A&K first with flagship ESS DAC for portable hybrid audio system

Around this time last year, Astell&Kern combined a digital audio player and desktop headphone amplifier into a single device for the launch of the Acro CA1000. Now a new model joins the family, which is built around a dual-tube Triple Amp System and is the first product to feature the latest flagship DAC from ESS.

Astell&Kern first introduced its Triple Amp System in the A&ultima SP2000T digital audio player, but has gone further for the CA100T by employing dual dual-triode Korg Nutubes for “a uniquely warm and soothing tone.”

Listeners can switch between tube or op-amp modes, or select a hybrid of the two for best-of-both-worlds tonality. All three modes are available for each of the balanced/unbalanced headphone outputs, as well as XLR, RCA, optical and coaxial connections.

The desktop audio system is reported capable of driving even the most demanding high-impedance headphones without impacting sound delivery, with tube and op-amp modes pushing out up to 15 Vrms and four levels of gain adjustment are available. And, like the CA1000 before it, the new model comes with the company’s Teraton Alpha technology to nip distortion in the bud at all volume levels.

The Acro CA1000T features Astell&Kern's Triple Amp System, giving listeners the option to select dual-tube amp mode, op-amp mode or a combination of the two
The Acro CA1000T features Astell&Kern’s Triple Amp System, giving listeners the option to select dual-tube amp mode, op-amp mode or a combination of the two


The CA1000T is the first device in the world to sport an ES9039MPRO digital-to-analog converter, two of them in fact in dual-DAC configuration, for the prospect of bit-to-bit playback of PCM content up to 32-bit/384-kHz resolution, along with native DSD512 (22.4 MHz) and built-in MQA decoding.

Bluetooth 5.0 is also cooked in, allowing users to wirelessly pair with BT headphones and speakers. Support for LDAC and aptX HD codecs also caters for high-resolution wireless playback from a smartphone, while dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi enables streaming. There’s 256 GB of internal storage with microSD expansion up to 1 TB, and an integrated battery should be good for 11 hours of continuous playback per charge.

The Acro CA1000T goes up for pre-order from January 20 for US$2,299, with general release following from February 13.

Product page: Acro CA1000T

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