Am I going to be tempted away from Arcam?!

Chester

Well-known Member
It's time to start thinking about upgrading my trusty AVR100. It was originally bought to perform in music over home cinema but as the years have gone by, it's not played much radio/CD/MP3 in comparison to DVD videos.

I'm also really cheesed off with its non-ability to decode DTS (bass is pathetic), and 2-channel Dolby Digital is both quiet and full of digital noise and artifacts. So major improvements must be in these areas, in particular DTS.

Speakers are Acoustic Energy AE109s, AE100C, Boston Acoustic dipoles, and handling the bottom is a BK XLS200. The room's 9X15ft. My DVD player is currently an Arcam DV88+.

Not interested in HD, digital video connections or switching (prefer the direct route). Budget is somewhere in the region of a grand but if I should see massive improvements for a few more hundred quid, I reckon it'll be worth going the extra distance.

Some people have suggested Arcam's AVR300, but I understand that it still suffers from audio artifacts in DPL2, but DTS is an improvement. I'm looking for something that's going to blow my head clean off in the clarity/revealing department, not necessarily power. Good music performance is essential, but excellent music performance optional.

There's space in the rack for two units if a two box solution is necessary.

I'm sure that there's a whole bunch of you with the same needs as me. Any recommendations?

Thanks everso in advance :D
 

Crustyloafer

Distinguished Member
Firstly the 'Artifacts' you speak of with regards to Dolby PL2 are just a byproduct of the sort of processing done to the signal.

If you are looking for a major improvement in sound quality then I would loom no further than the new Arcam AVR350. It is a a little above your budget at £1500 but is leagues ahead of the competition as far as audio quality is concerned. It is also worth bearing in mind that the Arcam AVR100 and AVR200 were OEM units slightly redesigned and tweaked by Arcam. The current range of units from Arcam are a ground up design from Arcam themselves and are in a totally different league to their early forays in AV.
 

peskywinnets

Active Member
I have an Arcam AVR100 (had it from new since it's release circa 2001).

To tell you the truth, I've been less than impressed with it from the moment I bought it! IMHO, stereo performance was very average & the home cinema features laughable (incidentally, I wasn't aware of it's inability top play DTS DVDs?)

There have also been rumours of poor bass management (type AVR100 & bass management into google to see what I mean)

I've recently had occasion to buy a subwoofer & was looking forward to connecting my AVR100 up to it....unfortunately, when I did, I couldn't get any noteable signal level from any of the 5.1 RCA pre outs (bags from the tape outs...but I did that just to prove my cables & sub were OK!).

I therefore rattled off an email to Arcam support...they must have speed read my email becuase I got a somewhat nonchalant reply (where it was obvious they hadn't grasped my point).

I emailed them again ...second time was a case of "sounds like you have a fault...send it to us - that'll be £235, thanks"

To say I'm miffed is an understatement. What happened to send it in we'll give you an estimate...nope £235, thank you very much (not bad work, if it's just a loose header connector etc). They also denied any bass management problems (yet in their email they said the sub RCA out will only work if preset 3 is used - even though preset 1 mentions a sub "on"!)

I don't think I could bring myself to buy Arcam again. :thumbsdow :mad:
 

Chester

Well-known Member
That's a poor show I have to say, but it does depend on how recently you contacted Arcam. By the sounds of things, it was just last week. I got my firmware sorted for nothing but had to take it to Waterbeach and collect it again. I think that was 3 years ago! Trouble is that the firmware is on a surface mounted chip on a board at the bottom of the amp, and it was a PROM meaning that they couldn't program it! They replaced it with a flash PROM that can be erased and reprogrammed at will The new firmware at the time had the additional stereo bass management you refer to. It's there in black and white in the speaker menu, but only modded or fixed AVR100s have it. It's well documented.

The AVR100 doesn't have a total inability to decode DTS. It's just crap at it. From what I've been told by one of the guys whilst I was visiting Waterbeach some time ago, the AVR100's sub output in DTS is about 12db lower than it should be. I reckon it's a lot lower than that! Dolby Digital is absolutely fine and in certain films can get a bit carried away. I don't mind too much!

Anyway, it's in these areas that I hoped that Arcam had made huge steps forward. I thought that other past owners of Arcam 5.1 receivers may have moved on to other manufacturers and have opinions on improvements, and/or possibly decided that moving back to Arcam would be in their best interests. I've had loads of Arcam kit over the years and it's easy accept the next generation product and upgrade disregarding other manufacturer's offerings. I'd rather not get tunnel-visioned and if there's something better for the money, I'll take it!

The AVR350 certainly sounds a beafy creature and I'd love to have a listen. Fifteen hundred quid is seriously going to put a burden on my testicles, let alone my wallet (as in I don't reckon the Mrs will be happy with me parting with that amount of cash). Anyone else like to put their two pennies worth in?

Thanks for your comments so far chaps...
 

Crustyloafer

Distinguished Member
To be honest, a lot of manufacturers these days employ a fixed charge system for out of warranty repairs on older kit.

Peskywinnets' lack of satisfaction with the performance and features of the AVR100 makes me wonder if he/she ever listened to the product or did any research into its capabilities before purchasing. If you are so unhappy with its performance why did you buy it in the first place and why have you kept it so long?

Chester, if you would like to hear more from owners of the AVR350 there is a thread running in the Arcam owners forum I have links to below. There is also a long term poll I have been running to gauge the general level of satisfaction from Arcam owners.

http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=374244

http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=334813
 

peskywinnets

Active Member
Crustyloafer said:
To be honest, a lot of manufacturers these days employ a fixed charge system for out of warranty repairs on older kit.

Erhmm- nope still feel miffed. Just because they all do it, doesn't make it right. Those with simple amp faults are subsidising those with more complicated/costly amp faults.


Crustyloafer said:
Peskywinnets' lack of satisfaction with the performance and features of the AVR100 makes me wonder if he/she ever listened to the product or did any research into its capabilities before purchasing.

Erhmm...lots actually. At the time it was being pushed as the only worthy stereo home cinema amp in town (in that price band). From a very poor cast back then, it got the gig.

Crustyloafer said:
If you are so unhappy with its performance why did you buy it in the first place and why have you kept it so long?

Kept it for so long for marital harmony purposes (ie she'd have flipped if I told her I thought it sucked once I got it home & wanted to take the hit & change it). Enough years have now past to put an amp change back on the agenda.
 

Johnny_Harris

Standard Member
I upgraded my AVR100 to an AVR350 last week and am extremely happy with my decision.

I had the AVR100 from new when it first came out (along with a DV88) and was mostly satisfied with it. However the 350 just blows it away, especially as i've bi-amped my Ninkas, it's just in a different league. Admittedly i've only been running the Ninkas up til last week, I also got my centre & rears at the same time as the 350 so can't really compare for multi-channel but for stereo the improvment is clear. The 5.1 in both DD and DTS is superb and i'm finding myself constantly having to trun it down whereas the 100 I was always turning up.

As for the price - i really shouldn't have got it but went ahead anyway. This was made sweeter by the £250 PX the dealer gave me which was lots more than i was expecting!

I tried just changing it out and hooping my wife wouldn't notice. It worked perfectly until this Tuesday. She hasn't spoken to me since...:devil:
 

Knyght_byte

Distinguished Member
if you dont need the video trickery etc, consider trying to find a Primare SPA21 second hand or ex-demo, (mebbe £1,200 for first or £1,500-1,600 for the second).......its very basic, only does 5.1, unless you use offboard power amps, but is a fantastic amp for stereo and surround music......beats the naughty pants off the Arcams below it.....and to my mind gives the ones above it a good few rounds before admitting defeat on the power scale......seriously, it drives most speakers happily, altho would suffer on stuff like MA's GR/GS series or B&W 700 series with the floorstanders in place......otherwise no problems....

but stereo wise its got the goods definitely......if i could have got it for £1,500 new i'd have actually considered taking it over a MF A5 for the fact i could use it for DVD-A/SACD (which i listen to often).....(i dont buy second hand myself and they wouldnt do an ex-dem deal as they only had it for a while...lol)


anyhow, just a thought :)
 

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