It took a long time until the English hi-fi manufacturer A & R Cambridge Ltd. decided to include its own designated streaming client in its product range. With the Arcam ST-60 Streamer, this is now available in the Arcam HDA range.
The Arcam ST-60 streamer is described by the English hi-fi company A & R Cambridge Ltd. as a high-performance streaming source, a first indication that this is more than just another streaming client of the Arcam brand.
However, it is not quite so simple to speak of another streaming client of the Arcam brand, in fact it is the first designated streaming client that the Arcam HDA range has to offer.
Arcam ST-60 Streamer – The first of its kind
Clearly, music streaming has been a key consideration at A & R Cambridge Ltd for a very long time, including in the fine Arcam HDA range. However, they initially decided that streaming should be an integral part of the regular solutions, for example in the amplifier systems of the product line such as the Arcam SA30 Class G Intelligent Integrated Amplifier as well as the Arcam CDS50 SACD/CD player, even calling the latter the most advanced CD, digital audio and network streaming player for the aforementioned reason.
In principle, one could argue that the topic of streaming has been adequately covered by the Arcam HDA range.
Arcam ST60 Streamer as a Flexible Source of a Modern HiFi System
In the end, however, the British decided to expand the Arcam HDA range with a streaming client. A streaming client that is entirely dedicated to this task and can thus act as an extremely flexible source of a modern hi-fi system, namely in the form of the new Arcam ST60 Streamer.
The first step was to use UPnP, an industry standard that has been tried and tested for years, and to add support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Cast. The new solution was also certified as Roon-ready by Roon Labs LLC, so that the new Arcam ST60 Streamer can be used as a Roon Endpoint. A D/A converter is also on board, so that the impeccable signal processing is also available to external digital sources.
Another component of the fine Arcam HDA Range
As mentioned several times, the Arcam ST-60 streamer is designed to be part of the Arcam HDA Range. This means that it fits seamlessly into this extremely wide-ranging, very fine-looking product series.
Especially with the classic hi-fi components of the Arcam HDA Range, the British company focuses on particularly slim dimensions, and this is also evident with the Arcam ST-60 Streamer.
The width of the Arcam ST-60 Streamer is 433 mm, which is basically the standard size of a hi-fi component, but it is only 102 mm high and 306 mm deep. So you won’t have any space problems, even if you use the Arcam ST-60 Streamer as an extension for an Arcam SA20 Class G Integrated Amplifier or Arcam SA30 Class G Intelligent Integrated Amplifier, for example, and also treat yourself to the Arcam CDS50 SACD/CD player.
The components of the Arcam HDA range always produce a compact, extremely fine picture, and the timelessly elegant design of these solutions makes a significant contribution to this.
The fact that the Arcam ST-60 Streamer is nevertheless very solidly built is proven by its weight, which you’ll find in the data sheet at 5.5 kg.
The Arcam ST-60 Streamer has a sturdy, impeccably crafted stainless steel housing adorned with an aluminium front. Thus, it presents itself in the familiar anthracite of the entire product series.
A look at the front
Centrally located on the front of the Arcam ST-60 Streamer is a very generously proportioned display, considering the relatively low height of the product. Ultimately, however, the display is limited by the height, so that it appears comparatively small compared to other solutions in this class. However, this does not change the fact that the essential information, including the cover artwork, can still be easily read.
To the right of the display is the main switch and a status LED, to the left of the display are three buttons and a very solid rotary encoder. These four controls should be sufficient for controlling the Arcam ST-60 Streamer directly on the unit, as they are used to adjust parameters and control playback.
A look at the rear panel
The rear panel of the Arcam ST-60 Streamer has no real surprises in store; it simply has everything you would expect.
First of all, there is a network interface for integration into the network via cable, plus the connection for a rod antenna, which is included in the scope of delivery. This serves the integrated WiFi module according to IEEE 802.11n to guarantee optimal reception at all times and thus enable a sufficiently high data throughput rate for smooth streaming.
There is a USB 2.0 port as well as an RS232 interface, and in addition to two optical interfaces, two coaxial S/PDIF interfaces are available as inputs.
In addition, there is an optical and a coaxial S/PDIF interface as outputs on the digital level, and for the analogue world you will find a pair of cinch sockets for unbalanced, as well as a pair of XLR connectors for balanced signal transmission.
From UPnP to Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast to Roon-ready
The Arcam ST-60 streamer uses the latest generation of the streaming engine from A & R Cambridge Ltd., which is also found in the Arcam SA30 Class G Intelligent Integrated Amplifier.
In contrast to many other companies, the English company relies on its own technology, which is not a platform as is the case with BluOS, to name one example.
Instead, they are concentrating on the broadest possible support for a wide range of technologies and are focusing, for example, on the only real industry standard, UPnP.
In addition, with Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2, the two important streaming technologies in the area of mobile devices are supported, which at the same time also represent the two essential platforms in the Smart Home, if you want to put it that way. In addition to Amazon, it is Google and Apple that are driving this development and want to offer Smart Home with streaming throughout the entire home via a variety of devices.
In practical terms, this means that the two streaming technologies Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 provide direct access to the entire range of streaming services of various notables, be it TIDAL, Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music and many, many more.
The only requirement is that you install the corresponding app on your smartphone or tablet, whether Google Android or Apple iOS.
MusicLife App – the convenient control centre
In addition, there is also a separate app, which was initially offered under the Arcam brand, but now serves as the central app for all streaming solutions of the Harman Luxury Audio Group, to which the English hi-fi manufacturer A & R Cambridge Ltd. now belongs.
With the latest version of this MusicLife App, a very flexible, very convenient tool for streaming is available for Google Android as well as Apple iOS.
The MusicLife app is also the central interface of the Arcam ST-60 streamer, which allows easy access to your own content in the network, whereby, as already described, the UPnP standard is used first and foremost. The prerequisite for this is a corresponding storage solution in the network, a so-called NAS (Network Attached Storage), on which the content is stored and released via a UPnP server. Every current NAS offers this functionality.
Interestingly, the app supports any UPnP streaming client, so solutions from other manufacturers can also be selected for playback. Google Chromecast is also supported, not only under Google Android, but also under Apple iOS. Thus, all Google Chromecast devices are listed as available players in the app. However, Harman Luxury Audio Group explicitly points out that they only guarantee smooth functioning for systems from their own company, which is quite understandable.
In addition, selected streaming services are directly supported in this app, namely TIDAL, Napster, Deezer, Qobuz and even HIGHRESAUDIO is fortunately represented here. Internet radio and podcasts are also supported.
Via UPnP, it must be mentioned at this point, audio data is played back in any resolution without any problems; here, only the streaming client itself determines what is possible. However, streaming with 24 bit and 96 kHz is handled via Google Chromecast, you should be aware of that.
Arcam ST-60 Streamer as Roon Endpoint
From the very beginning, the Arcam ST-60 streamer was announced as Roon-ready. However, the tightening of the guidelines by Roon Labs LLC. got in the way of Harman Luxury Audio Group. They had to go through the licensing process again, so there was a delay in this feature.
In the meantime, however, all this has long since been taken care of, and the Arcam ST-60 streamer is officially designated as Roon-ready by Roon Labs LLC. itself.
This means that the Arcam ST-60 streamer can be easily integrated into the Roon media management and hi-res multi-room audio streaming system, delivering bit-perfect streaming based on RAAT (Roon Advanced Audio Transport) with the simplest possible operation.
Impeccable signal processing
No matter which streaming platform you use or whether you choose one of the numerous digital inputs, the signal processing of the Arcam ST-60 streamer is done by means of impeccable converters.
The 32-bit ESS9038K2M Sabre DAC from the specialist ESS Technology is used. This is capable of processing data in Linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 192 kHz; content encoded in lossy MQA is also supported.
Use as a preamplifier
As already described in the introduction, the Arcam ST-60 Streamer is not only a streaming client, it can also be used as a preamplifier. For this purpose, the outputs can be used with either fixed or variable levels.
Problem-free integration into control systems
A & R Cambridge Ltd. is one of those manufacturers who always make sure that their solutions can be easily integrated into various control systems. This of course also applies to the Arcam ST-60 streamer.
The RS232 interface already mentioned, in conjunction with a complete IP control system, allows integration into all leading platforms such as Control4 or Crestron.
Not just an app
Of course, the customer himself should always be able to control the system conveniently, but not just rely on apps. Of course, the Arcam ST-60 Streamer comes with a matching infrared remote control that offers direct access to all essential functions.
From the practice
First of all, let’s take a brief look at the Arcam ST-60 Streamer and see where it fits into the Arcam HDA range and the market as a whole. A & R Cambridge Ltd. itself describes the Arcam ST-60 Streamer as a high-performance streaming source and an ideal extension of the amplifiers in the Arcam HDA range. However, we cannot quite confirm this, and must make a small reservation here.
Normally, one would think that a streaming client like the Arcam ST-60 Streamer would be a perfect match for the best amplifier in the same range, but in this particular case, this combination doesn’t make sense.
The flagship Arcam SA30 Class G Intelligent Integrated Amplifier is called what it is because it already has a streaming client implemented, essentially in exactly the same form as it is now available separately in the form of the Arcam ST-60 Streamer.
The smaller models, the Arcam SA10 Class AB Integrated Amplifier and the Arcam SA20 Class G Integrated Amplifier, are completely different. These two amplifier systems actually find the perfect partner in the Arcam ST-60 Streamer when it comes to streaming. The Arcam CDS50 SACD/CD player would also have streaming functionality, but this platform is no longer up to date and therefore clearly inferior to that of the Arcam ST-60 Streamer.
Another option is, of course, the use as a preamplifier, whereby a pairing with pure power amplifiers of the Arcam HDA range is just as conceivable as, for example, simply active loudspeaker systems of any manufacturer, especially if these do not have any streaming functionality themselves.
However, it should be noted that the Arcam ST-60 streamer focuses solely on streaming and digital inputs; analogue sources cannot be integrated.
Open standard or “closed” proprietary platform
What clearly speaks for the Arcam ST-60 streamer is the broad support of established standards or common platforms. While some manufacturers push their own proprietary platforms, the Harman Luxury Audio Group relies primarily on the only industry standard UPnP and very broad streaming technologies such as Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2.
This appeals especially to those customers who want exactly this openness, who do not want to limit themselves to the “closed” platform of a manufacturer. And especially those customers for whom it does not seem important to be able to rely on a uniform platform for hi-res audio streaming in the entire house, since streaming in the best quality takes place in one room alone anyway, and Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 are sufficient for the rest.
One small shortcoming, it has to be said, is the app. In principle, the latest version of the app is a really fine control solution that is very convenient to use, but it cannot quite keep up with the enormous range of functions of apps that are available on platforms such as BluOS.
What makes these assessments completely obsolete and relativises the above-mentioned points of criticism is the compatibility with the Roon software, because as a Roon-ready endpoint, the Arcam ST-60 streamer can easily play in the high-end segment in a “concert” with all the other Roon-ready solutions from countless other manufacturers. And control could not be more convenient than with the apps from Roon Labs LLC.
To put it in a nutshell, whether it’s high quality hi-res audio streaming or whole house streaming based on by far the most common technologies in the consumer segment, the Arcam ST-60 streamer is ultimately ready for anything.
Precise, detailed reproduction
For our test, we used the Arcam ST-60 Streamer in exactly the combination that we have just classified as not really achieving our goals, namely with our Arcam SA30 Intelligent Integrated Amplifier, for purely practical reasons. This was available to us, and is ultimately the finest stereo integrated amplifier that A & R Cambridge Ltd. has to offer.
The crowning glory of our chain was a pair of Monitor Audio 100 Golds of the latest generation.
Of course, the very simple option of streaming via Google Chromecast was the first thing on the agenda, but not much really needs to be said about this, because as soon as the Arcam ST-60 streamer is connected to the network, it is already listed as an available option. The only thing you should do is integrate it into Google Home so that you can also use the full functionality in interaction with the Smart Home platform of the Internet giant.
One thing should be mentioned at this point: Google Chromecast is often disdainfully dismissed as a “toy”, especially by high-end hi-fi enthusiasts. In fact, it is possible to achieve very good results with it, especially this platform scores with its broad support and simple handling. Moreover, this platform allows signal transmission up to 24 bit and 96 kHz, which is not so bad…
Of course, streaming is just as smooth via Apple AirPlay 2, but the developers at A & R Cambridge Ltd. clearly focused on Google Chromecast.
Whether Apple AirPlay 2 or Google Chromecast, in both cases you can already expect very fine, detailed playback. The Arcam ST-60 streamer clearly shows that it is not so much the streaming platform that matters, but rather the quality of the recording and the quality of the signal processing in the hardware itself.
The full potential of the Arcam ST-60 streamer is, of course, revealed when you use the MusicLife app and UPnP, or integrate it directly into Roon.
It is immediately noticeable that the Arcam ST-60 Streamer is an extremely precise streamer, which skilfully works out details, is confidently dedicated to the dynamics, and thus offers a very convincing, exact performance.
That’s exactly what you want, because it’s not up to a solution like a streaming client to bend the sound in any direction. What is needed here is precision and, if possible, neutrality. The Arcam ST-60 streamer meets this demand completely.
Getting to the point
With the Arcam ST-60 Streamer, A & R Cambridge Ltd. delivers exactly what is promised in terms of sound: a high-performance streaming source as part of the Arcam HDA range. In this respect, this solution is without fault and clearly plays in the premium segment. The fact that Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast are supported as widely as possible in the consumer segment is very welcome, especially since the industry standard UPnP with the matching MusicLife app, but above all the integration into the software from Roon Labs LLC. is available for demanding hi-fi enthusiasts. If you don’t own the Arcam SA30 Class G Intelligent Integrated Amplifier, the Arcam ST-60 Streamer is the ideal addition to a hi-fi chain from the Arcam HDA range, which many loyal lovers of the brand have been eagerly awaiting. But the Arcam ST-60 Streamer is also a particularly fine solution outside of Arcam’s products, which is characterised by the fact that it is not fixed to any particular platform.
|Manufacturer:||A & R Cambridge Ltd.|
|Distribution Austria:||R.M.S. State of the Art Audiovisual Products|
|Distribution Germany:||GP Acoustics GmbH|
The Arcam ST-60 Streamer is the dedicated streaming solution in the Arcam HDA range and is the ideal partner for the Arcam SA10 Class AB Integrated Amplifier and Arcam SA20 Class G Integrated Amplifier. But the Arcam ST-60 Streamer can also be perfectly combined with a pure power amplifier or active speaker systems, as it is a preamplifier – albeit purely focused on digital sources.
- Attractive design of the Arcam HDA range
- Workmanship without fault
- UPnP as the basis, plus Google Chromecast and
- Apple AirPlay 2
- designated as Roon-ready
- Impeccable D/A converter also for external sources
- Also serves as a preamplifier
- Very clear, accurate sound
- Analogue inputs would be desirable as a preamplifier
- HDMI would have been desirable for the digital interfaces
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