Astell&Kern Acro CA1000T Review


In this article, we review the Astell&Kern CA1000T, the brand’s new high-end all-in-one solution selling for $2,499 USD / €2.499 EUR.


Disclaimer: Astell&Kern sent us the CA1000T on loan, for the purpose of this review. In exchange, we’re going to give our honest opinion, as always.

About Astell&Kern

Founded in 2012, Astell&Kern is one of the most renowned luxury brands in the audiophile world. A subsidiary of the mighty Dreamus conglomerate, A&K was one of the pioneers of high-end DAPs back in the day, with the A&K 100. A compact player, entirely made of aluminum and glass, that competed with the likes of Hifiman and their HM-801 and HM-601, or with FiiO and its tiny X3.

And if I, at the time, found the player a bit too small, a bit too expensive, and not powerful enough to make a real difference in the burgeoning world of DAPs, sales and reviews proved me wrong. The AK100 was a hit, and the AK100II that followed was even better, fixing the few issues found on its predecessor and doubling down on the storage quantity. Fast forward to 2023, and Astell&Kern now have a complete line-up of high-end players, ranging from their “entry-level” (new) A&K SR35 (review soon), to the mighty A&K SP3000, who’s seconded by the Kann Max or the beloved SE180 – that I reviewed a while ago, as Berkhan did but with a different module.

A&futura SE180

But, today, we are not reviewing a simple DAP. No no, today, we are pushing further with the CA1000T, a device designed to be your all-in-one source, combining a full-fledged DAC, a high-end headphone amp and a TOTL “DAP”… in a desktop case. Yes, that’s a quirky one – less than the PA10, but still!

Should you get one? That’s what we’ll discover today.

Design & Build Quality


Nowadays, there are lots of great-looking players available – at every price-point – but all were inspired by Astell&Kern design, to some extent, and there is a good reason for that: A&K is the benchmark, each generation defining the trend for years to come, and that remains true with the CA1000T.

As usual, build quality is absolutely flawless, with no gaps and premium materials everywhere your eye can see, and your hands can touch. Made of a single brick of aluminum, CNC-milled, brushed, then painted, the CA1000T has this distinctive touch you’ll only find on TOTL audio devices. And that’s not just the touch, with 980g on the scale, the amp feels downright massive and even if there’s a screen and a battery, you won’t be using this one on the go like your usual DAP.


For those that own the prior edition, this won’t come as a surprise. In fact, the ACRO CA1000T inherits its form and style from the previous model, the CA1000, but with subtle redesigns to better represent its improved powerful performance. The company chose a darker color to tone down the increased complexity of the parts such as the amp button and the upper lighting glass, giving it a more impactful design aesthetic compared to the CA1000. 

Personally, I really prefer the new color to the previous one. It may not seem like much in picture, but in real life, the darker gradient makes a big difference in terms of aesthetics and everyone at the office confirmed that the CA1000T appeared more… luxurious – than the older model.

It’s still a geeky device though, with no less than four different headphone outputs on the side, a reclining (not motorized) touch-screen, a tempered-glass covered logo on the upper side, and a massive volume wheel that’s engraved on its (golden) inner-side. Add to that the five control buttons on top and this DAC/amp ticks all the right boxes.


Finally, speaking of box, the A&K Acro CA1000T remains a massive one with gargantuan proportions: 155,8mm long, 107,9mm wide, and 45mm thick, overthrowing the FiiO Q7 and FiiO M17, my previous references in terms of bulkiness.


Like the CA1000 before, the Astell&Kern CA1000T aims to become the pillar of your audiophile system. And to do so, the brand gave the player a super extensive I/O, so you could use the device as a DAP, a DAC, and an Amp.

On the front side, you get:

  • 1x 3.5mm TRS output, compatible with almost everything
  • 1x 2.5mm TRRS, balanced output, another classic in case you don’t use a…
  • 1x 4.4mm Pentaconn, balanced output, first introduced by Sony and now available almost everywhere
  • and last but not least, a 6.35mm TRS output


On the opposite side, you have:

  • 2x mini-XLR outputs, balanced output, perfect to connect a set of monitor speakers
  • 1x stereo RCA output, single-ended output, to connect another amplifier, or a set of speakers like the FiiO SP3, lacking balanced inputs
  • 1x coaxial in, to use the CA1000 T as a DAC
  • 1x  optical in, for the exact same purpose
  • 1x  4.4mm Pentaconn In, in case you’d like to connect your balanced DAC into the A&K to use as a headphone amp
  • 2x USB-C, one for charging, one for DATA – USB3.1 compliant, hurray
  • 1x micro-SD port to expand the internal storage – 256Gb of embedded memory already!

Finally, on top of the CA1000T you’ll find: 

  • a 4.1” 720×1280 touch screen, the same found on some of the brand’s DAP
  • 5x control buttons, power on/off, previous, play/pause, next, AMP (to switch between the three modes)
  • an illuminated Astell&Kern logo indicating the playback/amp mode

Top that with a massive volume knob, now made of stainless steel instead of aluminum – to add a hint of luxury to the design – and you’re good to go.



If you were to compare the DAC/AMP with its direct competitors – and not DAP – the simple fact that the CA1000T comes with a real screen would put the device in flagship territories. But, to my demise, the screen doesn’t belong to A&K Futura/Ultima series and remains (clearly) inferior to the one found on my SE180.

While my “old” DAP was given a vivid, sharp 5” 1920×1080 IPS screen, the CA1000T only tops at 720p, with much duller colors compared to the SE180. It’s not catastrophic either, but I’d have expected the DAC/AMP to come with a premium slab in view of its status.

Responsiveness is okay, but as we’ll see later in this review, the CPU is definitely undersized and as soon as you leave the original A&K UI, to launch any streaming application, you’ll be confronted with freeze and slowdowns.

Hit and miss as far as I’m concerned.

The review continues on Page two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

Page 1: About the brand, design, layout

Page 2: UI & Usage

Page 3: Specifications

Page 4: Sound performances

4.2/5 - (170 votes)

A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

1 Comment

  • Reply October 4, 2023


    Hi Nanotechnos et al

    Would you be able to assess / indicate the possible difference between the two in the following use case?

    External DAP – LO 4.4mm – CA1000T in Tube mode

    Compared to

    External DAP – LO 4.4mm – Cayin C9 in Tube mode

    Being both Korg NuTube capable amps, I would be interested in sonic differences between the two setups

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