Arcam Radia First Listen Review

Posted on 4th October, 2023

Arcam Radia First Listen Review

Arcam took the wraps off its all-new Radia hi-fi components at an event held at the Vinyl Factory, Soho, London.

The storied British hi-fi manufacturer Arcam has been around since its inception in 1976 when two Cambridge University students started building units for themselves and friends in their Trinity dorm. The company has just unveiled a suite of new products under the Radia banner intended to bring quality, fuss-free hi-fi sound to the next generation of audiophiles and music lovers.

Arcam Radia

The Arcam Radia series includes three integrated amplifiers: the A5, A15, and A25, the CD5 CD player and the ST5 high-resolution music streamer. Attendees at the launch party were treated to an overview by (below sat L-R) Paul Neville, Director of Engineering, Harman Luxury Audio Group; Jim Garrett, Senior Director, Product Strategy and Planning, Harman Luxury Audio Group; and Dave Tovissi, Vice President/General Manager, Harman Luxury Audio Group before being invited to listening sessions.

Arcam Radia

The new Radia line has been created to be more appealing to the upcoming generation of music fans. Taking styling cues from gaming consoles, forward fashion, and interior design trends, the minimalist matte aluminium chassis are livened up by bold “Radia yellow” accents and gentle integrated lighting effects, enabling the components to have flair without looking gaudy or tacky.

Arcam Radia

Jason Gokavi, Principal Designer at Huemen, Harman International's in-house design firm, who worked with the Harman Luxury Audio product development team in the industrial design of the Radia products, explained to StereoNET:

Radia Yellow was chosen, and so named for ARCAM because it speaks to everyone, everywhere. Music is energy, and we wanted to hint at that energy by infusing the brand with a vibrant yellow that will be used throughout the product design and marketing assets going forward.

Arcam Radia A5

Creating a seamless fascia, the displays are hidden behind frosted glass and are invisible until switched on. The user also has the option to turn off the display when in use to maintain the sleek look. Another neat touch is located around the rear “jack pack” which features a cowl, giving it more of a gaming machine aesthetic or, as someone at the event mentioned, “kinda like a rear spoiler of a sports car”. This is more than a design element to hide the connector array; it also cleverly houses the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aerials.

Arcam Radia A15

The new Radia amplifiers feature the latest Bluetooth aptX Adaptive codec support alongside multiple analogue and digital inputs. Vinyl lovers will also appreciate Arcam's signature MM (moving magnet) phono stage being on board.

Arcam Radia A25

The A5 (50 WPC) and A15 (80 WPC) feature efficient Class AB amplifiers and the ESS ES9018 Sabre DAC, whereas the A25 (100 WPC) steps up to a Class G amp and the ESS ES9280AQ DAC. The A25 also benefits from an upgraded OLED display. An Arcam rep at the event informed us that the A15 “is an A5 on steroids”, so if someone is looking at the A5 but has a larger room or is looking to power tower speakers, the A15 will likely be better suited for the task. Additionally, we were told that the A25 stays in a pure Class A mode until about 15 watts of output.

Arcam Radia CD5

Sporting a hard-wired ethernet port and Wi-Fi, the ST5 music streamer supports a comprehensive selection of music streaming services, including Amazon Music Unlimited, Qobuz, Internet radio, podcasts, TIDAL Connect, and Spotify Connect. In addition, the Roon Ready streamer offers support for MQA, Google Chromecast, and Apple Airplay2.

Arcam Radia ST5

For those who like their music catalogues less virtual, the CD5 CD player offers support for CD, CD-R, and CD-RW discs, playback from USB mass storage devices, and support for FLAC, WAV, and MP3 file formats. The ST5 and CD5 both feature an ESS ES9018 DAC on-board supporting high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192-kHz.

Jim Garrett, Senior Director, Product Strategy and Planning, Harman Luxury Audio, told StereoNET:

When we set out to create the Radia Series, there were a number of technical innovations that we wanted to put into the product, and we ultimately settled on a design that we think is one of the best-sounding amplifiers we have ever created. In addition to a sleek new design that will define Arcam's image for years to come, with the Radia family, we've renewed our focus on intimate performance and embraced the very latest audio technologies. For today's audio enthusiasts, especially younger ones looking to get into a luxury audio system at a reasonable cost, the resulting solutions surpass not only our past offerings but any product that's come before.


Shortly after the presentations, we were invited to enjoy a quick four-track listening session of the A5 and A25 integrateds connected to the ST5 streamer and check out the range in person. The A15 is actually the larger product in the series due to its Class A/B topology and extra grunt compared to the A5. The A25 maintains its lithe figure thanks to its Class G amp technology. Personally, I think the aesthetics work.

Arcam Radia A5, ST5, CD5

Thankfully, there were no technical issues with the streamers, and both demonstrations went without a hitch. Tracks from Beyonce and Stormzy were used on the A5 rig, with Sza and Dominique Fils-Aimé used for the larger system, featuring Harman Luxury Audio Group stablemate JBL's L100 Black Edition loudspeakers.

Considering the large space, the A5 system through JBL standmounted speakers did a decent job. However, the A25 rig produced a detail-rich, grippy midband with taut, tuneful bass alongside impressive dynamics. The brief session was certainly enough to whet the appetite of what appeared to be a promising new range for the British brand.

Arcam Radia A25, ST5, CD5, JBL L100

We were told that stock is ready in the warehouse and should be available very soon. The amplifier range starts at £749/ €849 for the Arcam A5, with the Arcam A15 priced at £1,099/ €1,249 and the Arcam A25 costing £1,499/ €1,799. The Arcam CD5 will sell for £699/ €799 and the Arcam ST5, £799/ €949. This puts a 'just add speakers' system at under £1,500.

Visit Arcam for more information


    Jay Garrett's avatar

    Jay Garrett

    StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.

    Posted in:Hi-Fi Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers Sources CD Player Streaming
    Tags: arcam  harman luxury group 


    Want to share your opinion or get advice from other enthusiasts? Then head into the Message Forums where thousands of other enthusiasts are communicating on a daily basis.