Arcam SA30 with vinyl (+KEF R5)

nikhps

Novice Member
I have recently purchased a pair of KEF R5 speakers which I am delighted with, in fact maybe my speaker end game. I’m now on the hunt to replace my Creek Evolution 2 (My apologies if you have already read this on another thread). One of the amps on my shortlist is the Arcam SA30. Luckily my brother has just purchased one so I’ve had the opportunity to hook it up to my system. It sounds great, big wide soundstage, good dynamics and an open presentation with defined separation of instruments - even better when I connected my phono pre amp and bypassed the internal one.

However I have my reservations about the amount of technology it carries for my needs. I’m pretty old school and listen to only cd’s and vinyl (probably 30/70% respectively). My brother however is convinced I need the DIRAC function which I only have limited understanding of. One issue that springs to mind is the fact I listen to a lot of vinyl - would this make the DIRAC function obsolete as my understanding is DIRAC takes the analogue signal converts it to digital and then back to analogue? This would therefore disrupt the analogue signal from the phono stage in the first place? Has anyone had experience with the SA30 and playing vinyl using DIRAC? As I said the SA30 seems a good match to the R5‘s but part of me thinks to look at something more straight forward such as the Rega Elicit R (as recommended as a good match to the KEF’s by other members). I’ve also got the Denon 2500 and Yamaha 1200 on my radar although these may be difficult to audition. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

thedude

Distinguished Member
I have recently purchased a pair of KEF R5 speakers which I am delighted with, in fact maybe my speaker end game. I’m now on the hunt to replace my Creek Evolution 2 (My apologies if you have already read this on another thread). One of the amps on my shortlist is the Arcam SA30. Luckily my brother has just purchased one so I’ve had the opportunity to hook it up to my system. It sounds great, big wide soundstage, good dynamics and an open presentation with defined separation of instruments - even better when I connected my phono pre amp and bypassed the internal one.

However I have my reservations about the amount of technology it carries for my needs. I’m pretty old school and listen to only cd’s and vinyl (probably 30/70% respectively). My brother however is convinced I need the DIRAC function which I only have limited understanding of. One issue that springs to mind is the fact I listen to a lot of vinyl - would this make the DIRAC function obsolete as my understanding is DIRAC takes the analogue signal converts it to digital and then back to analogue? This would therefore disrupt the analogue signal from the phono stage in the first place? Has anyone had experience with the SA30 and playing vinyl using DIRAC? As I said the SA30 seems a good match to the R5‘s but part of me thinks to look at something more straight forward such as the Rega Elicit R (as recommended as a good match to the KEF’s by other members). I’ve also got the Denon 2500 and Yamaha 1200 on my radar although these may be difficult to audition. Any advice would be appreciated.
I'm a little old school myself. So I feel your pain. You start to look and then everyone goes get this and you need that!
My mind gets blown. I bought a yamaha rx3500 as the music tone was meant to be good. I sat here for weeks thinking I want more. I need more. So I bought a new Rega Elex R. It sounded better no doubt, I then sat here thinking I need HTC pass through, that wasn't an option when I was younger.
So I upgraded to the elecit R! And wow bang what an amp. Its beefy and understated. It really is a beautiful amp.
Sounds good too.
I have reference ones acoustic energy and a rega planar 2 deck.

So yeah if you want a good hifi amp with no extra bells and whistles it's perfect.
My only issues with it and I got mine ex display is the buttons on the front one is broken and the power button is a physical button which is OK but you can't turn it on with a remote. But all in all its amazing.
I just need to figure out a better streaming option for it now (my other post).
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I don't have vinyl anymore and only need a bare bones analogue amp and for that job I have the Rega Elicit-R. It's driving a pair of KEF R300s and it does so beautifully. Great detail, good instrumental separation and a wide soundstage, no doubt aided by the KEFs. It's also very good at low volume retaining that detail and soundstage. Acoustic music and especially female vocals is very good indeed. Great control of the bass, tight and fast.

I have it hooked up to a Denon DCD 2500 SACD player and the AL32+ onboard that player plays a big part in my enjoyment of redbooks bringing some of my best redbook recordings almost up to SACD standard. You could expect the same from the AL32+ processor on the 2500 amp. Built like a tank.
 

NifkinFZ6

Active Member
The turntable is a Project Xpression Carbon UKX turntable fitted with a 2m blue cartridge. The phono stage is a creek obh 8 mk2, which for the money is a cracking little box.
That's interesting, considering the Creek phono stage is their budget one, I would've expected the SA30's phono stage to be at least as good, considering the amp is Arcam's current 2-channel flagship, and they do have a track record of having good quality in-built phono stages for their integrateds.
 

nikhps

Novice Member
That's interesting, considering the Creek phono stage is their budget one, I would've expected the SA30's phono stage to be at least as good, considering the amp is Arcam's current 2-channel flagship, and they do have a track record of having good quality in-built phono stages for their integrateds.

To my ears and also my brothers the Arcam phono doesn’t touch in terms of openness of the sound stage and dynamics particularly. When I first heard the internal stage I was surprised at how closed in it sounded and lack of dynamic range. The details there but not presented in a way which we found appealing. I think there’s a fairly recent Hifi choice review of the creek which is very complimentary. Picked mine up direct from Creek for £80 as they are selling off all stock due to closure which is even better!
 

NifkinFZ6

Active Member
Good points. Also, to my ears, the last range of FMJ amps sounded somewhat more closed in across the board when compared to their early 00s and essentially lower end DiVA range. The house sound is still there to a degree, but the FMJs lacked a certain air, ambience and sparkle for my liking. Haven't spent enough time with the newer HDA range to comment on them.
 

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