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Any group tests including the Arcam rPAC? Its purchase time

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi Folks,

 

Im a bit of a long time lurker, so sorry if I haven't searched enough for the answer to my question....

 

I currently use my Galaxy Tab (Original) as my Media Player, and I believe it has a fairy decent DAC in it, I use Senn PX100 and UE MetroFi 220 IEM's with it.

 

However I have now switched over to my work laptop for my main source. So I would like to purchase a new DAC / AMP (1 box only) to power a new pair of Headphoes (I think I am going with the Sony MDR-ZX700 as they are £60.

 

I have read a few reviews of the Arcam rPAC, however I also read some user opinions regarding it, and it was described as having a very cheap low end DAC. So my question is, has anyone actually done some sort of head to head test involving the rPAC and possibly the HRT HeadStreamer, AudioEngine D1 or FIIO E17, those are the DAC's that are available in the UK.

 

I really want to order some kit soon, but as usuall, there is nowhere close to where I live to try before I buy, I suppose thats the dissadvantage of this digital age.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Jim

post #2 of 16

Hi Jim,

 

First of all, please don't give any credence to ill-informed comments on The Registerin response to the rPAC review last month - there are a number of posters there who open their mouths before engaging their brains. I have already made detailed responses there, if you care to look.

 

There are no group reviews yet; however What Hi-Fi? has just covered it in the June edition, on sale now.

 

I have over 40 years experience in hi-fi audio design and helped architect and evaluate the rPAC. I promise you its performance is excellent, even before you take its low price into account. However it's best you confirm that for yourself - there are lots of dealers in the UK who stock the rPAC and if you get it by mail order you will have 7-14 days to confirm it meets your needs, so there is little risk.

 

Hope this helps,

 

John Dawson (Arcam)

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Ho John,

 

Thanks for popping onto my thread to offer some advice.

 

Well I went into my local Sevenoaks in Portsmouth today, they had an rPAC there and I gave it a listen. I started with my trusty Sen Px100's, they sounded quite nice, however I then tried some Grado SR60's and was instantly blown away. Then they got some SR80i's out, and I found my new headphones! What a performance, the music was so full I was totally emersed. They had some B&W P5's too, which lasted on my ears for thirty seconds before I said "It sounds like someone has put a dustbin over my ears, give me the Grado's back".

 

For a new user to (reasonably) high end audio, I am finding it tricky to decide what is best. For instance, I was expecting the Audio out of the rPAC to be like night and day compared to my Galaxy Tab, but you know what, it was good, but not hugely different in sound.

 

I suppose once you start spending more and more diminishing returns sets in, but all in all I was impressed. And the weight and feel of the rPAC was something else, I am a lover of decent kit, and without a doubt if ticked that box. I suppose the tricky thing is that I don't have any other DAC's to test the rPAC against.

 

I will probably go back and get the rPAC tomorrow and some SR80i's, as that combination really sounded good. Oh and if anyone else is going to try an rPAC make sure you remember about the auto volume when it first goes on, it nearly blew the fillings out of my teeth, much to the delight of all in the shop!

 

Thanks for your input so far John,

 

Regards,

 

Jim.

post #4 of 16

After a week of at home audition, I just bought the rPAC, specifically for headphone listening. (It should be pointed out that I have not compared this DAC to any other besides the MacBook Pro's built in DAC/headphone out.) Headphones- Grado SR80s, no less- through the computer, no matter hi-rez or low-rez, did absolutely nothing for me. I expected a night and day difference using the rPAC, but it didn't really give me the "audiophile experience" at first. Expectations... The dealer said iTunes could be an issue, and suggested ripping using XLD and playback on Pure Music. That sold it. Ultimately, I stuck with XLD but went with Decibel, it had a more appealing sound- slightly more detailed and musical- and at $33 is one fourth the cost of Pure Music. (Do your own experimenting, all the playback software is either free or offers a limited time free trial.) I'll always take my big stereo rig over headphones, but I now have a viable music source that's private and portable, and there's that trippy headphones experience with greater insight into the engineering of the recording. Really, the rPAC is sounding better and better- maybe not a feast, but a very nice spread where there once was aural famine. Comment: In my opinion, audio is too expensive to make snap decisions on. Never buy without the opportunity to audition at home, over a couple days. Shouldn't I have compared the rPAC to other DACs? I suppose so, but I trust my dealer- real guys in a real store-, they've never steered me wrong once over 20 years. (According to them, the Audioengine D1 is a bit brighter, something I surely don't need more of from my computer.)

post #5 of 16

Not sure how this one slipped past my radar, but these folks certainly seemed to like it:

 

http://www.trustedreviews.com/arcam-rpac_Portable-Audio_review

 

I would note that its predecessor, the rDAC, seemed to divide listeners, and I have to wonder if it was a burn-in issue with some people. Per eddieB's post above, its easy to approach a new product from a 'name brand' with a lot of expectation. 

 

(John, FWIW, I would have preferred a name a little further away from the rDAC than a rPAC - some of us are very easily confused and have overly large fingers - one typo and we confuse everyone else.  biggrin.gif )

post #6 of 16

Doh ! Linked to that Trusted Reviews guy a little too quickly - this conclusion is just plain scary in 2012:

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

while the price of the rPAC may look high it is worth noting it hits a new price low for a device incorporating asynchronous USB, a feature usually reserved for DACs at more than twice the price and streamers in excess of £1,000. Do you need it? Well, again it depends on the level of your existing audio equipment, but we'd certainly be tempted. Value is very much in the eye of the beholder, but from this perspective the rPAC is a bargain.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Someone may have to alert HRT that its time to increase the prices of their entire product range. eek.gif

 

One word - research. 

post #7 of 16

My review will be up soon.

post #8 of 16
I would recommend to try AudioQuest DragonFly before making final decision. I sent rPac back after comparing

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by olegausany View Post

I would recommend to try AudioQuest DragonFly before making final decision. I sent rPac back after comparing
Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

It was a review sample, it will be going back soon anyway tongue.gif

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/624610/new-arcam-rpac-review

post #10 of 16

estreeter's comment that "its [sic] easy to approach a new product from a 'name brand' with a lot of expectation" of course still applies, to any product under consideration. Here's someone's experience in regard to another Arcam product, the FMJ D33 Digital-to-Analog Converter. 

 

For the full article, go to:     http://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=481   

 

He (we always assume audiophiles are "he") writes: "My first description of the DAC’s sound, as being "nondescript," was intended as criticism. As the hours, days, and weeks wore on, "nondescript" remained, but took on a whole new meaning. I suspect this was not due to the review sample’s needing time to burn in, but rather to how long it took me to shed my preconceptions about what a digital product "should" sound like."

 

Though the rPac I wrote about several months ago is considerably cheaper than the FMJ D33, my experience with it is ultimately the same as his. You might say, less is more... Less getting in the way of the music equals more music. I'm very happy with the rPac/Mac OSX/Fidelia music player software/Grado SR 80i setup. Played through my high-end stereo it's a refreshing Pilsner alternative to my Rega Jupiter's porter.

 

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Dawson View Post

Hi Jim,

First of all, please don't give any credence to ill-informed comments on The Registerin response to the rPAC review last month - there are a number of posters there who open their mouths before engaging their brains. I have already made detailed responses there, if you care to look.

There are no group reviews yet; however What Hi-Fi? has just covered it in the June edition, on sale now.

I have over 40 years experience in hi-fi audio design and helped architect and evaluate the rPAC. I promise you its performance is excellent, even before you take its low price into account. However it's best you confirm that for yourself - there are lots of dealers in the UK who stock the rPAC and if you get it by mail order you will have 7-14 days to confirm it meets your needs, so there is little risk.

Hope this helps,

John Dawson (Arcam)
Dear John hello,

I own a rPAC and I like it very much and enjoy it very much. I kindly wanted to ask you out of interest what kind of chip/opamp drives the headphone out section on the rPAC?

Thank you in advance!
post #12 of 16

Had the rPAC and quickly sold it on. Doesn't compare well against the Dragonfly, FIIO DACs and even the newer NuForce DACs.

 

It lacks resolution and makes everything sound warm and mushy...great if you like that kind of thing! :)

 

It is overpriced IMO and is being massively overhyped by the media. Arcam exist almost purely on their name of old nowadays and I think they have been excelled in all areas with pretty much all their products buck for buck.

post #13 of 16
if i compare it to my other setup dacport lx -> meier corda swing - the sound here is another dimension. that is the reason why i want to know what drives the headphone out of the rPAC.
post #14 of 16

The rPac is pretty good DAC. But a few things to consider:

1. It doesn't have its power source so it takes power from your MB, Mac Mini or PC setup. I heard it also takes in the interference from the PC or Mac it is hooked up to

2. For those who want dynamic & super transparency, the rPac doesn't have its own power supply so you gotta crank your amp to the max. If your amp puts out low-ish

power, you may not get clean sound when you crank up the volume

3. It may have pairing issues, impedance, electronics incompatibility etc.

 

I just found out that my rPac + Mac Mini is giving me some mild distortion that is apparent during quiet tracks but has no such issues when hooked up to my MacBook.

Anybody knows why is this? Also, I can change the bit depth on MB but it is stuck at 24 bit on my Mac Mini...???

 

My advise is you get yourself into this forum, meaning you have discriminating taste in music, more so than joe public. Get a separate DAC/Amp combo from the same

company. Like Schiit Bifrost/Asgard, Modi/Magni, Musical Fidelity M1 DAC/HPA, Naim, Bryston BDA-2/BHA-1 etc.


Edited by zackzack - 5/23/13 at 5:15am
post #15 of 16

Good advice, to get a separate DAC/Amp combo, but you're talking about way more $. Naim? Bryston? You're talking thousands now, whereas a "budding" audiophile already owns a computer (no doubt) and the rPac is $250.00. I own a Rega/Dynaudio system, and the rPac/Macbook Pro plugged into that is a nice alternative to my $1800.00 Rega Jupiter CD player (and that can't play hi-rez files). The rPac has a very engaging presentation- thrilling, even, and anything but warm and mushy as one reviewer commented. In any case, to make a final purchase on anyone's advice is a mistake- pick several DACs to audition, and listen for at least three or four days each. Listen to movies (DVD or streaming) as well as music- you'll find this test very instructive... One final note: We are in the era of DACmania. The next great DAC will come out next week, and you will experience buyer's remorse the week following that.
 

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