Arcam FMJ MS250 - gaps between tracks (beware)

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by klnc, Sep 5, 2007.

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  1. klnc

    klnc
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    I don't know if this has been reported before, but i didn't read anything about it when i was doing my research and wasn't aware of it when i first heard it either. Anyway, I am less than amused to find there is problem with the software such the player adds a half a second gap, or so, between each track on the CD. Whilst this may not be a problem for many CDs, it completely ruins seamlessly mixed music, eg dance music. The problem also manifests itself when you burn the CD to the hard disk. I am staggered this wasn't detected during testing, but also very annoyed it has yet to be resolved.

    Arcam have said they are aware of the problem, and looking to resolve it "very soon". I hope they do, otherwise, I shall be returning it as it is currently not fit for purpose. Certainly if I had known this before, I would have waited until it had been resolved, before giving them £3000.

    A disgruntled owner...
     
  2. norks27

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    Out of curiosity - the music played from your hard drive, was it compressed into MP3 or whatever other format Arcam use? I know that MP3 suffers from this problem and is thus not specific to Arcam, its a generic problem with compressed audio, somehting to do with it being a data file. I would however be surprised if this problem occured in lossless format. Although I must admit to not knowing enough on the subject.
     
  3. klnc

    klnc
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    muisc stored on the hard drive was not compressed. The gap seemed shorter, but was still present.
     
  4. norks27

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    Thats good to know then, it would indeed put me off such a system, I listen to plenty albums with seamless gaps between tracks and thus I too would find it rather annoying.
     
  5. Turtles

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    Yeah, as above thanks for sharing this, the MS250 is a real 'would love to own' for me and this would have really sullied a purchase. I will be interested on software updates and progress with this from Arcam.
     
  6. klnc

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    I shall be pestering arcam on a regular basis over this, and will keep everyone informed. Hopefully they read these forums, and have realised that this is costing them potential sales, so might do something about it, or maybe that's just wishful thinking about the out-dated concept of customer service
     
  7. PenguinHiFi

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    klnc,

    Saw you post and found it interesting.
    Concerning your problem with gaps between the tracks, I can imagine that it is rather annoying. I can't imagine listening to a CD like "Pink Floyd - The Wall" and getting gaps between tracks... But, being a little skilled with computers, I know this is a common issue on CD-Audio burning on a computer. I know there is a trick to solve it, but as the Arcam solution is probably based on some software of that kind, I am not really surprised to hear it. What does surprise me is that this problem still occurs. If you're familiar with iTunes, you probably know that it includes a feature that allows to listen to music without any gaps... and even with the last few seconds of a track "mixed" with the for few seconds of the following track...

    What I can tell from experience is that folks at Arcam probably read this forums as they sometimes post answers to some threads. And even if they don't read them, there are at least 2 or 3 Arcam resellers that will probably let Arcam know about the complaints they're reading here.

    As far as customer service is involved, here's my own experience with Arcam's customer service. Recently, I bought an AVP700 pre/proc. I bought my unit used, on eBay. The seller was the original owner. He purchased his unit in Great-Britain and he sold it to me and shipped it to France, where I live. When the unit arrived, it turned out that the digital decoders (the so called DSP) were blown. After 10 or 20 seconds, all I got was a scrambled tone. I contacted the seller. He had lost the invoice. But he told me that the AVP700 had 2 or 3 months of warranty left. And, as he registered with Arcam, this could be confirmed by Arcam directly.
    So I got in contact with the french representative for Arcam. He wasn't delighted at all having to service a unit bought second hand outside of France. So he mentioned a lot of fees : about 120£ to get the unit serviced.
    Even though I would have had to pay the fees, the AVP700 still would have been a good deal (I paid 640£ for it, including shipping to France). But I decided to ask Arcam directly if the unit was still under warranty and if it was normal that the french representative was asking for such fees.
    After less than 12 hours, I got a reply from Arcam saying that the unit was still under warranty and with a copy of a message sent to the french representative to ask him to be as helpful as he could.
    Result of all this ? Well, tomorrow I am allow<ed to bring my unit directly to the french representative for Arcam. So, no shipping costs. And he said that, when I'll be there, we would both go to drink a coffee together... while the technician will service the AVP700. So, I have good hope to be able to bring home a perfect working AVP700 tomorrow.

    So, as far as I am concerned : hands up for the english and french customer support for Arcam products.

    Regards.

    FRED
     
  8. Stevesky

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    Hi Guys,

    Just to get the facts right there are multiple issues with doing gapless playback:

    1. The original CD rips must be accurate, so the start, end and track lead-in is captured perfectly in each WAV/MP3 file. This can be easier said than done, most audio servers I have analysed do not capture the data from the CD exactly from start/end of tracks, hence genuine gapless playback is not possible.

    2. The player has to pre-queue the next track ready to play so as one stream starts to finish, the next stream can be instantly added to the play buffer.

    3. Encoded MP3/AAC etc. or traditional PCM is not a factor of gapless playback, assuming the above 2 rules are met. It just takes a few more processor MIP's when doing encoded formats and makes the latency management a tad more tricky.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  9. klnc

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    Thanks for your post. Irrespective of burning the CD though, it should at least be able to play it from the CD without gaps surely? When it comes to burning it, Itunes and ipods manage this task perfectly well, so hopefully that means it's not impossible. Previously on itunes, you had to join the tracks as a single track, so you could never forward between individual tracks in an album, but you no longer have to do that.
     
  10. Stevesky

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    It all depends on how CD playback is implemented for the server. Typically most servers are affectively doing the same as a rip, but the data is played as soon as n'th seconds have been ripped/buffered and then fed to the soundcard. Basically, if playing from hard disc has the problem then typically playing from CD will also have the issue.

    Itunes has taken a long time to get reasonable ripping and has been very CD mech dependant on its capability to rip audio CD's in a competent manner. iTunes does the equiv. of burst mode extraction (ie. its quick, but its up to the mech if it can detect errors). For the ins and outs of DAE check out the FAQ for the rather good CD audio ripper EAC ( http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/en/index.php/support/faq/ ). For an audiophile product you really want "secure mode" ripping with a properly extraction engine configured to the mechs capabilities to ensure you really get the data off the disc, sometimes at the penality of rip time.

    The bottom line, is that gapless playback is not mission impossible, but its a tad more difficult than one may imagine... typically you can't just glue the ripped WAV's / MP3's together and then get exactly the same as the original album.
     
  11. amcluesent

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    >The bottom line, is that gapless playback is not mission impossible<

    True, my PC (foobar2000), Ipod, Squeezebox and Transporter have no problem with gapless:D
     
  12. klnc

    klnc
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    Just as an update, been notified that Arcam expect to release new software in early november to resolve this issue... Will let you know!
     
  13. sebcobb

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    The Yamaha HD1500 rips tracks with the same gaps as on the original CD - hence it doesn't leave a gap if it's not on the CD! Over here in Australia I got the Yamaha and upraded to a 500GB hard drive for a total of $1200 (about 500 pounds) which makes me wonder if the Arcam is worth is! However the Yamaha had crap sound till I got a Vimak dac and it doesn't connect to a PC other than to name the tracks so the Arcam does provide massive benifits if and when they get over the track gap problem!

    It's great for putting vinyl onto CD/Hard Drive.
     
  14. Mr Forgetful

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    Hi,

    Was the problem with the gaps between tracks ever sorted?


    David.
     
  15. klnc

    klnc
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    Yes, the problem was sorted. I pestered arcam until they released a firmware upgrade, and now plays gapless music fine, although you do need to select that the CD is gapless before you import.
     
  16. johnrm11

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    I've read this thread with interest. Apart from the 'gap' issue (now sorted) I'd like top know if you are happy with the machine overall.

    Do you use the front panel routinely or connect it up to a monitor? Is it intuitive and easy to use (I currently get on quite well with a Yamaha hard disc recorder). Any comments on sound quality by comparison with 'straight' Arcam CD players? I've read reviews but there is nothing like user experience!

    Thanks in anticipation, John.
     
  17. Burado

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    I have bought this server some time ago and having the same problem with gaps. Can you please advice where should I get this software update? I have sent some e-mails to arcam's customer service, but didn't get any answer.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  18. klnc

    klnc
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    Burado, PM me with your email address, and i'll forward you the email i got from arcam which gave a link to a download area on the their website. If the link doesn't work, i'll have to post you the file on cd- it's a 32mb ISO, so bit big for email!

    The person who was sorting out this issue, i understand, has since left arcam, which may explain their lack of response, albeit doesn't excuse their lack of customer service. There's still a couple of niggles i wouldn't mind being addressed, but having this sorted was a big improvement!
     
  19. klnc

    klnc
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    Regarding the front panel, i have mine wired up to my plasma by vga. You can do pretty much everything from the front panel apart from, i think, certain editing features. To be honest, it's easier to see everything on the big screen, along with using a full size keyboard for editing album info etc, rather than a 5 line display, so i don't bother with the front panel much, although i'm sure the panel would suffice for most functions.

    Interface is pretty intuitive, although doesn't really match the speed and functionality of, say, itunes, but it does everything you need if you're prepared to spend a bit of time getting everything ripped and classified properly - although whether itunes, windows media player or the arcam, it always pays off spending time getting it properly done in order to be able to navigate around your library quickly.

    I can't comment how it compares to other arcam cd players, as i don't own one, but if you do a search, you'll find how people rate it against their various standalone products.

    Now for sale at half the full RRP, although, if you're interested, i've put mine up for sale on the classified forums at a very good price! http://www.avforums.com/forums/home-cinema-classified-adverts/830897-sale-arcam-fmj-ms250.html

    Happy to answer any other questions you have!
     
  20. Burado

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    I have sent you PM.

    Thank you in advance for your help.
     
  21. dragogabriel

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    Hi there,

    I've just bought the music server unit and maybe you can help me:
    - the unit doesn't recognize my USB memory stick (it's a regular Sony 1G). The USB keyboard is recognized...
    - what settings are required to add a location... meaning my laptop. The laptop and the Arcam are connected to a router and have internet. I have the same conditions shown in the first figure from the manual.
    Friendly name: doesn't matter
    File location: host name?
    User name: a user already created on my laptop?
    Password: the user password

    Thanks,
    Gabi
     
  22. johnrm11

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    Thanks for your response, klnc. I have taken the plunge and am getting used to my MS250. As you say, the user interface is a little slow and limited compared with modern ipods etc. (I'd call it 'clunky') but it seems to work fine.

    I'm happy with the sound. I do find it a fiddle to edit album and track details through my LCD TV, though (the TV is 20 feet away from my hifi). I wonder if any other users have found convenient small screens that could sit with the system and be used on an everyday basis? When I see the brilliant tiny screens on ipods, photo frames etc. I would like to hear from anyone who has found an inexpensive small (even tiny) screen.
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    How do people get on with this server now? Is it now considered 'old' or does it still have merit at it's current 'good' price. No sign of the product on the Arcam UK site though. Can't decide between this and the PC based rippers.
     
  24. klnc

    klnc
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    Mine is languishing in a cupboard, which is pretty upsetting given how much it cost, but the convenience of a separate server containing every CD i've ever owned, now ripped to FLAC, which is so flexible for any conceivable future setup, combined with a SONOS system, means that i'm not sure i'll probably use the arcam as a server - maybe as a standalone cd player. The arcam is just not intuitive enough for anyone who's ever used an ipod/itunes. Nice try, and while quality is unsurpassed, it never quite hit the mark.
     
  25. cawcb101

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    Hi, I have had one of these since November last year. I find the machine ok for parties using a play list and ok just playing albums. However I do have a bug that really annoys me. When I search in the Tracks menu for certain tracks and return to Genres, Albums or Artists, when I select an Album I can see the Album listed but when I go to the Tracks I only see "missing tracks". I have been onto ARCAM and had a software update (MS250 V77) which did not resolve this problem. I cannot be the only person who encounters this problem. Guess I will have to contact Andy Moore at ARCAM again. Since it has been discontinued may not get much interest in resolving glitch.
     

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