Acoustic Research AR M2 Portable Music Player

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The AR-M2 is a high resolution portable music player with a custom android user interface offering a familiar user experience. The UI is easy to use and gives almost instant access to your favourite music. Featuring a high quality DAC and other reference grade internals the AR M2 can power even the most demanding headphones.

The revolutionary Acoustic Research M2 Music Player brings the music listening to a whole new level. Through the flagship grade Burr-brown PCM1794A DAC and best-in-class high slew rate headphone amplifier, it is capable to unleash the full potential of your high resolution music clips through high end headphones without the need for an external headphone amplifier. This is the all-in-one product you need for genuine audiophile music experience on-the-go.
  • Genuine audiophile oriented music-only portable music player
  • Comprehensive high resolution media support (WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, APE, DSD, and DXD)

  • Audiophile oriented flagship class Burr-Brown PCM1794a DAC

  • Unleash the full potential of high end headphones with best-in-class built-in headphone amplifier

  • 64GB built-in memory plus flexible storage expansion through Micro SDXC

  • Up to 9 hours of continuous audiophile-grade high resolution music playback

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


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"

- 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


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 contents


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



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.


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