The component-sized Arcam FMJ T32 tuner is a product designed for the hardcore radio enthusiast. It’s expensive, heavy and doesn’t have integral speakers, but it delivers incredible audio quality, easily the best of any of the first-release batch of digital radios released in Australia.
With gold-plated connectors, a Wolfson 8740 digital-to-analog converter and high performance preamps, the Arcam FMJ T32 is designed to deliver audiophile-quality output. And that it does. On good-old FM radio it picked up details that made most other tuners sound muddy in comparison. The difference between the Arcam and less expensive devices was less evident when it came to digital radio, but it still delivered the cleanest sound of any device tested.
It’s a device that could make better use of the features of digital radio, however. Setting it up initially is a process best described as arcane, with indecipherable button labels and a tuning process that was slower than most. The small display is not large enough to show off much textual information associated with DAB+ broadcasts, and storing presets can be a little fiddly. Indeed, DAB+ support seems almost tacked on in the Arcam, which is disappointing.
It comes with a universal CR90 remote control that’s designed to manage your entire fleet of Arcam devices, not just the T32 – so it’s rather more complicated than it needs to be. It also has two pairs of stereo RCA outputs, making it suitable for multi-room use, and there’s also an RS232 control socket, which can be technically used to remote control external audio devices (such as iPods) connected to the input audio jacks. Arcam actually offers an iPod dock add-on that uses this socket, and allows you to use the T32 to play back audio from the iPod.
If you’re looking for the very best sound from your radio, it’s hard to overlook the Arcam. However, its digital radio features are sadly limited, and for this reason it’s a little hard to recommend it in a roundup of digital radio tuners. We’re hoping that in the near future Arcam will develop a device that will take the unique capacities of digital radio into account – timeshifting, recording, associated text information – giving us the opportunity to listen to near-perfect audio with the full feature set that DAB+ makes possible.