Arcam CD62T CD Player
Let's just say it: Buying a
CD player has become about as agonizing as assembling a barbecue gas grill, calculating
amortization schedules in your head, or keeping up with the plot of Memento.
There are so many questions: Two channel or multichannel?
CD player or DVD player? SACD or DVD-Audio? Pay now for new technology or wait for
affordable universal players compatible with all the new formats? And what about HDCD?
But for those with specific desires -- namely, a basic
single-disc CD player with high-end aspirations costing between $500 and $700 -- Arcam's
new $599-USD CD62T reduces the agony and virtually eliminates the guesswork in picking out
a machine. In this price range, there's not much competition: the perennials, Rotel and
NAD, and maybe a couple of others.
The CD62T says a few things about its buyer. You're sitting
out the new-technology evolution, at least for now; you're not ready for multichannel
music, or maybe multichannel and its limited catalog arent ready for you. And, most
important, you're aware there's almost no chance a DVD player, or budget DVD-Audio or SACD
player, will play back your considerable collection of Red Book CDs with the fidelity of a
well-designed two-channel player like the CD62T.
If that's the case for you, you're already cooking with
The CD62T is the entry-level player in Arcam's DiVA line.
(To get the catchy DiVA acronym for its line of CD and DVD players, power amplifiers,
digital tuners, and receivers, Arcam is stuck with the series clunky full name,
Digitally Integrated Video and Audio.) All the latest DiVAs, including the CD72 and CD92,
now carry the "T" appellation in the serial number, though not on the faceplate.
Mr. T represents a new Sony transport now standard on all Arcam players, including the
top-end FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) edition. The most obvious difference is that this
transport, like any CD-ROM drive, reads CD text. That's great if, like me, you make CDs on
your computer. If you don't burn your own discs, you'll barely notice.
Of the prerecorded discs I played, only Leonard Cohen's Ten
New Songs [Columbia 85953] and Tony Bennett's Playin' with My Friends: Bennett
Sings the Blues [Columbia 85883] -- both from Sony -- displayed text. On my homemade
discs, the transport didn't recognize ampersands. Other than that, no complaints. The
CD62T passed four of five test levels on the CD-Check test disc, rating "very
good" for its ability to play through errors caused by manufacturing imperfections or
Users might expect slightly improved sonics with the Sony
transport, which is said to have lower levels of digital distortion called jitter. So look
for the "T" in the serial number for the latest and best from Arcam.
The CD62T arrived belatedly as the entry-level DiVA, pushing the CD72T to mid-DiVA
behind the top-of-the-line CD92T. The new CD62T and CD72T ($899) share the Sony transport
and a 24-bit Delta/Sigma digital-to-analog converter.
Unlike past entry-level Arcams, however, the CD62T is not
upgradeable. You'll have to live with the smaller power supply and the AC-coupled output
stage instead of the CD72T's servo-assisted DC-coupled output stage. The CD72T has the
more sophisticated power supply in the event of an upgrade to the CD92T ($1700), where
it's needed for the venerated DCS Ring DAC technology. The CD62T has a lesser remote
control and lacks a chassis constructed of vibration-deadening Sontech.
The CD62T shows off the new cosmetics of Arcam's DiVA
series of CD and DVD players, amplifiers, integrated amps, tuners, and audio/video
receivers. But I could barely see that smooth, silver fascia through the high-test green
display. The green could be dimmed, or shut down, with the remote. I dimmed it. With the
green glare gone, a couple of peculiarities were noticeable immediately. Instead of the
traditional Open/Close button to control the CD drawer, there is a touch-button labeled
Load. (OK, so what happened to Unload?) And the On/Off button resides on the far right of
the front panel, not the customary far left, with a green LED attached, amoeba-like.
The modern CD player is overly reliant on the remote
control. On the CD62T, only basic controls like Play, Pause, Search, and Skip Track are
accessible on the front panel. As someone who uses a remote only when necessary, I wish
more manufacturers would make room for at least a manual Shuffle control. The rear panel
is more conventional, with RCA analog outputs and a pair of digital (coaxial and optical)
outputs. If you're on a power trip, a detachable IEC power cord allows experimentation.
There's also a remote input for use with multiroom remote-control systems. The plastic
remote, designed for multiple components in the DiVA series, is bigger than the average CD
remote, but that means the buttons are bigger and the print is bigger and more legible.
Even though I don't use CD remotes much, I liked that. Arcam has made some strategic
sacrifices in the CD62T: I do wish they'd found a way to include HDCD even in their
The CD62T logged many hours with another DiVA, the A65 Plus
integrated amplifier, which meant I had one DiVA remote too many. Also in the system were
the Acoustic Energy AEGIS EVO One and B&W DM303 speakers with Kimber 8TC speaker
cable, MIT Terminator 3 interconnects, and also some amazingly good do-it-yourself
interconnects made with magnet wire. The Rotel RA-1060 gave the A65 Plus an occasional
The CD62T had almost 50 hours of continuous play before
performing for a live audience of one. In that pressure-free environment, the CD62T
offered a warm welcome. The CD62T might not be quite as smooth or as rounded as previous
Arcam players, but I certainly wouldn't classify its sound as neutral.
Some of the best budget CD players from the earlier days of
digital compensated for chronically harsh recordings with a dulled-down top end of the
frequency spectrum and an ultra-smooth midrange. With great improvements in recording
techniques and digital-to-analog converters in CD players, there's less demand for such
dramatically tailored machines.
But the CD62T is forgiving, all right -- just not quite
like the old days. It tiptoes around the highest frequencies, where the sonic grunge
resides. Yet it also sacrifices some of music's most intoxicating qualities -- the
sparkle, the openness -- generated in those highest frequencies. I'm OK with that. This
strategy produces such a smooth aural snapshot that you can almost see it. It will make
properly mated equipment that is assembled into the right system sound its best.
Drop the CD62T into a home-theater system -- as I did,
replacing Sony's DVP-NS755V DVD player in a system with the Marantz SR7000 receiver and
the brawny Athena Audition AS-F2 loudspeakers -- and you'll quickly get the picture.
Through the Arcam, space between Roy Haynes's drums, Danilo Perez's piano, and John
Patitucci's bass becomes more defined, and their position on the imaginary stage easier to
lock into on "Dear Old Stockholm" from The Roy Haynes Trio [Verve
543534]. The drum kit crackles beneath Haynes, now into his 70s. Patricia Barber suddenly
sounds more distant, more subdued, but in the context of a live performance, more natural
-- on "Touch of Trash" from Companion [Blue Note 22963].
What you get, then, from Jane Monheit's "Waters of
March" off her Come Dream with Me [N-Coded/Warlock 4219] album played through
the Arcam A65 Plus and Acoustic Energy AEGIS EVO One is a nice soundstage, somewhat
two-dimensional, that extends across the room laterally but doesn't push out much toward
the listener. The title track of Alison Krauss & Union Station's New Favorite
[Rounder 0495], likewise, has a generous midrange but the CD62T can't reproduce the
wrap-around sonic effects of this demo-caliber song. The bottom end is also leaner than it
The more lively and larger Audition AS-F2 speakers --
3.5 tall, 15" deep, and 51 pounds each -- took the CD62T where the AEGIS EVO
One speakers couldn't, all the way down to about 35Hz. That's the turf usually covered by
a budget subwoofer. The CD62T's restraint and the AS-F2's slightly forward, bottom-heavy
characteristics matched nicely.
I'd hate to spend much more than $600 now on a CD player
only to watch technology, and pricing, shift dramatically in the next couple of years.
That might not happen, but the CD62T is a safe, and sound, choice for a new machine.
Sonically, the CD62T offers maybe 90% of the performance of
many upscale players. Of course, for that extra 10% some people will gladly pay thousands
of dollars. The CD62T was the most valuable player in the system with the Arcam A65 Plus
and the Acoustic Energy AEGIS EVOs. I didn't hesitate to substitute the Rotel RA-1060 for
the A65 Plus or the B&W DM303s for the AEGIS EVOs. I could listen to the CD62T for
hours at a time in either system. That says a lot about the Arcam CD62T.
Price of equipment reviewed