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Arcam DiVA DT-91 review: Arcam DiVA DT-91

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Connecting the DT-91 to your existing hi-fi can be done using the digital optical out, coaxial out or either of the two pairs of phono outs. Some listeners will discover that their amplifier only uses the traditional phono connectors, in which case, a good pair of phono interconnects will do the job of connecting it to an amplifier set up.

Often, high-end amplifiers have an optical input, in which case you can run an optical cable (not included) from the DAB to your amplifier. Given the low bit rate of DAB, you're unlikely to hear a massive improvement over the phono interconnects, but you will eliminate potential problems with ground loops and other noise anomalies.

The DT-91 is compatible with all UK DAB broadcasts. Band III transmissions can be received on the tuner at up to 256Kbps. If you're underwhelmed by DAB, or are having reception problems, FM frequencies available to the DT-91 range from 87.5 to 108MHz. Again, this includes all commercial FM broadcasts in the UK.

FM, AM and DAB bands can be tuned using the main central dial and the unit includes a range of view options. Power is supplied via a sturdy kettle-lead-style connector.

Auditioning the DT-91 with a Radio 1 DAB broadcast showed off the unit's strengths in producing a solid sound on our reference amplifier and speaker set. The radio exhibits good tonal balance, doing its best to avoid over-emphasising the low end and create space despite the tendency of radio producers to heavily compress broadcasts. Fortunately the DT-91 does a decent job of coping with the fairly poor raw material it's being made to deal with.

Listening to Radio 4 was rewarding. Broadcasts sounded clear and steady without over-emphasis on any particular range of the spectrum. FM reception on the same station was immeasurably better -- the DT-91's analogue tuner matched our expectations for a premium separates unit.

There's very little to divide the DAB separates we've looked at so far. They're all like very fast sports cars being made to drive on mud. The low DAB bit rate just can't really tax these tuners. Owners of an existing Arcam setup will find the DT-91 well matched to their current components. For others, it may be a case of weighing up whether the small improvements in reception are worth the sizable investment the DT-91 represents.

DAB is already a less than pristine signal in the best of cases. With the Arcam DT-91 you're getting the best possible reception of this digital signal. Whether that's good enough for you is a personal matter, we'd recommend auditioning the unit before you buy.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield

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