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Arcam FMJ AV8 - any first hand experience?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Halcion, Aug 22, 2002.

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  1. Halcion

    Halcion
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    Has anybody bought or demoed the new Arcam FMJ AV8 preamp/processor?

    I'm seriously considering it against AudioNet MAP and Tag McLaren AV32R.

    I don't need comments about TAG anymore, I'm sure they are great.

    ... but if anyone has heard the AV8 extensively, please tell us your impressions.

    cheers,
    Halcyon
     
  2. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    I think the first shipment to the UK is due the end of September. Our rep is due to be bringing one round for us to demo in the next couple of weeks.
     
  3. Halcion

    Halcion
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    What is the suggested retail price and estimated street price for AV8 in UK?

    The local retailer asks 6000 euros for AV8, which is more than the best model of Tag McLaren AV32R or Audionet MAP!

    cheers,
    Halcyon
     
  4. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    I think it's £3,000 for the AV8 and £2,500 for the P7.
     
  5. dts_boy

    dts_boy
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    they have the p8 and p7 in my local sevenoaks (machester), got to have a quick blast of vertical limit and it sounded good. the power amp looks a bit of a beadst though, much deaper than i first thought:eek:
     
  6. ANDY_DUTTON

    ANDY_DUTTON
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    Hi, I can probably answer any questions you might have on the AV8.

    Regards,
    Andy.
     
  7. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I have had a very quick play, what I heard was very good.

    A Tag owner.
     
  8. Big Jim

    Big Jim
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    are you doing RGBS switching as I rember hearing a few months back? or even video standard conversion?
     
  9. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    I take it you work for Arcam then Andy. What job do you do?

    We will have the AV8/P7 in for a demo next wednesday so I'm told. Not that I'll be there.:(
     
  10. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Made in China ?
     
  11. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I've no idea if its made in china. Even if it was who cares, if it outperforms all competition..

    It does RGBS switching. Not transcoding though, I don't think.

    Gordon
     
  12. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    From what I've been told the only item of Arcam equipment made outside the Uk is the AVR200, which is made in China.
     
  13. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Me.

    Maybe I'm behind the times and I am aware of the high quality of Chinese weapons and fireworks....
    My Denon DVD-2800 is Made In China and hasn't proved to be the quality I expected, notwithstanding I'm happy with PQ. Had I known it was made in China, honestly, I would have bought something made in Japan instead.......Toshiba SD-9500e.
    Denon DVD-3800 ......I honestly don't know where it is made, but that seems to have inherited the " characteristics", whether that's Denon's design or local component quality in China - I've no idea.
    Kef Q1s ...... Made In China.......but quality apparently fine, how many expect to find Maidstone, England.....
    Arcam AVR-200 ........Made In China.......fine too ?
    I can understand the search for economic parity by designing in U.K. / Japan but assembling in China or others, but I prefer electrical items made in Japan, West Germany, U.K. or U.S.
    Sorry Gordon, it's just me, am sure I'm probably an old fuddy duddy :blush:
     
  14. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Thanks ReTrO.
     
  15. Reiner

    Reiner
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    Add the AVR-100 to the list.

    That said there is a IMHO a big difference between outsourcing production (like Acoustic Energy for example manufactures in Malaysia) and using OEM (ODM) products like in case of the AVR products mentioned.
    Neither means however that a product has to be bad because of that.
     
  16. ANDY_DUTTON

    ANDY_DUTTON
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    HI, I will try to answer the questions that have arisen above.

    As to what I do, I am the team Leader on the AV8 project, hence being in a position to answer questions on it.

    I can confirm that the AV8 and P7 are designed an manufacured here in the UK.

    The AV8 does not support transcoding of Video formats. It does support SCART based RGB (i.e RGB with sync) and has control lines to control the selection inputs on the SCART. This alows it to change a SCART enabled TV automatically from Composite to S-Video or RGB.

    The price that someone quoted above is basically correct, less five pence or something like that. Sorry I don't have euro pricing information.

    Regards,
    Andy
     
  17. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Thanks Andy.
     
  18. Halcion

    Halcion
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    Hello Andy,

    1. Is it hardware upgradable (possibilities: DVI/HDMI in, Firewire in, upgraded video board with deinterlacing/scaling, etc)?

    2. Is it user-service software upgradable (i.e. if you provide software upgrades can it REALLY be upgraded by a consumer)?

    3. Arcam has a distinct "warm" sound that I like. Does this new machine conform to the sound characteristics of other Arcam FMJ gear or is it more lean/analytical (like Audionet)?

    4. Is DTS 24/96 supported?

    5. Is the 8-channel analogues input total bypass of all circuits (except for volume control), including bass management?

    6. How much (roughly) is the phon mm/mc board?

    7. What is the video switching bandwidth (if that is the correct term). I.e. will it pass analog 1080i signals via Y/Pb/Pr without degradation?

    8. Do you synch to the clock of the incoming DD/DTS signal, when doing the post DD/DTS decompression digital-to-analog conversion (or do you have a separate clock to kill jitter)?

    9. What kind of audio filters are available for digital-to-analog conversion (on standard, several different, what types)?

    10. Do you have HDCD decoding onboard?

    11. Can Prologic II be activated on 24/96 PCM input signals?

    12. Where can I get a full detailed information about the unit (yes, I've read you web pages already :) including images of the back panel ?

    I'd appreciate any answers that you can give.

    cheers,
    Halcyon
     
  19. Reiner

    Reiner
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    As to what I do, I am the team Leader on the AV8 project, hence being in a position to answer questions on it.

    In this case would you please add your company's name to your signature, thus avoiding any "confusion"? Thanks!
     
  20. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    can we have some hardware details like chips used etc for bods like me :blush: Design documents like the Tag ones?
     
  21. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    From what I can tell from the pictures of the internals in the leaflet it uses a pair of Crystal chips for the sound processing.
     
  22. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Hi Nic,

    There is some material I wrote for a US site about three weeks ago at the end of the following thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?threadid=140357&highlight=arcam

    That wil give you some idea of what is going on inside the AV8 I hope.

    Halcyon - Andy has prepared a reply for you but he is out of the office right now and will probably post at the end of today. I believe there is product scheduled to ship to Finland in September.

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    John

    Thanks for the info, much appreciated. I must say that what I have heard from your new processor was excellent and would urge anyone in this market to demo it. I found things quite interesting on the Tag site recently when the thread was on your new kit. We had something like 60 replies, other than yourself only two of us had actually heard it!

    To anyone interested in a Tag (or others) I would urge them to have a serious look at the ARCAM, yes I believe it is that good, class leading.

    A happy Tag owner but SERIOUSLY impressed by this new kit.
     
  24. ANDY_DUTTON

    ANDY_DUTTON
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    Hi again,

    Answers to the questions you have raised:-

    1.) Yes it can be hardware upgraded, the design is split into three sections internally - the Digital processing, Analogue preamp, and video processing. Any one of these boards could be upgraded without changing the others. I have also left hooks on the PCBs to allow us to tap into the digital signals in future, should we need to do so.
    I should point out that we do not yet have any hardware upgrades planned, though naturally we are keeping a close watching brief on emerging new standards .

    2.)The software can be updated using a PC via the serial port .All that is required is a standard null modem 9 way d-type cable available almost anywhere for a few pounds and the uploading software that is provided on a CD ROM with the unit. So yes, you can do this yourself if you wish.

    3.)I don't want to get drawn into sound issues they are too imponderable and clearly I would be biased. The AV8 and P7 are rolling out to the dealers now so you should be able to get to listen to a system soon to check this for yourself. I can say our marketing people and the dealers I have spoken to are very happy with the sonics though :)

    4.) DTS 24/96 is not supported as it came out too late in the
    development cycle to be able to be incorporated into the design. Of course all such discs will still play at 24/48 resolution.

    5.) The 8 Channel input is a complete bypass to the extent that when it is in use all of the DSP processing, DACs, ADC and clocks are shut down, effectively turning the unit into a multichannel analogue preamp. This means that there is no bass management on this path as the DSPs would then be required. We felt that converting the signal to digital just to perform bass
    management would be a retrograde step.

    6.) The MC /MM phono board is the same one as used in the A85 and A32 amplifiers - a very good one! It retails in the UK for £110.

    7.) The video bandwisth of the multiplexers used in the AV8 is 300MHz at -3dB, which is more than enought for 1080i and is sufficient for 1080p (which has a bandwidth of approx 130MHz)

    8.) The AV8 has a quartz crystal based phase locked loop which is used to reduce jitter on the incoming clock for CD data and DD, DTS tracks. The jitter performance from a CD source when using this clock recovery system is around 130 - 150 picoseconds.

    9.) The digital filters are the standard filters in the Wolfson DAC chips; we have found these to be of excellent quality . We do have control of the slow / fast filter pin under software control but as using the slow roll of filter messes up the frequency response there is no user control to change it. The analogue reconstruction filter is a bessel type filter which gives very low group delay for good time alignment across the audio
    frequency spectrum.

    10.) No HDCD decoding is fitted onboard. If you have a HDCD player I would suggest you feed its analogue outputs into the AV8's analogue bypass path as most HDCD players have very good analogue audio performance.

    11.) Dolby Pro Logic II cannot be activated on 24/96KHz signals. It may be possible to update this at a later date given the necessary DSP code updates from Crystal Semiconductors.

    12.) I am happy to send you a copy of the manual in PDF format as that would answer most of your other questions. Email if you would like it.

    Andy.
    ARCAM
     
  25. dts_boy

    dts_boy
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    Has anyone else heard it in manchester or was it just me? the reason i ask is that it was set up with an M&K 150 system and an MX350 sub and i am seriously considering upgrading when i move to a new house soon, i personally prefer it to the Tag - although they don't have that in the shop to do an A/B against.
     
  26. Matt F

    Matt F
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    And here are a pair of Crystalchips (sorry - couldn't resist):
     

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  27. life sucks

    life sucks
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    I can't help waiting to demo exactly these three products versus each other.
    Hope Arcam will arrive in Amsterdam soon
    Pedro
     
  28. Halcion

    Halcion
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    Can you tell me what three units you are interested in comparing?

    I have the following in mind myself: Audionet MAP, Arcam FMJ AV 8 and Tag McLaren AV32R 192bp.

    Unfortunately the Tag is not available (that model) in Finland.

    cheers,
    Halcy
     
  29. life sucks

    life sucks
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    AV32R, MAP and FMJ AV8! (From the first choice I excluded Primare and Myryad)
    I have to check their sonical performance first.
    If anything else would be crucial TAG would clearly win. Apart from not having the phono it offers so much and will offer even more in the future, along with great support etc. But for me audio is on the first place. Everything else is add on. So the best sound wins! Simple as it can be.


    And I can not afford Chord, unfortenately. Everything fits there.
    life sucks!

    Pedro
     
  30. Halcion

    Halcion
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    Pedro,

    have you heard the Chord prepro? The price is quite something, isn't it? :)

    I'd be surprised if Chord did their own DD/DTS board. I'd guess it's probably outsourced from Flextronics (ex-Sample Rate Systems).

    Other than that Chord has made some fine product in the past.

    Personally I have very dry, precise and analytical power amps (Acoustic Reality eAR Two digital amps) and I hope to mate them with something that is hopefully a bit warmer. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like analytical, but a little warmth wouldn't be a bad thing :)

    That's why I'm interested in the Arcam unit as the other FMJ range Arcams sound a tad warm (pleasantly so).

    cheers,
    Halcyon
     

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