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Here at Lyric we have been working with Arcam for over 40 years. We have a deep knowledge of the products and what the company is all about.
John Dawson, the MD for many years, came to our first shop about 1980 while visiting the fire sale that was getting rid of the last remnants of the defunct and unloved Strathearn Audio. That's another story for another time. Gentleman John bought some test gear from Strathearn and bought us some lunch.
It wasn't the lunch that led to us still loving Arcam, it's John's design expertise. Many seminal products came out of his head, from the original A60 and Alpha series, early DACs such as the famous Black Box, various great cd players and on to many AV amps that are also rather good at playing music.
That's also the subject of other rants as amplifiers are not cogniscent beings. The electrons don't know if they are playing Bach or the Beatles so why do people say 'it's a good amp for classical' or rock or whatever. Maybe it's just a crap amp? Another story for another time!
Latterly John pioneered the introduction of Class G amplifiers, a layout that starts in Class A for effortless dynamics, and although the company is now part of the Harman Luxury Audio Group he is still a consultant and Arcam still uses Class G in it's better amps. It sounds great but is expensive to manufacturer correctly.
Radia is the first all new Arcam range under Harman stewardship and you can tell. The tooling, finish, packaging and general presentation has a level of professionalism that independent British manufacturers cannot achieve. The sculpted cases look and feel solid while the unique yellow glow around the controls is both fresh and understated, I like it.
So we have 5 products: Three amplifiers, a streamer and a cd player.
The amps are A5 at £ 749, A15 at £ 1099 and A25 at £1499
All have analogue and digital inputs and Bluetooth, all have a phono moving magnet input, the differences lie in the power outputs and the system employed.
The A5 has a 50W Class AB the A15 jumps up to 80W. Please understand that this does not make it any louder!!
It's greater power gives you better dynamics, especially at lower volumes in my opinion.
The A25 is another level of performance again, a short listen will confirm that it is clearer, with more realistic instruments and it's also easier to make out the words and the intonations, that's what you pay for!
Compare these to the best sounding amplifiers at this price range and you wont be disappointed, they outperform the previous generation of Arcam amps and compete with the class leading Rega amps, call in and have a listen for yourself.
The ST5 streamer is a cool slim piece of kit and really well priced too at just £ 799
Previous Arcams were not blessed with the best app but the Connect system solves a lot of this.
Using Spotify Connect or Tidal Connect is a breeze to use and sound great, I can see it suiting many people.
The last brick in the wall is a CD player, really a cd player??
Yes and it makes a lot of sense.
Fewer manufacturers are making cd players and you end up with a choice between a cheap as chips piece of rubbish and rarefied air of hand-built units at over £2k.
Many people still have cd collections and want to use them so there is a ready market as their old players give up.
This will be my top recommendation for a cd player sub £ 1000, and it's only £ 699
Radia is a new beginning for Arcam and one that puts them back in the forefront. While there are several brands doing well in this price range Arcam have always been one of the best and this fresh new style and sound puts them back up there.
So there you have it, a real return to form that will make John Dawson proud
Maybe he owes me another lunch!