Bringing music and movies to life

Arcam: a passion for great sound – then, now and in the future

Arcam is based just outside the famous university city of Cambridge, and our story started the classic way: two friends with a passion for music and electronics met up while engineering students at Cambridge University, and founded Amplification and Recording Cambridge in 1976.

Where we came from

As the name suggests, some of the company's early work was in high-performance mixing desks for recording studios, but it wasn't long before the two were making hi-fi amplifiers, beginning an engineering-led business still innovating and making the most of music and home cinema sound almost four decades later.

In that time we've developed a huge amount of in-house expertise, not to mention plenty of unique products: in 1988 we launched the first offboard digital-to-analogue converter, or DAC, to improve the sound of CD players, and in 1999 a high-quality DAB radio tuner for use with hi-fi systems. We even developed our own Dolby S cassette deck, and built it here in the UK – the only British hi-fi company skilled (and brave!) enough to do so.

We've been developing and making CD players for almost 30 years, and for 40 years the descendants of the amplifier with which the company started in consumer electronics, and as far back as 1995 expanded into home cinema electronics, developing a world-class reputation for making some of the best-sounding AV electronics.

In home cinema we've also developed our own DVD players and, more recently, Blu-ray players from scratch here in the UK, engineering them using our decades of experience in CD players to ensure they play music as well as they do movies, delivering better all-round performance than other brands' products.

Hard-won techniques for preserving and handling the most delicate signal and reproducing music with all its subtleties, nuances and excitement intact are now in our blood. We know that as audio moves on from CD to even higher definition formats, we're determined our products should continue to serve the music faithfully and deliver maximum enjoyment to the listener.

Yes, we listen – we're a company of music-lovers, after all – but we also test and experiment in a scientifically rigorous manner. We like to say that ‘we measure what we treasure': we know that the better the engineering benchmarks we deliver the better the results we – and our customers – hear.

Bringing our expertise to you

Making equipment able to reproduce even the smallest detail captured by the studio microphones is only half the story: to make the most of that equipment, the effort we put into research and development must be matched by careful and precise installation.

That's why we at Arcam have spent many years training our dealers to appreciate the importance of a great demonstration, fully able to show off their integration, installation and calibration skills. Few people would consider installing their own house-wiring or heating – instead, we leave it to the professionals –, but when it comes to audio systems many do a spot of hi-fi DIY and fail to get the performance that they have paid for.

Arcam knows its products have the potential to thrill, but we know that achieving that aim is as much about where you buy as what you buy. Our highly-trained dealers can not only help you explore the abilities of our products, but ensure they perform to their full capability in your home.

Where we're going

Hi-fi and home cinema systems are evolving at an alarming rate, and we – and our dealers – are here to help you keep up to speed with the latest developments, and make sure you make the right decisions.

For example, many new services will let you stream millions of audio and video files, but while they're undeniably convenient, they fail to offer the sound quality you can get from CD or SACD, let alone high-resolution downloads, or match the quality of audio and video available from disc formats like Blu-ray and DVD.

The problem is that these streaming services are limited by concerns about Internet speeds, which are also holding back wider availability of high-resolution downloads. However, as speeds increase it's clear real high definition content will be increasingly available at a premium.

Whatever future technology appears on the market we're confident we can engineer systems that get the absolute best reproduction from whatever format is available.

For almost 20 years – half our history – we've been as much about home cinema as hi-fi. And while we're excited by the promise of higher resolution 4K TV screens and projectors – isn't everyone? – better pictures are only half of the story. Few people get to hear a proper surround-sound demonstration in a quiet room where they can really listen: instead they're settling for mediocre sound from soundbars as a simple solution.

Yes, soundbars are undeniably convenient, and better-sounding than TV speakers, but they're a pale imitation of what a proper system – whether stereo or surround – can deliver from your favourite TV programmes or movies.

We at Arcam want you to experience the real thing for yourself. That's why we've embraced developments we believe give real pleasure to music lovers, and are developing products and systems to make people stop what they're doing and get lost in the magic only the best-sounding music and movie systems can deliver.

However, while we're committed to great sound, we're not the kind of highbrow, high-end company that's divorced from the real world. Yes, we get excited about pushing the boundaries of what's possible in our top-of-the-line systems – but we're even more enthusiastic about applying what we learn from these high-end products to more affordable solutions.

We want people to enjoy music from a whole variety of sources while they work, travel or play, and wherever they want to listen – our motto is ‘Better sound for more people'.

To achieve that, we make systems and products that provide the maximum enjoyment of music, whether it's streamed over Bluetooth from a smartphone or that favourite high definition concert video played for the twentieth time.

We've shown that no-nonsense engineering can work wonders when it comes to bringing music and movies to life: now we're delivering ever more ways to do that for a fast-changing entertainment world, and developing new products to make the most of whatever the future may bring.