Focal’s first DAC/Amp is the Arche. It’s a dual-mono class-A design that accepts analog RCA plus coaxial, optical and USB digital.
Update: The Focal Arche is now shipping.
Focal steps into the headphone DAC/Amp game with Arche ($2500), the company’s first offering in this hot product category. Announced concurrent to the company’s new Stellia closed-back headphones ($3000) the Arche is not priced for the faint of heart or the light of wallet.
Of course, for your money you get a cleverly designed, highly capable DAC/amp that even includes an integrated headphone stand. The AK 4490 converters in the Arche are able to process PCM up to 384 kHz and DSD 256. On the power side, the twin class-A amps R are rated at 1 W each and can handle high-impedance headphones easily, says Focal.
This amplifier lets you tweak the voicing with a twist of a rotary potentiometer. A “Voltage” mode drops output impedance to 0.1 ohm, which the company says benefits dynamics. Meanwhile, “Hybrid” mode ups the output impedance. I honestly can’t understand exactly what the press release is trying to say here, but here is the text verbatim: “A pure current amplifier is available in the “Amplifier” section under the designation “Voltage”. This mode provides an output impedance of just 0.1 Ohm, which results in major listening dynamics. The second “Hybrid” integrated amplifier is similar to a power amplifier as it benefits from a higher output impedance. Here, the tonal balance slightly favors the bass, midrange and extreme treble registers. By housing these two amplifiers within a single electronic component, every user gets amplification to suit their headphones and their favorite tonal balance.” – Focal
What’s more, built-in presets for folk album headphones let you enjoy holistic optimized sound. Plus the company promises to update firmware each time it launches new headphones. What’s more, the Arche may be used as a conventional high quality DAC thanks the inclusion of balanced XLR outputs and also RCA outputs.
As for connecting headphones, there are dual quarter-inch unbalanced stereo jacks, as well as a balanced four point XLR connection.