In the late 1970s A&R Cambridge (as Arcam was then known) launched its first amplifier, the A60. Which, in the early 80s became the first step on my audiophile journey. Hence a frisson of excitement as Arcam launches it’s latest Radia electronics (adjusted for inflation the entry-level amplifier costs the same as the A60).
The headline is a complete new range of audio equipment comprising three integrated amplifiers (A5, A15, A25), a CD player (CD5) and a streamer (ST5). Pricing is largely within the bounds of a Hifi Starter system: –
- A5 £749, $699, €849
- A15 £1,099, $999, €1,249
- A25 £1,499, $1,499, €1,799
- CD5 £699, $699, €799
- ST5 £799, $799, €949
All three Radia amplifiers sport analogue and digital inputs. The A5 & A15 are Class A/B designs outputting 50 / 100 wpc respectively. The A25 uses Class G and outputs 100wpc (all figures into 8 Ohms).
Common to all the amplifiers are 3 analogue inputs plus MM phono, all on RCA sockets. There are two coax and one optical digital inputs, all handling up to 24-bit / 192kHz PCM. AptX Adaptive Bluetooth is present, both receive and transmit (the latter for wireless headphones etc.) And there’s a USB-A socket for USB sticks. A pre-out connection caters for subwoofers or external power amps. And finally there’s a headphone output and a remote control
The A25 amplifier adds USB-C input for computers (PC, Mac and, unusually, RPi). This can handle up to 32-bit / 384kHz PCM and DSD1024. A shame HDMI is missing in action on any amplifier.
ESS DAC chips underpin the digital circuitry across the range. The A5 and A15 amplifiers get the ES9018, as do the CD player & streamer. The A25 amplifier ups the ante to the ES9280AQ. Don’t forget the DAC chip is just one element of digital circuitry. Power supplies and output stages in particular contribute hugely to sound quality.
The CD player is fairly straightforward, although it does have both analogue (RCA) and digital outputs (coax and optical). The latter could be useful with the A25 amplifier, whose DAC is better than that in the CD5. A USB-A input also allows USB sticks to be played; up to 24-bit/192 files are catered for.
The streamer has analogue and digital outputs. Networking can be wired or wireless, with Airplay 2 and Chromecast available. Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect are present, and the ST5 is Roon Ready. A new Arcam app adds Qobuz, Amazon Music, Podcasts and Internet radio.
The Radia range represents a significant step for Arcam, so its no surprise there’s a completely new look. Which on paper is very stylish indeed, the yellow detailing adding subtle interest to the black devices. I look forward to seeing them in the flesh at the Cornwall HiFi Show this coming weekend (6/7th October). Whilst there, I’ll see if I can spring one or two models for review. Having the A5 here would feel like something of a homecoming!
For more information click here.