Arcam repair vs a new cheaper receiver

R1DSO

Novice Member
Hi there,

My old Arcam AVR300 has died. It started sending intermittent very load pops through my speakers and now switches itself immediately off when powering up. Reading other posts on this forum, I understand this model suffered from many reliability issues.

Again, I learned on this forum that Arcam offer a repair service. Having enquired with Arcam about this, they think the fault sounds like a capacitor issue and should be repairable. The latest flat rate repair cost is £460 + £25 for return packaging. The service comes with a 1 year warranty.

Now, the Arcam was a great-sounding receiver, but the repair cost is a lot of money for something so old that is known to be unreliable. However, I see that I’d be looking at circa £2k for a new Arcam replacement and that’s money I just can’t justify atm.

For less than the cost of the Arcam repair, I can get What HiFi’s two times product of the year, the Sony STR-DN1080 (£429). I would hope that this would be more reliable + it comes with built in Bluetooth, so I won’t need to plug in a fiddly external BT receiver to stream music from my phone.

My question is, how much of a downgrade is the new Sony vs old Arcam and how noticeable will this be?

I’m aware this a is relatively subjective question. To add context, I have a decent ear (I’m a classically-trained musician and produce and mix down my own electronic music) and I appreciate good quality audio. But, I wouldn’t really classify myself as a full-on audiofile.

I use my setup to play the latest Xbox games, watch films/VOD and play music over Bluetooth (which I know reduces the sound quality further in addition to the MP3 compression).

My 5:1 speaker set-up is as follows:

Monitor Audio Radius 270 (front L/R)
Bowers & Wilkins LCR60 S3 (front centre)
Monitor Audio Radius 45 (rear L/R)
MJ Acoustics Reference 100 (sub)

Many thanks in advance for any input and opinions on this.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
Does this help?


I think you would be disappointed with the Sony.
 

R1DSO

Novice Member
Does this help?


I think you would be disappointed with the Sony.

Thanks for the response and link. £1.3k is definitely better than £2k. It’s still 3x the cost of the Sony, though. And I’m a little dubious of Arcam’s build quality reading posts on here, now.

If the AVR550 was going to sound 3x better than the Sony, I could justify the cost. But, if it’s only going to be 10-20% better and to the discernable ear, I’d struggle to. Especially as I’ll be spending another £450 + games on the latest System X Xbox.

I know it’s subjective and really hard to quantify, but can you elaborate on why I’d be disappointed? I see that the Sony has 130 watts per channels vs Arcam’s 90, so it shouldn’t struggle to power my fairly old speaker set-up. It also looks like the Sony has some software that might help mask my untreated and slightly echoey living room.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
Hi, crikey, that's opened a barrel of worms. Welcome to the forums by the way, I see this is your first thread :hiya:

Yes, it is subjective, and it does depend on what you are looking to do. If you want to spend as little as possible and get something that works, then that is one option. However, I would go for an entry level Denon over the Sony 1080.

However, if you want to buy some electronics that will bring you joy every time you listen to music or watch films / tv, then I would go for the discounted Arcam (very big discount from a RRP of £2800).

I am saying this based on having had a number of AVR's in various rooms in this house, and a previous house, including the entry level and mid range Sony's, Denon's, Yamaha's, Marantz, and it was when I spent more money and got a Cambridge Audio CXR200 and now an Arcam AVR550, that the sound quality jumped up a significant amount. In terms of clarity, soundstage, separation, suprising sound effects popping from all over the room, even places where there are no speakers. No going back, when you have had that.

I do still have mid range and entry level AVR's in other rooms in the house, and they do a fine job, I hear the audio and it sounds good. But the Arcam AVR550 in the main room, just provides a much more engrossing, enveloping, exciting sound experience.

So, I would say in the sense of potentially how much you will enjoy it, the Arcam could be 3 times better than the Sony.

With the Arcam you get Dirac, which is a very sophisticated room correction system, and will almost certainly help with some of the negative effects that your room adds to the audio. The room correction on the Sony is, er, not very good is all I can say about that!

Audyssey isn't too bad, if you use the app, so you would get that with a Denon or Marantz, but Dirac is much, much better.

Now, with the power ratings, that's another debate. Manufacturers are very misleading in the way that they state their power ratings. The Sony 1080 for example, if you look at the small print, it says this:

POWER OUTPUT 165W (6ohms, 1kHz, 1ch driven THD 0.9%)

Which means that if it is powering one single 6 ohm speaker, with a 1khz test tone, it will output 165 watts with total harmonic distortion of 0.9%

The measured results are here:


For your 5.1 set-up, it is 66 watts at 0.1% distortion into five 8 ohm speakers.

The Arcam AVR550 hasn't been measured in the same way, but the 390 and 850 models have and they produce what Arcam specifies, so we can be fairly confident that 90 watts all channels driven is accurate.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
Welcome

If it is a recap repair then that price is obscene! Hopefully someone here can direct you to a knowledgeable repair person. Whilst I have no experience of these avr’s the software threads here would be enough to ensure I never touch them.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Unfortunately you've missed the boat with some good bargains with receivers are this year's models are being replaced. There are still some Denons around with the X3600 still being advertised at Richer Sounds. This receiver would make for a far better investment than the Sony. Better, power, more channels, full set of pre-outs and no problems with any speaker placement for DTS:X, unlike the Sony.


It may still be worth your while to get an estimate from an local repairer for the Arcam as you are going to be disappointed with the Sony. I quite happy with my Denon apart from poor stereo music performance but I'd take one over the Sony every time.
 

R1DSO

Novice Member
Hi, crikey, that's opened a barrel of worms. Welcome to the forums by the way, I see this is your first thread :hiya:

Yes, it is subjective, and it does depend on what you are looking to do. If you want to spend as little as possible and get something that works, then that is one option. However, I would go for an entry level Denon over the Sony 1080.

However, if you want to buy some electronics that will bring you joy every time you listen to music or watch films / tv, then I would go for the discounted Arcam (very big discount from a RRP of £2800).

I am saying this based on having had a number of AVR's in various rooms in this house, and a previous house, including the entry level and mid range Sony's, Denon's, Yamaha's, Marantz, and it was when I spent more money and got a Cambridge Audio CXR200 and now an Arcam AVR550, that the sound quality jumped up a significant amount. In terms of clarity, soundstage, separation, suprising sound effects popping from all over the room, even places where there are no speakers. No going back, when you have had that.

I do still have mid range and entry level AVR's in other rooms in the house, and they do a fine job, I hear the audio and it sounds good. But the Arcam AVR550 in the main room, just provides a much more engrossing, enveloping, exciting sound experience.

So, I would say in the sense of potentially how much you will enjoy it, the Arcam could be 3 times better than the Sony.

With the Arcam you get Dirac, which is a very sophisticated room correction system, and will almost certainly help with some of the negative effects that your room adds to the audio. The room correction on the Sony is, er, not very good is all I can say about that!

Audyssey isn't too bad, if you use the app, so you would get that with a Denon or Marantz, but Dirac is much, much better.

Now, with the power ratings, that's another debate. Manufacturers are very misleading in the way that they state their power ratings. The Sony 1080 for example, if you look at the small print, it says this:

POWER OUTPUT 165W (6ohms, 1kHz, 1ch driven THD 0.9%)

Which means that if it is powering one single 6 ohm speaker, with a 1khz test tone, it will output 165 watts with total harmonic distortion of 0.9%

The measured results are here:


For your 5.1 set-up, it is 66 watts at 0.1% distortion into five 8 ohm speakers.

The Arcam AVR550 hasn't been measured in the same way, but the 390 and 850 models have and they produce what Arcam specifies, so we can be fairly confident that 90 watts all channels driven is accurate.

Thanks for such a detailed response and for the welcome. Yes, I’m a long time lurker, first time poster!

OK, so it sounds like the Sony will be a big step down. I did love how the Arcam would pop out individual effects. I found this particularly noticeable when playing games as you can rotate the sound stage at will when moving your character etc.

It’s a shame about the Sony - the perception I got from the What HiFi review was that it was very good for the money. However, I guess this is reviewing within a price point.
 

R1DSO

Novice Member
Welcome

If it is a recap repair then that price is obscene! Hopefully someone here can direct you to a knowledgeable repair person. Whilst I have no experience of these avr’s the software threads here would be enough to ensure I never touch them.

Thanks for the welcome. From what I’ve read (in here) about the AVR300, the usual faults are hardware-related. That being said, it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence to buy into the brand again if they’re still having reliability issues! Is that the case with the newer models like the AVR550 etc?
 

R1DSO

Novice Member

Thanks for the Dennon recommendation. I’ll check out that.

Interested about local Arcam repairers. I’ll research them. Open to hearing of recommendations in or around the Surrey area too, if anyone has one.

Although it’s very expensive, an attraction of the Arcam flate rate repair (in addition to the warranty) is that they allegedly QC everything and replace any components that are not up to factory specification.

I read (on here, I think) a poster who had an electronics degree spending a solid week repairing his own Arcam, only for it to go wrong again several months later. I would hope that, for the money, the Arcam official repair would give the amp a new lease of life and a good few more years of service. However, it’s still a lot to spend on a pretty old receiver.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
Is that the case with the newer models like the AVR550
Just picking up on this. The AVR550, along with the 390 and 850 are now old models, as a newer range came out earlier this year, hence the big discounts on a few units left in stock.

The last but one firmware, version 4.41, is solid and bug free, and has been so for over 2 years.
 

R1DSO

Novice Member
I’ve just twigged that the new Xbox has done away with optical audio and my old AVR300 doesn’t have an HDMI input. So, it looks like I will ultimately need to replace rather than repair the receiver.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I’ve just twigged that the new Xbox has done away with optical audio and my old AVR300 doesn’t have an HDMI input. So, it looks like I will ultimately need to replace rather than repair the receiver.
Connectivity has moved on from the days of the 300 and HDMI is now something of necessity if you wish to pass video through the receiver. If you buy a new receiver of whatever make you decide then you could always sell the 300 for spares.
 

Mango Bob

Active Member
If you fancy a musical alternative to the Denon, RS have some great clearance Yamahas atm.
I just got one upgrading to an amp with hdmi, really happy with it.
 

mikeysthoughts

Well-known Member
Thanks for the welcome. From what I’ve read (in here) about the AVR300, the usual faults are hardware-related. That being said, it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence to buy into the brand again if they’re still having reliability issues! Is that the case with the newer models like the AVR550 etc?
The 390/550/850 range don't have any systemic hardware problems. Arcam managed to resolve the reliability issues in this product range, and of the 650+ pages on the owner's thread there are maybe two or three reports of an isolated hardware problem: no more than any other brand product range.

For the sub £2k price the 550 & 850 offer the best sound quality and I agree with others who have suggested you'd be disappointed with a Denon/Sony/Yamaha when coming off the 300.
 

m1964

Active Member
I had exactly the same problem that you decribed- the popping sounds were caused by a bad processor module for surround sound.
You should still be able to use the AVR300 in stereo direct mode, without any popping noises, but on only for stereo.
If you were trained as a professional musician and mix your own music, you will not be satisfied with the Sony, Yamaha, Denon, etc.
The least you can do is to look at NAD and/or Anthem. Anthem is coming out with new line of AVRs, so the older ones should be cheaper now.
 

R1DSO

Novice Member
Thank you for all the replies and input.

Connectivity has moved on from the days of the 300 and HDMI is now something of necessity if you wish to pass video through the receiver. If you buy a new receiver of whatever make you decide then you could always sell the 300 for spares.

It looks like the old AVR300 is indeed then destained for spares. I’ve seen broken ones sell on eBay for £100 or so.
I had exactly the same problem that you decribed- the popping sounds were caused by a bad processor module for surround sound.
You should still be able to use the AVR300 in stereo direct mode, without any popping noises, but on only for stereo.
If you were trained as a professional musician and mix your own music, you will not be satisfied with the Sony, Yamaha, Denon, etc.
The least you can do is to look at NAD and/or Anthem. Anthem is coming out with new line of AVRs, so the older ones should be cheaper now.

Initially, the receiver was still “useable” if you didn’t mind being shocked occasionally by the odd very loud pop and bang. I did worry this wasn’t the best for my speakers, though. However now the Arcam just powers straight off when I try to turn it on.

The 390/550/850 range don't have any systemic hardware problems. Arcam managed to resolve the reliability issues in this product range, and of the 650+ pages on the owner's thread there are maybe two or three reports of an isolated hardware problem: no more than any other brand product range.

For the sub £2k price the 550 & 850 offer the best sound quality and I agree with others who have suggested you'd be disappointed with a Denon/Sony/Yamaha when coming off the 300.

Thanks for all the alternative model suggestions. With the consensus being that I’ll be disappointed stepping down from Arcam, it looks like a well-priced 550 is a good answer. I wasn’t planning on spending that much on this purchase just yet, so hopefully they’ll still be a few around at that £1.3k price tag when I get round to dropping the cash!
 

The latest video from AVForums

AVForums Movies Podcast: Which is the best decade for horror movies?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom