Arcam MusicBoost S review | What Hi-Fi?

Forget loss of life and taxes, the two issues you'll make sure of are the desire for better high quality song and your Apple iPhone’s battery depleting quicker than a jug of Pimm’s at Wimbledon.

Wouldn’t it's great if any person made a device that addressed both on the similar time?

Arcam has achieved simply that. The MusicBoost S is a transportable headphone amplifier, DAC and battery pack that matches your iPhone like a glove – for the affordable price of £99 (it's had a price reduce from £120).

It is designed specifically for the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S, however making an allowance for there are naturally tens of tens of millions of those smartphones in use, it’s not as niche as you may think.


The unique MusicBoost was once designed with handiest the iPhone 6 in mind, and whilst Arcam claimed it would also fit the 6S, it used to be a struggle to unfastened it from the case. The have compatibility was once some distance too tight, even with the iPhone 6.

With the updated model bringing up each iPhone fashions on the field, and making an allowance for the additional thickness of the 6S, the brand new MusicBoost S is a a lot better fit for both.

You nonetheless have to use an excellent amount of power to release the iPhone, however it's so much more uncomplicated to slip out. (Tip: place one thumb close to the iPhone’s house button and the other proper on the most sensible).

The soft-touch end makes it great to hold, and the iPhone sits comfortable and secure within the case. The construct high quality is forged and sturdy, and necessarily it feels quite like a luxurious item for your hand.

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But the MusicBoost S makes the iPhone bulkier, forcing you to adjust your hang at the phone when texting or playing games. It’s additionally wider and heavier to carry around.

You’ll have to ditch your iPhone’s protective case too, even if the Arcam isn’t precisely the most productive change.

While the digital camera and backside edge are coated, the highest and either side of the telephone are left exposed so you'll get right of entry to the volume and tool buttons. That won’t be sufficient to give protection to your precious iPhone if you do happen to drop it.

Another annoyance is that the Arcam stops the in-line mic and far off controls to your headphones from running, as they're no longer going straight into the iPhone’s 3.5mm port. The MusicBoost S connects to the iPhone via the Lightning connector, and has its personal, separate headphone jack.

If you’re committed to using the MusicBoost S, you’ll must forfeit being able to exchange quantity, skip tracks or take calls via your headphones.


But it might simply be worth all that trouble, as the best part of the Arcam (a minimum of in concept) is that battery pack. Arcam claims it's going to provide One hundred twenty per cent additional battery life – which in the actual world equates to a complete fee when your iPhone is on its closing legs – and leaves enough left over to keep powering the DAC.

It’s a quick charger, too. Our iPhone 6S went from 10 to Forty according to cent in simply part an hour, which is at hand when your telephone is speedy running down the pink bar.

After an hour and a part, we were back up to 90 in line with cent. That’s a godsend for iPhone customers.

But we hit a snag: after per week's use the charging serve as failed on both the test samples we have been sent, so there appears to be a top quality keep watch over factor there.

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You don’t need to keep it charging, either. You can flip the charger on or off by way of pressing the left button at the MusicBoost S.

If your iPhone’s battery is full, there’s no need to sap the back-up battery whilst taking note of song. Press the button at the right to check battery standing, and 4 LED lighting indicate how a lot fee is left at the Arcam.

You’ll additionally discover a 3.5mm headphone port, a micro USB for charging, and speaker grilles that reflect the iPhone’s placed on the backside edge of the MusicBoost S.

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But does the Arcam if truth be told make the iPhone sound better? Plug on your favorite pair of headphones, and you’ll find a richer, more exact presentation.

Whether you’re playing Spotify streams or FLAC recordsdata, there’s a better sense of weight and solidity to the sound.

Basslines have extra affect and go deeper on David Bowie’s Lazarus, and the Arcam does a better task at defining the forestall and start of notes than the iPhone alone.

Guitar strums are extra raunchy and articulate, and there’s extra space between the instruments too.

The ensuing sound is louder and extra full-bodied in the course of the Arcam, which is plenty sufficient reason to offer it a pass. The one caveat is that you lose one of the crucial iPhone’s natural skill to make tune drift easily.

That agile, refined sense of rhythm we like is traded off for extra oomph. Fiona Apple’s lilting voice on Every Single Night is melodic and expressive during the iPhone’s personal DAC, bolder however no longer quite as musical throughout the Arcam.

See all our Arcam reviews


We just like the thinking behind the Arcam MusicBoost S. We can’t bring to mind a more sublime way of polishing up the sound quality of your iPhone.

Using one thing just like the Oppo HA-2 or Audioquest DragonFly with your smartphone method carrying an additional tool and a cable. Far too messy.

The Arcam isn’t perfect, alternatively, and there are compromises to be made if you make a decision to make use of it. The sound high quality is a tight soar up from the iPhone, it's only a shame that the charging function didn't work in addition to we'd hoped. If Arcam can fix that, it has a excellent product.

The Arcam MusicBoost S at the beginning received four stars in the September 2016 factor of the magazine. However, we encountered some problems after the use of it for an extended time frame, which might be mirrored on this review and the lower big name rating.

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