Astell and Kern have been at the top of the DAP market for quite a while, and now in 2022, they’re in the midst of branching out into new territory. This year they will have released not only their very first true wireless earphone but their first speaker as well. I recently got a chance to listen to that speaker myself, and share my thoughts on whether it’s a system worthwhile. The ACRO BE100 is a $500 speaker with Bluetooth capabilities and is focused on delivering Hi-Fi sound to your home. Can Astell and Kern accomplish this new venture?
What You Get
- BE100 Bluetooth Speaker x 1
- Power Adapter x 1
- Adapter Plugs (US/JP, UK, KR, EU & CN)
- Quick Start Guide x 1
- Warranty Card x 1
This is without a doubt one of the cleanest single speakers I’ve seen. Astell and Kern already possess a fine standard for each product they craft, but there’s so much more to love about this design. To get it out of the way right off the bat, I do have one minor gripe with this structure, and that is that the volume dial, while smooth and easy to use, is a bit too loose, at least on the model that I am currently testing. Otherwise, the BE100 showcases Astell and Kern’s standard for craftsmanship brilliantly. Its main chassis is assembled using PU leather, wood, and metal materials to sustain a level of durability that is echoed throughout its stylish form.
I love how just having a slight edge on its main grille can signify that this is an A&K product through and through. Its a great visual identifier for their brand that communicates a unique but simple aesthetic. You have a few buttons on the top that are completely touch-sensitive, making playback and other features respond naturally. Sometimes it was hard to see the LED indicator though, as I had to hover my hand over the top of the speaker to read what it was indicating. However, I’m sure in the right lighting this won’t be much of an issue at all.
The BE100 uses a customized 4 kevlar woofer and 2 silk dome tweeters for crystal clear treble. Kevlar materials are used to obtain as much durability as possible in order to produce a more accurate bass response. A class-D amplifier is implemented to perform its signal output at a consistent level no matter where the volume is placed on the device. This is accomplished through dynamic range control, which is used to protect the speaker unit at maximum power capable of 55W. It also comes equipped with a 32-bit DAC for a higher level of digital conversion for its Bluetooth signal. For CODECS you have aptX HD and LDAC support, making it one of the first Bluetooth speakers to do so.
For such a small speaker, the BE100 sports a big sound. A household speaker doesn’t have to accomplish as much as high-end audio systems, but with a name like Astell and Kern there is a certain level of prestige that should be obtained, and they succeed in that venture. The BE100 contains a hearty stereo sound signature that is consistently satisfying to listen to, containing fun and colorful textures that present a lively timbre. There are a few options to boost the bass and treble at different levels but in their native state, the BE100 unleashes a powerfully driven frequency response that highlights a good number of details to revel in.
The way in which vocals are performed, give the BE100 a sense of clarity that not a lot of other home speakers can replicate. They slice through mixes with ease and balance themselves within their spatial field in a commanding fashion. Other instrumentation is separated well and maintains their stereo imaging, adding some wonderful height to the sound signature as a whole.
Then there are the bass and treble buttons, which both have five levels of gain you can adjust. I feel like the BE100 already has some supple bass tonality in its standard state, but adding to it definitely adds more rumble and punchiness to its response. At its max level, the bass is completely exaggerated but never overwhelming. The treble setting gives you most of the same sensation, just at the opposite end of the spectrum. It only helps to colorize its tone, adding some nice sparkle and shine to the timbre, while staying out of a bright or harsh area.
The Astell & Kern ACRO BE100 will both look and perform great in any environment. Its build quality is like no other Bluetooth speaker on the market, keeping Astell and Kerns standards intact. You have a sound signature that has adjustable bass and treble, with an already pure native output of sound. If you think that $499 is too much for a Bluetooth speaker, maybe hearing it for yourself might convince you, as it convinced me throughout my sessions listening to its quality.
The Astell & Kern ACRO BE100 is available at Audio46.
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