With Arcam having dabbled in community streaming with its compact Solo Uno and extra critical SA30 just-add-speakers methods in latest occasions, it was solely a matter of time earlier than the British firm launched a devoted music streamer.
The ST60 is that debut, and unsurprisingly makes use of the streaming structure from its premium amplified sibling (and naturally strips out the amplification stage), gifting homeowners AirPlay 2, Google Forged, uPnP playback and web radio at their fingertips, in addition to analogue and digital connections and assist for MQA and Roon. That’s a sweeping providing in right this moment’s music streamer market – one inclusive of the favored streaming platforms that boast broad music service and machine assist, and that consequently faucets into the rising habits of this technology’s eager streamers.
With such compatibility changing into increasingly more ubiquitous, nevertheless, it’s changing into more durable for streaming merchandise to face out with their spec sheets alone, so efficiency stays a key differentiator. And Arcam has been within the hi-fi recreation lengthy sufficient to know that.
As such, it has entered the music streamer market with an impressively gifted performer. The ST60 is confident in its supply – massive, full, strong and expressive. Fragrance Genius’s Jason comes by way of our audio system with stark readability in a soundstage that’s pleasingly open and broad. His falsetto vocal is lush and romantic, bookended within the frequency vary by a strong, substantial bassline and an equally current and properly textured harpsichord up prime. It’s a fascinating rendition that’s simple to sink proper into, because of the ST60’s tonality, muscularity and readability – sonic traits we’ve come to anticipate from Arcam merchandise through the years.
The benchmark at this value level is presently held by the What Hello-Fi? Award-winning NAD C 568, which is our first port of name after we unbox, energy up and initially acquaint ourselves with the Arcam. The NAD’s exact, coherent presentation involves the fore as we play Oneohtrix Level By no means’s We’ll Take It, and but one play of the piece by way of the Arcam is sufficient to inform us rather more about it.
The ST60’s fuller, clearer supply is best capable of seize the atmospheric echo across the percussion. The percussive strikes and thorny synths tackle additional dimension by way of the Arcam, too – and never simply when it comes to form and texture but additionally how all of them work collectively as a musical sample. Experimental instrumentation like this depends upon its capability to pique your curiosity and preserve your consideration, and the Arcam’s better element, dynamic perception and tighter timing does this higher.
Equally, as we shift by way of genres, the Arcam extra capably dissects the electronica sample within the backdrop of Dave ft Fredo’s Funky Friday. The beat is snappier, too, though in absolute phrases the Arcam is on the measured aspect of carefree, and we do discover ourselves wishing it deviated from some sensibilities barely and freewheeled just a little extra throughout upbeat tracks. That stated, it’s removed from a slouch; agile and rhythmic sufficient to not hamper a monitor’s musicality.
Most of our listening is from our NAS drive (through DLNA), our native iPad’s library (through AirPlay 2) and to Tidal (over Google Forged and from inside Arcam’s MusicLife app), and every works effectively and sounds roughly constant.
Arcam has made enhancements to its MusicLife app (a gateway to streaming companies comparable to Tidal and Qobuz in addition to web radio) to reinforce usability, and we discover it a largely advantageous and usable, however not seamless, expertise. A couple of occasions throughout our testing, the app and machine would briefly journey up between switching sources from Google Forged to built-in Tidal or web radio.
Its interface isn’t as subtle as these of the Linn or Naim apps – maybe not shocking contemplating the excellent ecosystem of streaming merchandise these manufacturers have in comparison with Arcam – and we discover ourselves preferring to make use of the free Bubble uPnP app when shopping our networked libraries. That’s not the tip of the world, not least as there are free alternate options and plenty of will little question select to make use of native music service apps supported by the aforementioned Apple and Google wi-fi multi-room platforms anyway. However we’d anticipate Arcam’s software program to mature as its streaming portfolio grows.
Arcam ST60 tech specs
Inputs four x digital inputs (coax, optical, USB)
Outputs Balanced XLR and RCA analogue; optical and coaxial
Playback GoogleCast, Airplay2, uPnP; Roon Prepared licensed; MQA
Dimensions (hwd) 102 x 43.three x 306mm
We reckon there’s extra probability of that than Arcam taking bodily design cues from the contemporary-looking Cambridge Evos and Naim Unitis of this world, anyway. We like the fashionable stylistic prospers such entrants have dropped at the hi-fi market, however we have now to say we’re additionally keen on the ST60’s no-nonsense, conventional look, which may move for any supply from a choose of a long time, and matches each different in Arcam’s HDA element vary.
Not solely a streaming product, the ST60 additionally accommodates exterior sources by way of its twin coaxial and optical inputs. A USB drive can be plugged into its USB socket, which can be onboard for software program updates. Rather more of a necessity for a music streamer is its outputs, in fact, and to that finish the Arcam has a advantageous choice – coaxial, optical, RCA and balanced XLR. An RS232 connection is handy for individuals who want to distant management the Arcam from a third-party house automation system, too.
Final however actually not least (contemplating the streaming-savvy nature of the ST60) is an ethernet port, a connection we’d suggest utilizing if potential to get the stablest, most dependable connection. For comfort, nevertheless, two antennas that screw onto the rear to grant the ST60 wi-fi connection (and, aesthetically, a pair of pointy ears) are equipped within the field, together with a full-sized distant management that too is fittingly purposeful over fancy.
Arcam has carried its a long time of sonic experience seamlessly into the streaming phase, each paired with and with out amplification, in a single field. Its proprietary software program is probably not exemplary out there, and its chassis design isn’t after best-dressed within the class both, but when you will get over that you may be rewarded with the best-sounding performer accessible for this cash.
Should you’re completely satisfied along with your hi-fi system however merely need to smarten it up by slotting a streamer subsequent to your separates, the Arcam ST60 is a robust alternative.
Learn our round-up of the best music streamers
Learn our evaluation of the NAD C658