Acoustic Research has been "reborn" at the Bristol Show 2015, with the company's newly-formed High-End and Digital division introducing two new high-resolution audio products.

The high-end unit is described as being "totally separate" from its more affordable products that you may be familiar with, with the AR UA1 and AR M2 both on sale next month [March].

First out of the blocks at the beginning of the month will be the AR UA1, a £400 audiophile-grade high-resolution USB DAC and headphone amp compatible with Windows and Mac.

MORE: High-resolution audio – everything you need to know

It features gold-plated brass connectors and a powerful amp that Acoustic Research claims will drive "any audiophile headphones", along with the company's M-Class D/A engine.

The M-Class engine has isolated digital and analogue stages, making use of Burr-Brown's PCM1794A DAC and dual Burr-Brown OPA2134 current/voltage convertor.

It'll come with software designed for FLAC, DSD64, DSD128, DXD, WAV, AIFF and ALAC files, while you can also use the AR UA1 to play your music back through stereo speakers.

MORE: Read all our portable product reviews and news

More after the break

And due for release towards the end of March is the £900 AR M2, a high-resolution music player that aims to compete with similar products from the likes of Astell & Kern and Sony.

This portable player can play DSD and DXD audio files directly, with formats such as WAV, AIFF, ALAC and FLAC also supported. It also houses the M-Class Analogue Engine too.

Other features include the flexible memory expansion thanks to microSD and USB, while it delivers up to nine hours of music on the go. Not only that, but it supports Android apps.

MORE: Meridian Audio MQA paves way for high-res streaming


Steven Wilcox's picture


Interesting that this player is compatible with Android apps.  Does this mean that music streaming apps, such as Tidal, can be used for streaming where there is a WiFi signal or to listen to music saved for offline listening?  This would make it quite an attractive proposition for me.

What I really want though is a true 'audio phone'.  When I look at the tiny size and incredible performance of some of the portable DAC/headphone amps (I have an HRT microstreamer) I can't help thinking that only a minimal increase in size/weight would be needed to incorporate this in a smartphone.  This would do away with all the problems involved in compatibility of separate components (eg my microstreamer won't work with my HTC One (M7) playing Tidal - it will only work via the USB Audio Player Pro app) and the inconvenience of connecting wires.

Come on Sony, HTC, Samsung, Apple - the first of you out of the blocks could reap big rewards.