Focal Arche Review: The first of its kind

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Focal introduces the Arche Headphone Amplifier / DAC, the first of its kind in its catalog. The device was developed by Micromega according to Focal specifications.

The amplifier operates in Class A, but has two amplification options: Voltage and Hybrid. In the first mode, the output impedance of the device is only 0.1 Ohm, which improves dynamics, and in the second, the impedance increases.

Unfortunately, the company has not yet provided more specific information on the amplification modes.

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Focal Arche has built-in special sound profiles, tuned for all released Focal headphones – not only for the new Stellia, but also for the previously presented models.

However, headphones from other companies are also not deprived – according to the developers, Arche can easily cope with any headphones with an impedance of 16 to 600 ohms. For headphones with impedance up to 32 ohms, it outputs 1 W per channel.
A pair of AK4490 chips are responsible for signal processing: Arche is ready to work with PCM up to 32 bit / 384 kHz and DSD256. In the “double mono” format, not only the DAC works, but the amplifier itself, and each channel has its own power supply.

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For convenience, the front panel has two headphone jacks (XLR and 6.3mm jack), a screen that displays menu items, and a multifunctional knob. At the back there are three digital inputs (optics, coaxial, USB), one analog, as well as balanced and unbalanced outputs, which will allow the Focal Arche to be integrated into a full-size audio system as a DAC. The amplifier comes with an aluminum headphone stand that attaches to the grille.

Key features of Focal Arche:

D / A converter supporting high definition DSD 256 – PCM 24 bit / 384 kHz formats
Built-in headphone amplifier with two modes of operation (current and hybrid) for the best match with your headphone model
Individual tuning profiles optimized for each Focal headphone
Audiophile-grade dual mono circuitry from digital inputs to analog headphone output
Can be used as an external DAC for high-end home systems.

Main technical characteristics of Focal Arche:

Type – DAC with headphone amplifier
Audio inputs – linear RCA stereo, digital coaxial RCA 24 bit / 192 kHz compatible with AES3 standard, digital optical TosLink 24 bit / 192 kHz compatible with AES3 standard, digital USB-B 2.0 / 3.0
Audio Outputs – Balanced XLR, Linear RCA Stereo
Firmware Upgrade – USB-A
Maximum Input Power – 2 x 1W @ 1kHz, 32Ω
Frequency response – 10 Hz – 100 kHz
Harmonic distortion (THD) – <0.001%
S / N weighted -> 116 dB into 32 Ohm
Dimensions (H x W x D), mm – 60 x 200 x 297
Weight, kg – 4, 65

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