Not quite a portable media player, but something near to one, A&K’s latest gear for audiophiles brings a screen to a headphone amp.
Even though you can get music over the cloud in lossless, there are some folks more keen on carrying the digital equivalent of vinyl, ie “the best” sound you can have.
We’re talking lossless sound when we talk the best, with FLAC, ALAC, DSD, and other acronyms and initialisms audiophiles have likely grown accustomed to knowing, shortly after learning how to find music files in their own country. In Australia, finding high-res audio isn’t that easy, so that is a whole thing as it is.
But once you do find the files — once you find the best source of music — you then need to look for the hardware to play it.
You can, of course, grab a phone and a Type C converter, or you can even use a dedicated media player, though these are often chunky devices that feel like they need to sit alongside something else you use, like the aforementioned phone. If you’re someone who listens at home, you might rely on a headphone amp, and that’s an area that is changing.
Astell & Kern is taking what it learned from its high-end SE180 media player, and applying it to a very modern headphone amp, bringing together a quad digital-to-analogue converter (Quad DAC), support for 32-bit at up to 384kHz, plus DSD512, and the Teraton Alpha distortion cancellation technology found on the SE180 media player.
And it’s coming in a staggering $3K headphone amp with a media player built into the design.
The Astell & Kern Acro CA1000 is a headphone amp made to mostly stay put, but can be carried thanks to a media player with wireless and wired headphone support, a 4.1 inch screen, Android, 256GB storage, support for a microSD slot, and a massive 8400mAh battery for listening to music nearly anywhere.
It’s not pocketable in the way an Astell & Kern media player can be — and they’re not always pocketable, at that — but the size more makes it useful for people who want to sit anywhere and listen to music the way they might next to a large headphone amp. This isn’t for your pocket, but can be taken to go, provided you have a pair of big headphones to take advantage.
The price of A&K’s Acro CA1000 is the one catch, because with a recommended retail price of $3099 in Australia, it won’t be on the buying list for everyone, possibly even throwing the most ardent of audiophile buyers. But you’ll find this gadget in select stockists across Australia later this month.