Those wireless numbers are not superficially all that impressive when you consider that Logitech's £260 Squeezebox Touch will stream 24/96 files over an 802.11 Wi-Fi network, but Arcam maintains that its use of Kleer's lossless transmission technology helps the rDac punch above its bit-rate weight. And, let's be honest, Red Book CD quality is good enough for most of us.
Stream straight to the rDac from your PC with the rWave
For comparison, I played some 16/44 320Kb/s MP3 files through a Squeezebox Touch over my home wireless network and then through the rDac from my laptop and an rWave dongle. Both rDac and Touch were connected to my trusty Cambridge Audio A5 amp and Mission speakers.
The sound produced by the rDac had greater levels of clarity and detail, particularly with the re-mastered analogue classical recordings that make up the bulk of my music collection.
The extra detail really shone through when listening to Robyn's Body Talk albums, which were reproduced with truly impressive vibrancy.
Next page: Mastering USB music
I for one am highly suspicious of statements about quality being an "order of magnitude" better, which has a mathematical, not subjective definition. It's quite amazing that when properly set up double-blind testing is carried out, a lot of these differences suddenly become undectable.
As for gold plating digital connections. Well, I suppose it looks pretty and if you keep your audio equipment in a damp cellar, then it might prevent corrosion, but it makes sod-all difference to sound quality. It will basically either work or not without much inbetween, like pretty well all digital communication.
Not to say that bad DACs don't exist, but if they do, then it's objectively measurable with proper instrumentation. Any properly equipped audio lab would be able to measure how accurately the analogue output tracks the digital data for a lossless feed. However, obhective measurements like that don't sell over-priced electronics to gullible members of the public...
From the second link
"extremely precise dacs can be very unforgiving and too-controlled sounding, while other dacs can be extremely musical."
<sarcasm>Yeah, and my arse can be extremely musical too.</sarcasm>
Not entirely sure I don't prefer a reviewer to use his or her ears when testing audio kit. A string of numbers, stats and oscilloscope screen grabs may get some of you all moist but at the end of the day all most normal people are interested in is how it does the job and how does it sound compared to other similar devices. I'd say the Reg got both those boxes ticked quite succinctly.
It's all down to the quality of the interconnects...
'Swapping the rWave dongle for a USB cable didn't have any noticeable impact on sound quality'
That does surprise me. Especially when you consider that the sound quality would be adversely affected by the quality of the air you are using.
For future tests, might I suggest you try using cleaner air? 'Air dusters' that 'dust' the air for you can be bought from places like Maplin. Expensive, but well worth the cost IMO.
"the rDac uses audio specialist Data Conversion Systems' (dCS) asynchronous USB system"
Err, all USB audio is asynchronous. It has to be, otherwise it doesn't work. I suspect it's actually just a Texas Instruments USB<->I2S chip, and an upsampler chip by dCS.