Those of you who read our previous blog post about the Arcam SA20, mostly with regard to its performance with a Rega Planar 3 turntable, I’d hinted at the SA20's DAC but postponed elucidation to a later blog; this one!
To recap, the Arcam SA20 has two co-axial and one optical digital input, with a sophisticated 7-step filter selection which is fun to experiment with. I left it in position 3, Arcam’s default.
A long-standing customer of ours (he knows who he is), brought his Bryston BDP-3 network audio player in for me to update and set-up. It has no DAC of it's own, so to check its function (and get a sneaky audition), I connected it to the SA20 that was warmed up in the dem suite with a Black Rhodium Rondo coaxial digital interconnect. (One of our favourites.) The speakers were the Monitor Audio Silver 200s I had connected for the Rega Planar 3 turntable demo earlier.
Our Mr K remembered how fond I am of Norah Jones, so he brought in a 24-bit download from HDTracks of 'Come Away with Me', plus Diana Krall's 'Turn Up The Quiet' for good measure. (What a nice man.) All in all, about £6k for the system, with an unusually high 2/3rds of the budget given up to the front end.
What initially grabbed our attention was the soundstage. Just before Lee Alexander starts playing bass on "Cold, Cold Heart", it pops out, almost holographic. Norah's delicate piano playing and delicious, breathy vocals (steady now - ed) firmly held in their own space, the swing of the bass washed over, melted us into the sofa and had me longing for a glass of something restorative.
This Arcam SA20 amplifier continues to impress...
Thanks for reading. - Audio T Swansea.
Arcam Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Oxford, Preston, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon