A22 with DAVE (DAC) upgrade to?


Prominent Member
Apr 12, 2007
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So I have a much cherished A22 with a DAVE board which is effectively a decent 5.1 DAC.​

Music Sound & Use
The stereo system is made for music and I am extremely pleased with this paired with my Bowers and Wilkins 685 speakers. I don't want to loose this musical perfection :thumbsup: I also use the system for games, movies and TV but music more than anything

Power 100w
I love the 100w power which can either fill my house with music or just easily cope with normal use so would really like to keep to at least 80w or so! 100w is also the max my B&W 685's can take so I like that it is very hard to overdrive them and that they are matched well in this respect. I previously used an old 50w amp and it really was far from enough as it struggled towards the top and I wanted to go louder than 50w.

Optical connections
I really want as many optical feeds as possible! I use this setup with my macbook, xbox 360s, freeview tv and apple airport express so I am currently feeding 4 optical leads into it (2 via optical to coaxial converters). This is necessary as I wanted to eliminate any interference from a noisy computer and large setup (lots of accessories adding up to about 12 plug sockets all interconnected! so lots of room for noise to generate!). I also like to use a DAC to bypass my MacBooks average sound card and I like that the amp decides the volume of itself (voltage/current) rather than being overpowered/underpowered via an analogue input from a laptop. So I really would like a DAC. (USB would be ideal for my mac but very rare to find)

One Box
I really like the elegant one box setup with this amp! least boxes as possible and least remotes.

[-]HDMI / AV Amp
I don't mind that its not got HDMI or any video, however it would be nice to have (so perhaps looking at an AV amp) just because it makes input switching easier, i.e. change the input for the audio and visual at the same press of a button. However the downside to using hdmi here is that I would then be limited to what monitor/tv I could use with my macbook, again, however I am looking at replacing my current monitor with a 1080p hd screen about 27-28" as a TV to get the freeview built in and to again create a more streamlined system with as least boxes as possible. I currently don't even use my freeview box as its effort! I have to turn the amp on, switch the input, turn the screen on, turn the freeview box on, and use 2 remotes. [/-] This can be solved with having all the hdmi inputs going into the tv the one single optical out to the amp, then the TV would do all the switching!

Surround Sound
I am also using the rear surround speaker pre-outs to some small powered speakers (enough!) which i like but not sure I am totally convinced is necessary to have a 5.1 (well 4.0) setup. I can't justify much cost for the surround sound so the rears only cost £40 (on sale normal retail was £90, they were a genuine £90 value for years not some cheap rubbish).

The amp cost me £360 delivered over a year ago. I'm not looking to go too overboard and probably looking at £500 max... or £600 MAX.

The reason for upgrading is simply to get something newer and more up to date, with a bit more life in it.​

So to summarise my requirements are:
High power / ~100w
Musical sound
DAC (possibly 5.1)
Elegant and easy to use
lots of optical and digital connectors (4 No.)
Possibly HDMI (3-4 No.)
Great built quality like the Arcam A22 to last years! (5yrs ++)
I ALWAYS play lossless music and Full HD films)

Thanks for your help!
I look forward to your suggestions.
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At the price you are looking anything new will be a step backwards in terms of sound quality as that really only buys into the budget end of AV receivers. You certainly are not going to get anything with the same build quality as you already have.

If you would like to stick to surround sound then the best option would be to find a s/hand AVR350, though this does not have modern HDMI capability in that it only switches the inputs and does not manage HD sound formats. They can be picked up for around £300-400 in mint condition. The two spare channels (6+7) can be used to bi-amp your B&Ws. If you can get one for at the price I suggested it leaves some budget over for a sub or external DAC. I have one myself and though it has very good DACs I found there was a significant improvement for stereo streamed digital music (FLAC) when I installed a MF V-LINK/V-DAC between my PC and the amp.

It has enough power 100W and that is real power into 5 channels, 120W into two channels, is musical, has good DACs.

The AVR400 is still fetching around £800-£1000 s/hand so is outside of your budget.

The other option would be to find a P25 and Bi-amp your front speakers, keeping the A22. It will be hard to beat. I am finding it difficult to understand why you want to change - what is the driver?
A few years ago I went through a similar thought process to you and it cost me a couple of grand to maintain the stereo sound quality and keep the convenience of 1 box.

If you are not willing to stretch the budget to an AVR400 then an older AVR350 will keep the SQ and give you switching ability but the HDMI is limited as suggested.

It is possible to keep the arcam at the centre of your system so it provides the power for stereo listening and connect it to an av amp using the AV bypass feature so the av amp does all the fancy stuff.

It does add a box but you could do this with an older denon or onkyo and have the best of all worlds just a few more wires and another box.

This is what I did until I could afford the AVR600, now that is one helluva an amp :)
The reason for upgrading is simply to get something newer and more up to date, with a bit more life in it.
Since you don't have the budget to achieve the goals without massively impacting the performance, you might just as well stay with what you have until you can save up enough to be able to afford a functionally enhanced replacement (an AVR400).

Some have suggested a second hand AVR350, but that will yield no real benefit. Spending the £500-£600 now will simply mean that you don't have that much towards the real upgrade you could get a little later were you to exercise a little patience. It's also quite possible that when the new AVR750 comes out you'll find "end-of-line" AVR400's being offered at a good price.

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