Awesome Arcam

To Hans Wetzel,

There aren’t many reviews of the Arcam D33 about and I discovered yours. I don’t care whether anyone else appreciates the D33 -- I love it. And I see you came to a similar conclusion.

In April 2012 I walked into the Arcam room at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show to ask the Arcam guys a question. I heard some realistic music playing and asked them what it was coming from. “It’s our new DAC," they replied. We had a conversation about digital conversion, and I left well impressed, but with no interest to buy such a piece of gear.

A few weeks later I bought an Arcam rDAC in a sale to give computer-based digital audio a try. This proved to be enjoyable (clean, clear, and agreeably musical). My PC and old CD players freshened up.

At the UK Head-Fi September meet in Cambridge, Arcam were next to me and for two hours I had a D33 plugged into my headphone amp. This proved to be so enjoyable that I knew I wanted one. I had no interest anymore in listening to gear that masked the music. I was lucky to find a way to own one within a couple of weeks. I have not regretted this purchase for a picosecond.

I love it; or should I say, I love all my music again. I was amazed at myself buying such an expensive DAC but in real terms it is less expensive than some other equipment I have bought over the years. This thing relays music. That’s it. I would say it is the single best piece of equipment I have ever invested in. Because it is a terrific musical source, everything else stands on it.

I am getting constant delights from listening to music through it. And I don’t feel I paid too much. I think it a shame that this humble-looking gear will be overlooked by the sensation seekers. Incidentally, I said to an Arcam engineer that it was lacking a display and such, he just said "What does it need one for?"

Happy listening and best regards,
Geoff Clarke

Geoff, I am glad that you are deriving such pleasure from Arcam's FMJ D33. It is unlike other DACs I have heard, and organic in a way that makes "traditional" digital sound difficult to return to. In one other review that I have read of the unit, the reviewer seemed a bit unconvinced by its "laid back" presentation, one that wasn't overtly sharp and finely delineated. In time, I think reviewers will come around to this newer breed of DAC that are as resolving as reference-level DACs of years past, but do without the "digital edge" that many, myself included, have come to expect.

I am in the midst of reviewing Benchmark Media Systems' DAC2 HGR, a digital-to-analog converter and preamp, for GoodSound!, a sister site. I am happy to report that the Benchmark is cut from the same sonic cloth as the Arcam, but for $1300 USD less. Now seems to be as good a time as any to hop on the computer audio train, as you have done. Enjoy the Arcam! . . . Hans Wetzel