One ergonomic oddity that I hope will be corrected on a firmware update is that when you plug headphones into the Arche’s front panel the rear outputs are not automatically muted, which is standard practice on most DAC/PRE/headphone devices. This means for late night don’t-disturb-the-other-humans headphone listening you must remember to turn off your external amps and subwoofer or else they will be merrily playing along, thoroughly defeating that silent listening concept.
The Arche does not have a remote control, which may limit its applicability for a room-based system. I used the Arche principally in a desktop system where a remote wasn’t missed, but for added flexibility it would have been nice addition.
Sonically, I could find little fault with the Arche’s performance. Especially tethered to one of Focal’s premium headphones using the special amp settings for that particular headphone. I had the Stellia on hand to mate with the Arche. The sonic pairing was easy listening personified. I never had to strain to hear even minute details buried way back in a mix.
With the vast majority of headphones and in-ears I attached to the Arche I found no mismatch issues except with the highly sensitive 119 dB Earsonics EM10 CIEM. With EM10 there was a slight, low-level, hiss. With my most inefficient headphones, the Beyer Dynamic DT-990 600 ohm version, the Arche had more than adequate drive to produce high volume levels with lots of juice left over.
While not ergonomically perfect, the Focal Arche does most things right, both in terms of sonics and due to its built-in headphone profiles and amplifier options, making the Arche an impressive first-time electronic offering.
Type: Headphone Amplifier/DAC/headphone stand
Formats Supported: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, AIFF, DSD
Sample Rates: 8KHz to 384/32 PCM; DSD 64 to 256
Output Level: 2 × 1W @1 kHz
THD+N: < 0.001%
Signal to Noise: 116 dB @32 Ohms
Frequency Response: 10–100,000 Hz
Outputs: one 6.35mm/¼” headphone out, one XLR headphone out, XLR balanced analogue outputs, RCA single-ended analogue outputs
Dimensions (WxDxH): 20×30×32cm
Manufactued by: Focal
Distributed by: SCV Distribution
Tel: +44(0)3301 222 500