Focal has been growing high-end headphones, audio system, and different audio merchandise for years, however till just lately the corporate had but to enter the high-end DAC world. Now, nonetheless, that has lastly modified, with the launch of the brand new Focal Arche.
The Arche is designed to be an “all-in-one” answer for headphones, combining a digital-analog converter with two amplification modes designed for headphones. It has built-in presets for Focal’s top-tier headphones, just like the Focal Utopia — however you should utilize it with different headphones too.
However at $2,499, it’s not essentially low cost. And, even in case you are out there for a high-end DAC, there are different choices on the market. Does the Focal Arche beat out the remaining? We’ve been testing it out for some time now to search out out.
The Focal Arche is modern-looking and well-designed — and the modern black metallic look ought to assist make it look proper at house in any audiophile’s setup. The system measures round 2.Four inches tall, 7.9 inches vast, and 11.7 inches lengthy.
On the highest of the Arche, there’s a small grill that can be utilized to put an included headphone stand in, which is a pleasant contact. The stand is ideal for Focal’s personal headphones, however will work nice for different pairs of headphones too — and helps make the system extra of a pleasant, compact, headphone station.
On the entrance of the Focal Arche, you’ll get a balanced 4-pin XLR output, a typical 1/4-inch output, a small display, and a knob for controlling quantity and interacting with the software program. Utilizing the system with the knob may be very straightforward — you’ll merely press it in to entry the settings menu, from which you’ll swap between modes and even regulate the acquire.
On the again, there are a number of enter and output choices too. You’ll get three digital inputs, together with a USB port, and balanced and unbalanced outputs for many who need to use the converter with an exterior amplifier. Most will need to merely plug the Arche into their laptop by means of the USB port.
The Focal Arche is constructed for versatility, and it achieves that. We’ve already talked about the vary of inputs and outputs that assist the system match properly into any setup. It goes past that, nonetheless, permitting you to tweak a variety of settings to excellent the sound you’re in search of.
For starters, there are a number of totally different modes to pick out from. There are devoted modes for every of Focal’s high-end headphone fashions, in addition to a Voltage mode and Hybrid mode. We’ll get into how they sounded a little bit later. You can too tweak between high-gain and low-gain choices.
Underneath the hood, the Arche affords two AKM4490 balanced converters. Output energy is a formidable 2W per channel, with an impedance of 32Ω.
Options and design are solely a small a part of what makes the Focal Arche nice. The principle occasion? The sound high quality — and it delivers.
In all, the Focal Arche delivers an in depth, wealthy sound, that may go face to face with a number of the greatest converters in the marketplace. Add in the truth that that is each a converter and a headphone amp, and also you’ve acquired a winner.
The Focal Arche does a wonderful job at producing a extremely detailed sound. Excessive-end is pure and easy, whereas nonetheless retaining a fast-pace and an attractive tone. Each music we listened to was extra thrilling and wealthy than we’ve ever heard it earlier than. That depth didn’t translate to a lazy response both — dynamics hit as arduous as you’ll need them to.
The distinction between the Voltage mode, the Hybrid mode, and the preset modes is refined, however eager ears will be capable to hear it. There appeared to be simply that little additional oomph within the hybrid mode utilizing the Utopia headphones, nonetheless the devoted Utopia mode maybe provided a barely extra pure take.
The Focal Arche is great at retaining a low signal-to-noise ratio too — making certain that you just received’t undergo from that background noise whereas listening.
In the event you’re in search of an all-in-one DAC/headphone amplifier unit, particularly to be used together with your Focal headphones, the Focal Arche is the way in which to go. It compliments Focal’s personal headphones extraordinarily properly, and works nice with different headphones too.
The truth that you should utilize the Arche as a pure DAC or an amplifier is a bonus too — because it means you’ll be able to mix the product together with your different favourite headphone gadgets.
Merely put, the Focal Arche is a pleasure. It’s expensive, to make certain, however to get an audio high quality this fulfilling, you’ll in all probability spend an analogous quantity on separate amplifiers and DACs anyway. Because of the stellar audio high quality and nice consumer expertise, we’re awarding the Focal Arche the Headphone Evaluate Gold Medal. You will get it for your self straight from Amazon.