In today’s world of two-channel audio, there is somewhat of a void between entry-level and high-end components. British-made ARCAM is one of only a handful of brands that fits this mid-performance category. The ARCAM DiVA A65 Plus Integrated Amplifier and the DiVA CD73 CD Player are priced at $995 each. Although ARCAM labels these components as entry-level, they are only entry-level compared to other ARCAM gear. For the purposes of this two-channel system article, we included these components in the mid-range category.
Both our ARCAM DiVA review components were finished in black with silver buttons and dials. A silver finish is also available for each component. The buttons and dials are always silver, regardless of which casing colour you choose. The remotes supplied with both components are identical – black casing with black buttons and white labels. Both remotes are capable of controlling most ARCAM separates such as amplifiers, CD players and tuners.
The chassis and front panels of both pieces of gear are constructed out of solid metal. The front panel of the A65 amplifier has 5 dials for: source selection, volume, bass, treble and balance. There are also buttons for the tape input, direct sound (which by-passes tone controls) and B speakers as well as a headphone jack. The A65’s rear panel contains five line-level inputs, a phono input, a tape loop and a pre-out. Also in the rear, are two sets of speaker terminals and a ground terminal for use with a turntable that has a ground wire. The A65 is capable of delivering 40 watts to 8 ohms speakers (with two channels driven) and 80 watts to 4 ohm speakers (with a single channel driven). It has a frequency response rated from 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+/- 0.25 dB) and a THD of 0.01 % (8 ohms, 1 kHz).
The CD73 CD player has a clean face containing only eight CD navigation buttons plus a power button and a green display. The CD73’s rear panel features dual RCA audio outputs, a digital coaxial/optical output as well as a IR input and a 12 volt trigger (for multi-room installations). The CD73 player contains a 24-bit multilevel Delta-Sigma digital-to-analogue (DAC) converter from Wolfson MicroElectronics. It has a frequency response rated from 0.3 Hz to 20 kHz (+/- 0.5 dB), a THD of 0.003 % and a signal to noise ratio of 112 dB.
Both ARCAM components have IEC sockets allowing the power cords to be upgraded if you choose to do so.
When I listened to the first few songs, I got a good sense of the build-quality of the ARCAM components. The buttons on the amplifier and the CD player definitely had a solid, high-quality feel. The amplifier’s dials also had a premium feel allowing for precise adjustments. However, I can’t say that I enjoyed using the supplied remote control. First, the buttons on the remote are all exactly the same shape, size and colour and are not arranged particularly well. Secondly, the small, hard plastic buttons are not very comfortable to use. Luckily, the remote has nothing to do with sound performance.
The delivery of this ARCAM A65 and CD73 duo was very impressive from the get go on our reference Axiom Audio M80 towers. Its ability to resolve the subtlest of musical details in mid and high frequencies was astounding. While listening to tracks from the very well recorded Jarre in China disc, details began appearing that the entry-level systems in our tests did not deliver. During one of the songs, what sounded like an electronics effect in the background on the entry-level systems, was clearly a small bell when played on this ARCAM system. The microdynamics were equally spectacular. When I listened to recordings with larger numbers of instruments, each instrument was clearly distinguished without compromising any of the presentation. The performance of the CD73 disc player was vivid and incredibly clear. When evaluating the other two entry-level systems for this article, I always felt that the Axiom Audio M80s could do more. This ARCAM duo truly showed off the crystal clear mids and smooth treble that the M80 towers were capable of playing.
In the bass department, the A65 amplifier had the ability to clearly resolve individual bass notes and provided enough power at typical listening levels. Unless you plan to play your system very loud for extended periods of time, the A65 should do just fine.
The soundstage of this system was undeniably three dimensional and stretched well beyond the walls of the listening room. This was certainly a treat when listening to large orchestra performances such as the tracks from The Best of Chopin compilation.
The ARCAM DiVA A65 Plus and DiVA CD73 system provided an accurate, natural sound whether it came to instruments or vocals. The system’s overall performance was open, dynamic and simply sweet to the ears. If you’re looking for a two-channel system that is capable of presenting the subtlest musical details rather than a lot of power, these components should definitely be on your list of gear to listen to. All in all, the performance, build-quality and sophisticated looks of this system made it well worth its price which came just shy of $2000.
Distributed in Canada by Erikson Consumer 1-800-567-3275
$995 (DiVA CD73 CD player)
$995 (DiVA A65 Plus Int. Amp)
DiVA CD73 CD player
• THD (0db, 1khz): 0.005%
• Conversion system: Wolfson WM8740, multi-level Delta Sigma DAC
• Signal to noise ratio: 112 dB
DiVA A65 Plus Integrated Amp
• Power Output: 40 Watts (both channels driven at 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz)
• Power Output: 80 Watts (single channel driven at 4 Ohms, 1khz)
• Total Harmonic Distortion (into 8 Ohms 80% rated power, 1 kHz): 0.01%
• Signal to Noise Ratio: 100 dB
• Phono input
• Tone controls, max boost/cut: +/-8 dB