Arcam rBlink Bluetooth D/A processor Specifications

Sidebar 3: Specifications

Description: Bluetooth D/A converter. Inputs: Bluetooth only. Outputs: one pair analog, one coaxial S/PDIF. Supported codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX. Frequency response: 10Hz–20kHz, &$177;0.1dB. THD+noise: 0.002%. S/N ratio (A-Weighted): 106dB (24-bit). Line output level: 2.15V. Power requirements: 0.7W max. Supplied accessories: wallwart power supply, antenna.
Dimensions: 2.9" (75mm) W by 1" (26mm) H by 3.9" (100mm) D. Weight: 12oz (350gm).
Serial number of review samples: Not noted (ST); EBL 04114 (JA).
Price: $249.95.
Manufacturer: Arcam, The West Wing, Stirling House, Waterbeach, Cambridge CB25 9QE, England, UK. Web: www.arcam.co.uk. US distributor: American Audio & Video, 4325 Executive Drive, Suite 300, Southaven, MS 38672. Tel: (866) 965-6050. Fax: (877) 457-2588. Web: www.americanaudiovideo.com.

COMPANY INFO
Arcam
US distributor: American Audio & Video
4325 Executive Drive, Suite 300
Southaven, MS 38672
(866) 965-6050
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COMMENTS
deckeda's picture

John, I'd be interested to see Stereophile spill a little ink on Bluetooth solutions that handle AAC directly. The potential advantage is that the player can (and will) stream the file--unfettered--to the other end and the "Bluetoothness" aspect becomes irrelevant for those who buy music from the world's largest online music seller, or make the effort to choose AAC over some other lossy format before putting songs on their phone, regardless of brand or OS.

Azteca X's picture

Deckeda, that sounds cool but I'm not familiar with that possibility.  Can you link to some products that do so, or any technical writings or forum posts that point to this possibility?

On another note, though I am duly impressed with the rBlink, glad there is a Bluetooth receiver that has proper measurements and a digital out, etc. the elephant in the room is the Apple TV.  Using Airplay, you can use your wifi network (no pesky 25-foot rule - don't have to be on the same floor) and stream losslessly.  How do ya like them apples?  The obvious limitation is that you have to be using Apple devices, excluding a few workarounds.  But if you're using an iPhone/iPod touch, a Macbook Air or Pro or iMac or what have you, Airplay is there and it does 16/44.1 and 16/48 losslessly.  The Apple TV has an optical out and no analog out, so it's only for the DAC crowd, but it works great and has Ethernet and Wi-Fi.  It's also notable that is is only $99 new rather than $249.

Mr. Tellig, it appears you use an iPhone, so I'd love to see you try out an Apple TV.  Return it if you are not pleased!

All that said, I have a dead simple Bluetooth radio in my bedroom that I use plenty for listening to podcast while I clean up or send audio from JRiver to it using JRemote.  Choice is a beautiful thing.

deckeda's picture

I'm sorry but I don't know where I read it. This review got me researching aptX because I'd read the earlier hosanas about it here. That's when I learned all aptX transmissions require the transcode through the "aptX codec".

Somewhere in there is when I also read that AAC gets sent as-is (assuming an AAC file source) and decoded at the Bluetooth reciever.

I'm sure the devil's in the details and especially so with cheap transmitters and recievers.

**********

In my experience, AirPlaying music over to an AppleTV is a recipe for despair. All of them necessarily resample to 16/48 and likely, not terriby well. But 16/48 is ideal for most video sources, so there's that. More to the point, it's never sounded good to me for music, and not by a little bit. Could also be an issue with what happens when the audio gets sent out of the HDMI or TosLINK since ATVs lack their own DAC.

AirPlaying over to my Marantz receiver (built-in AirPlay) is just dandy, as is any AirPort Express, which keeps everything at 16/44.1 bit perfect. And by the way these comparisons were done on the same stereo system.

But I'm with you. If your source is 16/44.1 via either iTunes on a computer or iOS device, an AirPort Express is, and has remained for 10 years, the defacto no-brainer streaming solution for both ease of use and sound quality.

Azteca X's picture

Wow, thanks for the tip.  I had no idea.  Makes perfect sense for video but not good for audio.

Here is some objective verification (yes, measurements included) and details about the current Airport Express for you, Tellig, Atkinson or anyone else!  The SRC will downsample up to 24/96 to 16/44.1 - seems fair enough to me.  In my case I'm using an Oppo (and later a dedicated DAC) for DLNA with JRiver so this would be more for myself or my GF being able to play Spotify, podcasts, internet radio etc. quickly and easily without any extra fuss, sending the optical out to a DAC.

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/465-new-apple-airport-express-...

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/466-measurements-first-and-sec...

The summary:

 

  • 16 bit / 44.1 kHz music -> Bit Perfect
  • 16 bit / 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz -> Not Bit Perfect but does play through the AE at 16/44.1.
  • 24 bit / 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz -> Not Bit Perfect but does play through the AE at 16/44.1.
deckeda's picture

Howver, it's nothing new. The original AirPort Express, and 2nd gen (updated to 802.11n) behaved similarly: take most any PCM and give you 16/44.

Chris at Computer Audiophile noted why this is, despite the new AE having a 24/192 DAC. It's the AirPlay standard that limits audio to 16/44. Nothing higher ever leaves the sending computer or iDevice. Doesn't matter how you setup a computer. AirPlay stipulates a transcode on the fly to Apple Lossless 16/44 regardless of the file you're playing back.

You can get the original AE used, from eBay for $40 or less and it'll be just as good as the new one for audio. Windows users might be OK as-is. Mac users would need an OS no newer than 10.7 to configure it, or a script that lets later versions of OS X run AirPort Utility 5.6.1 (The second gen AE, also likely inexpensive now, can I think still be configured with AirPort Utility 6.3)

skris88's picture

Just avoid Bluetooth if you want to pick on it's limitations. 

You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

It's like putting wings on a car and saying it doesn't fly very well!

 

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