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Alternatives to Arcam AV8/P7?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by NicolasB, Oct 7, 2002.

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  1. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Subject line says it all, really. What are good alternatives to the Arcam AV8 processor and P7 power amp?

    Does anyone have anything good or bad to say about the following...?

    Arcam AV8
    Tag McLaren AV32R bp 192
    Naim AV2
    Linn AV5103
    Meridian 568
    Lexicon DC2

    (Possible cheaper options: Cyrus AV8, Tag-McLaren AV30R, Rotel RSP-1066, Roksan Caspian).

    Krell Showcase is probably a bit out of reach. Things like the Meridian 861 and Lexicon MC-12 there's no point in even considering. Don't know how much Mcintosh gear costs.


    Power amps I'm a bit less knowledgeable about, although I know most of the above companies make them, and the Bryston 9B seems to be getting a good write-up around here. Are there any monoblocs that are cheap enough to use at that sort of level?


    In the short term I'm looking at a 5.1 system, although I haven't yet abandonded the idea of going to 7.1 in the future. I'm most interested in a system that is clear, precise, transparent, neutral. Not so interested in being blasted off the sofa with the volume. :)
     
  2. daren jackson

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    I would also be interested in peoples views. Looking at the Cyrus AV8/DVD8 and smartpower amps (about 4K in all) - but if the Tag 30 or similar are noticebly better I amy reconsider. It is so hard to find a HIFI store willing to lend you the equipment to evaluate - I can see little point in listening to them in a showroom. They wont sound the same as my living room. There seems to be a big gap in the market place in this sector.
     
  3. Halcion

    Halcion
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    Tag McLaren AV32R bp 192
    - Didn't get a very good showing in the latest Hifi News (10/2002). They don't consider it sonically up to Naim's level. Some people love it though.

    Naim AV2
    - Both German and British magazines agree that this is one excellent performer, even topping many more expensive devices (Integra RDC-7, Tag McLaren AV 32R, etc).

    Linn AV5103
    - German magazines think it's good, but not among the best sonically.

    Meridian 568
    - Too expensive.

    Lexicon DC2
    - Likewise :)

    You should also add:

    AudioNet MAP
    - considered the BEST in two channel analog quality (even above Lexicon DC-12) by German magzines. My friend has heard it and thinks its the dogs ********.

    Anthem AVM-20 v.2.0 (euro)
    - An euro PAL/240V version has just started shipping and even the original version has gathered EXCELLENT reviews stateside. No European reviews yet.

    I'm going to get Anthem and Arcam for home audition. Perhaps Audionet too. I have already taken Tag off my shortlist (sonics, some features, price and a lot due to the local retailer).

    regards,
    Halcyon
     
  4. martintyler

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    The linn processor is a bit out of date now, but i think they have a new one coming (and a dvd player)

    I am also looking at getting one of these processors listed, but am still trying to find a comparison with the pioneer ax10.. never seen them considered in the same review or comments here.

    I have heard the ax10 a few times (including a demo at pioneer uk hq) and am very impressed, but have never really had any demo's of the processors above, so would like to know if its worth going that step further financially.
     
  5. gringottsdirect

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    Interesting.
     
  6. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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  7. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Also interesting, especially with regard to Naim, whose OEM bits in that one ?
    Pardon my asking, I have a few bits of Naim and haven't so far considered their processor.
     
  8. uncle eric

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  9. dts_boy

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    having heard the linn 5103, i would say this is one of the best av processors that do music well. its average when in dd/dts but when you switch to 2 channel - i was amazed! i listened to it with X2 5125 power amps actively driving ninkas, trikan and katans, nice:)
     
  10. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    tag an Arcam are good. I think the Naim uses Motorolla OEM board no doubt BK will confirm

    Linn 5103 was first DD pre-amp in UK. It was astounding in its day. The replacement is likely to be shown at CES in January. I'd expect it will be a bit of a beast as will its matching DVD player, designed by CD12 guru's.....watch out I think they are going for it BIG TIME.

    Gordon
     
  11. Baggy

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    Halcyon,
    Do you know who's importing the Anthem into Europe?

    Regards

    Kevin
     
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    NicolasB

    Nice dilema to have to choose between that little collection.

    I'll give you a Meridian 568.2 perspective on things.
    I own one of these little black boxes along with their 596 DVD player.
    The 568.2 now has some of the 800 technology including Meridians proprietry MHR digital transmission Link for the transfer of DVD-A streams from their 598 & soon to be (?) jacked up 596.
    Downside?..If you want DVD-A from the Meridian 568's, then you'll HAVE to get their 598 or modded 596, as the MHR Link is the only way of receiving the DVD-Audio information.
    I can understand that this could be a tad annoying as you may wish to keep your existing DVD player.
    (oddly enough though, you can have Digital MHR or analogue RCA connections from their 598 !!!!!!)....
    Sound wise?..well the 568 is fantastic in 2 channel mode, offering some great DSP weapons, such as Trifield, Ambisonic & Meridian EZ to increase the sound field.
    Stereo reproduction is total quality.
    Enjoy PLII Music & Movies too.
    The movie decoding, beit in DD, DTS, DTS-THX,DD-THX etc..is razor sharp, and has a real 'cinematic' sound that is worth hearing.
    All Meridian 500 series products are software upgradeable via Meridian's website as & when patches become available.
    Just an RS232 communications link from PC to 568/596 etc...

    Hope you enjoy choosing your processor.

    Adzman:) :)
     
  13. pcookie

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    Not that I could begin to afford the type of kit you are all talking about, I would, if I could, take a serious look at NADS new silverline Processor/5 channel p.amp. Style and spec is similar to Arcam, but given NADS reputation for music delivery who knows. I also think they should bring out a silverline receiver. Only time will tell...


    cookie
     
  14. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Thanks for all the responses, and please keep 'em coming. :)

    Anyone got anything to say about the power amp side of things?
     
  15. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    There is a comparative review of three processors - the TAG AV30R (with optional PLL, £2100), Naim AV2 (£2200) and Arcam AV8 (£3000) in this month's Hi-Fi News, i.e. November issue.

    There is an AV8/P7 review coming up any day in Home Cinema Choice and others scheduled elsewhere in the next month or two.

    Just thought you'd like to know :)

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  16. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Any chance we can get Halcyon and Uncle Eric into a fight overthe merits of the Tag McLaren? :D

    Seriously, though, it's interesting that the two of you have such different opinions. I'd love to know what it is that you both like/dislike about it.
     
  17. Halcion

    Halcion
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    Did anybody get the latest Hifi News (Nov issue)?

    It'd be interesting to know what they say about Arcam, Naim and Tag.

    I'll have to wait another month for the issue to appear where I live.

    And no, you can't get me in a fight about Tag :)

    I like Tag (the company), their upgrade path, but I'm weary of products that sound too dry and analytical - EVEN if it IS more neutral. To me too much accuracy robs from the emotional impact of the music.

    I don't have an opportunity to hear the bp192 version so I can't know for sure whether it's too analytical for me or not. Unfortunately I have to strike it off my list based on reviews from acquintances and some magazines.

    I'm sure it's a wonderful piece of gear and for those who prefer that type of sound, it's probably a steal.

    regards,
    Halcy

    PS I don't know how imports Anthem (if any) to UK, but PCE Systems in Finland imports it to Finland. The best bet would be to ask about local importers from Anthem/Sonic Frontiers directly:

    http://www.anthemav.com/NewSitev2.0/DealerLocator/dealerlocator.html
     
  18. gringottsdirect

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    Thanks Gordon.
     
  19. martintyler

    martintyler
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    October HiFi News has the av32r bp-192 reviewed, makes compairsons to the naim av2 a lot.. and the av2 comes out on top fairly easily for sound quality.
     
  20. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    I'll leave others to quote from the review - it is pretty detailed - but I think it's fair to say that the reviewer suggests you get what you pay for. Anyway we are very happy about it at Arcam :)

    If we get a chance we'll put up some quotes on the website in the next few days.

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  21. martintyler

    martintyler
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    I have just read the review, and yes the arcam comes out on top. In the last paragraph they suggest the av32r would 'compete head on' with the av8.. so why did they choose to review the av30r then? to give the cheaper naim a chance?

    Anyone got an opinions on the arcam P7? compared to bryston, tag etc?
     
  22. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I've also just read that review. You weren't standing next to me in W H Smiths, were you? :) Anyway, that's a fair summary bar one thing: the Tag-McLaren AV30R they thought sounded substantially better than either of the others on 96 kHz material, because both Arcam and Naim machines experience much greater jitter at this sampling rate than they do at 48 kHz. (That may have got a bit garbled on its way from the magazine to here via my brain, but it was something along those lines).

    I believe the Arcam is not capable of handling DTS 24/96 at all: I don't know if this is important or if there's any future upgrade that would make a difference....
     
  23. martintyler

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    If you were in smiths in liverpool street station then maybe :)

    Anyway.. can anyone give an explaination of all the different formats and what they use.. all this 96KHz and DTS 24/96 etc? I have an idea, but i'm sure someone out there could explain it well.
     
  24. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    No, Charing Cross Station. Spooky, eh? :)
     
  25. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    To NicholasB - just a couple of points on the HFN review. BTW it's easier if you have a copy in front of you :)

    You are correct in pointing out that the TAG unit has a better jitter performance at 96 kHz; however this only applies when its digital input is used. With processors that have a slew of analogue inputs, like the AV8 and the Naim for that matter, then you can use the DACs in the DVD player to do this decoding and connect by analogue cables to the processor. If its an Arcam DVD player then the overall results will be excellent, and I believe comparable with the TAG, under these conditions. In any case this only applies to DVD-V discs encoded with 96 kHz sampled audio material and there are precious few of these!

    As to DTS 24/96 the AV8 will decode these discs at 48kHz sampling - not a huge loss I think. It's a hardware issue to change this, and although this will happen it won't be in the near future.

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  26. martintyler

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    I am not that familiar with HiFi News reviews, but i do have the october and november issues.

    October reviews the av32r bp-192 and keeps saying the naim av2 is better, then in november they review the av30r, av2 and av8. This review says the av2 only pips the av30r to the post and the av8 is better.. but then says the av32r is a superior animal and would compete with the av8.

    Thanks hifi news, really cleared it up :)

    I know the chances are i would be very happy with any of these processors, but when you are spending that much money you want to make sure you are getting the best.
     
  27. Halcion

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    So we still don't know what the consensus is on the relative performance of each unit, eh?

    It looks like this:

    Tag AV30R < Naim AV2 < Arcam AV8 ~ Tag AV32R which model? (Nov issue)

    AND also

    Tag AV32 R 7.1 analog bypass 192bp < Naim AV2 (Oct issue)


    ????

    Did I get that right?

    How did Paul Miller conclude in the November issue that AV32R is better, if he didn't measure and compare it?

    Also, did they say to which version they were "comparing" or were they just mouthing off? :)

    regards,
    Halcy
     
  28. Lowrider

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    I don´t think it is a good idea to use the DVD´s DACs, either you loose bass management and DPLII (or whatever), or you do 2 extra conversions, back to digital, and again analog to the power...
     
  29. Nic Rhodes

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    John

    How do Arcam plan to cope with the data frequency being different from the 'expanded' frequency. i.e. data transmitted at 48khz but expanded to 96khz. This will effect jitter performance, it doesn't sound like you have addressed this issue in the original AV8 design. This is not an easy job IMHO.
     
  30. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Listened to Arcam AV8, Tag AV32R and Lexicon DC2 yesterday - with M&K S150P fronts, SS150 rears (Tag power amp) and MX350 sub. Of the three processors I liked the Arcam the least, although I'm not totally convinced the guy really had it set up properly. It sounded much more bass-heavy than the other two. But even allowing for that, there was a slight lack of sharpness. This may be what people mean when they refer to Arcam kit as sounding "warm", I'm not sure.

    The Tag sounded beautifully clear and precise. I can imagine some people might think it was a little too sharp - I've heard people use words like "analytical" in a negative sense. I thought it sounded very good, though.

    The Lexicon wasn't quite as sharp but it was very atmospheric - great front-to-back pans and I think it was a shade more musical than the Tag.

    Of the Tag and Lexicon I'm actually not sure which I prefer. But the Lexcion certainly isn't enough better than the Tag to justify the price difference.

    Also listened to a Meridian 568 with Meridian DSP5000 speakers. Promising in music mode. Sounded so bad with the film that it had to be a problem with the recording rather than the system. Will be reassessing that next week with some other discs.
     

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