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Review of the Arcam CD 37 and Arcam A38

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This article originally featured in January 2009’s‘Hi-Fi News’ magazine.

Arcam’s most popular CD/amp combo gets a revitalising lift for the New Year.

Review: Steve Harris. Lab Reports: Paul Miller.

You can understand why Arcam later tried to kid us that the initials stood for ‘Faithfull Musical Joy’, but anyone who was taking any notice of hi-fi at the turn of the century knows that FMJ really meant ‘Full Metal Jacket’.Like the infantryman’s bullet referred to in the Kubrick movie title, Arcam’s upmarket FMJ models were entirely cased in metal. Smart aluminium fascias replaced Arcam’s usual plastic mouldings, and at last the products looked as good as they sounded.

To launch the concept, the existing top-of-the-line Alpha 9 player was reworked as the FMJ CD23, while the Alpha 10 integrated amplifier was reborn as the FMJ A22. Like the groundbreaking Alpha 9, the CD23 used a specially built integrated-circuit version of the dCS Ring DAC.For its successor, the CD33, Arcam moved to a different multi-DAC, unsampling solution. A set of four Wolfson two-channel chips provided eight DACs in all, so that for each channel there were two pairs in parallel, driven in differential mono mode. This configuration was retained in the CD36 which followed.

DSD Capable DAC

Arcam’s first SACD-capable product was the DV137 universal DVD player launched in 2006, but only now, with the new CD37 do we see Arcam finally adding two-channel SACD to a serious audiophile CD player. Although the front panel layout has been revised the CD37 still takes cues from its predecessor, but there are major changes inside, not least in the adoption of Wolfson’s latest WM8741 DAC.

As with the CD36, the analogue audio output appears on two pairs of RCA phono sockets, helpful for multi-room setups or for recording, and there are also electrical and optical (Toslink) digital outputs. There is a 12v trigger input for multi-room control systems. Arcam describes the CD37 as ‘the company’s highest performing music player to date’ although the price is two-thirds that of the CD36.

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