Much like your favourite band, when technology companies get on a roll you just want them to keep doing what they are doing. This rarely works with bands determined to change things around and technology companies determined to chase the latest fashion or fad. Happily Arcam knows when it is on to a good thing.
The rLink is the latest addition to the company's rSeries line of audiophile grade products that integrate a Burr-Brown DAC in various form factors to enhance your listening enjoyment. It follows the rPAC (a USB powered headphone amplifier), and drDock (a iPhone/iPad charge dock with audio and video outputs) and is arguably the simplest of the bunch: a wired DAC that cleans up a digital source (be it from a TV, games console, media player, etc) on its way to your speakers or hi-fi.
Essentially this means the Arcam rLink is a middleman that - if it does its job well - will breathe new life into existing equipment. To set about this the rLink has coaxial and optical inputs on one side and left/right RCA outputs on the other. There is also a power port alongside the inputs as, unlike the rPAC, none of these sources can power the device. Setup is merely a case of connecting the source device and destination output to the rLink and switching it on at the power socket. This is the true definition of plug and play.
Much like a good referee, the role of the rLink is therefore to be heard, but not seen and as such it has a deliberately innocuous appearance somewhat akin to a rectangular Apple TV. At 100 x 75 x 25mm it is of a similar size too, but weighs a noticeable 350g.
In a lounge-based scenario the weight is a good thing as it comes from premium build materials. The rLink has a heavy cast aluminium exterior coupled with a tasteful black finish and thick, damped rubber base. We wouldn't suggest throwing it around, but the rLink certainly suggests it can take its fair share of knocks and it also won't be a dust magnet - a small mercy given the wider obsession with glossy piano black.
So back to the DAC itself. Like the rPAC and drDock, the rLink uses a TI Burr-Brown PCM5102 which supports sample rates up to 192kHz with 24bit depth and has a frequency response of 10Hz - 20kHz. Other stats Arcam is keen to point out are a signal-to-noise ratio (A –Weighted) of 106dB (24bit), line output level of 2.15Vrms and Total Harmonic Distortion Noise of 0.002% - signs that adding the rLink into your system should introduce no real world detectable interference.