The £900 DV135 is billed as Arcam’s entry-level machine. It’s based on their more expensive and elaborate, state-ofthe art DV137, but dispenses with some features, including analogue surround sound and second display. The DV135 is aimed at those wanting SACD, but not in surround. For movie fans the DV135 offers interpolation to 1080i to enhance DVD image quality, but also attempts to meet the needs of serious audiophiles wanting a good source component for CD and SACD playback. started by listened to it with CDs, making comparisons as noted to the more expensive ASTINtrew At3500 player. Tonally, the Arcam sounded slightly leaner and maybe just a shade more transparent than the ASTINtrew. Perhaps because of its tube output stage, the latter produces a warmer, slightly lusher presentation, with greater richness and depth. In some ways the ASTINtrew sounded nicer, but the Arcam had many good points too.
Playing Andras Schiff’s Decca CD of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21 via the DV135, I was impressed with the bright bell-like tone of the piano and the way the woodwind solos projected from the orchestral texture. The Arcam seemed to image more precisely, with the instruments very solidly located in space. It was a very clear-cut lucid sound. Dynamics were excellent, and so too was the separation between instruments. Small details in the playing seemed to register with pin-point clarity.
Next I tried Valery Gergiev’s Live Vienna Philharmonic recording of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony on Philips. I have this recording both as a hybrid SACD/CD and a CD. The CD sounded fine – crisp, clear, and powerful – but the SACD was noticeably cleaner with better separation. Playing the pizzicato third movement, the SACD sounded even more lucid and precise – as though the notes were starting and stopping with greater precision. When the finale began, the SACD gave a much keener impression of the front-to-back spatial positioning of the