Arcam AV9 Purchase a Waste?

gbaby

Active Member
I recently purchased an Arcam AV9, but now I consider this purchase a waste. The salesman indicated he thought the unit could be upgraded to receive audio over HDMI for the new high def audio codecs, but I have since found out this would require a hardware upgrade. I would not buy the expensive pre/pro in light of this fact as it is obsolete on arrival. Once you hear the new audio codecs, you will understand what I mean. They are another league in movie sonics. This is simply a warning just in case one was considering the AV9.
 

will1066

Novice Member
The AV8/9 is really growing long in the tooth. However, I'm hanging on to mine until Dawson and co. unveils the next-gen flagship. I don't think it's worth to get ANYTHING until the compression-less codecs and HDMI 1.3 becomes entrenched, so that high-end makers can decide to get to work.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Actually there are no pre / power combinations currently available with HDMI 1.3 and all HD decoding options, although one has been announced by Denon (this is known in the trade as vapourware - you can order it but you can't take it home). There are a small number of (annnounced) "high end" integrated amps.

At the same time, the number of HD DVD or Bluray players actually capable of streaming HD formats is limited, and AFAIK there are none (number taken from a December hifi magazine) that can actually stream all formats (extended stream). There are some amps that can decode HD formats (limited to core only, = DVD) and an even smaller number that can do (some of) the extended streams, but if you actually listen to them, the quality of the sound is not that high to start with - as a double-blind A/B test would reveal.

Although waiting may be sensible if you already have an adequate AV preprocessor and want HD DVD or Bluray, your comment is definitely over the top.
 

jagr

Active Member
Once you hear the new audio codecs, you will understand what I mean. They are another league in movie sonics.
I kind of see what you are saying here, I went from an Onkyo 805 to the Arcam 350 and at first I wasn't sure I had made the right decision (Still not 100%).
It was nice to just use HDMI instead of HDMI and optical/coaxial.

It's only when you listen to your old movie collection you realise what you were missing (Fifth Element DTS).
What the Arcam does play is out of this world and I think you would be hard pushed to find anything that sounds better at what it can decode (DTS, PLII etc).
 

Greggles

Active Member
As someone who had my AV8 upgraded to an AV9 as soon as it was available, I have longed for an HDMI audio upgrade (AV10?) at some point in the future. Unfortunately, whereas the AV8-AV9 upgrade essentially slotted in a simple self-contained HDMI switch; incorporating audio would be a far more complex and expensive proposition. As has been said, the AV8/9 is beginning to resemble paleo-hifi in comparison with more recent models and I believe the AV10, when it appears, will be an entirely new design.
 

table manners

Novice Member
I went for the av9 after talking to an arcam rep.I really wanted to have audio over hdmi but as mark.yudkin points out a cheaper hd amp wont really be a big jump in sound then from a top end processor.
Arcam are going to hold out on the whole hdmi audio thing untill its safe to jump into.
Now i only went for a an AV9 because i was told arcam should do an upgrade on the av9 when they do the hdmi audio thing,I just hope it will happen as this is one of the main reasons i got it :rolleyes: and that it sounds so good,the only thing that i heard that could compare to my myryad hi-fi kit.
I will agree that the spec on the av9 is looking dated at the moment but the current sound you get from it is very hard to beat,im sure when arcam do hd audio it will blow you away.
 

tvh3ad

Novice Member
the number of HD DVD or Bluray players actually capable of streaming HD formats is limited, and AFAIK there are none (number taken from a December hifi magazine) that can actually stream all formats (extended stream)
Samsung's current (and inexpensive) BD player does DTS HD, Dolby TrueHD, and DD+ both over HDMI and 5.1 multichannel analog. Is this not pretty much everything?
 

sneill

Active Member
I'm still hopeful Arcam will announce an AV10 in CES next week.
I know it's a long shot given that they have commented before they don't like the jitter on audio sent via HDMI, however some of Arcam's competitors have AV processors scheduled to come out this year that will have DTS HD-MA / Dolby True HD decoders:

* Classe SSP-800
* Denon AVP-A1 HD
* Primare SP32 - Out Q1/Q2 2008
* Cary Cinema 11a + 11v - Apparently available soon
* SimAudio Moon CP100 - Not till 2009 & 10k USD ballpark

I'm expecting confirmation re above options during next weeks CES in Vegas.
Realistically the Primare would be closest priced competitor to Arcam (in my opinion).
Not sure if Cary is sold in UK?

The recently launched Onkyo Integrated receivers have DTS HD-MA / Dolby True HD decoders on the market now but as Mark points out there are no pre / power combinations currently available with HDMI 1.3 and all HD decoding options at the moment.. There's the Integra 9.8 but that's there's currently no European model.
If Onkyo can incorporate these chipsets/decoders into equipment retailing at less than 1000/GBP then surely the high end companies can add this to units costs 3 – 10 K GBP.
That's the part that I don't get…:thumbsdow


Re: Bitstream DTS HD-MA / Dolby True HD from source players.
- I think the Panasonic BD-30 model (avail in USA only at the moment) will send both formats via bitstream?
- I thought some of the Toshiba HD DVD players currently offered Bitstream outputs?

Just trying to get a better understanding on what options are out there, I'm sure other Arcam owners are curious also.
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
I recently purchased an Arcam AV9, but not I consider this purchase a waste. The salesman indicated he thought the unit could be upgraded to receive audio over HDMI for the new high def audio codecs, but I have since found out this would require a hardware upgrade. I would not buy the expensive pre/pro in light of this fact as it is obsolete on arrival. Once you hear the new audio codecs, you will understand what I mean. They are another league in movie sonics. This is simply a warning just in case one was considering the AV9.
You need to be warning people about your dealer not the product. I still recommend an AV9 as the best option all things considered i.e. you can only send in HD audio via analogue, but overall it still sounds like an Arcam fmj component where the very limited range of HDMI audio capable products are not reference solutions. THe fact you have been told that you will be able to HDMI audio I think is very unprofessional
 

darron027

Novice Member
Could you not simply take it back for refund / exchange if your not happy?

If Id purchased the AV9 for the same reason as yourself I'd defo take it back if wasnt happy.

I purchased an AV9 in Oct 07. I love it....
 

gbaby

Active Member
You need to be warning people about your dealer not the product. I still recommend an AV9 as the best option all things considered i.e. you can only send in HD audio via analogue, but overall it still sounds like an Arcam fmj component where the very limited range of HDMI audio capable products are not reference solutions. THe fact you have been told that you will be able to HDMI audio I think is very unprofessional
I live in the USA and I personally don't think the Arcam dealers are that good here. None that I have dealth with had the AV9 in stock, but rather, you had to special order it. I had the AVP700 and I could not get the dealer to upgrade my software because of the fear he would torch the unit as he claims he torched one. Now my AVP700 is out of warranty and with that warning I would not dare try to upgrade it. I am just keeping it as a back up unit. But, in any case, I could never return the AV9 because I have had it since May of 2007 and the dealer never stated in writing that the AV9 could be upgraded to the new HD codecs (HDMI 1.3). He stated it orally so I don't have a leg to stand on. Don't get me wrong, I like the AV9. But, at $6,600.00 retail in the USA, one would be foolish to invest in this pre/pro with current units like the Integra 9.8 playing the new HD codecs. The sound improvements with them out classes even the legacy surround formats in the AV9. Again, this unit is great, but obsolete. You can't use the analog pass through for the new codecs because you won't have a way to use a crossover for your sub. That why the new codecs would be better built in the unit. Again, I don't see why anyone would pay such a hugh sum for a pre/pro that is obsolete. This includes a Krell, Meridian or any other expensive pre/pro.
 

tvh3ad

Novice Member
Again, this unit is great, but obsolete. You can't use the analog pass through for the new codecs because you won't have a way to use a crossover for your sub. That why the new codecs would be better built in the unit. Again, I don't see why anyone would pay such a hugh sum for a pre/pro that is obsolete. This includes a Krell, Meridian or any other expensive pre/pro.
I think the word "obsolete" is a tad bit strong here: you're talking about a pre/pro that does just about everything under the sun -- except HDMI high-rez audio. These are formats which remain in their infancy and are usable only by early-adopters of blu-ray/HD-DVD (for which there are still only something like 1,000 titles available), and it's still not entirely clear that either format is going to catch on with the mass market the way DVD did. (Plus, there remain exactly zero network, cable, or satellite broadcasts in any audio format more advanced than DD 5.1.)

While it *would* be fair to say that the AV9 is not bleeding-edge, that was already true the day it was released. If that's what you're looking for, Arcam FMJ is perhaps not the right game for you: its emphasis is on refinement and flawless execution, not on supporting future standards before they become well-established.

Regarding sub crossover: that's entirely dependent on the player, but as a rule pretty much any player that supplies analog outputs is going to come with some kind of onboard bass management as well.
 

webhammer

Novice Member
I think the AV9 is competitive in the USA as a $6600 stereo preamp with a whole lot of other goodies thrown in. That being said, I have worked for the US Arcam importer for the last 4 years and have been into the hobby for 40 years, back to when I built my first kit integrated.
I am very concerned about any problems with Arcam dealers in the US. We have hundreds of dealers here, so of course there may be a bad apple or two, but we are very careful who we sign up. If anyone has legitimate complaint, take it to your dealer first, but if you don't get complete satisfaction, please PM me with details and I will do whatever I can to help.
Finally, I do all the 700, AV8/9, and AVR software upgrades here and have never heard of one that had 'torched' during the upgrade process, which I assume means burst into flames. There have been a handful that have failed the upgrade of course, failure percentages being what they are, but the success rate is truly on the order of 99%. The bottom line is that we don't make people keep units that fail during upgrades. Again, please PM me if your USA dealer is unable to solve your problem or upgrade your unit.
I live in the USA and I personally don't think the Arcam dealers are that good here. None that I have dealth with had the AV9 in stock, but rather, you had to special order it. I had the AVP700 and I could not get the dealer to upgrade my software because of the fear he would torch the unit as he claims he torched one. Now my AVP700 is out of warranty and with that warning I would not dare try to upgrade it. I am just keeping it as a back up unit. But, in any case, I could never return the AV9 because I have had it since May of 2007 and the dealer never stated in writing that the AV9 could be upgraded to the new HD codecs (HDMI 1.3). He stated it orally so I don't have a leg to stand on. Don't get me wrong, I like the AV9. But, at $6,600.00 retail in the USA, one would be foolish to invest in this pre/pro with current units like the Integra 9.8 playing the new HD codecs. The sound improvements with them out classes even the legacy surround formats in the AV9. Again, this unit is great, but obsolete.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
All HD formats have two parts: the standard stream, which is the same as DVD, and an extended stream, which "fills in the gaps" so to speak. Provided a player can decode / stream the standard stream, it can claim support for the HD format (just like my TV supports Pal Plus), and basically all players do.

Unfortunately, some manufacters fail to indicate whether they decode / stream the extended stream or not (just like my TV does not decode Pal Plus), although a reasonable assumption in such cases is that they do not. Samsung's Swiss web site description gives no indication. I have not seen a Samsung manual.

Toshiba is much better in this respect. Their top machine (HD-XE1) that is sold here has Dolby Digital (up to 5.1 channels), Dolby Digital Plus (up to 5.1 channels), Dolby True HD (up to 5.1 channels), dts (up to 5.1 channels), dts-HD (up to 5.1 channels), PCM (up to 5.1 channels) [http://www.toshiba.ch/consumer/features.asp?ProdID=HD-XE1].
 

cjohnson6

Novice Member
I think the AV9 is competitive in the USA as a $6600 stereo preamp with a whole lot of other goodies thrown in.
I think the fact that you can easily purchase a second hand AV9 in the US for half this amount is amazing.. Used AV9s are quite common on Audiogon.. typically priced at $3000.. AV8s go for $2000... Now that's a real bargain!

Buying either AV8 or AV9 is not a waste ( especially at used prices ). It's a great foundation for a system. Just build around it.
 

RumNYC

Novice Member
Regarding sub crossover: that's entirely dependent on the player, but as a rule pretty much any player that supplies analog outputs is going to come with some kind of onboard bass management as well.
Well said :)
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
Beware of falling for the HDMI 1.3 HD audio bitstream hype. It is a blind alley for both HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

Why? None of the new interactive features such as PiP etc, will work in HD bitstream mode as for all these things, the player has to perform the main decoding to mix in all the additional sound. If you want a smooth as intended experience with the new formats on player decoding is the way you should be going, and once some decent players (such as the Denon for now) arrive then this is what they will all do... Now I'm not a big extras fan, but I'm open to the possibility that someone will come up with an interesting use for them on the new formats. IF they don't they they're going to have a hard time getting the wider market interested in HD on PQ and AQ alone.

This leaves two ways to get the full HD disc experience out of the player. Good old analogue, at which your AV9 will excel, and PCM over HDMI which as Liam points out is no where near reference implementation anywhere.

People are getting sidetracked on bitstream as the current early players are largely incomplete on the audio side, and bitstream is the only way to hear some of the new audio. This is however IMO a temporary issue.

Arcam have repeatedly stated that getting audiophile sound over HDMI with PCM is difficult and expensive, but do-able. Be patient, if Arcam release an HD player I'm sure it will have analogue outs and combined with an AV9 will sound miles better than any HDMI implementation currently on offer.
 

gbaby

Active Member
Well, maybe its not a waste. Since my last post, a representative for the Arcam distrubuter in the USA agreed to upgrade my recently out of warranty AVP700 just as promised by webbhammer. Thanks! And, in thinking about the AV9, whats needed temporarily is a Blu-Ray DVD player with analog outputs to access the High Def codecs, that will also play SACD and have a crossover. I think Arcam is capable of such a player.
 

tvh3ad

Novice Member
whats needed temporarily is a Blu-Ray DVD player with analog outputs to access the High Def codecs, that will also play SACD and have a crossover. I think Arcam is capable of such a player.
...and, if you can't wait for Arcam, Panasonic sells a blu-ray player with a full 7.1 analog output which passes the new codecs. (It does not, however, decode SACD and its crossover is fixed --too high -- at 100 hz.)
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Is that the DMP-BD10AEGK? I found a brief spec and price (it's not even expensive) on the Swiss web site, but not full details - its ability to do full dts HD MA decoding is not clear.

Looks like I'm going to need a Zektor MAS7.1 real soon now so that it can coexist with my DV137 on the AV9's analogue inputs.
 

tvh3ad

Novice Member
Is that the DMP-BD10AEGK? I found a brief spec and price (it's not even expensive) on the Swiss web site, but not full details - its ability to do full dts HD MA decoding is not clear.
That's the one. According to the US site, it does DTS HD and MA as well as DD+ and True HD, all over 7.1 analog and HDMI/PCM. It apparently does not do bitstream and is not HDMI 1.3 and does not do 1080p/24fps. Even still, unless/until Arcam or some other boutique manufacturer comes out with a BD player that does the advanced codecs over analog 7.1, the Panasonic BD10A is the only player on the market that does most of the job for those of us with older receivers/processors. (Keep in mind that the crossover setpoint cannot be changed, though, and 100 hz is unfortunately quite high.)

The full 7.1 analog output option was never available on any other player and HD analog decoding support in general is already beginning to disappear from mass-market players. My feeling is that when Panasonic retires this player, we won't see 7.1 analog again except possibly at the high end and that, in general, less and less attention will be put into analog decoding at the player in favor of bitstream HDMI. I more or less agree with this strategy in theory, expect that in practice I own the AV9 and am not planning to replace it for many years.

I would love to be wrong, but the next-gen players all point in this direction...
 

ianmacd

Active Member
Maybe its time someone created an external DAC (2.0 if you like) for HD audio with Video passthu.
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
The Panasonic DMP-BD10/DB10A does NOT do DTS-HD Master audio, the Sigma chipset used in that and many other early BD players does not have the horsepower according to Sigma themselves to handle MA. It does do DTS-HD High Resolution, however there aren't many discs with HR on them.

As I said above, I feel the current rush to bitstream is misplaced, even if some amp suppliers are currently benefiting from it.

Take TrueHD as an example, quite a few players decode TrueHD, yet people are reporting that decoding in the amp sounds better. How can that be? If the player decodes TrueHD and sends it over HDMI to an amp as PCM, the amps DACS should get pretty much the same PCM as the TrueHD decoder built into the amp. After all lossless is lossless, you can't get two different outputs from two different decoders.

So assuming people aren't hearing things, if amp decoded TrueHD sounds better, the fault with player decoded PCM must lie with how it gets from the player to the amp. In other words, they're simply confirming what Arcam told us, i.e. PCM over HDMI is prone to bad jitter which results in worse quality sound, hence thus far they haven't jumped on the bandwagon.

I guess it depends whether you want a player that has all it's facilities running in HD, or whether you're happy to use bitstream and forego the features that everyone says they want in a player, esp. Blu-ray as atm, most players don't have them..;)

Or whether you can be patient for either Arcam to come up with their own player/amp combination, or better players to arrive that have a) the features and b) the decoding to analogue capability.

Three of the latter are on their way this year so far, the Panasonic DMP-BD50, the Denon DVD-3800BD or the Marantz BD8002. All will decode all HD audio, are at least profile 1.1 compliant and all are supposed to have 7.1 analogue audio outs.
 

ianmacd

Active Member
I know that the designers of HDMI are trying to "simplify" things for people by running audio over HDMI too but maybe its time for an upgraded version of toslink/spdif that has the capacity to pass bitstream/PCM for HD sourrces.
 

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