Product review: Acoustic Research AR-M2

Acoustic Research AR-M2

All I do nowadays is shout about Hi-Res Audio to people on the street like some sort of deranged audiophile. It’s really not my fault though with multiple companies bringing out amazing products designed specifically to play Hi-Res Audio. Today I shout at you about one such product…

The Acoustic Research AR-M2 isn’t the newest of the portable Hi-Res players, having come out in early 2015, but it’s definitely one of the top units when it comes to wanting a sound that delivers more than just the usual portable offering.

The AR-M2 accomplishes this with a multitude of hi-spec parts the most important of these being its class A amplifier allowing it to drive any headphones perfectly, even those that are specifically designed to be stay at home headphones like the Audeze LCD3. As well as this the AR-M2 also has a Burr-Brown PCM1794A DAC and dual crystal oscillators for accurate music playback, the high quality ALPS potentiometer for precision volume control and a Cirrus logic CS8422 audio transceiver for accurate and low jitter audio transfer.


High Resolution Audio in your pocket…

With all these Hi-end parts working together it’s no surprise that when I plugged the AR-M2 into a pair of Audeze LCD3 headphones and started playing Greatest Hits by Black Sabbath at 24Bit/96kHZ I was instantly blown away by what I was hearing. Iron Man’s ominous drumbeat and heavy metal defining guitar riffs explode into existence as I sit there mouth aghast, and War Pigs lethargic guitar and air raid siren bring me onto the precipice ready to be taken away to the harsh electrically charged mayhem that is the remainder of the song. All in all the AR-M2 takes me to a place where I feel the music instead of just listen to it, and much like a premium Hi-Fi system, I get a perfect depth and clarity to the sound whilst still having enough power to drive the music and a beautiful separation of frequencies.

Its one thing to sound high quality but the AR-M2 feels it as well with a substantial oversized real metal finish and you just feel that you are holding a premium bit of kit. It also offers a 5-inch touch screen that is big enough and has enough clarity that you can scroll through menus in seconds, and if that’s not your thing there are also side mounted buttons for major functions such as track skip and a volume adjustment that is probably one of the best I’ve seen on a portable. Also part of the design is the lithium polymer battery which gives the AR-M2 around nine hours of battery life, more than enough for your daily commute.

Of course what is a player without files and the AR-M2 can host a whole plethora of file types ranging all the way up to the coveted 24bit/384kHZ, those files being FLAC/ALAC/WAV/AIFF/APE and DSD formats DSD64 and DSD128. With all these file types you need some memory – the AR-M2 comes with 64GB as standard and this can be boosted to 192GB with the addition of a micro SD card. This amount of space would allow you to have up to 3000 files of 5 minutes each at 24bit/96kHZ quality.

For me the AR-M2 is one of the best Hi-Res audio players available, and even though it may be a little more expensive that extra cost allows it to stand above everything else with a sound that has to be listened to, to be believed.

For more information, or to organise a free, no obligation demonstration, please give your local store a call today. To find out more about the Acoustic Research AR-M2, click here.

Author: Hal – Plymouth store