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Arcam airDAC review

Richard Easton
25 Jul 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
400
inc VAT

An expensive but high-quality way of adding Airplay and and UPnP wireless music streaming to your speakers or hi-fi

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Specifications

Warranty: Two-year RTB, Details: www.arcam.co.uk, Part code: airDAC

We were impressed by the Arcam rBlink and the way it allowed you to stream music wirelessly from any Bluetooth-enabled device to a set of speakers or hi-fi. The Arcam airDAC takes a different approach, providing wireless streaming through both Apple Airplay and UPnP wireless protocols.

Housed in an attractive cast aluminium case measuring 190x120x44mm, the airDAC has a discreet all-black design, but it does look a little dated, too. The airDAC has a great selection of connection ports on its back panel, including stereo RCA outputs and optical and coaxial S/PDIF digital output to connect the airDAC to your existing equipment. The airDAC uses the Texas Instruments Burr Brown PCM5102 chip, which is the same digital to analogue convertor (DAC) used in the Arcam rBlink and Arcam miniBlink.

You can connect the airDAC to your network via its Ethernet connection or wirelessly. Annoyingly, you need to switch the airDAC off and on again if you want to change the network connection type, as you can only do so at bootup. Setting up a wireless connection is straightforward, and you can use the airDAC wirelessly in one of two ways. The airDAC can either create its own wireless network to which your device connects, or it can connect to an existing Wi-Fi network.

Once the airDAC’s connected to your network, PC or mobile device, you can stream audio to it using Apple AirPlay. You’ll be able to use Apple AirPlay if you own an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad, or if you have iTunes running on your PC or laptop. You can also download Arcam’s own iOS app, Songbook, for free and use that to stream music.

The airDAC is UPnP compatible, and you can use UPnP to stream music wirelessly from a number of sources that support the protocol, including PCs, Android devices, music servers or NAS devices. We tested the airDAC over both AirPlay from an iPhone 5S and UPnP from a Nexus 7 (using the BubbleUPnP app for Android), and found that the connection was reliable.

The airDAC supports playback of lossless files up to a 24-bit bit-depth and 96KHz sample rate over UPnP, but AirPlay limits you to 16bit/48kHz tracks. Much like the Arcam rBlink, we found the airDAC provided a detailed and rich sound that certainly lived up to Arcam’s heritage.

The Arcam airDAC is an excellent way of adding AirPlay and UPnP support to your hi-fi or audio system, and we were pleased to find all the necessary cables supplied in the box. At £400, it’s a big investment, but for anyone looking for a high-quality wireless DAC with great audio fidelity, this Arcam airDAC is a great choice.

Buying information
Price including VAT£400
WarrantyTwo-year RTB
Supplierwww.richersounds.com
Detailswww.arcam.co.uk
Part codeairDAC

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