I am assuming you are using the D-plug USB not the upgrade USB? If I recall well that upgrade USB is for firmware upgrades (not 100% sure though) so maybe you should check with Focal if you need to upgrade the firmware.
Regardin the “Bin” one easy way to find out if it stands for digital is to disconnect all digital connections and see which one makes the Bin go away. Start with USB, then coax then Toslink, if you use it.
Thanks for your help. Of course I’m using a standard USB A to B audio cable to the USB input. I asked Focal about the firmware and they didn’t reply, I think they’re worried that I have a bad USB input. I did disconnect all inputs and rebooted the Arche and BIN disappeared.
Good. That means BIN lits up when you have at least one “binary” (digital) connection that’s active. It’s a little redundant considering that a DAC, by its very nature, will almost always have a digital input connected to it. Ah the French, they over-engineer everything lol
This was a very informative review, however I’m a bit confused on the power of the Arche. The spec sheet says 2 x 1 W, which to me looks like one watt per channel, while the review says 2 watts per channel.
Could anyone offer some clarification on the power output?
It is indeed a little confusing but since the Arche is advertised as having more power than its predecessor (Naim DAC V1) one can assume that either the watts or either the volts are involved. It’s a pretty big machine for a 2-watt DAC
Benn thinking about this and, considering it’s pure Class A, and the very modest amount of voltage required by the Focals (for which the Arche is designed first and foremost), 1wpc is more likely. My V1 is 1w x 2 Class A and can drive most phones I use the a pretty high level. But I don’t use it because I never liked the Class A sound that much, a little warm.
It only shows the sample rate when you are interacting with it. If you click or turn the volume knob it is visible, but after a short period of inactivity the display goes to a simple mode which does not include the sample rate.
Hi Torq, thank you for all the excellent reviews! I now have a Focal Arche with Utopia and Stellia (fed by Audioquest Diamond cables). I absolutely love it, and 100% agree with your opinions on the Arche. The only thing that continues to make me wonder is the Dave, and the Dave with M Scaler that have you have in your primary rig. If I love the sound (details and musicality) of the Arche, how would you describe Dave and Dave + M Scaler sounding compared to the Arche?
I tried the Hugo 2, but was too weak compared to Arche, and dull/analytical (love the Mojo sound though). Also liked the RME ADI2DAC and Phonitor setup…but Arche won over for me.
Dave and Dave + M Scaler keep making me wonder how they sound… and would love to hear your opinion. Thank you!
I’m past the point in my hobby participation where I want to do detailed write-ups or comparisons of gear, so I’ll keep this short and simple …
If you prefer Mojo over Hugo 2, and the Arche over a RME ADI-2 DAC/Phonitor X combination, then I’d have to surmise you like a more colored, warmer, signature with a bit of top-end roll-off and a rounder, less taught, bottom end.
I think the Hugo 2 is a usefully and audibly better DAC than the one in the Arche, while the Focal piece is ahead overall as an all-in-one - particularly with Focal’s line of headphones. Though I’m not sure what you mean by “weak”, as the Hugo 2 has more than enough clean power to destroy any of Focal’s headphones - let alone drive them properly (it’s not much less powerful than the Arche).
But with those things in mind, DAVE’s signature is closer to that of Hugo 2, while being notably and obviously better, across the board, in regards to literally all technicalities. So while DAVE, even without an M-Scaler, is a significantly higher performing piece, in every regard, than the Arche … DAVE’s signature may just be too far off from what you like.
Thank you so much for the quick reply Ian! Very much appreciate the insight with all the consideration of tastes I mentioned. Perhaps with more experience, I’ll gain appreciation for the Hugo 2 and eventually Dave. I am very particular, but somewhat new to the hobby, so I’m still learning and training my ear.
Btw, Arche only sounds right to be with the Diamond cables and power cable Dragon high current, which the silver added the detail to that warmth. Without them, it felt too warm.
Is there a DAC / Amp beyond Arche you recommend considering my current preferences?
Sometimes preferences, or priorities, change, sometimes not. Mine have, over time, even if not especially significantly. Usually it’s more my mood at the time that drives a desire for something different (e.g. SR1a vs. Vérité, solid-state vs. tubes, 2A3s vs. 300Bs and so on). But the long and short of that is that you like what you like, and that may never wind up being what Chord offers.
I didn’t personally hear (done blind), nor measure, any difference in performance with the Arche (or any other recent AIO) with different, properly constructed/to-spec power, USB (including a $20 job and the AQ Diamond) or interconnect cables; so I won’t comment further on that.
If it’s a combined DAC/amp you want, then a list of my 10 favorites is here.
In that list, you’d likely be looking at either the Rupert Neve Precision DAC (with its DIP switches in their factory positions - which is less technically accurate, but most seem to prefer) or the dCS Bartok.
My experiences with Mytek gear have been rather less than satisfactory; something that spans the DSD192, through the Brooklyn/Brooklyn+ and Manhattan II.
Notwithstanding the general foibles that accompany MQA replay, their first MQA-enabled units applied an MQA filter if MQA processing was enabled, even if the material being played wasn’t MQA-encoded. And that resulted in some fairly obnoxious artifacts and is something I consider to simply be a broken implementation (not very defensible in products at that level).
And beyond that I found them sterile, dry and rapidly fatiguing with exaggerated-detail and an over-sharpened delivery.
I’ve heard better, for much less …
Put another way … I really enjoyed the Arche; I barely tolerated the Mytek units.