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Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000

Portable headphone amplifier/DAC with Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi

Item # 838CA1000

Astell&Kern's new ACRO CA1000 provides ample power to any set of headphones, optimum sound, and portable convenience.

Astell&Kern's new ACRO CA1000 provides ample power to any set of headphones, optimum sound, and portable convenience.

Item # 838CA1000

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$2,199.00

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About the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000

A new standard for portable hi-fi

Astell&Kern are no strangers to hi-fi. They've been pushing audiophile boundaries for years with their advanced portable high-res audio players, and more recently with their excellent Dual DAC Cable digital-to-analog converter. Their newest outing, the ACRO CA1000, is another ambitious step forward. This combination high-res music player and headphone amplifier delivers powerful and clear sound, and it includes features that aren't found on any other headphone amplifier.

A new standard for portable hi-fi

Astell&Kern are no strangers to hi-fi. They've been pushing audiophile boundaries for years with their advanced portable high-res audio players, and more recently with their excellent Dual DAC Cable digital-to-analog converter. Their newest outing, the ACRO CA1000, is another ambitious step forward. This combination high-res music player and headphone amplifier delivers powerful and clear sound, and it includes features that aren't found on any other headphone amplifier.

Outward elegance

The ACRO CA1000 is a stunning piece to behold. Its all-aluminum chassis is uniquely shaped to make it sit comfortably in your hand. If you'd rather have it sitting on a table, there are feet on the bottom to help keep it from being knocked over (or worse, knocked off). 

The top of the CA1000 features a tilting 4.1" touchscreen that's used for music selection. The interface is almost identical to what A&K uses on their "A&-" series portable players, so if you're familiar with those, you'll be right at home. The screen is adjustable and can be tilted up to 60 degrees for optimal viewing. 

The side-mounted volume wheel offers precise, accurate level adjustments. This design was inspired by rugged Mars exploration vehicles — it's visually interesting, and it makes volume adjustments smooth and cohesive.

CA1000 with screen

The ACRO CA1000's screen is adjustable up to 60 degrees, allowing you to easily read it no matter the amplifier's position.

Packed to the brim with audiophile goodness

The CA1000 sports A&K's famed Teraton (pronounced "tera-tone") Alpha module, which is the company's all-in-one audio solution that houses the DAC, headphone amplifier, and jitter-minimizing clock. There are four potent ESS Sabre ES9068AS DAC chips — two for each channel — that cleanly handle the signal's conversion from digital to analog. Those chips tout a very low noise floor and low distortion, thanks to ESS's QUAD DAC™ technology and Hyperstream® II architecture, respectively.

The headphone amplifier section was designed to perfectly drive any pair of headphones or in-ear monitors. It has four levels of gain to choose from and an incredible output of 15 volts RMS at max output. It's hard to imagine a set of cans for which the CA1000 would not provide more than ample power

The 2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm, and 1/4" output circuits are all separated by small relay components to ensure noise-free operation. Those relays completely block connectors that aren't in use, keeping noise generated by other circuits out of your music. There's even a high-purity silver plating shield that rejects electromagnetic interference (EMI) to further reduce noise and interference. 

Wireless options to get your music going

Don't feel like using cables? No problem, and no compromises either. The CA1000 has Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX® HD and LDAC support, meaning you can still stream high-resolution content without losing fidelity. Even cooler, the new BT Sink (as in "Sync") function lets you wirelessly connect the amplifier to an external device, like your smartphone or computer to stream music from them.

There's also built-in Wi-Fi, which lets you use Astell&Kern's AK File Drop feature to wirelessly transfer files from your smartphone, computer, or FTP (file transfer protocol) program to the CA1000. The CA1000 comes with 256GB of storage for your albums, and that can be expanded up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Specialized features for better performance

The CA1000 has two other cool extras that shows A&K's audiophile mindset. The Crossfeed feature was developed to reduce ear fatigue over time by mixing parts of the original signal from one channel and sending it to the opposite channel with a time difference to center the soundstage. That's more like what your ears hear when you're listening to speakers in a room. You can set the level of crossfeed according to your preferences by selecting one of the three options available on the amp's screen. 

ReplayGain is another feature that makes this amplifier unique. It analyzes the tracks you're playing and sets their volumes at an identical level. This prevents unwanted distortion, discomfort, and possible driver damage from being caused by a song that has an unexpectedly high volume level. No more being jump-scared by a loud track ever again! 

Battery powered

Perhaps the best thing about the CA1000 is that it doesn't need to stay plugged into the wall. That's right — this beauty is battery powered. It uses an 8,400mAh large-capacity battery to give you around 10 hours of listening time before it needs to be recharged. 

Speaking of recharging, there's a USB-PD (USB Power Delivery) 2.0 charging port that supports fast charging (9V/3A). When you use a USB-C adapter that supports USP-PD 2.0, the CA1000 can be charged half-way in about an hour, or charged to full in about 2-1/2 hours.

Versatile connections

On the back and front, you'll find tons of inputs and outputs. There are balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm outputs, as well as unbalanced 3.5mm and 1/4" outputs on the front for connecting a variety of headphones. On the back, there are coaxial, optical, and USB Type-C digital inputs for connecting everything from your smartphone to a CD player. There's also a pair of analog RCA inputs and outputs for connecting analog sources and for sending signal out to other components. Best of all: If there's something you'd like to tweak, all input and output settings can be easy adjusted using the touchscreen. 

 

READ LESS

Product highlights:

  • portable headphone amplifier and DAC combo
  • durable all-aluminum housing
  • side-mounted volume knob for fine volume adjustments
  • 4.1" touchscreen for music selection, music control, and adjusting settings
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD and LDAC support for high-resolution wireless streams
  • built-in dual-band Wi-Fi for seamless file transfers and music streaming
    • Astell&Kern's AK File Drop feature can be used to wirelessly transfer music from your PC or smartphone to the CA1000
  • quad-core CPU for fast, efficient operation
  • 256GB internal storage (expandable up to 1TB with optional microSD card)
Teraton Alpha module specs:
  • four 32-bit ESS Sabre ES9068AS DAC chips with Quad DAC and Hyperstream II technologies
  • supported sample rates: up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM; DSD up to DSD512 (22.4 MHz)
  • supported formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA
  • frequency response: 20-70,000 Hz (± 0.059dB)
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 107dB (unbalanced); 115dB (balanced)
  • total harmonic distortion: 0.005% (unbalanced); 0.002% (balanced)
  • output level:
    • low: 2V RMS (unbalanced); 4V RMS (balanced)
    • mid: 4V RMS (unbalanced); 8V RMS (balanced)
    • high: 6V RMS (unbalanced); 12V RMS (balanced)
    • super: 8V RMS (unbalanced); 15V (balanced)
  • output impedance: 1 ohm (unbalanced); 2 ohms (balanced)
Connections:
  • balanced 2.5mm (4-pole) and 4.4mm (5-pole) outputs for compatible headphones
  • unbalanced 3.5mm and 1/4" outputs for compatible headphones
  • coaxial digital and optical digital inputs for connecting external digital sources
  • analog RCA input for connecting analog sources; RCA output for feeding signal to other components
  • USB Type-C input for connecting smartphones and computers
  • USB Type-C charging port with USB-PD (USB Power Delivery) 2.0 support
Other specs:
  • Crossfeed feature prevents listening fatigue over time by mixing left and right signals and centering soundstage
  • ReplayGain automatically equalizes volume levels between tracks
  • 10-hour battery life
    • charge time: 50% in 1 hour, 100% in about 2-1/2 hours (using fast charging USB-PD 2.0 adapter)
  • 4-1/8"W x 1-3/4"H x 5-7/8"D
  • weight: 2.03 lbs.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • MFR # 3PPR419C-CMSIN1

What's in the box:

  • Digital music player/headphone amplifier
  • Protective film
  • USB cable (Type A USB on one end and USB-C on other end)
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Card

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More details on the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000

Research Team

Features & specs

Design
Type Portable
Built-in Rechargable Battery 8400 mAh
Built-in DAC Yes
Amplifier Output Specs
Output Power up to 15V RMS
Output Impedance (Unbalanced) 1
Output Impedance (Balanced) 2
Audio Specs
Bit Depth (USB) 32
Max Sampling Rate (USB) 384kHz
Bit Depth (S/PDIF) 24
Max Sampling Rate S/PDIF 176.4 kHz
S/N Ratio (Unbalanced, in dB) 107
S/N Ratio (Balanced, in dB) 115
THD (Unbalanced) 0.005%
THD (Balanced) 0.002%
Supported File Types
PCM up to 384kHz
DSD DSD 512
DXD N/A
MQA Yes
Inputs
Total Inputs 4
USB Type C
Optical Digital 1
Coaxial Digital 1
3.5mm Digital None
Stereo RCA Analog 1
Stereo 3.5mm Analog None
Stereo XLR Analog None
Headphone Outputs
3.5mm Unbalanced 1
1/4-inch Unbalanced 1
4.4mm Balanced 1
XLR4 Balanced None
Other Headphone Outs 2.5mm
Line Level & Digital Outs
RCA Line Out 1
3.5mm Line Out None
XLR Line Out None
Subwoofer Out None
Optical Digital Out None
Coaxial Digital Out None
Wireless Connectivity
Bluetooth Yes
Wi-Fi No
Apple-compatible Yes
Android-compatible Yes
General Info
Width (inches) 4-1/8
Height (inches) 1-13/16
Depth (inches) 5-7/8
Weight 2.03 lbs.
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research

Features

Overview: The Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp (PPR41) is a combination digital audio player (DAP) and headphone amplifier. As a DAP, it can play high-resolution audio from a wide variety of sources and formats. As a headphone amplifier, it has digital and analog inputs, Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi, plus balanced and unbalanced headphone outputs. It also has a much higher output than a typical DAP, with four output gain levels to choose from.

Construction: The CA1000 has a moon silver aluminum body with a large CNC-machined rotary volume knob on the side. The 4.1-inch 720 x 1280 tilting display can be laid flat or adjusted up to 60° depending upon where it is placed on a desk or table. A protective film is included to prevent scratches to the display.

Digital Storage: The CA1000 Carryable Headphone Amp has a built-in 256 GB internal memory. You can also insert a microSD card (up to 1 TB) in the memory card slot on the side of the device for additional memory. Samsung and SanDisk microSD cards have been tested and are recommended for this device.

Teraton Alpha: The CA1000 is equipped with the Teraton Alpha, AK's ultimate Sound Solution, which is also found in the SE180 digital audio player. It features patented technologies that come from tens of thousands of hours of research and development. Teraton α (pronounced "Teratone") produces audio playback that is close to the original sound due to a 3-point emphasis:

  • Audio Power: Effectively removing power noise from the audio signal through a patented Hi-Fi audio device is the starting point of better sound delivery.
  • Amplifier: A&K's advanced AMP design features efficient power consumption, a patented wiring structure that improves crosstalk, and powerful amplification that produces the best audio. It employs premium OP-AMP parts, and improved circuit design, board layout, and tuning, to produce the best sound. The result is a high Signal-to-Noise Ratio while maintaining a high output.
  • Audio Interface: Over the years, A&K has perfected their DACs and the audio interfaces that output the analog signal to produce the best sound without noise.

Supported Audio Formats: The A&K CA1000 features the ESS ES9068AS Quad-DAC, and supports the following Audio Formats and Bit Rates:

  • Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, and MQA
  • MQA Playback: Services (Tidal Masters), Local files, External USB, MQA-CD (ripped)
  • Sample Rates:
    • PCM: 8kHz - 384kHz (8 / 16 / 24 / 32 bits per sample)
    • DSD Native:
      • DSD64: 1-bit / 2.8MHz (Stereo)
      • DSD128: 1-bit / 5.6MHz (Stereo)
      • DSD256: 1-bit / 11.2MHz (Stereo)
      • DSD512: 1-bit / 22.4MHz (Stereo)

Connections: Unlike a typical A&K digital audio player, the CA1000 has a wide variety of digital and analog inputs and outputs. On the rear panel, the unit has both optical (Toslink) and coaxial (RCA) digital inputs for connecting a CD player or other digital device. RCA Stereo pairs are provided input and output analog signals. Two USB Type-C ports are provided, one for data and audio and one dedicated charging port. On the front panel, the unit offers balanced (L+/L-/R+/R-) and unbalanced outputs (L+/R+/GND). Balanced outputs have an additional "cold" signal to compliment the hot signal, which reduces external noise and increases output. The balanced outputs are the 4-conductor 2.5mm and 5-conductor 4.4mm (Pentaconn) ports, while the unbalanced outputs are the 3.5mm and 6.35mm (1/4") ports. When two or more headphones are connected to the output terminal, sound is only output to the last connected pair. The 3.5mm headphone port also doubles as an optical mini output.

USB DAC: You can use the CA1000 as an external USB DAC which supports 32-bit/384kHz PCM and Native DSD512 playback. The player delivers much better sounding audio than your computer's built-in sound card. Connect the unit via USB from your computer and listen to your stored digital music with headphones, powered speakers, or home stereo. The USB DAC is compatible with Windows 7 (32/64-bit), Windows 8 (32/64-bit), and Windows 10 (32/64-bit) or MacOS 10.7 (Lion) or later.

MQA (Master Quality Authenticated): The CA1000 includes MQA technology for playing back MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. During playback, the display shows a green or blue light to indicate that the unit is decoding and playing an MQA stream or file, and denotes provenance to ensure the sound is identical to that of the source material. A blue light indicates playback of an MQA Studio file, which has been approved in the studio by the artist or producer or has been verified by the copyright owner.

CD Ripping: You can rip CDs directly to the CA1000 using the A&K CD-Ripper (sold separately). The CD's metadata (ID3 tags) will be retrieved via Gracenote if the built-in Wi-Fi has been turned on.

Dual-band Wi-Fi Capability: The CA1000 features built-in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n/ac -- 2.4GHz/5GHz), allowing you to connect the device and your computer to the same network for streaming and downloading music. In addition, the Wi-Fi connection allows you to receive notifications of new available firmware updates (OTA Upgrades), allowing you to download them on the spot.

AK File Drop: AK File Drop is a new feature that lets you freely transfer files wirelessly through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program on the same Wi-Fi network. You can upload or download files to or from these devices.

Bluetooth: The CA1000 also has built-in Bluetooth Ver.5.0 for connecting a Bluetooth device to listen to music wirelessly, or to transmit music to other devices that support Bluetooth. Bluetooth 5.0 features faster transmission speed, greater range, and a more stable wireless connection, when compared to Bluetooth 4.2. In Bluetooth TX (transmitter) mode, you can wirelessly connect and listen to music on the CA1000 through Bluetooth speakers. Similar to connecting to a Bluetooth speaker from a smartphone, the RX Mode/BT Sink (receiver mode) lets you play music from an external device (smartphone, tablet) and listen to it in high-quality with headphones through the CA1000. The device supports A2DP and AVRCP profiles, and Qualcomm aptX HD, LDAC, AAC, and SBC codecs. You must place the player within 8" of the Bluetooth device to pair it, and maintain a distance within 6.5 feet for best audio quality and connection quality.

AK Connect 2.0: The CA1000 can stream or download music files stored on a computer on the same network. Using the AK Connect 2.0 app (available for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch running iOS 9.0 or later or Android devices running version 5.0 and up), you can connect to a NAS or PC and control it with a smartphone or tablet. AK Connect 2.0 is also available for Windows 10 and Mac (macOS 11.0 or later + Mac with Apple M1 chip).

Power Requirements: The CA1000 is equipped with a 8400 mAh 3.8V Lithium-Polymer battery. You can fast-charge the battery to 50% in one hour and fully charge in approximately 2.5 hours (with a commercially available, USB-PD 2.0-supporting 9V 3A USB wall adapter) with the power turned off. Normal charging takes approximately 7 hours (with a 5V 2A adapter). A fully charged battery can provide up to approximately 10.5 hours of continuous playback time (based on FLAC, 16-bit 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Volume 40, LCD Off, Low Gain).

Timers: The device offers selectable Auto Power Off, Screen Timeout, and Sleep Timer modes. In Auto Power Off, the unit will power off automatically after a selected amount of time of no user or device activity. You can also select an amount of time for the screen to remain on, then turn off automatically after no user activity. The Sleep Timer lets you set a duration of time for playback before turning itself off.

Specifications:

  • Digital Inputs/Outputs:
    • Inputs: 1 x Coaxial, 1 x Optical, 1 x USB-C
    • Outputs: 1 x Optical 3.5mm, 1 x USB-C
  • Analog Inputs/Outputs:
    • Inputs: 1 x RCA (stereo pair)
    • Outputs: 1 x RCA (stereo pair)
  • Headphone Outputs:
    • Balanced: 2.5mm, 4.4mm
    • Unbalanced: 3.5mm, 6.35mm
  • Output Impedance:
    • 3.5mm, 6.35mm: 1 ohm
    • 2.5mm, 4.4mm: 2 ohms
    • RCA: 2 ohms
  • Output Level (condition-no load):
    • Headphones:
      • Low: 2 Vrms (unbalanced); 4 Vrms (balanced)
      • Mid: 4 Vrms (unbalanced); 8 Vrms (balanced)
      • High: 6 Vrms (unbalanced); 12 Vrms (balanced)
      • Super: 8 Vrms (unbalanced); 15 Vrms (balanced)
    • RCA: 2 Vrms
  • Frequency Response:
    • ±0.024dB (20Hz-20kHz) Unbalanced
    • ±0.018dB (20Hz-20kHz) Balanced
    • ±0.048dB (20Hz-20kHz) RCA
    • ±0.059dB (20Hz-70kHz) Unbalanced
    • ±0.056dB (20Hz-70kHz) Balanced
    • ±0.048dB (20Hz-70kHz) RCA
  • Signal-to-Noise (@1kHz):
    • 107dB Unbalanced
    • 115dB Balanced
    • 119dB RCA
  • Crosstalk (@1kHz):
    • -105dB Unbalanced
    • -124dB Balanced
    • -121dB RCA
  • THD+N (@1kHz):
    • 0.005% Unbalanced
    • 0.002% Balanced
    • 0.0004% RCA
  • Operating Temperature: 32° - 104° F
  • Dimensions: 4.12" (W) x 1.77" (H) x 5.85" (D)
  • Weight: 32.41 ounces

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