Arcam power amp advice

gryffe

Active Member
Yeah I got mine from Nintronics too. Hoping will arrive Tuesday, we can compare notes.
Roon is great, do you already have it in your existing set up? I use Roon with Chord Go2 as streamer, combined with Chord Hugo 2 DAC.
I'd never heard of this Dirac thingy before, and when explained to me I kind of played it down to the two dealers I spoke to, but both were really enthusiastic about it and said I would change my mind once I'd heard it in action.
 
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gryffe

Active Member
Well the SA30 arrived yesterday, and I am seriously happy with it. The detail is astonishing, crystal clear, and has that warmth that I love about Arcam.

I've been listening to lots of different stuff, but playing Underworld's King Of Snake was just breathtaking. For those that don't know it, it's basically a rip off of the Giorgio Morodor/Donna Summers song I Feel Love. The synths and pounding beats are a joy to hear, and the SA30 and P35 carry it off with ease.

Wilco's A Ghost is Born has me detecting sounds I wasn't aware were even on the recording.

I know it's a divisive subject, but I'm even hoping the performance might actually increase after some burn in time. Haven't tried the Arcam SA30 on it's own as just an integrated amp without the P35, but to be honest I don't really see how it can be better than what I'm hearing now, but no doubt curiosity will get the better of me one day.

Chuffed to bits.
 
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Douggie

Member
Well the SA30 arrived yesterday, and I am seriously happy with it. The detail is astonishing, crystal clear, and has that warmth that I love about Arcam.

I've been listening to lots of different stuff, but playing Underworld's King Of Snake was just breathtaking. For those that don't know it, it's basically a rip off of the Giorgio Morodor/Donna Summers song I Feel Love. The synths and pounding beats are a joy to hear, and the SA30 and P35 carry it off with ease.

Wilco's A Ghost is Born has me detecting sounds I wasn't aware were even on the recording.

I know it's a divisive subject, but I'm even hoping the performance might actually increase after some burn in time. Haven't tried the Arcam SA30 on it's own as just an integrated amp without the P35, but to be honest I don't really see how it can be better than what I'm hearing now, but no doubt curiosity will get the better of me one day.

Chuffed to bits.

Awesome. Yep, the sound will definitely get better with more run time.

Have you setup the Dirac room correction?
 

gryffe

Active Member
Awesome. Yep, the sound will definitely get better with more run time.

Have you setup the Dirac room correction?
I haven't played about with the Dirac yet. I'm not sure I totally get the need for it to be honest. The blurb says you should always use your own room correction first if possible, eg speaker placement. I'm reasonably happy with my listening position. I might do some research on it first to get a handle on what it does, and if it is considered to be worthwhile. Certainly both the dealers I spoke to were very enthusiastic. Is Dirac maybe just the 21st century version of Graphic Equalizers which I never bought into, and they died a death fairly quickly did they not?
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
I haven't played about with the Dirac yet. I'm not sure I totally get the need for it to be honest. The blurb says you should always use your own room correction first if possible, eg speaker placement. I'm reasonably happy with my listening position. I might do some research on it first to get a handle on what it does, and if it is considered to be worthwhile. Certainly both the dealers I spoke to were very enthusiastic. Is Dirac maybe just the 21st century version of Graphic Equalizers which I never bought into, and they died a death fairly quickly did they not?
Leaving aside whether you need to use it or not, modern DSP based room correction is a different kettle of fish altogether from graphic equalisers because a) it is tailored to nullify the exact negative influence your room is having on the sound and b) there is no detriment to sound quality (in the sense of degrading the signal; whether you like the end result or not is another matter). Read up on Dirac - it’s clever stuff and a not insignificant chunk of the price you paid for your amp was for that!

You’ve got it, so you might as well give it a go.... The only word of caution with Dirac is that the default target curve is their idealised speaker frequency response and therefore ‘corrects’ your speakers as much as the room which may or may not be desirable. you can manipulate the target curve to tailor the end result, but that will require a bit of patience and trial and error.

Most domestic spaces have some detrimental effect on the sound. Just because you’re used to it or have never known any different, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t prefer it if you heard it without....
 

gryffe

Active Member
Thanks DT79, will do some reading up on Dirac and curiosity will get the better of me at some point, but I'm just enjoying the sound at the moment.

One thing I have noticed, and it might just be my imagination, is that at lower volumes when later at night I feel like I'm not losing as much detail as I seemed to do with my previous amp configurations. Not sure if others experience this when playing at lower volumes as well, maybe it's just me lol?
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
One thing I have noticed, and it might just be my imagination, is that at lower volumes when later at night I feel like I'm not losing as much detail as I seemed to do with my previous amp configurations. Not sure if others experience this when playing at lower volumes as well, maybe it's just me lol?
A key trait of a better pre-amp!
 

Douggie

Member
Thanks DT79, will do some reading up on Dirac and curiosity will get the better of me at some point, but I'm just enjoying the sound at the moment.

One thing I have noticed, and it might just be my imagination, is that at lower volumes when later at night I feel like I'm not losing as much detail as I seemed to do with my previous amp configurations. Not sure if others experience this when playing at lower volumes as well, maybe it's just me lol?

That's the wonder of the Arcam SA30 class G. At low loads, it's driving with class A, which is supposed to be the best. So it brings up the question of what your P35 is "contributing" to the whole setup. That's why there's another school that do not believe in biamping (maybe unless the amps are highly matched).
 
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LampPost

Banned
I haven't played about with the Dirac yet. I'm not sure I totally get the need for it to be honest. The blurb says you should always use your own room correction first if possible, eg speaker placement. I'm reasonably happy with my listening position. I might do some research on it first to get a handle on what it does, and if it is considered to be worthwhile. Certainly both the dealers I spoke to were very enthusiastic. Is Dirac maybe just the 21st century version of Graphic Equalizers which I never bought into, and they died a death fairly quickly did they not?

Trust me your mind will be blown when you use Dirac correction :D
 

gryffe

Active Member
Well I had a very quick play about with Dirac. Not really successful, but probably because I wasnt doing it properly. The guy at Nintronics said I should watch a video that one of their guys uploaded to Youtube, but from what I can see Dirac have totally revamped the software and while the principal was the same the displays he was using were not really what I was seeing on my laptop. So I had problems setting up the volume calibration, and have no idea whether it is set properly. Then when I attempted to set up the measurements to be selected according to the listening position (12 in total)the software stopped working each time that I tried to set up a new position. So I had to switch off the amp each time I had managed to successfully set up a position, switch the amp back on and navigate back to where I had left off. After this happened 4 times I got fed up and decided to miss out the other 8 or so positions and just try it with the 4 I had managed to set. And it sounded very thin, and a bit trebly for my tastes! Maybe it's not for me lol
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
Posted this on another thread, but might be helpful:

Dirac can be a bit of a faff. My tips would be:
- Download the latest version of the Dirac Live software (not necessarily the one that Arcam link to on their website) - Download Software - Dirac
- Create an account so you can save your results
Make sure you’ve got the usb mic selected as the sound recording device otherwise it will default to the internal mic on a laptop
- install the mic calibration file in Dirac if there is one
- Set mic gain relatively high (Try 75%) and turn up the volume gradually until the levels are solidly in the green
- Make sure the environment is as silent as you can get it when taking the actual measurements
- Once you’ve got a good set of measurements, you only have to repeat them if something changes. In future you can load the project, play about with the target response curve and re-save as a new project. (Also helps if you don’t have a laptop as after initial measurements the computer doesn’t need to be in the same room.)
- Remember the ‘target curve’ that Dirac comes up with is an idealised speaker frequency response - it is correcting the speakers as much as the room which is not always desirable. You can manipulate the target response curve to follow the natural response of your speakers (this takes a bit of patience and trial and error - part of the reason for saving everything), or you can drag the ’curtains’ from the left or right, to restrict the part of the frequency range where Dirac is applying correction. Given that most room issues tend to be in the bass, try limiting it to correcting <100hz by dragging across the curtain from the right.
- Getting a more accurate UMIK-1 or XTZ microphone is optional but beneficial

Hope that helps!
 

gryffe

Active Member
Had another play about, think I had already did most of what you suggest before I read your post DT79. Got all 12 "positions" saved this time (after still having to switch the bloody amp off 12 times!! grr), but I'm not convinced I had the microphone settings correct before doing the position measurements. Anyway by the time I got it all set up it was too late to play loud enough to see if it made any difference, but from what I could hear at lower volume it wasn't really any different from what I heard without Dirac. Maybe I'm expecting too much improvement, I was expecting to be blown away in a similar way to the difference in quality that is experienced going from SD to HD, or HD to UHD on a TV.

Will see how it sounds tomorrow when I can blast it out properly :)
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
If it doesn’t sound better to your ears then at least you know. But what I’d recommend is disable the frequency response correction but leave the impulse (timing) response correction in place.

Doing Dirac on my AVR the tonal balance was much improved and detail was much better but it seemed a little bass light, which is an experience several folks have shared. If you like what it’s doing but feel it’s too ‘lean’ then you can load one of the Harman target curves with a bass boost. I’m using the +4db curve on my AVR and it sounds just right.
 

3rdignis

Active Member
SoMy room eq is limited to bass only.
I set limit up to 300hz
I cut only (boost compresses and limits headroom. To cure all nulls in a domestic environment is probably impossible).

Lately I measured one point centre of room/between speakers (accurate to mlp), tweeter height (accurate) but 1/3 depth (limits eq effect).
This gives me more accurate bass that is not too quite.

Don't measure ~<12" from any surface.
Don't put sofa against wall.

To start with eq bass will sound thin and not much different.
After listening for a couple of weeks you will appreciate the greater detail and start to get used to the bass level, then switching it off will exhibit a huge effect.

I use soft furnishings, acoustic panels and placement to sort mid/hi frequencies, this also seems to have little effect at first but soon becomes obvious.
 

gryffe

Active Member
So taking into account my own experience as well, are we seeing a trend here for thin sound lacking in bass? If so it's not for me.
 

LampPost

Banned
So taking into account my own experience as well, are we seeing a trend here for thin sound lacking in bass? If so it's not for me.

Dirac is a godsend depending on your room layout / reflections etc and can really help mitigate these issues. To be brutally honest purchasing an Arcam amp was ill advised and you certainly could have done better with your budget... But really you should have dumped the money into a decedent set of speakers, Monitor Audio Bronze 6 are crap...
 
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gryffe

Active Member
Dirac is a godsend depending on your room layout / reflections etc and can really help mitigate these issues. To be brutally honest purchasing an Arcam amp was ill advised and you certainly could have done better with your budget... But really you should have dumped the money into a decedent set of speakers, Monitor Audio Bronze 6 are crap...

Ok, and have you any advice on my car and TV and wife?
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
So taking into account my own experience as well, are we seeing a trend here for thin sound lacking in bass? If so it's not for me.
The corrected sound shouldn’t be lacking in bass, it should be accurate, and you may appreciate that layers of detail are uncovered by removing any undue reinforcement of certain frequencies that mask others. If after a period of getting used to it you feel it’s too bass light for your taste then you could apply one of the Harman curves I mentioned which will boost the relative amplitude of the bass, but without any detriment to anything else.

All that being said of course, if you’re happy with how it sounds you can simply leave things alone!
 

gryffe

Active Member
Thanks DT79. Well after trying this morning with the settings I applied last night, this time at louder volume I think it has definitely made a difference to the sound but there are still problems to overcome :-(

Earlier on this morning I played a song without Dirac and bass was a bit bloated, so turned on Dirac and it definitely tamed it.

Moving on I've encountered a problem where after 3 or 4 minutes into some songs using Dirac the song gives way to loud hissing, rather like a radio being tuned back in the day. I wonder if this is because the microphone has not being set up properly? Anyway I have attached some pics of the settings I have applied, not great quality sorry. The first pic shows mic settings, you wont be able to read from the pic but for both left and right speaker the white gauge thingy is set at -6.0db, for mic gain the white gauge is 100%, and the number lower down is -37.6db. For Master output the setting is -70.db.

The 2nd pic shows my filter design.

The last pic shows me trying to upgrade the firmware which I hadn't done previously. I navigated to the IP address on my browser and it detected the SA30 and started to apply the firmware upgrade but has been stuck without moving for over 20 mins. Also it did not do what the instructions said it would, eg 3. Click “Device Settings”.
4. Click “Reboot” in the “Reboot device to the update mode” menu.
It just went straight into firmware upgrade.
Any help gratefully received, thanks.

Edit - 2nd and 3rd pic seems to have duplicated - sorry!!
20200522_111124.jpg
20200522_111144.jpg
20200522_111144.jpg
20200522_111250.jpg
20200522_111250.jpg
 

Salonchi

Active Member
I'm not sure quite how dirac works, but I have watched the video from Nintronics. When you export the result and send it off and apply, does the DIRAC bring the pink line back to track the yellow line more closely? My SA30 hasn't arrived yet, so I can't test.
 
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DT79

Distinguished Member
Thanks DT79. Well after trying this morning with the settings I applied last night, this time at louder volume I think it has definitely made a difference to the sound but there are still problems to overcome :-(

Earlier on this morning I played a song without Dirac and bass was a bit bloated, so turned on Dirac and it definitely tamed it.

Moving on I've encountered a problem where after 3 or 4 minutes into some songs using Dirac the song gives way to loud hissing, rather like a radio being tuned back in the day. I wonder if this is because the microphone has not being set up properly? Anyway I have attached some pics of the settings I have applied, not great quality sorry. The first pic shows mic settings, you wont be able to read from the pic but for both left and right speaker the white gauge thingy is set at -6.0db, for mic gain the white gauge is 100%, and the number lower down is -37.6db. For Master output the setting is -70.db.

The 2nd pic shows my filter design.

The last pic shows me trying to upgrade the firmware which I hadn't done previously. I navigated to the IP address on my browser and it detected the SA30 and started to apply the firmware upgrade but has been stuck without moving for over 20 mins. Also it did not do what the instructions said it would, eg 3. Click “Device Settings”.
4. Click “Reboot” in the “Reboot device to the update mode” menu.
It just went straight into firmware upgrade.
Any help gratefully received, thanks.

Edit - 2nd and 3rd pic seems to have duplicated - sorry!!
View attachment 1303839View attachment 1303840View attachment 1303840View attachment 1303841View attachment 1303841

I’m not sure about the functional issues. Maybe it’s just because your amp needed the FW update. I’d just give it another go. Your graphs don’t show any horrors through the mid and highs, peaks and troughs of ~5db, but you can see a 12db increase around 70hz, which must be a room mode. I’d really want to try it corrected for a while and use a harman target curve if after a week or so I still thought it was bass light.
 

gryffe

Active Member
Still can't get Firmware upgrade to work. I contacted Nintronics and the guy there said that in their shop they found that Arcam products were notorious for not performing upgrades successfully in the conventional fashion, and they normal used a usb stick to do upgrades. I foolishly never asked him how to do this, thinking how hard can it be lol.? Transferred the upgrade stuff to the USB, attached to USB slot in SA30 but no idea how I get the upgrade to start. The SA30 doc says for USB upgrades go to the Arcam website for details ,but effed if I can find anything there on how to perform firmware upgrades. If anybody knows how to do this would be grateful if they could pass it on, ta
As regards the Dirac issues, and the issues with the hissing after a few mins of playing a song, the guy couldn't help me as he isn't Dirac trained. Asked me to try another day when hopefully their Dirac trained guys are in the shop.
 

Salonchi

Active Member
There is a readme and release notes in the zip file of the software download - First readme states you must be on version 323 before upgrading to 521.

Upgrade procedure from the release notes:


To update via USB (recommended):
1. Requires V323_V1.06 or later to be installed on the SA30. If required update to V323_V1.06 via the Manual Update method detailed below.
2. The USB stick should be empty and freshly formatted.
3. Unzip the file “SA30 image.zip” and copy the “image.swu” file onto a memory stick (so it is the only file on the
stick).
4. Turn on the SA30 & wait until fully started.
5. Insert the stick into the USB socket on the rear of the SA30.
6. Navigate to the System Settings > USB Update menu option and select it on the front panel until the front display
shows NET UPDATING.
7. Wait around 10 minutes for the update to complete, do NOT power off during this time.
8. Once the update has finished as indicated by Update Complete on the front panel display perform a Factory Reset
using the System Settings > Net Reset and System Settings > System Reset menu options. *
 

oscroft

Member
Still can't get Firmware upgrade to work. I contacted Nintronics and the guy there said that in their shop they found that Arcam products were notorious for not performing upgrades successfully in the conventional fashion, and they normal used a usb stick to do upgrades. I foolishly never asked him how to do this, thinking how hard can it be lol.? Transferred the upgrade stuff to the USB, attached to USB slot in SA30 but no idea how I get the upgrade to start. The SA30 doc says for USB upgrades go to the Arcam website for details ,but effed if I can find anything there on how to perform firmware upgrades. If anybody knows how to do this would be grateful if they could pass it on, ta
As regards the Dirac issues, and the issues with the hissing after a few mins of playing a song, the guy couldn't help me as he isn't Dirac trained. Asked me to try another day when hopefully their Dirac trained guys are in the shop.
I have to say, the whole software update thing really puts me off a lot of software-controlled products (even as a software professional). It's down to the utter incompetence of many manufacturers when it comes to upgrading, and the distinct possiblity of turning your expensive item into a brick.

I know I can't avoid software with digital music, but my amps and speakers don't have any, and I have no intention of ever trying to upgrade my DAC software (if it's even possible, which it isn't with my CD player).

I'm the same with digital cameras. I buy them with the features and functions they came with, and unless something that would really make a difference to me comes along, I will not try to upgrade the software.

Oh, and sorry that this isn't any help.
 

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