Arcam rLink review

This outboard DAC wants to treat your digital audio files to a little spit and polish

You own one of the latest crop of BD players and you’ve noticed that as well as playing just about any video format you can think of, it can also act as a gateway to your audio collection, pulling files off networked hardware. The only problem is that it sounds a bit lacking. Can anything be done?

Arcam certainly thinks so. Its £150 rLink DAC, based around a chipset from industry stalwart Burr Brown, is designed to sit between a digital source and amplifier and give it a sonic lift. To this end, the design is simplicity itself - power and digital signal (via coaxial or optical) in the front and an analogue signal out of the back. The Arcam is intended to sit out of sight, although for something intended to be invisible, it is actually rather nicely finished.

More importantly, it sounds good, too. The Arcam has a lively and energetic sound that combines excellent detail with a sense of life and excitement. The most impressive aspect is how good the rLink is with high-resolution audio. It can handle sampling rates up to 24-bit/192kHz and really demonstrates the benefits of these big digital files. At the other end of the scale, it can bring worthwhile improvements to compressed files without ripping them to shreds.

Singular focus

With just a single input the rLink isn’t the most flexible device around, and there is no shortage of competition from better-specified units retailing for around £50 more, but the Arcam can offer a level of performance rather higher than most affordable AV receivers and should give your music files a welcome stereo boost. An impressive little gizmo.


Arcam rLink
£150 Approx

Overall: 4/5