While perhaps best known for its high-end digital audio players like the mighty A&ultima SP2000T, Astell&Kern also offers ear candy, speakers and amps in its product line. Now the company has combined a desktop headphone amp with a music player for a blocky all-in-one system known as the Acro CA1000.
The angular aluminum base of the hybrid headphone amp/music player measures 4.12 x 1.77 x 5.85 inches (104.9 x 45 x 148.8 mm) and tips the scales at 32.41 oz. (919g), and houses a quad-core system processor and four ES9068AS digital-to-analog converters supporting 32-bit/384kHz PCM format playback as well as native DSD512.
And the unit also features A&K’s Teraton Alpha audio technology pioneered in the SE180 digital audio player, which “is designed to provide audio playback close to the original sound through the audio output interface using efficient suppression power noise, efficient power management and amplification with minimal distortion.”
On the front are outputs for 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced and unbalanced 2.5mm and 6.35mm headphone connections, with each output physically separated for signal clarity, and there are has four-step gain for driving demanding audiophile cans. To the right is a beautifully knurled volume wheel “inspired by rugged space-age exploration vehicles”, while analog and digital inputs are found on the rear for connecting the unit to external music sources.
But this headphone amplifier comes with a built-in music player, which cannot be removed from the setup, but can be tilted for easy interfacing with the 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280 pixel touchscreen.
Dual-band Wi-Fi makes it easy to transfer files wirelessly from a PC or smartphone, where 256GB of built-in storage awaits, along with a microSD card slot to expand it up to 1TB. can also stream hi-res content to the unit via Bluetooth 5.0 with support for aptX HD and 24-bit LDAC codecs.
And while it might not look like it, the system is designed for portability and comes with a built-in 8,400mAh battery for up to 10.5 hours of playtime, with fast charging up to 50% in one hour or full charge. taking 2.5 hours.
The Acro CA1000 goes on sale next month for US$2,100.
Product sheet: Acro CA1000