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On "The Wall" the Arcam reached deep into its grab bag of goodies. Despite overall musical hardness this album is mostly 'optimized' for the midband, presumably because the mastering engineer figured that the target audience would at best own cheap 80's gear whose loudness button was permanently fixed with tape. Put differently, whilst the cut rocks like bear, there's less true low bass than expected. And the D33 didn't cheat. It went loud but not low. And the mix pays little attention to soundstaging either. And why should it? It's meant to explode. The Arcam took this in stride as though shrugging its shoulders 'okay' for a plainly two-dimensional read with deathly compression values on the guitars but many appreciative grins in the hot seat. Awesome!

"Get away" from the same album gets a tad more separated and in typical Pixies manner combines held-back verses with broad-side refrains. The D33 flip-flopped between both extremes with gusto and felt exceptionally agile while at it. The quite brachial voltage swings between quite and loud seemed transferred on to the amp without diminishment. This spoke to very good timing without latency and impressive macrodynamic chops.

For the micro range I cued up Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto N°.1 in f-sharp minor with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Concertgebouw under Haitink. Here too I had no complaints but rather admiration for how precise each hammer fall registered and how even the most pianissimo piano passages never lost their intelligibility or overarching charge. Tonal accuracy was revisited by way of a small anecdote. The piece kicks off with a piano theme whose second half is augmented by a bassoon in its high register starting at bar 28. When I first heard this piece a few years ago on a less ambitious system, I wondered what type of castrati couldn't restrain himself from humming along. That's how it can go when a hifi won't properly resolve woodwind timbres. With the Arcam—and provided the rest of the chain is up to snuff—it was crystal from the first note that the parallel voice was that of a bassoon.

What's really at the heart of this kind of DAC only reveals itself with high-resolution material. Here the danger is to get addicted which will hit your wallet twice not just because high-res downloads tend to not come cheap but also because regular consumption will quickly max out your existing storage. Never mind, it's worthwhile. I acquired Manu Katché's self-titled ECM album as a 88.2kHz FLAC file and how this upped clarity, ambient data and separation approached the obscene.

"Running after years" is a very flowing number built upon a very simple piano figure accompanied ghostlike by Manu Katché before brass overlays things with melodic lines. With the FMJ D33 I had the feeling of not facing the music but rather being literally immersed in it. My listening room took on aspects of a live concert venue. This is a bit hard to describe. It's better to experience it. But trust me, 15 minutes into this I began looking at my standard CD collection with something approaching undisguised disdain. That's my future. If you want to mine the true potential of a quality DAC, you really need to embrace HD to reset your boundaries. I could add plenty more examples but this core insight wouldn't change an iota.