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How to set up and use a Music Server that can hold your entire music collection.

How to get started building your Stereo or Home Theater system

Vol. 14, No. 1 Spring/Summer, 2011



NEW PRODUCTS

ARCAM

ARCAM has released three very exciting new products for 2010. These are a wireless version of the rDAC USB DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) which we reported on in our last issue ($599), their first videophile-grade Blu-ray player, the FMJ BDP100 ($1499), and a more affordable home theater receiver, the FMJ AVR400 ($2499).

ARCAM rDACKW wireless USB DAC

ARCAM produced the world's first Digital to Analog Converter in 1989 and has enjoyed a world wide reputation for excellence in digital audio ever since. In our last issue, we reported that their $479 rDAC USB DAC brought a new level of quality to computer-streamed audio in the under $500 price range. The long-awaited, wireless version of the rDAC, the rDACKW, is now available at $599. The rDACKW can be plugged into your audio or video system and will receive streaming audio from either of two optional transmitters, the rWAVE or the rWAND ($100) without any cables being used. The rWAVE can be plugged into the USB port of any desktop or laptop computer while the rWAND is used to transmit from portable devices such as iPods and iPhones. These wireless products stream a digital signal with the same low jitter technology that is in the rDAC itself. Thus, you can now stream audiophile level sound from a remotely-located source without any loss of fidelity.

 

ARCAM BDP100 Blu-ray player The FMJ BDP100 is the first Blu-ray player from ARCAM and continues their legacy of combining superb picture and sound quality in a single player. Use of ARCAM's unique expertise has allowed the extraction of the very best video and audio performance from a digital source. The BDP100 uses a very simple, almost direct video path from the disc right through to its high-precision outputs. This very direct path allows the video signal to be presented without unnecessary disruption, giving a presentation that will truly captivate the viewer. Use of broadcast-quality digital video clocks during video processing results in picture quality that is simply stunning.

To ensure that the BDP100's music performance meets the same reference standards as its video quality,ARCAM uses the class-leading Wolfson Audio 8741 Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) to convert the digital audio stream back to analog. This device, coupled with a very sophisticated output filter and high-precision re-clocking system, results in audio performance comparable to that of a dedicated audiophile CD player.

Even the BDP100's power supply has been specially designed for uncompromising performance. Separate and discretely-regulated power supplies on the drive, audio, and DAC boards deliver significant benefits to the overall performance of each element. This allows each section to work truly independently and without interference from other sections.

To minimize the effect of radio frequency (RF) interference with the BDP100's high performance circuitry, the ARCAM development team has used its “Mask of Silence” techniques to shield important signal paths.

As with all its FMJ units, ARCAM has gone to incredible lengths to maximize the performance of this new player. As an example the BDP100 benefits from a critically damped cover to virtually eliminate damaging microphonic vibration from reaching the sensitive electronics inside. In addition, while other Blu-ray devices can suffer from slow disc load times, the BDP100 has been optimized to make the interval from disc insertion to playback as fast as possible.

ARCAM has designed the BDP100 with a single purpose, to deliver the very best music and movie experience for discerning owners.

ARCAM AVR400 AV receiverIn our last issue, we reported that ARCAM had brought the world-class performance of their AVR600 receiver down to a more affordable price with the release of the AVR500. In an effort to make the advanced performance of this receiver even more affordable, ARCAM has now released the AVR400 at $2499. This receiver has the same cutting edge performance of the AVR600 but achieves its lower price by the elimination of some features and by making other features optional. So, for example, the AVR400 is rated at 90 watts for each of its 7 channels rather than the 120 watts of the AVR600. Features which have been removed include the phono input, the preamplifier output, one of the extra zones (making the AVR500 a 2-zone unit), the satellite radio capability, and the digital audio output.

The AVR400 has a rich feature list, including compatibility with all the latest audio decoding formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio. In addition, it offers wide compatibility with music files stored on USB or network audio devices. The included FM/AM tuner allows access to a host of terrestrial radio stations while its built-in Internet radio capability extends this reach to thousands of web-based broadcasts from around the world.

Unlike most mass-market AV receivers, the AVR400 has a huge toroidal transformer that gives it enough current to tame even the most difficult of loudspeaker loads. The lively-sounding amplifier can hold on to complicated rhythms with real verve and attack.

The AVR400's video performance is exemplary, regardless of source. Full upscaling and cross conversion is carried out by a high-performance Torino video processor that supports all resolutions up to and including 1080p. There are also support for 24 frame per second sources and 3DTV pass-through. The resulting picture quality is outstanding, offering breath-taking clarity and supremely realistic color rendition.

To support the latest source and display technologies the AVR400 includes HDMI v1.4a including ARC (Audio Return Channel) and CEC (Consumer Electronic Control). This makes the AVR400 a perfect match for the latest video displays having on-board digital TV or Internet TV tuners.

If you're serious about high definition sound, then you should put this product on your short list. The AVR400 is designed to set a new benchmark for its price category and beyond. It can achieve startling results from high resolution, uncompressed music and yet still delight with normal Dolby and DTS. This is one AV receiver where sound quality doesn't take a back seat to video performance.

 

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