Review: Arcam Alpha 8SE CD Player

Category: Digital

I have owned the Arcam 8SE for about a year now and love the sound. The player has a simple user interface and rather nondescript face design. Arcam has put the effort and money into the electronics. The 8SE is HDCD compatible and has a coax digital output. The unit is upgradeable with, for example a 24 bit DAC module available in higher models in the Arcam line, although I haven't frankly needed that.

The unit replaced a older Carver model cd player that had served me well for many years, but was badly outdated. While the Carver had a remarkably nice sound for the price, there was a remarkable improvement with the Arcam. The sound is smoother and more musical, without losing the precision.

One of the things I have liked the most about the Canton Ergos I use with the unit is the excellent imaging quality. The Arcam does not disappoint, reproducing a well separated soundstage. You can really "see" the musicians if you close your eyes.

The only negatives I would list are the relatively poor remote control supplied with the unit (very small buttons and labels), the somewhat pedestrian styling, and the difficulty in programming tracks. I have all but given up on track progamming due to a clunky operation. If you're in the market for a very solid unit with no extraneous bells and whistles, that doesn't compromise on sound quality -- the Armacm 8SE is worth a listen. These have been available here on line in the range of half retail. At that price, you cannot miss.

Associated gear
Arcam AVR-100
Canton Ergo 31dc
I agree with your assesment. I used to own an Arcam just like yours (maybe you bought my old one!) CD players are very much like computers in that the technology is upgreded frequently. Arcam is one of the few, if only, companies that offers an upgrade path.

Music lovers are fortunante that there are several British companies that produce great equipment for the money. Arcam, Rega, Creek and Musical Fidelity are just a few.