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Milesey74

Going from Separates to the ARCAM AVR600

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SNA members, I have been deliberating over a very impressive product. That is the Arcam AVR600. Numerous specialists have informed that the Arcam AVR 600 is a significant step up from most separates, including my semi separate system, that is a Denon 4308 as a pre and the superb NAD M25 multi-channel power amp as the pro. The Arcam AVR600 has received possibly the most glowing reviews of any unit I have ever read over the years. But it still sits uncomfortably with me given that I would be going from a fully satisfying incredibly powerful system to an all in one. Has any other members gone down the route of this infamous Arcam AVR600? I have been reading about some guys trading their $20k pre/pro's for this AVR which to me seems ludicrous. Carlton Audio Visual have a similar story of a guy dropping his very expensive power amp and using the Arcam as an all in one. Would be very interested in your thoughts....

Edited by Milesey74

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Two questions:

What are you looking for in this upgrade?

What speakers are you running?

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Great questions. I am running VAF i93 mk2s for centre and mains and they apparently are extremely well suited to the Arcam AVR600 or of course the more expensive Arcam pre and pro. I have KEF IQ30s (x4) as surrounds. The Kefs run out of the Denon and VAFs are biamped out of the M25.

A good question about the upgrade...it is an unknown quantity. My system at the moment is the very best sounding it has ever been. But I am always open to the idea of even better sound. I was informed that the Arcam will deliver a fuller sound and meatier punch even at low volumes, despite the lower power output. I was also informed that the Arcam can deliver 20W per channel of pure class A amplification and the remainder is a newly applied technology of class G amplification. The $20k Arcam pre/pro is not budgeted for but the AVR600 is. I was sceptical about the Widescreen review until I did some research on the reviewer and how respected he in his field. This is the link, when the page opens there is a link to the pdf review:

http://www.carltonaudiovisual.com.au/?q=node/view/1160

There is another SNA member selling his $10k Meridian power amp and pre to go down this route as well. I just hope that this AVR lives upto it's reputation!! Otherwise I could be a sad SNA member for awhile.

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Hey Milesey , I have the Arcam 600 and regards your quote " Arcam will deliver a fuller sound and meatier punch even at low volumes" will sound better for some and not for others. If your happy with your system stick with it.If you want to get surround sound and want a all in one amp get the Arcam.

Eamonn

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There is another SNA member selling his $10k Meridian power amp and pre to go down this route as well. I just hope that this AVR lives upto it's reputation!! Otherwise I could be a sad SNA member for awhile.

Well it isn't me. Its a pricey piece of kit and I'd expect it to be pretty good, but I've always had a soft spot for Arcam - they are a British manufacturer who've stuck to their guns. As to whether its for you, well, you really need to demo.

What would cause me concern is that one box is doing video, pre/pro and power which knocks a lot of flexibility out down the track. My experience with video particularly has been that it gets obsolete very quickly but you can always not use it (5 svideo inputs? give me a break). So I would be worried its trying to do more than it needs to. Lots of hidef processing in the Arcam, many other manufacturers expect the players to do it. No equalisation/ room correction other than variable crossovers is a bit poor at this price point.

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Also the Arcam AVR-600 gets highly commended av receivers over $4000.00 in the 2010 sound and image awards and has a good review on it in the issue(january)it comes in at a retail of $7498.00.Sounds like a winner to me.:D

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I was informed that the Arcam will deliver a fuller sound and meatier punch even at low volumes, despite the lower power output.

And how the hell does this person know that? Ask for a money back guarantee if it doesn't!

If you want a fuller sound get bigger speakers and/or sub(s) and forget this idea IMO.

Edited by Dr X

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i93? Fine speakers! How are you bi-amping them? Are you actually biamping with an active crossover?

Going from separates to an all in one definitely has it's downsides. If just one thing fails ... also considering the price, the power is a bit limited. Probably more like 100w or less full range (1k specs are inflated).

I was informed that the Arcam will deliver a fuller sound and meatier punch even at low volumes, despite the lower power output.

You already have very good components, but fuller sound? That's a very fuzzy description and it's not really clear what that means. Meatier punch? Again this is very unclear and fuzzy. The kind that hifi salesmen like using to get you to spend more money.

Do you want real meaty punch? Look elsewhere. Real meaty punch comes from boost in the 50 - 200 Hz range, much like in pro systems with pro "subs" running at a much higher level. Meaty punch isn't something airy fairy you get in an amp because a respected reviewer tells you so! It's a very tangible thing. I'm not sure this is what you really want. Judging by your choices so far, probably not.

Fuller sound. One interpretation of that would be the sound from open baffle speakers. But perhaps a better word is more ambience and spaciousness. Again, I'm not too sure that's what you want either.

I'm not too sure there is that much to be gained after spending quite a lot of money here. Perhaps the ergonomics of an all in one? Again, I don't get the feeling that is your goal either.

At that price I think it's a mistake to go for an all in one. One thing to watch is that you don't buy into the stories people tell you because you want to believe them. When you want to justify a purchase, you go through all those stories like "...other guys are selling their $20k separates and upgrading to this!"

There are other things you can do that can really do something tangible and give you clear value for money. To improve the sound, I'd be considering other options:

  • multiple high end subs (3) integrated with measurements and eq - are you living with +/- 20 db peaks in the bass without knowing it yet chasing tiny differences and possibly taking a sideways step while spending big bucks? ... it's possible that $150 spent on a mic + pre could do more for the sound than what you are thinking of spending
  • DEQX active crossover for your VAFS - not easy to improve on these speakers, but if it can be done this is the way to do it
  • high end active woofers
  • room treatment and bass traps

I would do all of the above before even thinking about this, but that's just me.

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Thankyou all for your responses so far.

I should emphasise, that in theory I am not looking to improve the sound as I can not imagine better sound than I am currently getting. BUT on the other hand...I am a realist and I understand that there are units out there that can surpass all expectations and take your listening pleasure up to a level you did no know existed. So I guess it is a big risk and probably unnecessary given that I am completely satisfied with the sound I am currently getting. So why am I seriously contemplating this? Well I guess I got swept away with the reviews and recommendations.

Paul, I think you are right. I think I should be looking into bass traps and improving my room acoustics. I have treated the room with acoustic foam, but really need to add some bass traps and do some proper analysis on how my room reacts at varying frequencies, reflections, standing waves etc.

I am not using a DEQX crossover with the VAF i93 MK2s. I currently split the signal from the preout on the 4308 into 2 signals per VAF speaker. ie. 1 preout signal divided between 2 power amp channels. Therefore out of a 7 channel amp I am using 6 channels. That is 2 for one main, 2 for the other main and 2 for the centre channel. I am using the 4308 to power the 4 surrounds.

I guess I need to think about this abit more and maybe go down the route of room improvement if I really want to 'tweak' something.

Thankyou all SNA enthusiasts, I really appreciate all of your opinions and suggestions and if there are more, they are very welcome.

Regards,

Miles

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Any chance you can demo one at home in your system with your speakers? Any good retailers near you? Some should atleast offer you a money back trial period??

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So you are "passive biamping"? One amp signal goes to the tweeter mid passive crossover, the other to the woofers?

I should emphasise, that in theory I am not looking to improve the sound as I can not imagine better sound than I am currently getting.

Just feel like spending some audio money anyway?! :D

It would'nt surprise me if you could improve it with a few things costing very little. Actually I'd be surprised if you couldn't improve the sound. It just takes a comparison and suddenly you see a whole new area of improvement.

I remember one time grinning from ear to ear thinking "wow, this is good and from here it can only get better." Since then I've improved many times since. And actually I've still got a long way to go.

I think what would surprise you is if you heard DEQX. It really can open up some quite big changes. It lets your drivers do things that aren't possible with a passive xo. Only thing is, you might need to pay someone to install it for you and set it up. It's an advanced job. I'd suggest your biggest upgrades would be that and working on the bass.

I'm not surprised you're in no hurry to improve the sound - those are all fine components.

One other thing I was going to mention. I've found your speakers to be very unforgiving - ruthless in revealing detail. If your amp is clipping, it's probably going to get nasty. As a result, I'd say it's especially important to power them with very capable amps, and to have a fair amount of headroom. Again, this is a reason to use power amps as you do already. In my system I've driven my mains with 50w, 100w, 230w, 450w and 650w! Quite a range. Having used 650w for a while and now running 230w, I actually find the 230 that I'm currently running to be only just enough. It's very easy to underestimate the amount of power you need, or that is useful. Although my setup is power hungry due to the eq and since the amp is running full range. On a movie I get very very close to clipping at the loudest points. The funny thing is 50w sounded loud enough to me but I did more often run into problems with the treble sounding harsh turned up.

Still thinking of buying the Arcam?

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I would definitely not go for the Arcam. Any company that is making up claims of "Class G" is just doing some marketing spin. What on earth does "G" stand for? :D Along with that, you would need to hear it in your system to really compare. If what you have is great then stay with that.

I have a Pioneer SC LX-81 and I am going to buy an Elektra Theatron so that I can have a separate power amp. This will also allow me to run by DCX and EQ for the room.

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Hi Milesey,

The pre amp section of the arcam avr600 should be a step up(pre amps are important),the power amp side does seem to have good power available for an avr,as for class A 20watts no,idle is only 120watts so not possible.Sound wise I would I would use with your speakers,depending on music taste and vol levels you need and see if suitable for your system.Your speakers like most would like quality power.

Cheers Victor.

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Hi Milesey,

The pre amp section of the arcam avr600 should be a step up(pre amps are important),the power amp side does seem to have good power available for an avr,as for class A 20watts no,idle is only 120watts so not possible.Sound wise I would I would use with your speakers,depending on music taste and vol levels you need and see if suitable for your system.Your speakers like most would like quality power.

Cheers Victor.

Just wondering how it could be considered that the arcam is providing "quality power"?

Five channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 82.0 watts

1% distortion at 95.5 watts Seven channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 81.0 watts

1% distortion at 93.9 watts

from the home theater mag tests

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Just wondering how it could be considered that the arcam is providing "quality power"?

Five channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 82.0 watts

1% distortion at 95.5 watts Seven channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 81.0 watts

1% distortion at 93.9 watts

from the home theater mag tests

Hi,

I think you missunderstood my comment,I did not say the arcam amp is quality power wise,I said all speakers will sound better with matching amps of qualilty,not so much quantity.I have not listen to avr600 in my system so best to try in milesey,s see if enough powerfor HT if run full range,maybe not.The Arcam has got good sound reviews,so its worth a try in his system.In my system I use ref600mkIII even for HT,They have very high power,and sound fantastic.

Cheers Victor.

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I read the home theatre mag test results with respect to distortion and was not at all concerned. Many manufacturers claim THD levels of less than 0.05% but in real test environments they are rarely achieved. And in any case many loudspeakers when tested actually distort around 8%, meaning the THD of 1% is negligible. There is a fantastic audio analysis video that debunks some of the wildest theories such as high end power cables etc. But that is another topic altogether, but here is the link:

Absolutely worth the watch, even though it is an hour long.

I agree that the Arcam AVR600 would be a step up pre-amp wise. But to fund this experiment I was going to sell both my 4308 and NAD M25 to buy the Arcam. I guess ideally I would keep the NAD M25, sell the 4308 and purchase the Arcam AVR600. But then my mind starts to think would I not be better buying a dedicated preamp such as the NAD M15HD which retails for about the same price as the Arcam AVR600.

I am really having second thoughts now on going down the Arcam route. And I can't see a Hifi specialist allowing me to bring one home to test it. The other small but not so important interesting note, is that currently the Arcam is made in China. But production is relocating to England later on this year. I don't think that is a deal breaker though.

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M..74,

FWIW you can find a review here which you may not have come across >>> http://www.iar-80.com/.

I'm very happy with my AVR300 doing the processing for HT and powering centre and rears.

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M..74,

FWIW you can find a review here which you may not have come across >>> http://www.iar-80.com/.

I'm very happy with my AVR300 doing the processing for HT and powering centre and rears.

I have read this review. This review is the full version of the one published in Widescreen review. I am very sceptical of this review and can understand why Widescreen review heavily edited it. For example, at one point in the review he explains that you need to swap the power lead for a particular brand power lead otherwise the receiver sounds dull and lifeless. I mean give me a break. All that review did is make me doubt everything I had read about the receiver. The sad thing is that Peter Moncrieff is someone who was held in high esteem in the audiophile review world. He has been doing reviews since the early 80s but now I can't help but think that he has gone a little crazy or even sold out.

I am glad that you are happy with the AVR300 doing all your HT processing. I am sure it is a superb receiver.

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I read the home theatre mag test results with respect to distortion and was not at all concerned. Many manufacturers claim THD levels of less than 0.05% but in real test environments they are rarely achieved. And in any case many loudspeakers when tested actually distort around 8%, meaning the THD of 1% is negligible. There is a fantastic audio analysis video that debunks some of the wildest theories such as high end power cables etc. But that is another topic altogether, but here is the link:
Absolutely worth the watch, even though it is an hour long.

It's good that you are fully aware of all the hokum about cables and wires. It's going to save you money and let you spend it where it counts - the room :cool: Negative feedback is evil is another fave topic for the audio luddites.

I agree that many amp tests are making things up / testing under special conditions. However, when you get to hear an amp that really is under 0.01% THD then you will be mighty impressed. The 8% distortion on speakers is mostly about bass/subwoofers. If you are driving the low frequencies hard you really need to keep it under 5%. Distortion is more detectable in speakers as you go up the frequency range, hence the wave (guide) of compression drivers entering the home environment.

Either way, I trust you will get the best outcome and ultimately achieve the sound that allows you to enjoy the music even more.

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I wouldn't consider THD a factor in any choice as it has been proven to be irrelevant to sound quality. It paints the picture with a brush too broad, and this has been proven. Trying to rate sound quality with THD is like trying to choose colours in black and white. Earl Geddes has done some work on this and in the past had distorted audio samples on his website. It showed that you could have higher THD, in fact quite high and yet sound clean, but also low THD yet an obviously distorted signal. Turns out you need a more sophisticated picture to get a real idea of SQ. Geddes and others have come up with metrics that do track with our perception, but I've never heard of them being used in tests. It's a shame as that would give us real info. According to Geddes, crossover distortion at low level is the most important thing to measure in an amp. That would suggest the Arcam could well be a good choice. 20 watts is enough for critical listening at moderate levels.

I'm not too sure manufacturer's would really want people to be able to judge sound quality on the basis of specs they provide. I think they prefer to wield the tool of marketing, and I think consumers prefer it that way as well.

I still think that's too much to spend on an all in one.

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Earl Geddes has done some work on this and in the past had distorted audio samples on his website. It showed that you could have higher THD, in fact quite high and yet sound clean, but also low THD yet an obviously distorted signal. Turns out you need a more sophisticated picture to get a real idea of SQ. Geddes and others have come up with metrics that do track with our perception, but I've never heard of them being used in tests. It's a shame as that would give us real info. According to Geddes, crossover distortion at low level is the most important thing to measure in an amp.

Yes, I have been reading Geddes posts on this. I, for one, would really like to see these metrics being used, and applied widely to collect more data, so that amplifier design could be at a minimum level of acceptability. Of course, they can still sound different :cool: As Sean Olive says, audio components need a lot more science and a lot less marketing to continue to improve.

I have gain clone, D-class and had tube, class A and A/B and am getting back into A/B. My current speakers have a sensitivity of 89dB. My new speakers are 100dB. Looking forward to doing some comparisons and hearing how my new amp sounds at this new level of transparency.

Sorry to Milesey for going OT

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I agree that it is alot of money for an all in one. I have just spoken to a guy who has gone from NAD separates to the Arcam AVR600 driving VAF i93 speakers! He is adamant that it was a significant step up in sound quality for him and his room. So this kind of feedback has got me thinking that maybe the Arcam is capable of driving these fantastic speakers. And will it be a step up in sound quality? I don't know. One thing that has me concerned about the Arcam is the lack of Audyssey.

Don't worry about going OT, the 'nerdier' the talk, the more I can relate :cool:

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UOTE=Milesey74;321520]I have read this review. This review is the full version of the one published in Widescreen review. I am very sceptical of this review and can understand why Widescreen review heavily edited it. For example, at one point in the review he explains that you need to swap the power lead for a particular brand power lead otherwise the receiver sounds dull and lifeless. I mean give me a break.

I don't believe everyting I read until I try it for myself, regardless of axiomatic laws of physics - wouldn't know whether Moncrieff is correct or crazy but I don't assume either. But I do worry when the AVR300 was the dux nuts, then the 350 was best in world and now the 600 takes the mantle - is every new Arcam AVR model the world's best?!

Something I have literally only just tried and bugger me I was blown away:

1. I run an Arcam DV27A as my CD player and it has dedicated RCA stereo outs for this purpose, which I conenct via Nordost Red Dawn/Eichmann I/Cs to the CD input on my Primare I30. D/A done in the DV27A and then through 1 preamp stage.

2. I also run the Arcam AVR300 receiving digital via coax from the DV27A and then connect the fronts from the AVR300 pre-outs to the AUX inputs on the Primare I30 via Nordost Solar Wind I/Cs i.e D/A done in the AVR300 and then through 2 preamplifier stages as best as I can understand. I use this for HT. AVR300 powers centre and rears.

For the first time I have done an A/B comparo on stereo music by balancing up the volumes through each of the paths and changing which signal I hear by simply toggling the Primare between AUX and CD inputs, all else untouched.

Listening to Dire Straights Private Investigations and there is very little in it with the I30 sounding more airy, detailed and emotive to me, but only by a very small margin - similarly KDLang Hallelujah from the 49th Parallel and Chant from Four Play.

Don't purport this to be a definitve review by any stretch (wouldn't know how to do one anyway!!) but I was genuinely surprised to the extent that somebody on a budget or wanting a one box could find the AVR300 (if HDMI isn't an imperative), or it newer cousin the 350 a very palatable solution particularly when able to be picked up from the UK for under $1k landed. To be fair, one may need a power amp for fronts to get close to what I have compared, but it seems the Arcam pre is pretty good.

Just a though as it would leave you lots to spend on other things, and it genuinely surprised me.

Shame you weren't in Brissie as I'd be happy for you to demo and hear for yourself

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Don't purport this to be a definitve review by any stretch (wouldn't know how to do one anyway!!) but I was genuinely surprised to the extent that somebody on a budget or wanting a one box could find the AVR300 (if HDMI isn't an imperative), or it newer cousin the 350 a very palatable solution particularly when able to be picked up from the UK for under $1k landed. To be fair, one may need a power amp for fronts to get close to what I have compared, but it seems the Arcam pre is pretty good.

Just a though as it would leave you lots to spend on other things, and it genuinely surprised me.

Shame you weren't in Brissie as I'd be happy for you to demo and hear for yourself

Thankyou for your kind offer. I am sure that the Arcam 300 is a fantastic musical unit but I can't go back to lossy movie soundtracks now after being well and truly bitten by Bluray and its audio lossless glory! I am sure the Arcam AVR300 is a superb unit for DVDs and CDs though. I can't even bring myself to hire DVDs or buy them anymore. It is a bit like when DVD came out and once you experienced it, VHS became a distant 2nd. I think the only all in one AVR I would go at this point in time is the Arcam AVR600. Out of interest, two hifi shops told me they have stopped stocking the $12,000+ top of the range Denon AVR because they simply weren't moving once customers were hearing the Arcam AVR600. I am sure there is some 'salesmanship' in that sentence but they did sell both brands.

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Thank you for all your responses thus far. I have decided to stick with the pre/pro option for the time being (ie. what I currently have). I pulled my pre and pro from sale after much deliberation. I was very appreciative of everyone's opinions. Regards, Miles.

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