If, like me, you are non plussed by miles of 5.1 wires, and just want a good TV/Movie sound, this is it, it is awesome!
Arcam Solo Music, What is it?
The Arcam Solo Music is one of the most surprising products I have looked at in the last few years. I actually went to its product launch last year where we were introduced to the Arcam Music BOOST and the Arcam Solo Movie, as well as the flagship AVR 850. Designed as a two channel AVR, the Arcam Solo Music is really a TV audio integrated amplifier box quite unlike anything else I have come across, like an AVR with an SACD/CD player included if you like. It acts as a central audio hub for all of your HDMI boxes (i.e. Sky, PS3, Apple TV, DVD player in my case) and directly drives a pair of speakers and a sub. The big brother of the Arcam Solo Music is the Arcam Solo Movie which does all of the above in 5.1 with a Blu ray disc player included.
If, like me you are non plussed by miles of 5.1 wires, and just want a good TV/Movie sound, then occasionally want to just stick on a CD whilst you’re reading a book in the lounge, this is it, it is awesome! The new Arcam Solo Music delivers music at a quality level previously only possible from large separate components.
Featuring a SACD/CD drive and 160W of amplification in a stylish, low-resonance enclosure, the Solo music provides high-quality room-filling sound. Four HDMI™(1.4b), coax, optical, phono and 3.5mm line inputs allow for flexible system building without being over complex. Audio can also be streamed to the movie via Bluetooth and also UPnP network either wired or wirelessly. Finally an FM/DAB/DAB+ tuner is available. Audiophile design ensures that absolutely no sonic detail is lost. The music is supplied with a multi-page learning backlit remote control.
Arcam Solo Music – Design and Spec
The idea here is great, a two channel amplifier with 4 HDMI pass through slots to your TV. The two channel amp drives 2 x 80W (all channels driven 8Ω) and 2 x 125W (all channels driven 4Ω). It has a whole bunch of inputs, as follows:
1 x SACD/CD, 4 x HDMI, 1 x SPDIF,
1 x optical, 1 x FM/DAB/DAB+, 1 x USB,
1 xRJ45 (Net)/Wi-Fi, 1 x line, 1 x 3.5mm.
There is a Bluetooth and WiFi DNLA source too.
The manual is a bit vague on bit rates and sample rates so I guess that the box is not hi resolution, i.e. above 16 bit. The SACD format is the single bit rate but huge sampling rate so that is supported, and really does sound good. The box is deep, it is W420 x H90 x D414mm. It is the depth that is noticeable, the weight of the box is 11.5kg.
The Arcam Solo Music has a really good remote control that lights up and controls everything, including dimming the display, although on my box this doesn’t happen on SAT mode, the only slight glitch! If you lose the remote control, as I did temporarily, you can adjust the volume and make simple adjustments using a slightly clumsy wheel on the top. The remote is customisable, but life really is too short for me but when I was on Sky, the Arcam remote seemed to learn the basic TV Guide type basic commands, which is fun.
Arcam Solo Music – Performance
I have got to say Coldplay at Glastonbury on the Arcam Solo Music was musically affirmative and visually fabulous
I was listening to the Arcam Solo Music with my Sky+ HD box, Apple TV, PS3 and a DVD connected to a Panasonic TV using the Bluesound Duo speakers with the huge sub woofer all conncted via some rather heavy cable. I will concentrate on the audio bit of this product really as I have a pants HD TV and it is not really worth getting involved for me in 4K, HD type chat, I have no interest.
Fortunately for me it was Glastonbury this weekend. At this point I will declare my love and total admiration of/for Coldplay of times past, Chris Martin himself and ‘Parachutes’ in particular. HOWEVER, many will know my contempt for the over styled Coldplay these days, with Ghost Stories being an abominable album and the new one, I can’t even begin to bring myself to purchase BUT I have got to say Coldplay at Glastonbury on the Arcam Solo Music was affirmative and fabulous. The Arcam Solo Music left nothing behind from the Sky+ box. The Audio was wide, bold and detailed. ‘Paradise’ from ‘Mylo Zyloto’ was the beginning of the end of Coldplay for me but the bass on the subwoofer was superb and really Glastonbury.
Indeed, such was my enthusiasm for the sound I sat down with my two youngest to watch/listen to Adele. Unfortunately potty-mouthed Adele slightly spoilt the mood but the sound was good and there is no discernible loss in picture quality from Sky HD through the Arcam Solo Music.
I’ve briefly put on a Blue-ray disc through the Playstation 3 and again the picture is perfect, beautiful. The audio is resounding and much improved.
CD Player & SACD
Putting a CD in there, ‘Helplessness Blues’ by Fleet Foxes, the clarity and the detail of the music shone through. This is an excellent album and the title tracks acoustic guitars come out beautifully, again. The SACD too is a really clear sound and I have no complaints here.
The same song ripped lossless through my Media Server delivers the same result. I had to set-up the wireless network in the usual way with the remote control and then search for the DNLA servers but this took seconds and there is little delay in pulling the sound from the server.
Bluetooth Tidal Streaming
I then played the same piece of music from Tidal and really there is no difference in presentation between the differing formats, although I am bound to say the CD always feels more immediate and personal.
DAB/FM, Coax in, Optical in , 3.5mm jack, headphone out – not tested at the moment
I just cannot get a radio signal in the room where the Arcam Solo Music was so this, as well as the others above, is un-tested at this time.
I would go for this Arcam Solo Music every time, it is a real treat
There is tons of power here and the Bluesound Duos are clearly a winner and pair nicely with the Arcam Solo Music which produces a beautifully detailed sound and broad delivery with music and television alike. I really really like the concept of listening to a full sound without all the 5.1 wires and tiresome setting up that comes with this AV stuff. I have an old style Bose lifestyle 5.1 surround sound set-up from years past and it ageing and delivers poor audio if you just want to have a listen to music. Sky is muffled and dialogue is hard to hear. I would go for this Arcam Solo Music every time, it is a real treat. The Arcam Solo Movie, which I saw on demo at the same product launch is basically the same 5.1 version of this, my product launch link is here. The Arcam Solo Movie was fantastic when it was set-up properly. But then there’s wires everywhere, I just can’t be doing with it all though.
In my view this is a really well conceived product, an AV receiver for people like me, two channel focussed, who just want a good sound from a Movie here and there but who are not interested in all the AV hysteria. At £1,500 or so, it is well priced but this sort of high quality sound does not come cheap.
Audio and AV Flexibility
Bluetooth that is acceptable
Full sound from one box
I could trade in my Bose Lifestyle for this product
Find your Arcam dealer here. The Arcam Solo Music is retailing at £1,500, just add speakers.