Alternative to Arcam amplifiers <£1k

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
Following my disappointing experience with Arcam's A29 amplifier recently (great when it works!) I've been rather put off the Arcam marque in terms of reliability. As the title suggests, I'm interested to hear anyone's experiences of good alternatives to Arcam's amplifier offerings that can be had at £1k and below. I'm looking for something that provides SQ similar to the balanced/detailed/smooth/slightly warm sound of Arcam, not something that's diametrically opposite (i.e. I want to avoid bright, analytical etc).

Not too bothered about digital inputs, an analogue amp will do. I'm currently using a Arcam A65 Plus (40wpc) with a pair of Tannoy XT6Fs (sensitivity 90dB), which are a winning combination in the medium sized space I use (up to 80dB at a listening position <3m from the speakers) so not really looking for anything over 100wpc.

I'm all ears to ideas!
 

larkone

Member
You could get a power amp and use the A65 as a pre-amp. S/Hand Arcam Diva power amps (P75/P80/P85/P90 etc.) are relatively cheap, have no software driving them, are reliable and maintain the Arcam sound you like. It will also give the option of bi-amping your speakers.
 

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
You could get a power amp and use the A65 as a pre-amp. S/Hand Arcam Diva power amps (P75/P80/P85/P90 etc.) are relatively cheap, have no software driving them, are reliable and maintain the Arcam sound you like. It will also give the option of bi-amping your speakers.
Yes I had considered this: am on the lookout for a P75 plus, as they come up from time to time. But would be interested in hearing about people's experiences with other brands
 

peter312

Active Member
perhaps a Marantz PM8006?
 

Danial

Active Member
I liked Audiolab when I auditioned them a while back. I was also using an Arcam A65+ until fairly recently before switching to actives. I probably would have gone with Audiolab had I stayed with passives.
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
I've had my Rega Elex-R for a week. It's brilliant. I'd highly recommend.
 

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
I liked Audiolab when I auditioned them a while back. I was also using an Arcam A65+ until fairly recently before switching to actives. I probably would have gone with Audiolab had I stayed with passives.
Interesting. I'd often got the impression that Audiolab stuff is a bit... clinical? Which model did you audition, the 6000 or 8000 series?
 

Danial

Active Member
Interesting. I'd often got the impression that Audiolab stuff is a bit... clinical? Which model did you audition, the 6000 or 8000 series?
Neither, it was a while ago and I believe under their M-DAC series, but it was also an integrated amp. You might be right as I’m basing this off a distant memory, but I remember liking it.
 

larkone

Member
Yes I had considered this: am on the lookout for a P75 plus, as they come up from time to time. But would be interested in hearing about people's experiences with other brands
Not sure how others descriptions of sound signatures is going to help unless they can borrow your ears, brain, room and speakers. Everyone's perception of sound is different. The only sure way is to try it out for yourself. Naim is a good example - some think they sound brilliant, others think they sound dreadful
 

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
Not sure how others descriptions of sound signatures is going to help unless they can borrow your ears, brain, room and speakers. Everyone's perception of sound is different. The only sure way is to try it out for yourself. Naim is a good example - some think they sound brilliant, others think they sound dreadful
Yes yes, Larkone, I do get that it's all about hearing any piece of kit for yourself. But I'm interested to hear what other people's experiences are like, if they've moved from Arcam to another brand. There is something to be said for 'brand sound', so it can perhaps narrow down the range of choices available. and what else is a forum for but to ask question like this? For more than 50% of posts on a hifi forum you could reply 'you need to listen to it yourself', which would render forums redundant in that case.

You rocked up to my Arcam repair times thread to point out what a silly question it was, but that thread yielded some very useful information.
 
Last edited:

larkone

Member
I moved from Arcam to another amp (Lyngdorf) but my description of it's sound would not help you, other than to say I wouldn't go back to Arcam and RoomPerfect sorted my room out. All I would say is that RoomPerfect has to be tried out but I cannot tell you if you will hear a difference or whether you might like it because the result it is specific to your room with your speakers. What you say about 50% of questions is absolutely true - What is the best amp? What are the best floorstanders? Pointless questions.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Fair enough. Would actually like to hear an Elex-R: I'm sure it'd go with my Planar 3, difficult to find a place that stocks it nearby though!
AudioT stock Rega. The Rega is bare bones basic analogue amp. Not even a stand-by option, turn on via fascia button. No headphone jack if that is important. Not an Elex owner but I love my Elicit-R.
 

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
AudioT stock Rega. The Rega is bare bones basic analogue amp. Not even a stand-by option, turn on via fascia button. No headphone jack if that is important. Not an Elex owner but I love my Elicit-R.
I'm good with all that: never use headphones for my main system, and like it's minimal facilities: would rather keep all digital bits outboard.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The Rega was on for about 10 hours yesterday, no fatigue at all and is delightful given good recordings, will also show up the crap ones for what they are as well. I have a headphone amp connected to the dedicated RCA out and that works extremely well. If HT by-pass is of interest that's onboard and again works perfectly with my Denon AVC.
 

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
The Rega was on for about 10 hours yesterday, no fatigue at all and is delightful given good recordings, will also show up the crap ones for what they are as well. I have a headphone amp connected to the dedicated RCA out and that works extremely well. If HT by-pass is of interest that's onboard and again works perfectly with my Denon AVC.
That's good to hear about it's non-fatiguing nature: especially since lockdown started I've had music on for easily 10-12 hours a day.
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
The Rega was on for about 10 hours yesterday, no fatigue at all and is delightful given good recordings, will also show up the crap ones for what they are as well. I have a headphone amp connected to the dedicated RCA out and that works extremely well. If HT by-pass is of interest that's onboard and again works perfectly with my Denon AVC.
+1. Had the elex on all yesterday. Even stuff like tv theme tunes sound noticeably better.
 

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
The Elex definitely seems to be the amp I need to try, especially as my system is primarily (Rega) turntable based. I also like the fact that they're built in the UK, like my A65 was, but unlike Arcam's more recent stuff.
 

Charles44

Novice Member
I have had a lot of Arcam hifi over the years, my biggest regret was selling a recently, at the time , repaired Cd192 about 9 years ago. This year I decided to buy firstly a used CDs27 for a second system and then a new, but reduced in price A29 from you guessed it Nintronics, to replace a used A19 in the second system. The second day I had it started to go into "stand by"" of it's own accord when in use. To be fair to Nintronics they refunded promptly but I decided not to get rid of the A19 as it is fine. All I wonder is where did the A29s all come from. My only other observation at the time was that the build quality was not as good as the A19 which is quite old.
The Cds27 had a good sound but the response time was painful - so slow, clunky and noisy it had to go and fortunately I did not lose anything on it.
The A29 was new and clearly so when I unpacked it and sounded fine for kit not run in. However after a day it just kept going into stand by mode when being used, I returned it for a full refund.
What I now realise is that Arcam is just not what it used to be when UK made, I would not touch it with a barge pole now. This a bit sad as I have had some great Arcam hifi in the past and I still think the FMJ range looks great. The A19 is still going strong and must be 7/8 years old, I am listening to it now.
 

Closed account

Formerly 'Handy Cockherb'
@Charles44 Very similar to my experience: an apparently amazing deal from Nintronics on a brand new A29 that Arcam apparently found at the back of their warehouse 😏... with mine it sounded fine except for the channel dropouts and occasional crackling, which needed to be dealt with. Seems that plenty of other owners have had a similar experience: well, enough for it appear to be an inherent issue. No wonder the price of the A29 dropped quickly, and, at the price 'unearthed' new ones keep popping up on Nintronics website, something seems a bit dodge: Arcam must be aware of the problem with them, but they still release them to market in the hope that customers won't notice or complain.

And, as with your A19, my A65 Plus has been going strong without any issues and sounds as lovely as any amp I've heard under £1k, albeit suited to smaller to mid-sized rooms. I was all for sticking with the brand prior to my A29 experience, and I've since been reading about the niggles people have had with the SA30.... seems Arcam really aren't what they used to be.
 

peter312

Active Member
Have you heard it? What's it's sound signature like?
I have heard a number of Arcam and Marantz amps including the Marantz PM7000N that I currently own. It costs roughly the same as the PM8006 but has a couple of extra facilities (digital inputs, network streamer). From what you said, I suggested the PM8006 as it seems to be more focused on just being an amp.

I find all of the Marantz amplifiers I have heard to have a similar warmth to Arcam and all in my experience have been utterly reliable.
 

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