Arcam DiVA CD192 review

Does Arcam's top DiVA CD player still sing as sweetly?

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Our Verdict

It offers a very comfortable and involving sound, but its resolution of details is not always quite as searching as it might be


  • Good bass dynamics


  • Mechanical noise from the aluminium case

If the number in this model's moniker rings bells, it is of course because it is a common frequency, in kHz, for upsampling converters to use (there's nothing remotely sacred about it, by the way - 193kHz would work as well).

And yes, Holmes, this is indeed an upsampling player. Despite that, and despite the impressive array of technological gubbins Arcam uses to effect that end, the model is part of the more modest 'DiVA' range rather than the upmarket 'FMJ'.

The obvious difference is external: DiVA products have less metal and more plastic around the place. It is, however, still distinctly smart, and with its alphanumeric display it supports CD Text. But the clever stuff is inside. Removing the thin aluminium lid reveals an audio transport, a main board spanning quite a lot of the case, and a substantial aluminium screening cover, which conceals the upsampling and audio output board.

That board apart, the player is basically a CD73, Arcam's cheapest unit. However, the upsampling (retro-fittable for existing CD73 owners), with its associated higher-quality DAC and output circuits, adds an extra level of refinement. It uses a standard upsampling device and no less than four DAC chips to achieve its goals, together with familiar high-quality op-amps and passive components.

But beware! The light aluminium case produces rather high mechanical noise: a high-pitched hiss that can become annoying.


This seems to be a rather warm and 'cuddly' sounding player, if our listeners' notes are anything to go by. The bass drew consistent praise for its rich quality and tunefulness, married to fine extension and, where needed, weight.

One comment referred specifically to the good dynamics in the bass region - an unusual thing to notice one way or the other, but we can see where that's coming from, as there is an unusually good sense of ebb and flow in the lowest octaves.

Higher frequencies benefit from a nice, clear presentation with good detail, but there seemed to be some slight reservations about how detail holds together when the music gets really loud and complex. In the trickiest passages, images crowd together just a little and some of the purity of individual instrument timbres is lost.

With music of simpler textures that's not such a problem. This seems to be a particularly voice-friendly CD player, especially in tracks with just voice and a small handful of instruments.

Anything from a simple ballad with guitar to classic 1950s rock benefits from a very informative approach to the midband and excellent dynamics all round, while a lack of any detectable spit in the upper reaches avoids listener fatigue.

The same, naturally enough, is true of solo instruments, which share the voice register (lower saxophones, for example) while particularly high and bright instruments can sometimes be just a shade on the mellow side.

There's a lot to admire in this player's performance. If it doesn't score brilliantly for detail, we would still rate it as highly as any for general listenability - it's both inviting and involving. Richard Black

Lab Test

In the bad old days, CD players had a habit of showing distortion that worsened at low levels. That distortion is pretty much history, happily, but sometimes a trace survives and that's the case here. At or near full level, distortion is very low, while a few dB below that it pretty much vanishes. Below 60dB, though, traces crop up again at levels that just might sometimes become audible. It's hard to be sure, though, and if that looks as if we're nit picking, it's probably because we are. Sort of. In fact, it's because we're hard put to find anything else to complain of except the near-invariable mild aliasing around half the sampling frequency - and even that is better than many rival products. Speed accuracy is more than adequate at 25ppm and is accompanied by vanishing levels of jitter. Noise is exemplary, frequency response across the audio band also, and output level normal.