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Astell&Kern

Head-Fi Hero: Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 redefines the headphone amplifier with digital audio player capabilities

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium high-resolution audio devices has redefined the headphone amplifier with the introduction of the ACRO CA1000. Expertly combining high-performance amplifiers with digital audio player (DAP) capabilities in an incredibly compact desktop and carriable-friendly form, the powerful ACRO CA1000 delivers the optimal performance from any type of wired headphone. An array of digital/analogue inputs and outputs also ensures the ACRO CA1000 can be at the heart of any hi-fi set-up and become the ultimate system for head-fi fans. This system represents Astell&Kern’s fundamental philosophy of delivering as close to the original sound as possible and enriching the listening experience.

Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 key features at a glance:

  • Powerful headphone amplifier with digital audio player capabilities.
  • Features a four step Gain Level that drives high impedance headphones with a 15Vrms output or below.
  • Features 3.5mm, 6.35mm unbalanced, and 2.5mm 4.4mm balanced headphone output to handle a wide variety of headphones.
  • An array of digital/analogue inputs and outputs ensures it can at the heart of any hi-fi set-up.
  • Onboard ESS ES9068AS Quad-DAC delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound.
  • Supports high-resolution audio playback up native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz.
  • Crossfeed reduces listening fatigue by creating a more natural sound akin to listening to speakers.
  • Boasts Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology.
  • A 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280px touchscreen tilts up to 60 degrees for easy control.
  • Support for Bluetooth® 5.0 provides greater range and a more stable wireless connection.
  • Support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.
  • Built-in battery provides up to 10.5 hours playback.

Headphone amp

To realise any hidden potential and run the most sophisticated and power-hungry headphones a dedicated amplifier is essential. The ACROCA1000 supports a four-step Gain Level setting that can run high-impedance headphones with a 15Vrms (Condition No Load) output level – without deterioration of sound quality.

Equipped with balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm and unbalanced 3.5mm and 6.35mm outputs, the ACRO CA1000 can accommodate a wide variety of headphones. Using ultra-small relay parts, circuits for each output are physically separated from each other to minimise any internal noise interference that can adversely affect the quality of the signal and sound.

DAC magic

A digital-to analogue converter (DAC) contributes majorly to how close to the original recording the listener will experience. With a pedigree of designing and engineering award-winning premium DAPs Astell&Kern knowledge of DAC technology is unprecedented. The ACRO CA1000 arrives with a high-quality, high-performance Quad ES9068AS DAC that delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound without distortion. The Quad-DAC also supports high-resolution audio playback up native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz, enabling the music fan to get even closer to the original studio sound, while revealing musical details never heard before.

First introduced in the A&futura SE180 DAP, the ACRO CA1000 features Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA technology. The result of extensive research and development, this sound solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound through the audio output interface by use of effective power noise removal, efficient power management and amplification with minimal distortion.

The speaker effect with headphones

In a headphone environment where the left and right channels are clearly separated, ear fatigue can increase when listening over long periods. Activate the Crossfeed function and a more comfortable listening experience is revealed. This mode has the effect of blending the left and right channels, relieving ear fatigue by creating a more natural sound akin to listening to speakers. In this setting Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Levels are adjustable according to listening tastes.

DAP credentials

More than just a powerful headphone amp, the ACRO CA1000 also features DAP capabilities, transforming it into the go-to-system for head-fi aficionados. A titling 4.1-inch touchscreen (up to 60-degrees) enables easy control of the player and amp settings with an intuitive Android OS and feature set taken from its award-winning portable DAPs.

Although not entirely mobile as an Astell&Kern DAP, this amp player hybrid system is compact and portable. Equipped with an 8,400mAh large capacity battery, the ACRO CA1000 can provide up

to 10.5 hours playback without a separate power supply. This headphone amp also supports USB-PD 2.0 (9V/3A) fast charging, so anyone with a charger that supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) can experience improved charging times – a one hour charge provides 50% battery, while it takes 2.5 hours for a full charge. A green light on the CA1000 will indicate when USB-PD fast charging is active.

An array of inputs and outputs allows connection of digital and analogue sources to expand the systems capabilities. These include Optical, Coaxial, Type-C USB digital inputs/outputs and RCA analog input/output.

The ACRO CA1000 harbours 256GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can stockpile thousands of hi-res albums. Elsewhere, Replay Gain functionality automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.

Connectivity

A BT Sink function connects the ACRO CA1000 to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the headphone amp.

Elsewhere the ACRO CA1000 boasts Bluetooth® 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

Alongside dual-band Wi-Fi support, the ACRO CA1000 features AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient.

Out of this world design

The ACRO CA1000’s beautifully engineered aluminum body shape and the prominent and tactile volume wheel design are inspired by rugged space-age exploration vehicles that power across planetary terrain. The system still retains Astell&Kern’s signature angular shadow and light motif to seamless fit into the company’s bold and aspirational design language.

The Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 is priced £1,999 / $2,100 / €2,299 and will be available from February 2022 from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

General specifications

Body Colour: Moon Silver

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280px touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level:

Headphone Out

  • [Low] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [Mid] Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [High] Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [Super] Unbalanced 8Vrms / Balanced 15Vrms (Condition No Load)

RCA Out

  • 2Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9068AS x4 (Quad-DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Headphone Outputs: Unbalanced (3.5mm, 6.35mm) / Balanced (2.5mm, 4.4mm)

Analog Inputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Analog Outputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Digital Inputs: Coaxial x1, Optical x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Digital Outputs: Optical(3.5mm) x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 4.12″(104.9mm)[W] x 1.77″(45mm)[H] x 5.85″(148.8mm)[D]

Weight: about 919g (32.41oz)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Audio 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

* Audio specifications will be based on Low Gain setting.

Built-in Memory: 256GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery Capacity: 8,400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: about 2.5hours (9V / 3A PD2.0 Fast Charging) | 7hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: about 10.5hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.40, LCD Off, Low Gain)

Supported OS: Windows 7, 8, 10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 and above

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Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern’s latest IEM, the AK ZERO1, features three different types of drivers for a new hybrid sound

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces its latest in-ear monitor (IEM), the AK ZERO1, featuring three different types of drivers to deliver a ground-breaking hybrid sound. Composed of a micro planar dynamic driver, dual balanced armature (BA) drivers and a dynamic driver, this unique design combines the sonic characteristics of each driver to produce an unprecedented natural audio. Astell&Kern has set new standards in IEM engineering to get the music fan closer to the original studio sound.

Astell&Kern AK ZERO1 features and innovations include:

  • Three different types of drivers: Planar, balance armature and dynamic
  • Perfectly harmonised driver structure
  • Precision crossover network design
  • Acoustic chamber created using 3D printed technology
  • Precise CNC-machined metal housing
  • Hi-fi-grade pure silver-coated OFC cable for improved transparency of the audio signal

Micro planar dynamic driver

The Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver is a specially developed, highly advanced driver that allows a planar driver design, normally difficult to scale down for headphones, to be applied to in-ear monitors. Adopting a sturdy and lightweight planar membrane to minimise frequency loss, this is combined with a vibration panel boasting a high-polymer and thin metal film to create crystal clear and dynamic high frequencies.

Dual balanced armature and dynamic drivers

The AK ZERO1’s driver system also features dual BA drivers, using custom-designed coils to deliver transparent vocals with super-low distortion. Couple this with the single 5.6 mm dynamic driver to ensure rich, controlled and deep low frequencies and the AK ZERO1 is poised to deliver its pioneering hybrid sound.

Crossover design

To realise this new sound through the ideal frequency response, a Crossover Network design was generated based on a thorough understanding of each driver’s parameters. Once established, each driver is carefully placed in the optimal position, enclosed in specifically designed acoustic chambers manufactured with 3D printing technology. These precision enclosures cleverly eliminate unnecessary movement and resonance from the drivers to ensure a stable performance. Lastly, the main precision-tooled housing reduces internal and external vibrations to deliver the most focused and accurate sound possible.

Hi-fi grade pure silver-coated cables

To further maximise the audio performance the AK ZERO1 arrives equipped with a pure silver-coated OFC cables. Exquisitely crafted with high-purity silver plating and copper, alongside aluminum plugs, this design strives to maintain transparency of the audio signal. Elsewhere, the MMCX connectors ensure a prime-quality connection between the ear housing and cable, offering a long-lasting and stable performance.

NEW 4.4mm MMCX Cable accessory

For discerning audiophiles looking to experience the highest quality audio possible from their AK ZERO1 IEMs or any other MMCX-connector compatible headphones, Astell&Kern is launching an optional 4.4mm cable. The PEP11 sports larger aluminium-machined 4.4mm plugs and features the same top-quality high-purity silver plating and copper cable.

Signature Astell&Kern design

Astell&Kern’s recognisable bold diagonal design language continues on the AK ZERO1, with the premium cut metal surface brilliantly reflecting the light. The shape of the housing and the slender ear nozzles have been carefully designed and refined to not only provide a secure and comfortable fit, but to deliver the sound efficiently and accurately through your ears. To further provide a snug fit, five different-sized pairs of silicone ear tip and one set of foam tips are supplied, along with a carry case to keep your IEMs pristine during transit.

The Astell&Kern AK ZERO1 is priced £649 / $699 / €749 and will be available from November from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

The Astell&Kern PEP11 is priced £119 / $130 / €139 and will be available from November from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

Technical specifications

AK ZERO1

Drivers: Hybrid Drivers

  • Special Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver x1
  • Custom Balanced Armature Driver x2
  • 5.6mm Micro Dynamic Driver x1

Connector type: MMCX

Housing material: Aluminum

Frequency Response: 25Hz–30KHz*

SPL: 96dB@1KHz (1mW)*

Impedance: 16Ω@1KHz*

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.7%@1KHz

PEP11

Connector type: MMCX

Cable core: 4

Cable material: Silver, Copper

Plug: 4.4mm

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Categories
Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio collaborate on the stunning AK Solaris X in-ear monitors

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, has teamed up with Campfire Audio, a U.S. designer and manufacturer of premium hand-built earphones, to introduce the AK SOLARIS X in-ear monitor (IEM). Based on Campfire Audio’s Solaris 2020, this X model is designed and tuned especially for Astell&Kern, re-imagining the original’s sonics to faithfully convey a deep, rich but natural sound, synonymous with Astell&Kern.

Hand-assembled in Portland, Oregon, USA by skilled craftsmen, ensuring each individual earphone is manufactured to the highest quality standards, the AK SOLARIS X is a culmination of Campfire Audio’s acclaimed acoustic technology and design. Featuring a custom-made balance armature (BA) driver and a dynamic driver hybrid system, alongside a patented Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber (T.A.E.C.) technology and a 3D Printed Acoustic Chamber, the SOLARIS X delivers music as the artist intended and the perfect companion to Astell&Kern’s high resolution portable digital audio players.

Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber technology

The custom BA driver, designed specifically for the AK SOLARIS X, is smaller in size than its predecessor but still offers a wideband performance that extends high frequencies without sibilance or fatigue. Working in the tandem with Campfire Audio’s patented T.A.E.C. technology, that optimises the driver performance by adjusting the volume of space available in front of the driver and provides a direct passage from the driver to your ear, the new driver delivers unsurpassed clarity and a smooth, extended top end.

Polarity Tuned Chamber

Another BA driver provides rich delivery of the mid-range frequencies, while the custom 10mm dynamic driver is optimised for the Polarity Tuned Chamber. By deploying particular volume cavities, both in front and behind the dynamic driver, bigger sounds can be drawn from smaller drivers. In the case of this hybrid design it can also specifically target the AK SOLARIS X‘s driver performance with the result a deeper and more refined mid-to-low frequency.

3D-printed acoustic optimised construction

Campfire Audio’s high-end earphones are highly acclaimed by audiophiles around the globe, so it’s no wonder the attention to detail is key to delivering superior musical experience from the AK SOLARIS X. Each earphone integrates a 3D-printed, acoustically optimised interior chamber to enable the drivers to deliver the highest audio quality possible and create a natural and accurate sound.

4N Pure Silver Litz Cable design

The AK SOLARIS X comes with a balanced 2.5mm pure silver cable (a 3.5mm adapter is supplied) allowing the earphones to reach their full performance potential. The Pure Silver Litz Cable consist of four 4N (99.99% purity) conductors designed to provide the most transparent and extended sounds possible. The soft-touch jacket that wraps around each conductor ensures both flexibility and durability, while the beryllium/copper MMCX connectors are more resilient against wear and tear, compared to regular brass connectors.

Eco-friendly cork case

To support people with disabilities and allow them to live independently, Campfire Audio sourced a small boutique shop in Portugal, who work-side-by-side with people with physical disabilities, to hand make the AK SOLARIS X’s carry case. To keep these earphones in pristine condition while in transit, the protective case is made from eco-friendly cork material for long-lasting durability.

The Astell&Kern AK Solaris X is priced £1,499 / $1,500 / €1,799 and available in the UK exclusively in-store at Harrods and Selfridges from mid-July.

For more information visit www.astellkern.co.uk

Technical Specifications

Transducer Type:

Specially Customed New Single BA Driver + T.A.E.C. [High]

Single Updated Custom Balanced Armature Driver [Mid]

Specially Tuned 10mm Dynamic Driver [Mid + Low]

Frequency Response: 5Hz-20kHz

SPL: 94dB @ 1kHz: 9.16mVrms

Impedance: 8.1 Ohm @ 1kHz

Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 1%

About Campfire Audio

Campfire Audio springs from a passionate focus on refined audio reproduction.  Each model in our earphone line is designed and assembled by hand in our Portland, Oregon workshop; our earphones are second to none in performance and finish. With a small team of highly skilled and dedicated craftspeople, we continuously experiment with materials and techniques to create something unique and special for the people who care most about it.

Visit: campfireaudio.com

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