A 70% saving on this jack-of-all-trades A&K desktop system is such a good deal, we had to check it twice

Astell & Kern Acro CA1000
(Image credit: Astell & Kern)

We know we may sometimes overuse the term "jack of all trades" here at What Hi-FI?, but this time we mean it. After all, how many times have you seen a desktop headphone amp with a built-in music player, multiple inputs and a quad-DAC array? 

Not very often, making Astell & Kern's handsome, do-it-all Acro CA1000 system (let's save time, eh?) a very attractive proposition. If all that versatility wasn't enough, A&K has sweetened the deal in the most delicious of ways, slashing the unit's original price of £1999 to just £549 at Amazon, a saving of £1450 in total. That's a discount of 70 per cent!

Astell & Kern Acro CA1000 deal

Astell & Kern Acro CA1000 headphone amp/music player was £1999 now £549 at Amazon (save £1450

Astell & Kern Acro CA1000 headphone amp/music player was £1999 now £549 at Amazon (save £1450)
We don't see many audio products that bill themselves as being roughly three things at once, let alone ones that combine a headphone amplifier and a digital audio player with a built-in quad-DAC. This has to be one of the finest discounts we've seen all year, with 70 per cent taking the Acro down from roughly £2000 to just over £500. Tempted? We certainly are.  

So what do you get with the product that Astell & Kern bills as its own little "head-fi hero"? For a start, you're receiving a headphone amplifier with a digital audio player combined into a single unit, with the 10cm player essentially rising from the main amplification console and tilting up to 60 degrees for easy access. A&K's excellent portable hi-res players are generally exceptional, so you're not getting a dud here, either. 

The headphone amp can drive high-impedance cans with an output of 15Vrms or lower, and comes equipped with a range of connectivity options - 3.5mm and 6.35mm unbalanced alongside 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced outputs - for handling a broad spectrum of models.

Internally, the Acro CA1000's quad-DAC offers what A&K describes as "a clear, detailed and balanced sound", whereas the variety of digital and analogue connections "ensures it can be at the heart of any hi-fi set-up". With support for high-resolution audio playback up to native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz, it certainly could be.

We're big fans of Astell & Kern's hi-res players, with the Korean brand dominating our list of the finest models for a good while now. In fact, whenever an A&K product drops out of said list, it's usually only to be replaced by one of its newer, shinier cousins. Any deal on one of their models should be considered, but one that slashes the cost by 70 per cent at Amazon? That sort of generosity demands further investigation. 


Read our Astell & Kern A&norma SR35 review

And our Astell & Kern A&ultima SP3000 review

Best portable MP3 players 2024: top hi-res music players tested by our experts

Best headphone amplifiers: boost your personal listening

Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.