With the current surge in popularity for streaming music (Sonos et al) we were pleased and intrigued when Arcam announced that they were bringing to market a dedicated music streamer.
After the success and positive feedback of the streamers in their AV amps and Arcam CDS27 CD player it appears to be a natural step for such a music first company.
The Arcam rPlay allows you to add network audio streaming services and internet radio to any system using DTS PlayFi, Apple Airplay or UPnP enabled music sources such as a Network Attached Storage (NAS).
As well as a co-axial (SP/DIF) digital audio output and a fixed line level analogue output, the rPlay also features a variable analogue output which uses the same volume control as their A49 flagship amplifier. This is really handy for connecting to a power amplifier or a pair of active loudspeakers; multi-room audio aficionados also should take note. The rPlay is very nicely built out of satin black aluminium and is a visual match for the other Arcam “small r” components.
At £399 it's fifty quid more than the unit it's going to be compared to - the Sonos Connect Zoneplayer.
So how does it sound? Very good indeed! It was an obvious improvement over the Sonos Connect. 'Solid' is the term du jour; the rPlay has way more body, depth and richness. Meaty and musical. Operationally it isn't quite as slick as the Sonos, but this is just a matter of getting used to the operating system (OS). The dramatic improvement in sound quality more than makes up for it, even using just 16bit (CD quality) files. The rPlay will play back 24bit (studio quality) files, lifting its performance again. By comparison the Sonos units top out at 16bit.
If you needed any more of a testimonial, both Nic and I have bought one. It's on demonstration in our music salon as we speak. Why not come in and have a listen?