In our recent coverage of the Hi-Fi headphone line from Focal, we also mentioned that we had the Focal Arche amp/DAC. Just like the Hi-Fi headphones, the $2,500 Arche is aimed at producing a clean and accurate audio signal. That may sound like a lot, and it is. Still, if you’re invested in the Focal audio ecosystem, you’re probably well accustomed to those numbers, and this is the perfect accompaniment to a pair of Focal Hi-Fi headphones. Check out the video below for more details.
Unboxing and Design
It’s a relatively large, heavy piece of audio hardware. But the design is almost all function – with the added convenience of the headphone stand which mounts in the vents. We have the Focal Clear headphones sitting on the Arche, which are right in the middle of Focal’s Hi-Fi lineup.
On the front, we find a balanced output, ¼”-inch output, display screen, and the dial to control volume and change settings.
On the back of the Arche, we have the power plug, power switch, and USB update port. In the input section, we have USB digital input port, coax input, RCA inputs, and Toslink. On the output side, we have options in the form of RCA and XLR left and right.
With the variety of inputs on the back of the Arche, it’s easy to get audio from any source. Because of its combination amp/DAC, it’s ready to connect to a computer or other digital source. My favorite way to use it was by plugging it into my PC via USB and listening to music via Deezer, which, if you’re a premium user, lets your stream in high fidelity model to get lossless quality. Finding and downloading the driver was super easy on both my PC and MacBook Pro.
Focal Arche: Video
Of course, one of the best features of the Arche is the built-in profiles for every Hi-Fi headphone. Using the dial to dive into the menus lets you navigate to the pair of cans you are using to set it to what Focal things are the best settings.
If you’re interested in the exact hardware that Focal is using, here is an excerpt from their performance section of the website:
“The two premium AK4490 balanced digital-analog converters can process formats in PCM format up to 384kHz, as well as DSD 256. The analog signal is then routed towards 2 pure class A amplification modes designed especially for headphones (voltage, hybrid) for an uncompromising solution. The original audio signal is totally respected, so as to reproduce the tiniest details of the recording.”
What that gives you is an incredibly clean and pure signal to match the clarity of Focal’s Hi-Fi headphones. Throughout their entire product line, Focal is dedicated to reproducing the most natural and clear audio possible. I also tried using it with the Fluance RT82 reference turntable that we recently reviewed, and the combination of the Arche, Utopia headphones, and the turntable created an incredibly pure sound with plenty of power available.
At its core, the Arche is straightforward to use. Navigating the menu with the turn dial makes changing settings simple. You probably won’t be changing amp settings often, but if you are, the simple menu system is easy to understand.
As we mentioned at the beginning, this is an expensive piece of audio hardware. But, so are Focal’s Hi-Fi headphones. The Arche is the perfect companion if you are already in the Focal ecosystem. Their commitment to some of the best audio devices is apparent throughout the entire headphone line-up. The Arche is simple and well designed with the perfect stand for displaying your Focal headphones. It’s easy and intuitive to use, and with its variety of inputs and outputs, it will work in almost any situation.
If you’re interested in more Focal products, take a look at our review of the Sphear Wireless headphones, the Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos home theater system, or our time at Focal’s French HQ for their 40th-anniversary event.
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