A world where Bluetooth rises above compression and delivers full-stream, hi-res, lossless audio remains in the future. But sound specialist Astell&Kern said it’s about the roll out the world’s first Bluetooth speaker with support for the rarefied LDAC and aptX HD codecs — which should at least allow for CD-quality wireless streaming.
The Acro BE100, Astell&Kern’s first Bluetooth speaker, goes on sale March 7, the company said. And it’s not just the codecs that make it special.
The Acro BE100 should improve Bluetooth audio quality
Astell&Kern’s new Acro BE100 is part of the company’s Acro line of speakers. Aside from the high-level codec support, what makes the BE100 unlike other Bluetooth speakers out is that it packs a dedicated 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC and a 55W class-D amplifier. The company developed both of them in-house.
With the Acro BE100, you will hear CD-quality audio streamed over Bluetooth. To ensure you get that top-quality sound, just make sure you pair the speaker with a device that supports either the LDAC or the aptX HD codec.
Alas, that won’t be an Apple product — at least not yet — but it could be a Google Pixel phone or another device. Apple devices will be limited to the SBC codec when used with the BE100 via Bluetooth.
Even audiophiles may dig this
While true audiophiles may still turn up their noses at anything streamed over Bluetooth, the BE100 may still entice. It doesn’t just offer CD-quality streaming via one or the other codec. It also includes a 3.5mm audio jack so they can route their uncompressed music via wire from a digital audio player or PC.
Inside, the speaker features a 4-inch Kevlar woofer for accurate bass reproduction, plus two silk dome tweeters. That should outdo the single woofer and the woofer-tweeter combos found in many Bluetooth speakers. You can also get it with or without an FM tuner.
Of course, quality measures like that also boost the speaker’s cost toward audiophile territory. A quality Bluetooth speaker like a Sonos Roam goes for $179, but this thing sets you back $500. And that’s without true portability (no battery), Wi-Fi operation or the capability to pair it with another speaker.
The Acro BE100 comes in black or white colors.
Where to buy: Astell&Kern (starting March 7)