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Arcam AVR100 / A85 fun...

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by baileych, Mar 31, 2002.

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  1. baileych

    baileych
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    A few months ago I bought the Arcam AVR100 discounted to half price due to the imminent arrival of the AVR200 I suspect. I have to say I think that it's been one of the best bargains I've ever bought. If only the display was dimable. (Somebody enlighten me if it is!)

    Anyway recently my local store was giving away a discount on everything in stock so I had a listen to an A85. Wow! I walked out with it. Having heard it in stereo I new I would get back that 'suck-you-in' factor that's been missing from my system when playing CDs every since I went predominantly AV.

    Having lurked for ages on this forum I knew I could get the A85 to 'power-amp' the front channels in surround modes with the AVR100 driving the centers and surround while retaining a pure(ish) stereo system with just the A85 in the loop when using my CD player as source.

    [ Actually I'm using my Arcam DV88 as a CD player so I guess it's not a pure 2-channel audio system really. (Note I'm not some Arcam maniac whatever it seems like - they just recently seemed to have had the best value in the price range for the type of products which I've been looking for at the time.)]

    Anyway, it all works quite well except for two things. The A85 and the AVR100 seem to share the same RC5 remote codes which means that every time I turn on the A85, the AVR100 pops into life as well even if I just wanted to listen to a CD. Worse, if I'm listening to AVR processed sound - e.g. a DVD, then if I fiddle with the volume control on the AVR100 then the A85 remembers this. Although I have the A85 tape/processor input fixed at 0.0dB setting it seems that changing the volume control sets the level when I switch from the tape/processor to another input to the 0dB level which I had the processor input set to.

    I think that an example is called for as I've confused even myself:

    1) Listening to a CD say at -40.0dB on the A85. Fine!

    2) Switch to the AVR100 pre-outs which are connected to the tape/processor in of the A85. The input is set to a fixed 0dB (i.e. max vol) put it's attached to pre-attenuated inputs so the volume is controlled by the AVR100 so this is fine too!

    3) Fiddle with AVR100 volume control, say down one notch. DANGER! The A85 doesn't change the volume because it's on a fixed input. HOWEVER, it remembers that you've gone down a notch from 0dB for the purposes of the non-fixed inputs.

    4) Switch back to CD input. Result: get blasted to bits because the volume control is at -0.5dB rather than the -40.0dB which it was on.

    Does anybody (...errr, say John Dawson) know how to avoid this?

    Also, is there a way to get either the AVR100 or the A85 to use different RC5 codes so that they don't respond to the same signals? (I have a Pronto so I don't mind the loss of an Arcam remote.)

    And just to check - the tape input is the only input which I can set as a fixed level input? I tried for ages with my AVR100 connected to the AV input!

    Thanks,

    Charles.
     
  2. PeteM

    PeteM
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    The fun of trying to use more than one piece of equipment of the same "function" from a single manufacturer in a system - the remote controls clash!!

    I was tempted by the JVC VCR with the built in harddrive, but as I would want to use it in conjunction with an existing JVC VCR, I knew that I would most likely run into problems so have not bothered!

    I can only think of 3 solutions to your problem:

    1. Seperate the A85 and AVR100 so that their remote sensors are not in the same line of sight - not really very practicle!

    2. Use the A85 only as a power amp, with the AVR100 acting as as the preamp for all sources - you will need to experiment ans see if the sound quality is acceptable.

    3. Investigate one of the custom control systems you find in those expensive custom home installations - central controller with transmitters placed over the IR receiver for all your various bits of kit, I expect this would solve the problem but is likely to be very expen$ive!
     
  3. baileych

    baileych
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    What put the A85 the other side of the TV? Buy another equipment rack, two (maybe three) pairs of expensive *long* interconnects. Nah! :)

    I haven't (but I will) do a direct comparision of the AVR100 pre amp stage in stereo mode with A85 power amp stage vs A85 only. I strongly suspect that it will be a waste not to use the A85 on its own for stereo sources.

    Possible, but I quite like the clean, open uncluttered look on my current equipment rack!

    Thanks for your sympathy anyway, I wasn't sure that my situation could be helped. :(

    Anyway, an update. I spoke to Arcam and the switching back from processor to other source forgetting the volume level may be fixed in a more current version of the A85 software, so fingers crossed.

    Charles.
     
  4. mjn

    mjn
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    what jvc vcr is this, cos i was looking for something like that!
     
  5. PeteM

    PeteM
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    That would be the JVC HMHDS1.

    When it appeared I thought cool, I can save to hard drive, edit out all the adverts and then dump to tape!

    But then I thought, Mmm, I've already got a JVC 7500, and like to have two VCRs (for the odd bit of tape to tape work, and occasionally recording 2 programs simultaneously), so there is a good probability that the two machines would have the same command set and chaos would entail!!!

    Its a shame such machines have not become more common, the JVC is also very expensive - £760 from empire direct at the moment!
     
  6. ads1

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    baileych

    I am in a very similar situation (AV50/A85). I've just sent my amp for the update. I'll let you know the results)

    A S
     
  7. baileych

    baileych
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    Hmmm, weirder and weirder.

    The helpful people at Arcam support confirmed that I have the latest version of the A85 software and there shouldn't be any problems. However they said that there was no way to change the RC5 device number of either unit. :mad:

    I redid my settings and my AVR100/A85 combination seems to working a bit better now. If I switch to fixed input and back to a line input it does remeber the old volume level and moves up and down from there, but it still forgets the old volume setting if I press wither vol+ or vol- while in fixed mode. (Which I do quite a lot as the AVR100 and the A85 respond to the same remote vol signals :( )

    Incidently, because the AVR100 output is slightly noisy I've changed the level of the fixed input from AVR100->A85 on the A85 to -10dB and set the FL and FR levels to +10dB in the AVR100 setup. I now have *extremely* low digital sounding noise from the fronts in surround modes.

    Charles.
     
  8. ads1

    ads1
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    Hi again

    The A85 is back, with new firmware. (My amp didn't have the version hich allowed the fixed gain setting on the tape input.)
    Just to confirm that the slight problem baileych reports still exists, namely that if you change the volume in processor mode, the volume on the other inputs changes to whatever the processor fixed volue is +/- 0.5 dB depending on the direction of change. Other than this, the facility is v useful in a mixed hifi/home cinema setup.
    A Smith
     
  9. baileych

    baileych
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    A Fix! (allegedly).

    ads1, Can you tell me which version of the A85 software you have now? I've just been told by Arcam that the 2.1 version of the software has *just* been superceded by version 2.2. Apparently this fixes the variable volume = proc vol +/- 0.5dB when switching back from fixed input. :D

    This is a real help for me as I *need* to hit the volume control while in processor via the remote as my AVR100 and A85 share remote codes.

    Back to the shared remote codes again...

    Now, I'm thinking if I put the pre-outs from AVR100 into the Tape/Proc input of the A85 and the tape out of the A85 into the tape in of the AVR100 then when I hit tape on the one remote then I will still be able to use the source select on the A85 without loosing the AVR100 input as it will still be in tape monitor mode.

    [All my stereo sources go into the A85. The tape out of the A85 is connected to Aux in (maybe I'll move this to tape in) on the AVR100 at the moment. The front pre-outs of the AVR100 are connected to the Tape/Proc in of the A85. All my digital sources (just a DVD player at the moment) are connected to digital ins on the AVR 100. Phew!]

    So complex, why couldn't Arcam have used different RC5 device codes for different devices? :rolleyes:

    Charles.
     
  10. ads1

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    Charles

    I'm not sure which version of the software I have, but I can confirm it still has the +/- 0.5 dB problem.
    The software was upgraded Wednesday or Thursday last week.

    In practice, I haven't found the volume change to be too much of a problem, but I guess I've conditioned myself to check before switching.

    It's still a great amp though.

    Andy Smith
     
  11. baileych

    baileych
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    To check the software version of the A85 you can hold down PHONO, TUNER and DVD buttons in the front panel together. The version string should appear on the display.

    I would be interested to know because if I'm about to upgrade to what you've got now and it's still got the problem I'm trying to get rid of then it's not really worth sending in my amp! :rolleyes:

    Apart from this, and my personal remote hell, it is, as you say, a great amp.

    Once I've finished fiddling with the settings and sit back to listen, it's amazing. To be honest I wasn't expecting too much from CD replay from the DV88 - it's only supposed to be entry level Arcam CD performance - but the A85 really brings out so much more than the AVR100 in stereo mode. Not that the AVR100 stereo mode is bad for a surround receiver. It was *much* better than stereo or direct mode on my old Denon AVR-2800. It's just that the A85 - as it should at the price - blows both completely out of the water!

    So good that I'm now considering a mid-range (errr for me this means roughly £600-£1000) CD player to go with it as the DV88 is probably the weak link in my system for CD replay now.

    Thanks,

    Charles.
     
  12. ads1

    ads1
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    Ahhh I see: I'll check the version tonight.

    Do you know any other hidden functions?
    I read somewhere you could switch between the tape and processor function with a combination of keys, but couldn't get it to work.

    Andy
     
  13. ads1

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    Charles

    My A85 was upgraded to v2.1 (dated 1-11-01), so v2.2 may fix the problem. (Arcam support also suggested that the newest version doesn't have this problem).

    Another annoying problem. When you select tape/proc and then press mute on the remote, does this disable any further input from the remote? I have to manually switch off the tape before the amp will respond to the remote again.

    Andy Smith
     
  14. HeadBanger

    HeadBanger
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    I have the A85 and, like others here, use it at the heart of a home cinema set up.

    I have been reading this thread with interest and now wish to upgrade the firmware to allow fixed gain for the processor input.

    How do you go about upgrading the firmware? Do you send it back via the dealer or direct? And are there any costs involved?

    I have e-mailed ARCAM but have yet to receive a reply.
     
  15. ads1

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    MATTS

    It has to go back to Arcam for the upgrade to be applied.

    ANdy
     
  16. baileych

    baileych
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    That's good, I've just sent my amp off for the 2.1 -> 2.2 upgrade.

    Just for reference I feel I should point out that while 2.2 isn't beta or anything, apparently Arcam weren't planning on making it a general release. I'm sure that they'd be happy to update the software for anyone experiencing the same problem, I think that they were just concerned that when I went to my dealer asking for an upgrade that the dealer might return all of their units for upgrade just on principal.

    Yes, I'd noticed the problem with selecting mute in proc mode. Notice the way when you press the proc button in the front panel it seems to try and immediately execute all the queued remote commands which you hit when the remote wasn't responding. Wierd, huh?

    If you've just got one set of speakers you could use SP1 to mute the speakers instead of the mute button? It's what I've got use to doing before deselecting the proc input because of the volume problems.

    MATTS, just phone Arcam support, I'm sure they'd be happy to advise. If you then went for the upgrade you'd probably end up taking your amp back to the dealer from where Arcam would pick it up, update it, test it and return it.

    Charles.
     
  17. ads1

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    Oops, premature termination

    Mine was sent via my dealer, and there were no costs (other than indirect ones). In uk.rec.audio, I've seen a thread where John Dawson said it could be done by drop-in to the Arcam office as long as you pre-arranged it.

    Andy
     
  18. baileych

    baileych
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    Just thought that I would end this thread with the result...

    I got my A85 back from my dealer today (it arrived there yesterday - eight days after I dropped it off). It seems the version 2.2 of the Arcam software has fixed all the problems which I found with it. When you switch to and from the fixed input it never mixes the two different volume levels. The bug of pressing mute on the remote hanging the remote when switched to the fixed proc input also appears to be fixed.

    And it sounds as great as ever! :D

    Thanks, Arcam!

    Charles.
     

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