In 2021 Astell & Kern launched a flurry or products, and it’s started the new year as it means to go on, with the announcement of the ACRO CA1000 headphone amplifier.
In true A&K form, there’s more to the ACRO CA1000 than meets the eye, functioning as a compact desktop amplifier with digital audio player capabilities. The design is typical A&K, angular in shape with an aluminium body and tactile volume wheel.
You can plug in a variety of headphones through its 3.5mm, 6.35mm unbalanced, and 2.5mm 4.4mm balanced headphone outputs. The amp also supports an array of analogue and digital connections with Optical, Coaxial, USB-C and RCA input/outputs.
The digital audio player aspect manifests itself through the tilting 4.1-inch touchscreen. The screen can tilt up to 60-degrees, with Astell & Kern saying it offers easy operation of the player and amp settings with its Android OS interface. While not as portable as an actual player, it’s small and just about light enough (919g) to be able to take with you.
With a large 8400mAh battery, the ACRO CA1000 can last for 10.5 hours and supports fast charging if it needs a boost: an hour for 50% battery, and 2.5 hours for a full charge.
Storage is a significant 256GB, but if that’s not enough, it can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD. Replay Gain functionality automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback up to 24-bit/192 kHz, so you won’t need to touch that dial when listening to music.
At the heart of the ACRO CA1000 is a Quad ES9068AS DAC that A&K claims “delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound without distortion.” High-resolution audio playback up to native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz is supported, with the company’s Teraton Alpha technology enabling a sonic performance close to the original sound through a combination of “effective power noise removal, efficient power management and amplification with minimal distortion.”
The Crossfeed function aims to reduce ear fatigue when listening to music over long periods by blending the left and right channels similar to how a stereo speaker operates. Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Levels are adjustable to customise the sound how you like.
The CA1000’s BT Sink function allows for it to be connected to an external device over Bluetooth to play back music on the headphone amplifier, with Bluetooth 5.0 also supported to listen to music with a pair of headphones. 24-bit aptX HD and LDAC codecs mean you can listen to higher quality audio over Bluetooth, while the AK File Drop allows for wireless transmission of files to other devices on the same network to make music management more convenient.
The price, however, won’t be convenient to most. Set at £1,999 / $2,100 / €2,299, the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000 goes on sale February 2022.