Question Arcam AVR390 to AVR850: Can anyone definitely hear differences in the amps?


Active Member
If I've understood correctly, the Arcam AVR390, 550 and 850 have identical(?) processing and number of channels handled at the preamp stage, but different power amp sections (in power, number of channels, amplifier type etc.).
Can anyone definitely hear the difference between any of these three models, at identical volumes with identical Dirac settings (or Dirac off maybe)? Particularly at say 80-90 dBA ?


Distinguished Member
I didn't ever try the 390, but I did have a 550 on loan in my system for a week and compared extensively with an 850. I ended up with the 850 as I could hear a consistent improvement on virtually everything. Note that this was with Dirac Off as at the time I hadn't set up Dirac and was simply trying to decide between whether the 850 was worth the extra cash.

I'd also add that when I compared the 550 and 850 in my dealer's demo room over a period of about 2 hours, I couldn't consistently hear an improvement. It was only when I got them home that I could easily hear the improvements.

Aspects I particularly noted were greater clarity on music and movies, better bass definition, smoother mid-range and greater dynamics. The 850 just seemed to be able to drive my stereo speakers in particular with greater ease. These are Spendor D7s, so are not a difficult load.

Since I have had Dirac set up, I've been happy, but there are still times when listening to music that I switch Dirac off. The 850 and my D7s just sound so natural.

Just my subjective experience. I have never regretted my decision in the 12-13 months since I made the purchase.

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