 12 V rms, and in addition, the “Super” mode is available, which provides 8 V rms unbalanced and 15 V rms balanced.
Particularly powerful battery
One advantage of the generously designed housing is that the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp is equipped with a particularly powerful rechargeable battery. It is a lithium-polymer battery with 8,400 mAh and 3.8 V. This is supposed to provide a playing time of more than 10 minutes. This is supposed to achieve a playing time of more than ten hours, even with the power data just mentioned concerning the output stage.
A quick-charge function (USB-PD 2.0 Charging with 9 V and 3 A) should make the full capacity of the battery available again after only two and a half hours. With the usual 5 V and 2 A, the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp needs to be connected to the mains for seven hours to provide the battery with its full capacity.
Prices and availability
The new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp should be available soon, in the Moon Silver design variant, as the manufacturer calls it.
The recommended retail price for this solution is € 2.499,-.
Getting to the point
With the new Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp, the specialist for portable hi-res audio players Astell & Kern presents a portable headphone amplifier, which, however, ultimately represents a desktop audio solution of a DAP. It thus combines in a proven manner the possibilities of a portable hi-res audio player with the advantages of a particularly powerful headphone amplifier, whereby the focus is not on maximum mobility, but first and foremost on a particularly powerful output stage.
|PRODUCT||ASTELL & KERN ACRO CA1000 CARRYABLE HEADPHONE AMP|
|Brand||ASTELL & KERN|
|Distribution Austria||Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH|
|Distribution Germany||headphone.shop GmbH|
|Distribution Switzerland||Portacomp AG|
|More about this manufacturer at HiFi BLOG|