UK Press Release March 2015

From the Dawn of Hi-Fi of Hi-Fi to 21st Century Digits - AR are Back

AR M2 Hi-res Portable Player - £899.00 - Available April 2015

*Early Stock in Harrods Tech Department*

A serious new contender in the portable hi-res digital market "An iPod for High-res Music"

Hi , 

Part two of the 'AR High-Resolution Reboot' leads the 60 year old brand further down the hi-res path, with a high-spec portable player to take on Astell & Kern, Sony ZX2 and the various Fiios.

The M2 is built for the modern Headphone & Hi-Res Enthusiast, able to drive serious £500+ headphones like Audeze, Oppo, Hi-Fi Man and Sennheiser HD 700 that most players struggle with. 

Cheers Robert.

STORAGE UPDATE 200GB Micro SD cards announced by SanDisk at MWC 15

HI-RES PHOTOS - here         PRODUCT INFO - here 

There is always room in the market for something better and the M2 is just that. Although far from cheap, the M2 is 'Best In Class' and outperforms competition costing 30% more. The advanced processor, upgradeable firmware and virtually unlimited storage expansion, give the M2 a long service life.

Key Features of the M2

- Flagship Class Burr-Brown PCM1794A Current Output DAC

- Future-proof High Performance Quad Core Processor

- Unique high-current high-output Class A based amplifier

- Audiophile-grade analogue volume ALPS potentiometer

- Line-out to feed a Hi-Fi system

- Phenomenal Signal to Noise Ratio & Dynamic Range

To achieve the best sound, the designer adopted the best practices from Analog and Digital High-End Hi-Fi products. 

The audio signature of the M2 can traced back to the tradition of the original Acoustic Research speakers and turntables. Detailed, smooth and precise, fast, punchy and with deep, wide imaging. 

Quote: Arex Li - Designer of the M2

"We started with raw audio performance, then a powerful headphone amp and only then did we add the features" 
"Many competitors use excessively power efficient designs, so they may sound good when paired with low impedance headphones, but they struggle mightily to drive high-end headsets, an area where the M2 excels"

- 5 inch OGS HD IPS colour display screen

- Easy-to-use Multi-touch “MusicSurf” GUI 

- Android OS base, tuned for pure music

- Pure Lossless Audio Path bypassing Android OS totally

- High capacity battery 4000 mAH - 9hrs average battery life

- Duralumin metal housing - tough and good-looking

- Unlimited expansion via Micro-SXCD cards

- Full Wi-Fi streaming capability

Remarkably compact for a high-end player

136.5 h x 71.1 w x just 15 mm deep

Weight 245 gms

HI-RES PHOTOS - here        PRODUCT INFO - here 

The Acoustic Research M2

Flagship DAC Performance Ratings

Burr-Brown PCM1794A Current Output DAC

2 x better than Burr-Brown PCM1795

2.8 x better than Cirrus CS4398 (PCM mode)

4 x better than Cirrus CS4398 (DSD mode)

2.8 x better than Wolfson WM8740 (Dual DAC mode, 1-ch per DAC)

4 x better than Wolfson WM8740 (Single DAC mode, 2-ch per DAC)

High-power high-precision current feedback headphone amplifier

- High-power headphone amplifier

- Power output (THD < 0.01%)

- 32 ohms 400mW + 400 mW 

- 300 ohms 43mW + 43mW

- Ultra-low-distortion at max output <0.01%

- Supports 16 ohms to 600 ohms headphones/earphones

- Ultra high slew-rate, genuinely responsive to Hi-Res content

The headphone output is powered by a high-power, high slew rate amplifier delivering speed that really reacts to the music. It supports a wide range of earphones and headphones, is capable of driving high-end full-size headphones and is more powerful than many standalone portable headphone amplifiers!

Future-proof High Performance Quad Core Processor

Plays virtually all Hi-Res audio formats including ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, 

Plus DSD64/DSD128 & DXD

Custom developed Hi-Res DSP processing

Upgradeable to support other new formats

Wi-Fi wireless audio

NAS with DLNA support

Online music service Android APKs can be loaded

Spotify tested. Tidal & Qobuz in testing

Not a throwaway product

With a future-proofed processor capable of being upgraded to handle new formats, strong metal construction and virtually unlimited memory expansion, the M2 is built for a long-life

Virtually unlimited expansion

64GB built-in memory

Micro-SDXC expansion Up to 200GB

USB OTG media playback support (TBD)

USB OTG Thumb Drive

USB Harddisk

easily portable - amazing with Sennheiser IE800


The acoustic & digital design of M2 was derived from AR's acclaimed desktop UA1 DAC, delivering real audiophile sound and Hi-Res playback on-the-go. Like UA1, the M2 features a dual-clock crystal oscillator design for native frequency support at all multiples. 

The best DAC - Flagship DAC Performance Ratings

AR concluded that the Burr-Brown PCM1794A Current Output DAC deliver the best playback sound quality 

2 x better than Burr-Brown PCM1795

2.8 x better than Cirrus CS4398 (PCM mode)

4 x better than Cirrus CS4398 (DSD mode)

2.8 x better than Wolfson WM8740 (Dual DAC mode, 1-ch per DAC)

4 x better than Wolfson WM8740 (Single DAC mode, 2-ch per DAC)

High precision Lossless Audio Path - Android Bypassed for audio

One major challenge in M2 development was the proprietary high precision audio path. Android offers a good control OS but the audio framework causes serious damage to sound quality.To get round this AR developed TWO audio paths. 

1. A dedicated Hi-Res Lossless path for the AR Music Player, totally bypassing the Android OS

2. A clean generic path allowing for Android audio apps like Spotify & Qobuz.  

AR High-Res Music Player

The simple but comprehensive AR music player, plays music through the M2's proprietary Hi-Res Lossless audio path. Compared to other music player software for Android, it simply delivers better sound.


Battery Life

The linear/class A amplifier delivers best sound with the penalty of high power consumption. The solution in M2 is to 

include a battery with double the capacity of most competition, to give about 9 hours of playback. On top of that, M2 is

powerbank-friendly. Any 5V-2A Power Bank will power M2 for very extended music playback

charge it simultaneously.

Heat dissipation

There are copper heat spreader shields on both sides of the M2 PCB and is dissipated quickly over the whole body of the 

player. The copper heat spreader serves as RF shielding as well.

Memory expansion

On top of built-in memory, the M2 supports expansion through both micro SDXC (up to 200GB card supported) and 

USB-OTG flash storage (e.g. Sandisk Ultra Dual USB).

Large screen for touch operation

Instead of building a thick brick, we put the battery and the audio circuit board side by side.  Although the player is

bigger, it is slimmer. This is better for heat dissipation and allows the use of large screen for easy touch operation.

Why Android? 

Android offers a good operating OS BUT the OS audio framework caused serious damage to sound quality for best sound the M2 has its' own High-Res audio Path that bypasses the OS

, we decided to build a proprietary audio path for precision.  The AR music player played music through the proprietary audio path.  Compare to other music player software for Android, it simply delivered better sound.

- Mature touch based interface

- Mature wireless network support

- Third party app support (e.g. Amazon Appstore, Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal…)

- Efficient media scanning (fast scanning of huge number of songs based on tags)

The M2 was designed to be more powerful than many portable headphone amplifiers, it is an excellent choice to show off high-end headphones on the go. 


ABOUT: Acoustic Research

From 1954 to now, over 60 years, Acoustic Research has shaped the modern home entertainment industry. AR's history of innovation, advanced technologies and unique design for the consumer includes the introduction in 1959 of the dome tweeter (still used in today's speakers), the first ever acoustic suspension sealed loudspeakers the famous AR-3 and the first suspended sub-chassis belt-drive turntable from which most modern designs derive.

The 'AR High-Resolution Reboot' project was started in 2011. The first products were limited to the Far East, 2015 sees the launch in UK and Japan prior to a global roll out. Products are not yet available in the USA.

The new AR High-End & Digital division is a very serious company, part of the huge Voxx Corporation and very well funded for R&D, manufacturing and global distribution. The designer Arex Li and his colleagues are purist audiophiles and music enthusiasts and they are bringing some great products to market.