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This review first appeared in the August 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Arcam Solo Neo in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of or Arcam. - Ed.

Reviewer: Tobias Zoporowski
Sources: Transrotor Insigne with Rega RB300 arm, Goldring 1042GX pickup; Lehman Audio Black Cube Statement phono stage; Sansui T-80 tuner (modified); Lua Appassionata and Yamaha CD-S 1000 CD players; Advance Acoustic MiP-Station iPod dock (modified)
Amplification: Symphonic Line RG 9 MK IV, Yamaha A-S 1000
Loudspeakers: Magnat Quantum 905, Nubert nuVero 14
Cables: in-akustik loom with alternate Eagle Cable and WireWorld options
Review component retail: €1.799
I must confess to really loving fully loaded so-called all-in-one receivers in low-rider chassis. I'm thinking NAD Viso Two or Naim Uniti. They promise listening satisfaction on a higher octave with most conceivable sources a modern mensch might own. They take up a single shelf in a normal rack and due to minimal wiring —just power cords and speaker cables—are ready to rock in just a few minutes after escaping the carton. Sweet.

This wasn’t always the case. I remember my own hifi beginnings in the late 80s. Specialty audio salon personnel would shake their heads upon being queried on receivers. The routine response was "too many parts in too little space get hot, sound bad and when something fails, you’ll never see it repaired. Get separates. That’s doing it properly." Enter the monster stack in the digs, preferably tucked into its own armoire behind a smoked glass door. Ay caramba!

It’s likely due to the successful sales of Naim’s do-it-all Uniti that multi-tasking machines have enjoyed a renaissance even in the leagues of four-figure euro stickers. It only followed that the British competition would want a piece of the same pie, hence Arcam just dispatched the brand-new Solo Neo to get carving. Alert readers know that Arcam’s Solo Series isn’t exactly freshly minted. The cosmetically identical Solo Music (stereo) and Solo Movie (2.1 and 5.1 system with DVD drive) have been to market a few years already. About a year ago the Solo Mini completed the range.

Arcam Solo Neo functionality: The Solo Neo starts where the 2004 Music left off. It expands on its integrated amp, tuner section and CD player packaging job with up-to-date network features. Today’s flat fella connects to PC or Mac via WLAN or Ethernet/LAN or external drives of a home network; and tunes into thousands of Internet radio station which—this is experience speaking—-really develops a habit. For quickie snacks the receiver also handles USB sticks. After a €250 surcharge for the matching irDock, it even embraces Apple’s iPod via included remote. For airwave hunters, Arcam upgraded the tuner section to DAB while disc spinners get a 24-bit Wolfson DAC. But there’s more. Arcam claims a comprehensive overhaul of shorter signal paths and better shielding of discrete modules. The resultant sonic superiority buried the Music to make the Neo its replacement.

A smart receiver that's no brute: As per specs, the output stage delivers 50wpc into 8 ohms, making Neo no power monster but still capable of filling rooms even on the other side of 30 square meters. This of course becomes easier when chosen speakers aren’t miserly on sensitivity. My since discontinued Magnat Quantum 905 tower and Nubert nuVero 14 had no issues pressurizing my space with juicy bass and plenty of detailed nuance.

Those hankering for more can tap into the Neo’s pre-out to connect to an outboard amp or subwoofer. There’s even a second pre-out to establish a second zone with its own volume control. Playback source always mirrors the main room however.