The CD revival is real: Arcam is back with 5 big hi-fi launches and a striking new look
Audio

The CD revival is real: Arcam is back with 5 big hi-fi launches and a striking new look

The CD revival is real: Arcam is back with 5 big hi-fi launches and a striking new look

 

Arcam is back with a brand new look and range of products to delight audiophile fans. The iconic British hi-fi maker unveiled the new lineup at a launch event held in a warehouse-type space behind Phonica Records shop in Soho, London, on Tuesday evening (October 2).On show was the company’s new Radia series, which consists of three integrated stereo amplifiers – called the A5, A15 and A25 – a high-resolution music streamer (that they’re calling the ST5) and perhaps most surprisingly a CD player (known as the CD5).Let’s start with the amplifiers, which is an area that Arcam specialises in. The A5 is the entry-level offering of the three with two 50W channels. The step up from it is the A15, which boasts 80W of output in each channel. Both are class AB amplifiers and have been internally upgraded with a new digital circuitry based on the ESS ES9018 DAC.Meanwhile, the premium class G A25 has two 100W channels and an ESS ES9280AQ DAC. All three amplifiers have Bluetooth aptX, internal antennas,
digital inputs and Arcam’s signature MM phono stage.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arcam also released a music streamer, with support for some of the best music streaming services including Amazon Music Unlimited, Qobuz, Internet radio, podcasts, Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect. It also supports MQA and Roon, and can connect wirelessly via Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2.

Last, but certainly not least, is Arcam’s brand new CD player, the CD5. Unlike previous models, the company went for a new approach with the music streamer and CD player by splitting the products in two.

When speaking to Jim Garrett, senior director of strategy and planning at Harman, about why the brand decided to launch what many people would consider to be a retro music playing machine in 2023, he said that interest in the medium was coming from a younger demographic in the US who wanted higher audio quality but without having to pay the high prices that vinyls often cost.

“For today’s audio enthusiasts, especially younger ones looking to get into a luxury audio system at a reasonable cost, the resulting solutions surpass not only our past offerings but any product that’s come before,” Garrett said about the release.

The CD5 supports CD, CD-R and CD-RW playback along with FLAC, WAV, and MP3 files on a connected USB drive. Both the ST5 and CD5 feature an ESS ES9018 DAC and boast 24-bit/192-kHz resolution.

 

 

Hands on with the Arcam Radia series of amplifiers

During the launch event, Arcam had a demo room where members of the press (including yours truly) were able to listen to the new amplifiers and get a closer look at the new striking design.

As we sampled the track The Weekend by SZA, the flagship A25 amplifier from the Radia Series delivered high fidelity and dynamism from the brief listening session that I did experience.

It may be due to the dramatic spotlights that shone above each of the five products, which sat atop of plinths, but the redesign headed up by Jason Govaki, principal designer at Huemen, was strikingly minimalist. Each product also has sleek yellow detailing, creating a unified range, which looked great.

All five products in the new Radia series are now available to buy in the US, UK and Europe. For pricing see below:

  • Arcam A5: $699 / £749 / €849
  • Arcam A15: $999 / £1,099 / €1,249
  • Arcam A25: $1,499 / £1,499 / €1,799
  • Arcam CD5: $699 / £699 / €799
  • Arcam ST5: $799 / £799 / €949

 

 

Arcam’s hi-fi heritage

When it comes to high-end audio equipment, there seems to be something about Cambridge, in the UK. The sleepy student city is the home of classic brands like Arcam and Cambridge Audio.

Founded by John Dawson and Chris Evans in 1976, who were at the time science and engineering students from Cambridge University, the brand blossomed into a great  maker of all things hi-fi and has been a stalemate in the audio world ever since.

However, since being acquired by Samsung Electronics via its US subsidiary Harman, Arcam has been quiet on the product launch front. In fact, the last time we reviewed a product from the brand was in 2016 when we tested the all-in-one DAC / amp / battery charger the Arcam MusicBoost.

And while we don’t currently rate its amplifiers among our best AV receivers, their growing range and brand new Radia series could be about to change that.

 

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