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Arcam rBlink
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cg8472

March 26, 2013, 8:58 am

Though certainly being a nice piece of kit, the price is just ridiculous. A Nokia MD-310 can be had for Eur 50,- and offers the same features sans the digital outputs. And even though the Nokia does not come with a famous DAC, connected to a fairly decent Cambridge Audio Stereo setup (740C + 650A) with a pair of Eur 2500,- floor-standers there is close to no discernible difference playing a track from your APT-X enabled Bluetooth device and the Nokia compared to playing the CD in the CA 740C with its dual Wolfson DAC innards. As a side note, the Nokia (available in white, too) looks and feels much better in real life than pictures on the web suggest. Hope that helps.

Gordon Kelly

March 26, 2013, 12:00 pm

Hi cg8472, I get your point but it is not comparing like for like. The quality of the components is crucial otherwise you would ask why you can pay £7,000 for a new car or £500,000. I do recognise the rBlink price will make casual users think twice, but it remains an exceptional product.

Hamish Campbell

March 26, 2013, 12:48 pm

Not quite right, we are assuming that the quality components make a discernable difference. Until anyone does a double blind test with a good cross section of people then we can't say for sure.

Time to up the trustedreviews test budget. There might even be some good fodder for a PHD thesis in there somewhere.

peter207

March 26, 2013, 3:15 pm

For what the rBlink delivers the price is reasonable. Like all Arcam, this is serious quality kit built to last. My rPAC is a pleasure to use on a daily basis and outperforms my friends more expensive Audioquest Dragonfly, he's pissed off that he didn't listen before he bought (-: Excuse the ramble, but the point is that quality costs money and £160 is not a lot, I heard th rBlink at Bristol and was blown away although I'll probably be waiting for the airDAC to arrive as I am Apple based.

Bugblatter

March 26, 2013, 3:17 pm

I bought an MD-310 for £27.50 a little while ago, and to me it sounds great. I have mid-range speakers and amp and probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference if I bought an rBlink.

It seems like a great product, but one for audiophiles only.

cg8472

March 26, 2013, 7:31 pm

I'm not arguing the rBlink is a mediocre piece of kit. I am just questioning it's value if Nokia, not exactly a cheap brand itself, can deliver comparable user experience for much less.
I disagree with the car analogon though - the difference between a 7000,- and a 35000,- car (to stick to the price ratio Nokia - Arcam) you see, smell, feel, and hear immediately and in daily use. That's why you pay 5 times as much (and a brand premium, perhaps). Regardless the quality of the Arcam components which I don't think Trusted Reviews checked, this is not the case here - apart from the brand premium, for the ones who care.
Did I mention the Nokia does come without a silly looking antenna? ;) Just kidding guys, I'm actually not emotionally involved and I don't hate Arcam or such. I'm sure it sounds fabulous. Cheers.

MattMe

March 28, 2013, 3:12 pm

It's a shame it doesn't support wifi streaming. Personally I use a NAS to store all my music now, and currently stream to an airport express. I would expect for the audiophiles this is a more common setup that streaming from Bluetooth, or at least will be in the near future.

Gordon Kelly

March 30, 2013, 5:02 pm

AirPlay can never been the common setup as it requires you to have Apple products and many won't. The genius of the rBlink is it makes Bluetooth - especially AptX Bluetooth every bit as good as lossless over AirPlay.

MattMe

March 31, 2013, 11:50 am

Well ttha's not actually true, is it? My Synology NAS supports streaming to airplay devices, so if this supported airplay then I would not need an apple product to use airplay. Bit of a false statement considering who this is aimed at. I'd bet a high percentage of this market own Apple products. I'm not really fussed what standard is used, DLNA would be fine. My point was more that streaming from a phone isn't that practical other than in a party environment perhaps. Even then I'd want NFC support ideally.

If I'm sat at home listening to music I want to stream from my storage (whatever that may be) and not have my phone battery drained, or have to settle to the limited amount of albums I can fit on mobile devices. Also consider that most of the audience for this product will have high end handsets which generally do not support memory expansion.

This seems to be aimed at a very unique and small market. Bluetooth just seems a really limited medium to stream.

Gordon Kelly

April 2, 2013, 1:09 am

Not true? It seems you misunderstand the point. Apple licences peripherals to use AirPlay, it doesn't licence rival products so there will be no AirPlay support on any rival phones or tablets and only iTunes supports AirPlay on a PC (and there's no support for iTunes on Linux). If you want to stream Spotify from a PC using AirPlay you need software hacks like AirFoil. AirPlay support also carries a significant premium on any device and has a delayed response to playback controls.

Bluetooth is the most common form of streaming because it is supported by every phone and tablet on the market and most PCs... these are the source of streamed content for 99% of the population. The problem is improving the quality of the Bluetooth stream and this is exactly what the rBlink does.

MattMe

April 4, 2013, 11:11 am

Sorry for the back and forth, Grodon, but your original comment said it's not possible. I simply stated that it is in fact possible, not that it would be a cheap solution. I also followed up by saying that I'm not really fussed what streaming standard would be used; only that wifi seems a much more useful choice for streaming that Bluetooth. They could even have an app for streaming to it via your mobile device, making it suitable for all.

I'm not denying what is most popular, although I'm sure where you come up with you 99% figure. I only have a handful of friends who stream music, but not one of them uses Bluetooth for it. They either have propriety devices, such as Sonos, controlled from their phones, or use stored music streamed over their wifi connections suing whatever devices suited their needs. Bluetooth is certainly a bonus when it comes to casual, or unfamiliar devices, however it is still quite limited.

My original comment still stands, and as people's digital music libraries expand, they are going to want to have more choice than what's on their phones or tablets (devices at hand), and not be constrained by physical locality to the DAC.

Obviously there's the market for Bluetooth a DAC. A company would not invest in something like this without doing research first, and I've not tried to deny that. Sorry if I confused you along the way. I'm glad this provides a genuine improvement to the Bluetooth streaming sector, however I still wish it had built-in wifi support, and can't see how that would bring anything but improvement to this expensive, yet still fairly limited little box.

Gordon Kelly

April 11, 2013, 9:50 am

WiFi is an interesting option, but many devices when streaming over WiFi cannot also be connected to a router and many devices offering streaming over WiFi cannot channel an Internet connect to your paired device. So yes it delivers lossless quality, but I'm not sure I want to drop my connection to the Internet for it until this is widely solved.

A lossless Bluetooth codec would make everything much simpler.

(The 99% figure refers to people who stream music. That 99% of them do so using a tablet, PC or phone... what else are you think we're going to stream from?)

LeoShoSilva

April 19, 2013, 4:25 pm

I've just bought the Bayan audio streamport universal for 50 quid ..just listening to it thru my ipal at work and does seem similar to my Samsung Note 2 plugged in( which sounds AMAZING )streaming spotify maxed up..I listened to the r-blink in a store and compared to phone plugged in ..it sounded a bit more bassy and warmer which I didnt like ..not sure about the burr brown dacs ..think I prefer the notes wolfson dac instead..I 'll test my Bayan on my Linn aktiv Klout setup tonight..

Ed Davies

April 21, 2013, 10:41 am

Thanks for this information, this is what really gives consumers the power these days. Arcam do make great great products but the hifi business is full of rip offs and as long as its a decent quality thats the main thing. There is a massive difference between some good and bad sounding products but once you iron that out there can be a huge mark up difference between the good product sometimes that just is uncalled for. It probably cost Arcam next to nothing to manufacture this, however they do have the name, prestige and many years of developing and quality HiFi manufacture experience to make it what it is but when there are products out there equally as good lets not go mad with the price please.

If they were the same price or the Arcam was just a bit more id still go for the arcam though.

Gordon Kelly

April 22, 2013, 2:00 pm

Fair enough, but a store is no place for true audio testing. The speakers will be a big factor in what you heard. You need the same speakers in the same environment and to switch between the rBlink and the Bayan. This isn't to say one is better than the other, simply that fair comparisons like for like conditions.

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