2 stars from me. Arcam need to do a Mk2 version and add some oomph! Im not a bass head by any stretch but the severe lack of warmth and low end made me not enjoy the sound of the rpac AT ALL. The rpac is what i would call a bit too hifi for me. The timing and detail is there (initially impressive) but the heart and soul of the music has been sucked out. Sorry thats the only way i can explain it.
I recommend listening to alternative dac/headphone amp combos first (with its own PSU - important) around the 200 mark before shelling out on one of these. Ok, the rpac is 50 notes cheaper but mine went on ebay not long after.
Hello! Would anyone be so kind, as to help the virgin audiophile? Both Arcam rPac and rDac are available at an excellent price in my country, and I struggle choosing...I have a very good HK amp, the 6550, the bookshelf speakers will be either Acoustic Energy Radiane 1 or Monitor Audio BX2, and I wonder if the price difference is worth it for my setup, which DAC should I go for? And do I need a good analogue interconnect between the DAC and amp, like the MIT TERMINATOR 4 ( I found it near mint for 32 GBP) ? Thanks...
I found and read these reviews just as I was plugging in my newly bought rPac. I read Electro69's review and started the music on with some trepidation. I sat back in my chair in surprise. It was MUCH better than I had expected. Much more space, detail, bass - life generally. (BTW - just plugged it in and it worked. I used the supplied cable.).
OK - so what's different? Well, my comparison is with the on-board sound on a 6 year old desktop, so maybe not up to the Macbook Pro's standards. I'm using powered Philips desktop speakers rather than headphones. Maybe Electro69's headphones are masking some of the difference?
I also have a Naim DAC as a high level reference. The rPAC is not quite in that league, but its closer to that than to the PC output. I'm really pleased, especially given price and size.
The thing is, in response to bemaniac, you need to focus on the weakest link. Sometimes cables matter. They certainly do in my Naim system (like Electro69 says, streaming unpacked digital music isn't like sending files (including music files) across a network - it is susceptable to RF interference causing jitter, and has less error correction). But on most PC based sound systems there are bigger problems - my weakest link isn't the DAC anymore, it will be the powered speakers. I'm not worrying about the cables (at least, not yet).
I'm enjoying this after sidegrading from an internal xonar ST card. My interconnects are already good. I find the sound nice and clear but have been told things like above with usb cables and by dealers and as soon as I ask for advice people call me gullible and an idiot for considering a wire upgrade. Someone help me because I want to get balanced opinions on this.
I picked up one of these today based on this review. I already have a Benchmark DAC1 USB and an M2 Young DAC, but wanted a portable headphone amp for travelling and listening to hi-res files such as 24/96Khz WAVs and 24/88Khz Wavs created from 2.8Mhz DSF files.
I use a MacBook Pro and it cant play 88.2Khz directly, so it upsamples to 96Khz before playing it. I wanted to try the Arcam to see if it made a big difference over the MacBook Pros built in DAC.
I have listened for hours to hi-res files such as Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow 24/96 and Tierney Sutton's "Something Cool", Nick Drake, Lee Morgan etc. (2.8Mhz downsampled to 88Khz). comparing music played through Audirvana, optimised for music playback and Cog. In every case I prefered the sound of the Mac! It's much cleaner and clearer and more natural sounding. Tierney's clear soaring voice at the beginning of "Something Cool" is ruined by the Arcam, adding artificial grain to it that is simply unpleasent to listen to.
The reviews for this product had been so could I just couldn't believe it, so I thought I'd try a few things to understand better the issue, I changed the USB cable. The cable suplied is perhaps best used for a printer as changing it for a much shorter and higher quality (but still unbranded cable) improved the sound to exceed the Mac's internal headphone output, the voices improved, sibilants suppressed and a fatter warmer sound overall. However the differences through my Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones was much smaller than the reviews would have you believe.
I notice in the What HiFi review that they used a Wireworld Ultrviolet cable, so perhaps this explains it! I suspect that this would improve the sound further.
Note about USB cables. For the non believers I'm a computer expert with over 20 years experience and yes I was skeptical about fancy USB cables, as I'd never noticed any problem transferring my Word documents etc. down even the crappiest USB cable before. I read the spec for audio over USB however, and realised that the error checking that is normal for file transfer is completely absent, and even worse the audio is transerred in real time with minimal buffering (who came up with that!) it's a wonder that it works at all frankly, and so once again the audio world is saddled with a system that is dependent on a good cable!
In summary the Arcam rPAC with a better USB cable can deliver improved sound over the soundcard of a laptop however the difference was less than I expected and the actual device while small for a DAC is hardly portable, it would be difficult to use on a plane or a train for example, and is really quite heavy, so for my purposes of travelling the extra weight and size outweigh the small sonic improvement.
As a suggestion for DAC manufacturers - for a portable solution like this it would be great to have a device to hang it to the back of the laptop screen, so it can be used comfortably on a plane, or perhaps a pocket clip.
I was heading for a Fiio E10 (also fantastic...) but my wife beat me to it and bought me one of these. Amazing dynamics and clarity. Especially through my Grados.
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A really enjoyable compact system on the whole, but its occasionally harsh treble raises questions of living with it long term
With a nicely balanced sound, good looks and an attractive price, this powerful-sounding Loewe speaker is an appealing wireless option
A decent enough performer but not particularly engaging
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