What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Fri, 12 Dec 2008, 12:00pm

Arcam CD37

Tested at £1300

Capable and covetable, the CD37 looks and sounds like a premium product from the start

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  • High-quality build and finish, real kit-rack presence
  • rich, unruffled sound
  • SACD playback


  • Others offer greater detail and more rigorous organisation

Positioned on an an equipment stand, the Arcam CD37 looks to be everything we expect from the Cambridgeshire specialist: styling that's either conservative or timeless, depending on your viewpoint, and build quality that's of the brick outhouse variety.

A logical, nicely finished interface, robust disc-loading mechanism and functional (if unremarkable) remote control. The fascia is fashioned from a slab of aluminium just thick enough to feel indulgent but not so thick that it comes across as ostentatious.

This looks and feels like the latest in a series of  high-quality Arcam products. And that's pretty much the way it sounds, too. With James Carr's Pouring Water On A Drowning Man quickly and quietly loaded, the CD37's wide, deep soundstage allows all the elements of the song plenty of breathing space.

The presentation is assertive without being brash, the top end is smooth and refined enough to suggest the CD37 won't be picky about its partnering amplifier and loudspeakers, while the midrange communicates Carr's heartbreak in spades.

Low-frequency stuff is deep and substantial, but still able to move along at a decent clip.

Punchy, yet not too brutal

When the going gets a little tougher, with the processed, compressed sound of Lady Gaga's The Fame, the Arcam refuses to be pushed around. It's punchy enough to satisfy your pop music sensibilities, but has the good taste to expose the music's dynamic limitations without too much brutality.

If scale and authority are what you want from your CD player, you'll find a garrulous friend here. And, when playing an SACD, the Arcam offers even more of the same.

The already generous soundstage gains additional width and depth, bass drums kick with unflappable solidity and vocalists communicate with the sort of immediacy and intimacy that plain-vanilla CD equivalents can't muster.

Chocolatey smooth…
The CD37 doesn't even attempt to offer the out-and-out drive or the fanatical levels of detail that the best of its rivals deliver, and it comes up fractionally short where outright organisation is concerned too.

It offers a tempting selection of strengths to counteract those shortcomings, though, and people whose preference runs to a sound that's as weighty, smooth and chunky as a Yorkie bar should put the Arcam CD37 right near the top of their ‘to hear' list.

An audition is highly recommended.