Arcam T32 Tuner

Back in the days when this writer was still in flared trousers, the (then) Amplification and Recording Company of Cambridge launched its first tuner - the T60. Unlike many receivers of the day, it was a swish and sophisticated affair, and this T32 is no different. It is, quite simply, a very classy device and one that is a joy to use. The quality of finish is the best here and that's with some seriously stiff competition.

Kitted out with AM, FM and DAB, it's a hybrid tuner in the old sense of the word. It has a good-sized, crisp-looking green filtered vacuum fluorescent display and a large tuning knob with a lovely action, somewhat reminiscent of the classic Japanese tuners of the seventies. There's nothing old hat about its internals, though. Inside the acoustically damped steel casework, you'll find a good-quality Wolfson 8740 DAC chip is fitted for DAB duties and there's a large toroidal transformer for audiophile bragging rights. DAB and AM/FM sections are separate, and two pairs of RCA phono output sockets complete the picture.

The remote control is excellent, and will even control an iDevice through Arcam's special interface. Custom installers will like the full duplex RS232 control port, too.

It's always nice to be reminded just how fine FM can sound, and the Arcam duly obliges. Madonna's Crazy For You isn't a famously well recorded eighties pop ditty, but the FMJ T32 makes it - and the rest of Heart FM's evening programming - sound highly agreeable. Most impressive is its stage depth, which falls back surprisingly far considering this radio station isn't well known for its audiophile credentials. The sequenced bassline proves to be the most powerful here and is also immaculately timed, giving a real feeling of movement to the song. Fast forward a few minutes, and Bruno Mars' When I Was Your Man is a sterling test - he can sound anaemic and screechy via lesser hardware, but the Arcam captures his reedy tones, and the emotion they contain, really rather well. I'm not a fan frankly, but still I fi nd myself pulled into the music - which is very rich and involving. This is a great recommendation for any tuner; to get you into stuff you wouldn't otherwise want to listen to.

Darting over to night-time BBC Radio 2, and things sweeten up still further; the plinky-plonky eighties digital keyboard sound of Janet Jackson's Let's Wait Awhile is brightly lit and crisp, but doesn't have me cowering behind the sofa, and La Jackson's voice is delicately carried and surprisingly beguiling. With a decent-sounding station, the Arcam even begins to recreate a threedimensional sound stage and locate instruments in the mix as precisely as you'd expect from a good CD player. Once again, this is miles ahead of its DAB performance, which is decent, but hamstrung by the format itself. The Arcam is capable of great insight; a BBC Radio 3 announcer's voice is rendered in a highly realistic way, and a Radio 4 Saturday afternoon play is as spacious as you can expect this side of a Magnum Dynalab at several times the price. Overall, an excellent, composed and mature performance right across the board.

Arcam T32 Tuner photo