Arcam irDAC Audiophile Grade Digital to Analog Converter

General Information

Arcam re-entered the Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) market with the introduction of the rDAC a few years ago. The stand-alone DAC concept was not new to the Arcam team as they were the first company to ever launch an affordable outboard DAC back in 1989. Building on the rDAC's success, and incorporating feedback from enthusiastic rDAC owners, the Arcam engineering team have produced the irDAC, an enhanced design that raises the performance bar and is delightfully simple to use.The irDAC, so called because it features infra-red remote control, owes much to the development programme behind the reference D33 DAC. The irDAC comes packed with cutting edge technology that brings high-end performance to a wide array of sources. Its outstanding sound quality will deliver sheer musical enjoyment for all music lovers.The Arcam engineering team gains a great deal of new insight while developing the class leading FMJ D33. Areas such as isolation of digital and analogue stages, ultra-low noise power supplies and direct coupled signal paths make a big difference to outright performance. The irDAC uses the outstanding Burr Brown 1796 DAC and 8 separately regulated power supplies to ensure class leading performance that are unmatched in the irDACs price category. Jitter reduction is an obsession within the Arcam engineering team. The circuits developed for the D33 and deployed in the irDAC produce a signal that is almost entirely jitter free.The irDAC is designed to be the heart of a d

Latest reviews

cub3

New Head-Fier
Pros: Sound quality, Ease of use, Build quality
Cons: No DSD processing, Single set of outputs
After spending some time auditioning and researching I've finally found that illusive nirvana, the perfect mix of price, design and sound for me.
 
I wanted a DAC minus the frills. As a HD800 owner I already have a high quality headphone amp, Burson Soloist SL, as well as a high quality tube preamp in my main system, so the usual suspects which have money spent on what would be unused features just didn't make sense. I wanted a DAC that is just a DAC, and the only criteria was the sound.

The irDac is a simple aluminium box, quite solid and heavy with a nice matt black finish. It feels and looks nicely made and all the connectors feel solid and durable. The irDAC comes with a remote and cables as well as a typical wall wart power supply.

In use the irDAC couldn't be easier. It's basically plug and play, although I do use a Mac and iPad so have no experience using the irDAC with a Windows or Linux PC. My only complaint would be the single pair of outputs.

The irDAC grabs you from the very first notes. Its quite a quick sounding unit, there's a sense of propulsion and movement that is quite infectious, and at the same time there's huge amounts of detail but not in any overly analytical way, it's more of the whole effect, I can only describe it as homogenous. The top end is sweet and detailed and doesn't tend to bite your head off unless the recording and bitrate are really woeful. The mids are quite neutral and remarkably detailed. You can clearly hear multitracked vocal arrangements as well as each effect added to the mix. Recordings I thought I knew suddenly opened up and revealed all sorts of micro detail I'd simply never heard before. The lower frequencies are light and agile, more about texture and tone than weight and volume. It could perhaps be described as a little bass shy, but I think the tradeoff is a nimbleness that has it's own strengths, you end up following what the bass region is doing rather than drowning in it. Overall the sound quality is extraordinary at the price.
 
To my ears, the irDAC is clearly the best sounding DAC under $1000 that I have listened to by a significant margin.

System:
-Sennheiser HD800
-Burson Soloist SL
-Dynaudio Contour S1.4
-Copland CSA303
-Kimber cables

DAC's auditioned:
-Arcam irDAC
-Meridian Traveller mk2
-Rega R-DAC
-Musical Fidelity M1 Dac

 
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cub3
cub3
Thanks Chris!
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