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Arcam AVR390 7-Channel AV Receiver Review & Comments

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Excellent review, thanks, I have the Arcam AVR550. Do you have any thoughts on using non Arcam power amps with these receivers? The pre-outs on them are rated at 1 volt, whereas many power amps input sensitivity seem to be higher than that.
 

dave1956a

Member
All in all good review to read

I just changed from a Yamaha 3070 + s1100 11.1 system to a 390 as a pre only + Yamaha mx5000. I ran YPAO loads of times it never sounded as good as I hoped for

the 390 and 5000 have just been put in place and rough levels set, how does it sound ? A) much better than the 3070. more detail in soundtracks and just a nicer sound. Only one moan Dirac V2 looks much harder to understand setting up levels than V1 does

So I am waiting to get some info on dirac V2 and will give it a go, if I cannot find the info I will try V1 and see how that sounds

It would be good if Steve could share here how he set levels and background noise in V2

As for the GUI I guess it does look less polished than some but so what, if it gets the job done that is what matters. Unless someone buys it or any other Arcam AVR to look at the GUI all day rather than a good film or TV show
 
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Steve Withers

Reviewer
All in all good review to read

I just changed from a Yamaha 3070 + s1100 11.1 system to a 390 as a pre only + Yamaha mx5000. I ran YPAO loads of times it never sounded as good as I hoped for

the 390 and 5000 have just been put in place and rough levels set, how does it sound ? A) much better than the 3070. more detail in soundtracks and just a nicer sound. Only one moan Dirac V2 looks much harder to understand setting up levels than V1 does

So I am waiting to get some info on dirac V2 and will give it a go, if I cannot find the info I will try V1 and see how that sounds

It would be good if Steve could share here how he set levels and background noise in V2
I quite agree about setting the levels in Dirac 2.0, it is far from intuitive. I much prefer the method used in the previous version. For me it ended up being a process of trial and error, which is hardly ideal. I'll ask Dirac for some guidelines on how to correctly use 2.0.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Excellent review, thanks, I have the Arcam AVR550. Do you have any thoughts on using non Arcam power amps with these receivers? The pre-outs on them are rated at 1 volt, whereas many power amps input sensitivity seem to be higher than that.
I don't think you'll have any issues, I know plenty of custom installers who partner the AVR390 with non-Arcam power amps, and Dave1956a is partnering it with the Yamaha MX5000.
 

dave1956a

Member
I quite agree about setting the levels in Dirac 2.0, it is far from intuitive. I much prefer the method used in the previous version. For me it ended up being a process of trial and error, which is hardly ideal.
Very true it is not good on any product even more so when it is sold as part of "flagship" stuff

It will be good to see what Dirac say about the poor aspects of V2
 

BobbyMac

Banned
Surprised the NAD 758 V3 wasn't listed as an alternative given it runs Dirac 2.0 (3 slots vs 1 for the Arcam), has BluOS and is cheaper by £900

In fact the NAD 777 flagship receiver is now the same costs as the Arcam

NAD T 777 V3 AV Receiver
 

P Adams

Active Member
Thanks Steve. Excellent review

I am considering upgrading my Pioneer THX LX83 receiver which is conected to a Rotel THX RMB1075 5 channel power amp (obtained when we had a TagMcLaren AV32R processor system).

This powers Monitor Audio Silver 8 floorstanders, Silver 8 centre, Silver FX surrounds and W12 sub, in a 5.1 system at the moment. I've been given the go ahead to have an Atmos system so was considering Denon, Marantz and Arcam.

I can't have in-ceiling Atmos speakers so upfiring or speakers positioned close to the corners or edges of the room will have to do!

Do you think the Rotel RMB1075 will be OK partnered with an Arcam AVR390? I'll try to get a demo with anything I do go for but just wondered.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Thanks Steve. Excellent review

I am considering upgrading my Pioneer THX LX83 receiver which is conected to a Rotel THX RMB1075 5 channel power amp (obtained when we had a TagMcLaren AV32R processor system).

This powers Monitor Audio Silver 8 floorstanders, Silver 8 centre, Silver FX surrounds and W12 sub, in a 5.1 system at the moment. I've been given the go ahead to have an Atmos system so was considering Denon, Marantz and Arcam.

I can't have in-ceiling Atmos speakers so upfiring or speakers positioned close to the corners or edges of the room will have to do!

Do you think the Rotel RMB1075 will be OK partnered with an Arcam AVR390? I'll try to get a demo with anything I do go for but just wondered.
I don't see why not, the AV390 is just processing the signal. If you're happy with the Rotel and how it sounds with your Monitor Audios, then why mess with a winning combo.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I don't see why not, the AV390 is just processing the signal. If you're happy with the Rotel and how it sounds with your Monitor Audios, then why mess with a winning combo.
What if the pre-amp doesn't deliver enough voltage to drive the power amp to its maximum potential? Headroom could be reduced.
 

P Adams

Active Member
Thanks Steve. Yes we are very happy with the sound in our medium sized room. My wife will agree with keeping the Rotel also, especially after letting me have a 65FZ802 Oled recently!
 

fayeanddavid

Distinguished Member
Surprised the NAD 758 V3 wasn't listed as an alternative given it runs Dirac 2.0 (3 slots vs 1 for the Arcam), has BluOS and is cheaper by £900

In fact the NAD 777 flagship receiver is now the same costs as the Arcam

NAD T 777 V3 AV Receiver
Thoughts if any, on how the Arcam compares to the Anthem MRX 720, differing room correction, but I am thinking overall
I use my 720 as pre/pro and would do the same if I were to jump ship.

Just very interested right now, I like the idea of Dirac, and this seems an attractive price

@Steve Withers; excepting the amplification stage, are the rest of the decoding and processing components as per its big brother??
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
What if the pre-amp doesn't deliver enough voltage to drive the power amp to its maximum potential? Headroom could be reduced.
Personally I don't think it will be an issue, but obviously without testing the AVR390 with a number of different power amps I have no way of actually verifying my opinion.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Thoughts if any, on how the Arcam compares to the Anthem MRX 720, differing room correction, but I am thinking overall
I use my 720 as pre/pro and would do the same if I were to jump ship.

Just very interested right now, I like the idea of Dirac, and this seems an attractive price

@Steve Withers; excepting the amplification stage, are the rest of the decoding and processing components as per its big brother??
The 720 is an awesome piece of kit but I think Dirac has the edge over ARC these days. As to your second question, I address this in detail in the review, but yes they are identical.
 

Cynar

Well-known Member
I've used the AVR390 with three different power amps and had no issues. As I understand it the 1.0V pre-out is the nominal value, not the maximum. I certainly haven't noticed a lack of headroom. What I can say is the 140wpc NAD amp I'm using sounds much better than the inbuilt amps on the 390.
Strangely, I think setting the levels on Dirac 2 is far easier than on 1. When set, it actually works. On 1 I kept getting error messages about the level being too high or too low unless they were absolutely bang on.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Strangely, I think setting the levels on Dirac 2 is far easier than on 1. When set, it actually works. On 1 I kept getting error messages about the level being too high or too low unless they were absolutely bang on.
Funnily enough, I was having the exact opposite problem.
 

setthecontrols

Standard Member
Thanks for the great review! Very interesting as I'm thinking about going down the separates route for my main system and the £2k price point is about what I had in mind for the pre part. So this could well fit the bill, but I've got a couple of questions.
You said it was essentially the same, other than amplification, as the 850 -- so how would it stack up against the 860? That's just the preamp/processor and other than the balanced outputs what advantage would that have? (It's double the price)
Also, how do you think it would compare against the Yamaha 5200 as that was one I had in mind at about the same price?
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Thanks for the great review! Very interesting as I'm thinking about going down the separates route for my main system and the £2k price point is about what I had in mind for the pre part. So this could well fit the bill, but I've got a couple of questions.
You said it was essentially the same, other than amplification, as the 850 -- so how would it stack up against the 860? That's just the preamp/processor and other than the balanced outputs what advantage would that have? (It's double the price)
Also, how do you think it would compare against the Yamaha 5200 as that was one I had in mind at about the same price?
As far as I can tell the processing on the AVR390 is identical to the AV860, but as you say the latter has balanced XLR outputs. I'm not sure that's worth twice the price. The Yamaha CX-A5200 is excellent (I've reviewed it for another publication), and has loads of bells and whistles, not to mention balanced XLR outputs. However Dirac has the edge for me when it comes to room correction.
 
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fayeanddavid

Distinguished Member
The 720 is an awesome piece of kit but I think Dirac has the edge over ARC these days. As to your second question, I address this in detail in the review, but yes they are identical.
See, speed reading isn't all that it's cracked up to be..................note to self, read more carefully!!

Thanks Steve
 

t bone

Well-known Member
I think the difference will come with what power amps you are using it with, I have an 860 paired with an ATI class D power amp and get spectacular results, although I’ve not had it up against the 850 but I have heard a friends 390 and there is no comparison. Also isn’t there is some talk of it having problems with 4 ohms speakers.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I know I keep banging on about pre-out voltage, and it may well not be an issue. But.. the 860 processor specifies that the pre-out voltage is 2 volts as opposed to the 1 volt with the pre-outs on the 390 / 550 / 850.

I was using a Crown XLS power amp with my previous Denon AVR, and it worked great set at 1.44 volts input sensitivity. When I got the Arcam AVR550, I could not get enough volume from the speakers when set at that, so dropped it down to .775 volts sensitivity, and it worked fine.

I am now using an old AVR for the two atmos channels as I wanted a remote control power on/off. The power amps with triggers that I have found seem to have a high(ish) input sensitivity rating, so I have concerns about using those.

I have scoured the internet and asked around, but I cannot find any actual measurements of the pre-out voltage on this range of Arcam AVR's. The Arcam matching power amps are all rated at 1 volt or below. And I did find a measurement from an older Arcam AVR model, the AVR750 and they measured it at 900mV.
 

mb3195

Well-known Member
I know I keep banging on about pre-out voltage, and it may well not be an issue. But.. the 860 processor specifies that the pre-out voltage is 2 volts as opposed to the 1 volt with the pre-outs on the 390 / 550 / 850.

I was using a Crown XLS power amp with my previous Denon AVR, and it worked great set at 1.44 volts input sensitivity. When I got the Arcam AVR550, I could not get enough volume from the speakers when set at that, so dropped it down to .775 volts sensitivity, and it worked fine.

I am now using an old AVR for the two atmos channels as I wanted a remote control power on/off. The power amps with triggers that I have found seem to have a high(ish) input sensitivity rating, so I have concerns about using those.

I have scoured the internet and asked around, but I cannot find any actual measurements of the pre-out voltage on this range of Arcam AVR's. The Arcam matching power amps are all rated at 1 volt or below. And I did find a measurement from an older Arcam AVR model, the AVR750 and they measured it at 900mV.
I have no issues with my 550 and emotiva power amp, although I have an 860 on order at the moment.

Where are you based? Happy to demo if you’re concerned and within commutable distance....I doubt you’d be disappointed.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I have no issues with my 550 and emotiva power amp, although I have an 860 on order at the moment.

Where are you based? Happy to demo if you’re concerned and within commutable distance....I doubt you’d be disappointed.
Thanks, that's very kind of you. I am sure I will be blown away with your set-up but it might be a bit much for my needs. :smashin:

I'm only looking for a little 2 channel power amp for my 2 Kef R50's atmos speakers, with a remote power on/off or trigger.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Also isn’t there is some talk of it having problems with 4 ohms speakers.
The AVR390 can drive a 4 Ohm speaker, but Arcam recommend you only use it with 8 Ohms speakers. Mind you they say the same about my AVR850 and that happily drives my seven 4 Ohm MK S150/S150T speakers.
 
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