Fourth, I must praise the Solo's FM tuner section. Tuners too often seem tacked on as an afterthought, but the Solo's FM section sounds very good— enough so that you'll no longer have to guess which of your local stations uses superior sounding playback equipment. What this means is that, for Solo owners, FM becomes a thoroughly viable music source, provided you have some decent stations in your area. Here in Austin, we're blessed with KMFA, a particularly good classical music station whose broadcasts sounded extremely refined through the Solo.
The Solo does have some drawbacks, but none of them is particularly egregious. First, the Solo—articulate though it is—does not offer the last word in transparency and focus, nor does it offer the sort of ultra-quiet noise floor that can help make dynamics and inner details "pop." In practice, this means some listeners might find the Solo sounds ever-so-slightly soft. Second, the Solo's overall soundstage depth is good, but not great; meaning the back walls of soundstages sometimes seems pulled forward so that stage depth is compressed. Fortunately, the Solo's terrific lateral imaging helps to compensate for lack of stage depth. Third, the Solo's bass, though warm and very nicely weighted, could use more resolution, tautness, and extension. This is one area where moving up to more costly separates (e.g., the NAD C 162/C 272 preamp/ amp combo) buys you an unequivocal jump in performance. Finally, I'd like to see the Solo offer the option of an onboard phono stage, and—especially, two sets of speaker binding posts (to facilitate bi-wiring). But these shortcomings are minor and in no way dampen my enthusiasm for the Solo.
In essence, the Solo fits an excellent $700+ CD player, $800+ integrated amplifier, and $400+ FM/AM tuner within a stylish and surprisingly compact package that sells for the bargain price of $1599 (remote control included). You've just got to like that price/performance equation, especially when you realize the one-box Solo won't require any expensive interconnect cables. True, there may be scenarios where owning separate components would be advantageous, but my educated guess is that you'll need to spend more than the price of the Solo to meet or beat its performance. The Solo is perfect for veteran audiophiles looking to build respectable yet affordable second systems, or for newcomers who want to climb way up the highend performance ladder in one simple move. Best of all, I can see how absolutely killer budget systems could be assembled by matching the Solo with some of the better value-priced, near-full-range speakers now on the market (e.g., Monitor Audio's Silver RS8s, Quad's 22Ls, Revel's Concerta F12s, Triangle's Heliades, and others). As a much better than "entry-level" starting point in high-end audio, Arcam's Solo is a surefire winner.