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Arcam Alpha 7 SE - CD player

[Alpha 7 CD SE]

[Italian version]

Product: CD Player Arcam Alpha 7 SE
Manufacturer: ARCAM - UK
Approx. list Price: 700 Euro (in Italy, very different abroad, YMMV)
Availability: Good
Reviewer: Giorgio Pozzoli

The Alpha 7 SE is a DD player by Arcam, an English Company that is well known for the excellent quality/price ratio of its products. This CD player is the entry level one, followed by 8SE and 9.
Usually, the worst complaint for this kind of products is always related to the poor cabinet quality that surely does not seems quite hi-endish, and it's somehow conflicting with one of the fundamental qualities of top price models.
I'd rather say, anyway, that - considering this model is an entry-level one - it's mostly OK.
What we have here is the classic Arcam cabinet, with a quite robust and inert structure, that sports - on the front panel center - the logo of the Alpha series.
The plastic front panel it's the same of more expensive models. On the far left there is a rounded small panel with the Alpha logo on it, which probably hides the remote control sensor. Going on to the right we find the CD tray, with the usual trapezoidal shape and the curved lower side that follows the curvature of the small panel.
This is followed at the far left by the display that has also a curved lower side.
The overall, described as it is, may seem unusual but it represents a significative factor of differentiation without being too eccentric. It's not a case that this design has been adopted since several years.
Below the display, on the right side, there are two rows of controls: there are all the usual controls and they are of very immediate use. I've started to use them almost without reading the panel. Excellent ergonomics.
A good nationalism sign: on the lower right side a small UK flag remember us the nationality of the product.

[Alpha 7 CD SE]Weight is not very high, but the cabinet is, anyway, rather non resonant. The CD trasport is precise enough and the tray closes very smoothly, but being very light, sometimes, it tends to hesitate. During the tests there were no problems at all and the unit worked flawlessly.
On the rear panel we find the analogue outputs, one digital output with an RCA pin and an optical output. All and only what we need. The power supply cable can be changed thanks to the classic IEC socket.
Internally the unit is neat and well engineered. More infos (including tech specs) can be found at the Arcam Alpha 7SE official page.

Tonal balance

I've connected the Alpha 7 CD SE to my reference audio system and I've left it breaking in for some time.

The sound is very open, while being neutral and detailed.
Surely it is a little bright, but this produces an openness of the sound rather than an evident underlining of the high frequencies.
The bass range is not bad, quite full and powerful, even if does not get, at full power, to the very low frequencies.

Midrange is very good: voices are correct and defined. You've got all the high frequencies, even too much: there is, indeed, the inclination, with quite detailed recordings, to underline a kind of sharpness.


Macrodynamics is good; bass range, while not very deep, is present and does guarantee an adequate impact.

Microdynamics also is not bad, but here we always find the normal limit of a cd player of this class: a portion, indeed very small, of the musical message seems not playing for the listener with the right effectiveness. It appears rather uncertain, as the CD player was unsure of what to do.

In spite of this consideration, in any case quite obvious given the class of the product, I'll try to summariize the performance of this player in few words: a pervading and captivating musicality, that reaches an unexpected level for a CD player of this class and that makes you forgive all its flaws.
I would say that the emotional impact of this CD player, at least in my room and with my system, is the winning factor.

Another issue to keep in consideration is the fact the CD player, even in the presence of rather complex signals, does not get confused, something that assure outstanding musical performance even in those difficult conditions.

Image and soundstage

The image is quite wide, detailed and precise, as it often happens with systems that do privilege the high frequencies. It appears to be rather stable too.
The depth of the soundstage is, somehow, limited by the class level of this product, while still being quite satisfying.


Combine it with neutral audio systems or with the one with the bass range quite evident. Try to place weights on the cabinet (the classic 10kg old book from the grandfather library): it is likely that the stability of the sound will improve.

Also, don't forget this player can be easily upgraded to model 8 SE and model 9 (Arcam's top of the line) by simply adding plug-in DAC modules.


I've to say that I've found difficult to detect really debatable aspects. The only really negative issue is the one of the rather instability of the sound, and some missing fluidity, that is, unfortunately, the common characteristic of all inexpensive CD players. This, then, cannot be considered a specific limit of this product. It is a trivial problem, solving it is easy, you just need to spend twice as much :-)
We should keep in mind that the CD player has been connected to a system of higher class and that those aspects would have been much less noticeable in a system of the same level of this CD.


This is a relatively inexpensive CD player, with a very pleasant design, consistent sonic performance and adequate features. As remarked above, one can do an easy internal upgrade (to model 8SE or model 9) or external (having a digital output is it possible to connect an outboard, better, D/A converter).
Moreover, this is a product with a very good musicality, delightful and encompassing to listen.

© Copyright 2002 Giorgio Pozzoli - http://www.tnt-audio.com

English translation: A. Nicolai

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