Arcam CDS50 CD/SACD Network Player Lab Report

Lab Report

Borrowing heavily from the core design of its CDS27 CD/SACD player [HFN Aug '15], the more affordable CDS50 is distinguished by Arcam's decision to swap out the TI/Burr-Brown PCM1794 DAC for a 'mobile' (low power consumption) ESS9038Q2M from ESS Technology. The CDS50's balanced output delivers a slightly lower 4.45V (vs. 4.85V) from a higher 288ohm source impedance (vs. 70ohm) but its A-wtd S/N ratio is superior at 115dB vs. 112dB. The pattern of distortion vs. frequency and vs. digital level is very similar indeed via both the CDS27 and CDS50, falling as low as 0.00008-0.00025% (20Hz-20kHz) over the top 30dB of the CDS50's dynamic range with 24-bit sources (via network or S/PDIF), and increasing to just 0.0002-0009% with 16-bit CD [see Graph 1, below]. This is an excellent result.

There's another key similarity between the two players: the maximum 4.45V output is reduced to 3.2V via SACD (all at 0dBFs), so bear this in mind if you compare the two layers of a CD/SACD disc. Also, as with the CDS27, SACD data is downsampled to 88.2kHz LPCM within the CDS50, so the response with these discs reaches –0.4dB/20kHz but falls to –8.8dB/40kHz. The frequency response of LPCM audio delivered over the network and S/PDIF connections differs from that of the CDS27 because Arcam has elected to employ the 'Minimum Phase/Fast' digital filter option of the ESS DAC. The lack of pre-ringing but extended post-ringing will also exert some subjective impact while the response(s) reach out to –1.9dB/45kHz (96kHz media) and –5.0dB/90kHz (192kHz media). Jitter is very low too at <20psec with 24-bit files, all sample rates, and SACD sources [see Graph 2, below]. PM


THD versus digital level – 1kHz at 24-bit/48kHz over Network (red),1kHz at 16-bit/44.1kHz via CD (black) and 20kHz via CD (blue)


High res. jitter plots using 24-bit/48kHz data (Network input, black; SACD, red with markers)

Maximum output level / Impedance 4.45Vrms / 288ohm (XLR)
A-wtd S/N ratio (LPCM / CD / SACD) 115.1dB / 112.4dB / 114.5dB
Distortion (1kHz, 0dBFs/–30dBFs) 0.0002% / 0.0006%
Distortion & Noise (20kHz, 0dBFs/–30dBFs) 0.0008% / 0.0005%
Freq. resp. (20Hz-20kHz/45kHz/90kHz) +0.0 to –0.4dB/–1.9dB/–5.0dB
Digital jitter (LPCM / CD / SACD) 6psec / 115psec / 18psec
Resolution @ –100dB (LPCM / CD / SACD) ±0.1dB / ±0.5dB / ±0.1dB
Power consumption 20W (1W standby)
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight 433x87x283mm / 5.3kg
Price £695

Waterbeach, Cambs
Supplied by: Arcam (Harman International Industries Ltd)
01223 203200