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Radio-Now at Bristol Sound and Vision 2003 : Arcam DT81 tuner review

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                                                           Arcam DiVA DT-81 DAB digital radio separates tuner

Arcam was showing off its brand new DT81 DAB digital tuner connected up to its A85 integrated amplifier. The tuner forms part of its "DiVA" range (digitally integrated Video and Audio). With a mottled aluminium finish, the tuner looks very understated, with a green two-line display and 8 buttons alongside to access 16 presets. A large rotary dial takes centre-stage, with menu and select buttons positioned to the left.

Equipped with closed-back headphones, the DAB-only tuner and amplifier combination really brought out the detail in DAB broadcasts. The Storm - Modern Rock really rocked, just begging to be cranked up or fed through floor-standing speakers.
ArcamDT81 DAB separates tuner

The tuner demands a really good bitrate to be heard in its best light. It's with these higher bitrate stations - and those that broadcast using the latest equipment - that the DT81 is attention-grabbing for all the right reasons.

The Arcam tuner handles the treble range with exceptional clarity and finesse - as it ought to for this price. The Storm's guitar-driven tracks were brought into check - bass was tight and the Arcam's performance neither tiring to listen to, nor too relentless and sloppy.

Xfm suffered through the DT81 from a slightly cluttered, muddled sound. Artefacting was much more apparent, with stereo separation faring much worse. This isn't a criticism of the way the Arcam DT81 handles the DAB broadcast, more of an observation of the variation in broadcast quality of some DAB stations.

The DT81 dealt well with both BBC 6 Music and mono-broadcast BBC7, with no discernable "wobble" in the sound of 6 Music.



The Arcam DT81 is fitted with optical and co-axial digital optical outputs and standard phono connectors. It also has an RDI output (data service interface, carrying EPG and programme data, for example) and a FM tuner input, allowing you to piggy-back an existing tuner into the Arcam DAB-only tuner, to reduce the number of connections you would otherwise need into the amplifier. Both Band III and Band L transmissions are catered for.

For: Excellent build quality. Involving sonics. Looks good in a DiVA setup.
Against Is it worth paying this much money for a tuner?


The Arcam DT81 is available now at the price of GBP649.90.

The Arcam tuner is now available to buy online, via this website.


Related links:

Buy the Arcam DT-81 online, via this website.
guide to DAB digital radio, on this website.
where to buy DAB digital radio, on this website.
what to buy - a guide to DAB digital radio products, on this website.

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