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Arcam AVR450 vs. NAD T777, and what else to consider?

josephvman

Active Member
My old Arcam AVR300 appears to have bitten the dust. Some time back it would crackle loudly when switching over to my Apple TV, which was plugged into one of the digital inputs. A couple of weeks ago it wouldn't play through any digital input (which is basically all I use) for an hour or two, and started working again. Tonight it has stopped again, and I think it's time to retire it.

My first thought was to replace it with another Arcam, the AVR450, but I haven't found much in the way of glowing reviews, especially for the price. There have been a few things about the AVR300 that annoyed me to no end, mainly the fact that onscreen menus weren't available through the HDMI video output. Please tell me that this is no longer the case with the AVR450!

I've been using a Monoprice HDMI switcher, since the AVR300 didn't have any ability for this, so this upgrade should simplify my system a bit.

My main sources are HD cable, Apple TV (my music and video collection from my iMac), my Arcam DV79 DVD player, and on occasion a Playstation 2. My speakers are KEF Q reference setup in a 5.1 system with bi-wired fronts.

I've seen some very good reviews on the NAD T777, and also some of the top-end Marantz a/v receivers, so any comparisons with the AVR450 would be great help.

I've been out of this loop for at least ten years, so are there any new things, features, etc. to consider? I've seen some reference to wi-fi integration in some receivers, but have no idea what that means or does, so any direction on that would be appreciated. iOS integration so I can control stuff from an iPad or iPhone would also be cool, if available.

Thanks!
 

The Spaniard

Active Member
In a similar position being a little disgruntled with my current amp - the Yamaha 3030 might be worthy of consideration?
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
If you like the Arcam, I guess you must favour musical ability. In which case the Nad isn't a bad choirce. the other one is Cambridge Audo.

Of course, the Anthem MRX line is one which I am a fan off. Pure SQ.
 

josephvman

Active Member
Leaning strongly towards the NAD T777. I think the Arcam is probably the best of the lot purely in 2-channel, but one of the motivating factors for replacing the AVR300 rather than repairing it is to get comprehensive HDMI switching and simplifying my system. Maybe I've read too many threads on the AVR600 HDMI switching bugs, but it is definitely coloring my decision. The NAD also seems to have a bit more flexibility overall, and some iOS integration ability that I'm sure I'd use. In checking around with several technicians that repair both, I was kind of surprised that to a person they felt the NAD was using better quality components and built to a higher level, and these were all guys who didn't sell either, just repaired them. I don't have anything bad to say about my AVR300 though, which gave me great service for the nearly ten years it has been in my system.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
How did you find the Anthem?
 

Nativebon

Well-known Member
If you looking for control & power look no more than the new Arcam AV AMPS. I dnt think any other amp comes close when it comes to musicality. Some may be more open when it comes to movies but I like the Arcam more for its Musicality & pleasing sound in movie mode. Yes you do now get on screen display from HDMI.
 

josephvman

Active Member
I don't have an Anthem dealer nearby to see their stuff. I'm hoping the NAD is close to my current Arcam in musicality, but has a bit more flexibility, and that's the direction I've decided to take. The T777 should be here later this week, so I'll give a little mini-review once I've had a chance to play with it.
 

josephvman

Active Member
I received the NAD T777 earlier this week, and have been working on getting things setup over the last couple of evenings. Frankly, it's sort of a mixed bag and I'm not entirely certain I've made the right decision, but I'm going to continue to work on the settings and see what happens.

I've got it running a 5.1 speaker setup, bi-amped on the fronts using the "back" channel amp, which is switched through the setup menu. Speakers are the big iQ series from a from a few years ago, and room setup puts me around 12 feet from front speakers and 4 feet from rears, and is stained concrete floor and very reflective. My sources are a Scientific Atlanta HD box, Oppo BDP-105D, and Apple TV, with older high-end Panasonic plasma. My old AVR was an Arcam AVR300, which was fantastic. Everything is running straight HDMI into the T777, and HDMI to the TV.

The NAD is heavy, and appears to be well made. The remote is hefty, backlighted, and holds three AA batteries, which hopefully give it long life. Most of the buttons are multi-function, and the labels are extremely hard to read. It was extremely easy to setup, thankfully, considering it doesn't come with a paper owner's manual. There are some things that just work better on paper than a computer, and owner's manuals are one of them. Huge oversight IMO for a $3,000 piece of gear.

My initial impression with CD audio was that the amp is very dynamic, punchy, and throws a big soundstage with music, but it lacked the focus and smoothness of the Arcam with music. Granted, I also switched from my Arcam DV79 to the Oppo, so lots of variables, but the character of the NAD is obviously more forward, bigger, and less defined and smooth and lush as the Arcam. I haven't tried using the analog outputs from the Oppo into the T777 with some good interconnects, but I will.

I did a basic manual setup without Audyssey just to get things started, and did some listening to a few DVD's. Again, big sound, not as refined as the Arcam, but sort of disconnected, especially in the center channel. I played with lots of settings, speakers sizes and relative volumes, but never got the center channel to sound integrated. I'm not sure if veiled is the right terms, but it sounded very "boxy" to me. The best thing about the Arcam was that straight away, with basic adjustments, it sounded very integrated, not like a bunch of speakers. The NAD sounds much "bigger", but disconnected, especially in front. This is making me crazy, and if I can't get it sorted out I'm going to try something different.

I tried an Audyssey setup, and it sounded stranger still, like scooped-out if that makes sense. Granted, my mic placement wasn't optimal since I didn't have a tripod, and I only tried a few different placements. It was nearly spot-on with speaker distances, except for the subwoofer, which it determined was 22 feet away but in reality was closer to 13. I'm going to run another couple of proper setups with a tripod and all 8 positions and see if that helps.

Hopefully once I understand the setup and get a better handle on all this thing can do I'll get to the sweet spot, because I think it's got potential. Unfortunately the T787 and T777 (basically the same except power) don't seem to be very popular yet, so finding other users who've been down this road isn't that easy. If you have, please let me know what your thoughts are and if you ran into the same issues.
 

davisa

Active Member
I demoed the Arcam 750 and Anthem 510 expecting the Arcam to be the better, especially for my classical music tastes.

Found the Anthem superior in every way, especially music. It was even better once I got it home and ran room correction.
 

Nativebon

Well-known Member
I demoed the Arcam 750 and Anthem 510 expecting the Arcam to be the better, especially for my classical music tastes.

Found the Anthem superior in every way, especially music. It was even better once I got it home and ran room correction.
What in particular did you like more about the Anthem if you dnt mind me asking.:)
 

davisa

Active Member
For music I found the Anthem cleaner (less wooly), more dynamic and just more exciting. I mainly listen to classical. For cinema the steering and spatial placement was amazing.

I have Acoustic Energy 1's which can tend to be slightly warm. The Anthem compliments them better.

We're talking two very good amps here. Both I would have been more than happy with. I've had Arcam for years, so perhaps I just wanted a change!
 

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