ASTELL & KERN ACRO CA1000
While best known for their portable players, Astell&Kern has given us a variety of desktop products, from speaker amps to Bluetooth speakers, with their ACRO lineup.
ACRO CA1000, the latest in that series, is a combination digital audio player, headphone amp, and DAC that rests comfortably on your desk, but is easily transportable with battery power and only requires a USB-C cable for charging.
It’s all you need to enjoy your music at the highest quality, with a form that can go almost anywhere.
BUILD AND DESIGN
Astell&Kern provides a simple but premium-feeling unboxing experience befitting a product. What makes it work is how the cardboard and foam padding feel like they were selected for their feel and durability – not just selected for cost-effectiveness. These are the sorts of touches that enhance the presentation and feel.
ACRO CA1000’s tight, angular sculpting helps it fit in with Astell&Kern’s portable DAPs, while its size certainly stands out. The base of the unit features a selection of inputs and outputs, allowing the unit to be used as a DAC, amp, or standalone player.
Of course, the real intention isn’t to use any of those features separately, but to use them all together to provide a complete, streamlined experience.
The screen can rest flat on the device, or it can be angled up to 60º for easier desktop use. It needs to be raised and lowered by pulling or pushing on the edge of the screen which can become slightly awkward. As there isn’t a handle of any sort to grab the screen, nor is there any kind of lever or another device to help raise or lower it smoothly.
That said, it has a very firm and stable feeling throughout the adjustment process.
MicroSD Supported with 1 TB Storage
The back of the device features RCA input and output, as well as USB, Optical, and Coax input. There’s also a separate USB-C port for charging and a microSD card that supports up to 1TB of added storage.
On the front, you have a general selection of outputs with 6.3mm and 3.5mm unbalanced, and 4.4mm and 2.5mm balanced headphone outputs.
There are four hardware buttons on the front: power, previous track, play/pause, and next track. And the volume controlled with a rather large wheel with a tactile click on the right side of the ACRO CA1000.
The device itself is well-built, and pity anyone who drops it on their toe. The inputs and outputs are tight and secure, and the buttons and knobs provide good tactile feedback. The ACRO CA1000 itself is clearly a premium product, with so much attention given to the finer details.
SOUND AND PERFORMANCE
Astell & Kern have a tendency to deliver DAPs with a sound that’s on the edge of a reference tuning, but with a touch of euphonic smoothness. ACRO CA1000 continues this trend with an output that detailed and transparent, but also musical with a bit of warmth.
The KANN Alpha, but with a more fully realized 3D image, a broader soundstage, a stronger sense of separation, and just a little sweetness in the tuning.
The overall output is impeccably balanced, with deep, natural, honest bass, and good fullness through the mids, and highs which retain some extension while feeling smooth and non-fatiguing.
With the right headphones, the soundstage is massive and open, presenting depth, width, and height in equal measure. The imaging and separation are strong as well, giving a holographic sense to the image, with good weight and strong positioning.
Last Thought about ASTELL & KERN ACRO CA1000
ACRO CA1000 is powerful, beautiful, capable, and just a little quirky. It’s an all-in-one device that can flex into a variety of positions. Whether it be a DAC, amp, USB transport, or standalone DAP –
0f course, where it really shines is when it’s all of those things at the same time. If you’re looking for an integrated desktop audio solution, ACRO CA1000 should be at the top of your list.
ASTELL & KERN ACRO CA1000 Specifications
- Frequency Response ±0.024dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.018dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced /
- ±0.048dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) RCA
- ±0.059dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.056dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced /
- ±0.048dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) RCA
- S/N 107dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced / 119dB @ 1kHz, RCA
- Crosstalk -105dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -124dB @ 1kHz, Balanced / -121dB @ 1kHz, RCA
- THD+N 0.005% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.002% @ 1kHz, Balanced / 0.0004% @ 1kHz, RCA
- IMD SMPTE 0.0008% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced / 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced /
- 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) RCA
- Output Impedance 3.5mm, 6.35mm (1ohm), 2.5mm, 4.4mm (2ohm), RCA (2ohm)
- Clock Jitter 25ps (Typ)
- Reference Clock Jitter 70ps