Big sound in a small package with support for 24-bit audio makes it seem like Astell & Kern is gearing a Bluetooth speaker for audiophiles.
If you’re someone that digs into audiophile grade sound, you might be listening to music a little differently. A big pair of headphones and a dedicated media player wouldn’t go astray, but you can also get by with great wireless headphones and an equally great phone.
High-end audio tends to have high-end needs, and once you go beyond the 16-bit stereo world, you need to think bigger, and often more expensive. Bigger and more expensive headphones, possibly an external headphone digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), maybe a large speaker system and amp, and so on and so on.
While finding high-res content is possible in Australia, helped in part by streaming services such as Tidal HiFi and the recent introduction of HiFi lossless on Apple Music, you’ll still want the hardware to play these files and get the full breadth of quality out of them, otherwise you may not be doing your music justice.
Astell & Kern has been playing with high-res for long enough, complete with some expensive headphones and high-priced media players, and is now taking its expertise to the world of portable audio, launching a Bluetooth speaker with audiophile-grade sound in mind.
It’s coming in the newly announced Acro BE100, a wireless speaker sporting a 32-bit DAC with support for 24-bit high-res through aptX HD and LDAC, making it wireless and Hi-Res, handling just that little bit more than your conventional standard Bluetooth speaker. While wireless is the main way you’ll likely send audio its way, A&K is including a 3.5mm audio input to send things over a cord if need be, such as via the company’s media players.
Inside the BE100, Astell & Kern is including a Class-D amp with 55 watts of power, working with one 4 inch woofer made from Kevlar with two 1.5 inch silk dome tweeters custom built for this speaker to handle the highs while the woofer handles the mids and lows.
This all sits under a design that matches Astell & Kern devices, with its fondness for sharp angles and lines coming into the grill, with an LED around the dial up top, giving you an idea of the volume and what it’s connected to.
Weighing a little over 3kg, the Astell & Kern Acro BE100 is a little meatier than other wireless speakers, but it seems to have audiophiles firmly in mind, simply because of the on-board hardware.
And yet the price is not hitting the overly high tag audiophiles might come to expect, with the BE100 fetching $549 in Australia. There’s no app for it like with other wireless speakers, as this is a Bluetooth or 3.5mm wired speaker only, but if audio quality is your main focus, you may not care, and can expect the A&K BE100 in specialist stores from late November.