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Arcam rDAC Review Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 April 2011
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Arcam rDAC Review

I heard the same with Abigail Washburn’s City of Refuge. Washburn is a modern bluegrass and folk artist with a beautiful voice. She also happens to be a virtuoso on the banjo. The album features both original and traditional songs, with great, natural sounding production and terrific arrangements. This type of recording would seem to me to be a very good test for a digital set up. Through the rDAC’s USB input, it sounded amazing. Again, lifelike images, and it preserved the organic quality of the music.

My last source used for evaluation was my trust Squeezebox 3 connected via a Transparent Toslink cable. Again, the results were exactly what I expected after seeing what the rDAC did with the other sources. More transparent, musical, and dimensional sound. This consistency across multiple sever, transport, computer, and streamer, was very impressive and commendable.  It also leads me to believe that Arcam has effectively addressed jitter and made sure that none of the inputs on the rDAC were there as convenience.

arcam dac close-up


Arcam, in its long history, were early movers into the digital market. But they have not made a stand alone DAC for quite some time now. The sub $1000 DAC category is extremely crowded these days, so coming to the table with something special is essential, if standing out from the crowd is the goal. I  believe Arcam has done something special here. Nothing in the sound, to my ears, calls attention to the Arcam’s sub $500 price. It  truly sounds great. Musical, coherent, and textured.

Along with superb sound, the rDAC offers flexibility and and ease of operation that can only come from a well engineered, well thought out product. The S/PDIF inputs sound excellent. As a matter of fact, I felt all the rDAC’s inputs sounded excellent.  I also think it was a brilliant move to use dCS’s asynchronous USB technology. I can safely say it works.  Having three great sounding inputs allows you to make the rDAC the center of a digital music hub. And the wireless option offers even more choices.

The rDAC is also an attractive component, and can easily be integrated into any system. For me personally, the USB only DAC’s that have recently flooded the market are too limited in application for them to be attractive to me. I am just not ready to make a computer my only digital source, and Arcam is catering to those with similar mind sets. I cannot imagine an audition with the rDAC would leave anyone anything but impressed with the sound and feature set, unless one listens to mostly to source material sampled above 96 Khz, which I can’t imagine could be the case.  At $479 this DAC is a steal.


Arcam rDAC D/A converter  $479
Wireless option at additional cost.
Inputs: 1x Optical SPDIF (Toslink socket), 1x Coaxial SPDIF (Gold plated socket), 1x USB, 1x Wireless (optional, requires rWave USB dongle or rWand iPod/ iPad dongle)
Outputs: 2x RCA / Phono sockets (Gold plated)
Output Level: 2.1VRMS ( at 0dBFS)
THD+N: 0.003% - (0dBFS, 1kHz, 22Hz to 22kHz, unweighted)
Noise: -104dB - (relative to full scale, 22Hz to 22kHz, unweighted)
Dimensions: Width: 160mm (6.3”), Depth: 111mm (4.4”), Height: 40mm (1.6”)
Manufacturer Website:

Reviewer System 1

CD Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
Music Server:  Olive 04HD
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4, Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: DH Labs Revelation (IC), Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC),  Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Element Cable Element Cord, (AC)  Shunyata Venom (AC) Pangea AC-9 (AC) Audience powerChord e.(AC)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands,  Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rac

Reviewer System 2{/tab

CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox 3, Dell Netbook (Windows XP)
w/ Foobar2000
DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
Amplifier: Belles Soloist 5, Revox A722
Speaker: Spendor S3/5R
Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio(AC), Pangea Audio, RS Cables, Element Cable, Belkin Gold (USB)

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