Review: Arcam rCube
OK...I'll get this out of the way upfront. Despite the great reviews it's received, before I'd actually encountered it in person I was suspicious of the rCube. Arcam's a company I know and trust, they build a fantasic line of products (including some impressive all-in-one systems), and they know their wireless and DAC design. But this is a $799 iPod/iPhone dock, an entry in a crowded market with a few standout devices - such as the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air and JBL's On Air Wireless - that provide similar functionality at a somewhat lower price point. And yeah, it'll stream music wirelessly from your computer or iOS device, but getting that to happen means shelling out yet another $99 (each!) for a couple of proprietary dongles. And those use Kleer, that Bluetooth alternative that we usually find powering wireless headphones. (Don't your computer and iPhone already have Wi-Fi built in? Isn't everybody using AirPlay these days?) The whole package sets you back just under a cool grand. Sure, that's less than a third the price of the leather-bound Meridian M80, but it's a lot of money regardless.
But after spending some time with this little cube, I think that Arcam really got it right here. This isn't a manufacturer slapping an impressive nameplate on an otherwise uninteresting product. Massively functional, minimally styled, and dead simple to use, this is one of the most impressive iOS docking stations I've yet seen.
(Photos: Robert Follis/Arcam)