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Astell&Kern’s first Bluetooth speaker is a wireless delight for audiophiles and hi-fi fans

Let it BE100

Calling Astell&Kern’s ACRO BE100 a Bluetooth speaker is like referring to the McLaren Artura as a plug-in hybrid: technically true but slightly missing the point. Sure, the BE100 is a noise-box which can fill your room with wireless tunes – but it’s the quality of those tunes which sets the ACRO apart.

Behind its arresting angular mesh, the monolithic block harbours a pair of 1.5in silk dome tweeters, plus a 4in Kevlar woofer for premium whump. The driving force is delivered by a Class D amp with 55W at its disposal, which should be plenty to get your hi-fi hootenanny hopping. But forget the faux leather shell and sizeable drivers: it’s the dedicated DAC that’ll turn heads at the audiophile AGM.

A DAC takes the data from a digital sound signal and translates it into good vibrations. Most mainstream wireless speakers rely on a DAC built into their Bluetooth chip – and it usually does the job just fine. But if your ears accept nothing less than 24-bit hi-res audio, not just any DAC will do. That’s why the BE100 features a dedicated 32-bit number. With support for aptX HD and LDAC codecs, it gives your Bluetooth tunes the best chance of sounding, well, their best.

So does digital crossover trickery – which splits the audio signal into separate frequencies and precisely times their playback for maximum clarity – plus dynamic range control that protects the BE100’s key components if you turn things up to 11.

Pipe in your playlist via Bluetooth 5.0 or a 3.5mm cable, tweak levels with the knurled aluminium volume knob, then sit back and enjoy superior stereo sound. The ACRO BE100 might be lined with sound-absorbing material, but its fidelity will surely resonate with your mates from hi-fi club. Which will surely be enough to justify the surprisingly mainstream £449 ($380) price tag when it becomes available in December.