Sometimes it’s easier to have the entirety in a single package – all-inclusive holidays, or microwave meals, as an example. But in relation to hi-fi, there are benefits of getting a system of separates over a one-box resolution, most commonly when it comes to absolute audio quality and long term upgrade opportunities.
However, for those get rid of via convoluted system-matching, or who don’t have room to accommodate a couple of containers and trailing wires, single-box answers indubitably have their position.
There are price range micro programs, just like the Award-winning Denon D-M40DAB, and high-end all-in-ones, such because the Cyrus Lyric 09, however anyone looking for a premium just-add-speakers formulation to be at the centre of their hi-fi and residential cinema leisure must check out the Arcam Solo Music.
Having been around for over a decade, Arcam’s Solo range to start with garnered good fortune with compact programs such as the original Solo and Movie 5.1, which each picked up five-star evaluations and What Hi-Fi? Awards, prior to evolving to incorporate a networked components and extra recently a soundbar.
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Here we have now the 0.33 technology of the Solo Music, which is the more audio-centric type of the two new Arcam Solo systems; the (also third-gen) Solo Movie suits it for build and specs however provides extra output channels, Blu-ray playback, DTS and Dolby interpreting and 4K video upscaling – and asks an extra £500 for those privileges.
But even stripped of its sibling’s video capability, the Solo Music has a Swiss-Army knife-like array of purposes. As effectively as being a CD/SACD-playing, network-streaming supply in itself, and having a DAB/DAB+/FM tuner onboard, the Solo has a cluster of virtual and analogue connections, together with four HDMI inputs, and unmarried optical, coaxial, USB, phono and three.5mm inputs.
It can also cater for the likes of Blu-ray players, sport consoles, satellite containers and audio streamers.
Connect it to a TV or projector with an HDMI output and the Arcam Solo Music can sit down at the centre of a house cinema system too – necessarily performing as the middleman between your video source and display screen, just like a soundbar with out the built-in speakers.
A 3.5mm headphone output on the entrance panel approach you don’t have to show Mad Max: Fury Road down to a whisper when the kids have long gone to bed.
DLNA functionality additionally means that when the Solo Music is attached on your community – by way of Ethernet port, or wireless via means of a supplied antennae – it could possibly pluck songs, including FLAC and WAV recordsdata as much as 24-bit/192kHz, stored on any attached NAS pressure or pc. Attaching the second one antennae to the Arcam’s rear grants it aptX Bluetooth too.
There’s an app for controlling the Arcam and accessing and perusing networked libraries. The MusicLife app (to be had for iOS only) identifies our Solo Music sample straight away, sniffs out our NAS drives without prompting and proves to hand for scrolling our lengthy catalogue.
The interface is blank and intuitive, but the Solo is on occasion gradual to respond to commands – there’s often a couple of seconds delay between track selections and playback.
For basic playback controls, we desire the use of the backlit far off, which is intuitively laid-out and nearly full of buttons to hide all bases.
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If VHS was brought back from the dead in the same way as vinyl, the Solo Music is how we imagine a modern day VCR would look, in large part partly to its chunky casework and unfashionable styling.
But that’s no complaint; it’s good-looking and looks elegant, which is as much down to the smooth end as is it's flushed playback buttons at the fascia and wheel quantity dial up best.
It’s price citing probably the most Solo Music’s insides too. It stocks elements with Arcam’s home cinema and hi-fi separates, together with 160W of Class G amplification – discovered on the high-end of Arcam’s FMJ integrated amplifier range.
This configuration prides itself on power efficiency by means of enforcing a couple of energy supplies in order that when it receives a sign that is going past the aptitude of the first energy supply, a secondary one is on standby to kick in.
More power supplies, more noise? Not here. After the disc tray closes on The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs’ The Dark Side of the Moon album with a satisfying click on, the Solo runs so quietly that it gained’t distract even supposing you find yourself sitting with regards to it.
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Like many Arcam merchandise prior to it, the Solo Music delivers an straight away likeable sound that you'll be able to settle in to for the night: powerful, punchy and smooth, with sonic must-haves like clarity, stability and element also in take a look at.
With no part of the frequency vary tipping the tonal scales, the muscular bassline, fuzzy electrics and sprawling synthesizers that pressure Any Colour You Like have simply as much clarity as the ever-present cymbals that minimize via them.
While it’s no longer a very simple track to spell out, the Arcam has the gap and precision to keep in touch the tempestuous manufacturing, splitting even the most saturated instrumental parts into distinct layers.
Its big, extensive soundfield captures the epic scope of the The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring theme track, spreading the underlying choir in all places, taking the roof off woodwinds and flexing its muscle tissue in the string ensemble, which has actual welly at the back of it all over the climatic moments.
While it's going to put out of your mind nitty-gritty subtleties, it communicates the dynamic outline of a observe with a bit of luck.
We switch to Anthony and the Johnson’s Crying Light album for some vocal scrutiny. The Arcam rides each and every rise and dip of Hegarty’s seesawing delivery, while communicating the entire vital soul. It’s stable and focused, and within the observe Aeon, explodes out from beneath the accompanying harp and guitar.
Daft Punk’s Get Lucky is a observe that regularly unearths a lazy-sounding product, but it surely won’t catch out the Solo Music, which gives it all the meant energy and radiance.
As expected, the presentation is slightly rougher across the edges via Bluetooth, losing some refinement and detail at upper volumes. Still, there’s enough readability and steadiness to stay with it, even when streaming from Spotify.
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We hook-up our streamer to the Arcam’s line-level analogue input for a hi-res version of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain (24bit/96kHz), and the Solo steps up.
There’s actual pressure to the thumping bass, and deep extension when the chorus’ meatier bass line is available in. It handles the rhythmic drum patterns, and dynamically drum-rolls the construction electrical guitar solo.
Fancy a spot of radio? We pay attention to FM and DAB, with headphones and without, and are more than satisfied with the readability and detail on offer.
It proves as impressive with presenters' voices on Absolute Radio as it is sensitive to the musical inflections of Michael Kiwanuka on BBC Radio 6 Music.
We don’t need to scribe a different personality reference for the headphone output, which has quite a lot of weight and punch, and apt transparency, as we listen thru our Grado SR325es.
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In 2005, we described the original Solo Music as ‘something of a benchmark method at this value point’, so it’s fairly outstanding that the same is pretty much true of the newest version.
A well-made, well-featured and solid-sounding product, the Arcam Solo Music is certainly a whole one-box stereo components.
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