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AVR300 - Disappointed!

Discussion in 'Arcam Owners' Forum' started by bluesfan, Sep 3, 2005.

  1. bluesfan

    bluesfan
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    Well, I’ll create some enemies here but we’re all entitled to our opinions and I’m talking here more to those people who listen to more music than watch movies and are thinking about an AVR to replace their amp. I think my ears are pretty good, having study music I have quite good pitch, so I’m quite fussy about by hi-fi. Therefore, I’m sorry to report I was a bit disappointed in the AVR300 running through my BW603s. I tried all sorts of sound settings and most modes only seem to add an echo effect to stereo. I also tried bumping up the treble (not much change there).

    I couldn’t understand why it was so muffled at low volumes. It only started to sound at all dynamic at about 70db, which was too loud for the wife (a lot of amps start to sound good at high volumes). Whereas my lowly old 40w Pioneer amp sounds “louder” or more dynamic at lower volumes. Yes, I know this doesn’t make sense but that’s the best I can describe it. Perhaps someone understands the phenomenon I’m trying to express here.

    To me, the sound just wasn’t crisp enough, I wanted more “tis” on the drums and almost some sibilance but the sound was just too smooth and at low volumes sounded as if it was playing through a sock! At 60dbs it really sounded average and to me not worth £1200. I don’t see why I have to have loud to have dynamic, my existing 40w add doesn’t need that, it sounds quite good even at low volumes.

    Ok, I could try biamping it and that might improve the umph but I don't think it will change the basic sound.

    I also found stereo direct just highlighted the weakness of the system as an amp. I certainly think it must be based on a65 circuitry than anything else Arcam make.

    The volume control was also most annoying. Why does it take so much effort just to go up a few dbs. Why can’t the thing move in 2dbs or something or be smoother to turn so it’s faster (some of us don’t like remotes).

    Some of these people who make these machines should really go along to some live concerts and get the feel of the sound there, where you can hear the lightest of touch to a guitar string and snare drum. That’s the sound I want from my hifi.

    I think it will have to go back and I’ll have to have a rethink. I guess at the end of the day better stereo is more important to me than surround sound. I may even have to look at some other makes as some people here have criticised the A90 as not being bright or dynamic enough.

    Just my view.
     
  2. Jack the lad

    Jack the lad
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    How long have you had it?

    I got my AVR300 on Tuesday. I have had loads of amps, usually replace them after 3 or 4 weeks :eek: the last being a Denon 3805. Anyway at first I was also not blown away by the AVR300's performance, it was way too bass heavy, slightly muffled and like you say you need to crank up the db's.

    Now 4 days later I am blown away by its performance :thumbsup: Why?

    Firstly I turned down the gain on my SVS to the 3rd way mark (was on 1/2). This obviously cured the bassy-ness (?).

    Secondly and most importantly I then read the instructions :lesson: Like a muppet I hadnt made the switch to 4 ohms on the speaker select at the back. This made a difference as well :rolleyes:

    As for the volume setting. It does need to be turned up high. I use 70 for Sky and 80 for DVD's.

    Now I dont know if any of this is applicable to how you have yours set up but it might be worth playing around with a few things :)

    PS I did read a post somewhere where this guy wasnt truely happy with is AVR300 for 8 months :eek: But now swears by it :D
     
  3. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    why isn't this I am disppointed by the BW603 thread? I struggle to see why it is suddenly an Arcam issue from what you have said?
     
  4. bluesfan

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    Nice defensive tone, doesn't really warrant a reply. Except to say the 603s are the constant here and I heard them with an A90 and they sounded pretty (may buy the A90 once I compare to new Cyrus). My own old Pioneer also is another test with the 603s. I'm not replacing the 603s and Arcam praise BWs so I not going down that street for a separate argument.
     
  5. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Well it is nice to see you are open to finding out what your problem is :( I foolishly thought people posted questions wanting answers, guess I was wrong :( I guess you have the answer already then.
     
  6. chris

    chris
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    I dont think this is down to your Arcam 300.....
    This is deffernetly down to the speakers.....
    I had B&W speakers for quite a while and thought they were good ( just like you)....but was not blown away for the price.
    I had 601 & 602s2's.
    I then heard some Mordount short and some M&K speakers and realised just how muffled the B&W's are ( unless you buy the 700 or 800 range, but then you need some proper amp's.).
    I used to run my B&W's on a cheap sony 930 reciver and then changed to a denon 3803, which i still own.
    I still was not happy, so i brought some M&K speakers.......what a difference....the highs were there that i wanted.
    Cutting a long story short.....it is the 603's that are letting you down.
    You need a bright sounding amp, like your pioneer.
    Pioneer amp's are known for being a bit on the bright side, or evern a rotel amp.......known for being the same as pioneer....a bit on the bright side, this is why B&W recommend Rotel.
    The trouble with your AVR300 is it is showing you just what your speakers are like...it is a neutral amp...no bass or treble added, the componets used are designed to give a flat response and then you adjust to your liking.

    If you must keep your 603's then i would advise taking the 300 back and getting a rotel reciver, it will still give you the power you want, but it will be designed on the treble side.....ideal for your 603's, but if you like the arcam then i would suggest changing your speakers to something like the PMC GB1 for stereo music listerning.
    I use an A90 with my PMC's and it sounds amazing....dont think i would get the same results if i was useing B&W 600 series.
    By the way, i must say that i am not an Arcam follower.....i brought a couple of peice's of there kit and now wish i'd never bothered, but i was intrested at the time, so if you still want to buy an A90 you can have mine for the right price if you want to try one with your 603's.
     
  7. erbl

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    i can not beleave somebody has not sad this before but the product in question is a surround sound amp and therefore has been built to handle movies, not music. OK this reciever is ment to be one of the best musical recievers you can get but it is not a dedicated amp designed just for music.
    Remember that the money they could of spent on amping 2 channels has to go into 5 channels plus you have the cost of all the decoding programming and keeping the circutary seperate. A 2 channel amp for the same price will sound much much better as more money can go on the basics of making the thing sound good, a £300 2 channel amp will probably sound better.
    I know it is not what people want to hear but recievers are just not built for music, they oncentrate on movies which need a different type of sound. So to me buy the right sort of equipment before complaining.
     
  8. calsam

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    I bought a entire new system three weeks ago comprising Arcam AVR 300, DV79 and MA Radius speakers (using 4 R270s plus sub and centre), total circa £4000 - it sounded OK in the shop compared to alternatives such as Yamaha and Denon but when it was installed as home, it was a huge disappointment. The benchmark at home was a Roksan Caspian amp and cd and I quickly returned to this for anything other than movies, of which obviously it isnt capable other than in stereo!! I don't believe how anyone (Chris et al) can claim an AVR 300 is neutral - it's absolutely nothing of the sort, and probably never intended to be. Its warm, stodgy, slow, and muffled. It's more than reasonable for movies but for cd, its simply hopeless! I tried variations of other dvd players, amps and speakers with the Arcams - the dvd player is, to my ears, a much better product but do share some family' characteristics, but , apologies Chris, neutrality and insight not being amongst them!

    In the end, I ended up with the MAs together with Primares - DVD 26 and SPA21, and the sound reproduction is of a completely different class to the Arcams; in the final analysis, probably still not as good as the Roksans for cd but in all honesty, its marginal - although the Caspians are music dedicated and cost around £1000 each against a £900 dvd player and £2000 surround sound amp. The bass is controlled, the midrange cleaner and several veils lifted allowing you to hear things the Arcams didnt. As a combination, more expensive than the Arcam alternative (but with considerably fewer 'bells and whistles', so arguably focused upon sound quality) but only by a few hundred pounds and well worth the difference. The Primares allow you to listen to music and movies, the Arcam only movies, and even that not to the quality of the Primares.

    My advise, if you can live without the features, skip the AVR300 and buy the SPA21. If you need the features, the Arcams are a better all round option than Yamaha and/or Denon.
     
  9. bluesfan

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    Well, I guess you all right and apologises to Nic who may have a point now (just didn't like the tone). It's a real blow to me to consider the BWs are not that good (I can't demo everything!) and a real pain if I have to try selling them. I must admit I never tried the Mordants or any others, I'll really thought the BWs were good speakers from the reviews.

    I think the words stodgy are how I would describe the 300. Great engineering, a real quality thing but just not clear/clean enough sounding.

    I think I'll have to look at just a plan amp. After all avr is not that important to me. I actually think movies sound reasonable with just a good amp that's clear and tuneful.
     
  10. chris

    chris
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    They are fantastic speakers, when paired with the right amp.
    Take the 300 back and try a rotel amp.
     
  11. gostan

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    The pre-pro section of the AVR-300 is not the issue. It's amplifier section is a little suspect for certain speakers that require different type loads to drive them. What do you expect for the price point. I passed on the AVR-300 and love my AVP-700. I run N803's and the sound is dynamic, detailed and not muddied at all - with a separate external amplifier!!
     
  12. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    It is all down to the amplifier driving the speakers. Is it a speaker issue, is it an amplifier issue? Sort of chicken / egg senario. In fact both devices are quality bits of kit and neither is at fault, it is just they may not be the best partners for each other. Nothing wrong with diesle but would you put it in a pertol car?

    My response was deliberately short and asking a direct question to make people think, this is the second time I have dealt with this issue re AV300 this week, and the third time this month. Personally I think the AV300 is a lovely bit of kit, I think you would find similar, if not worse, issues with other competing kit. I like it as a receiver.

    Spend a little time with it all, having it running all the time, also try the 4 ohm switch if you haven't already and be prepared to adjust the speaker position, even a small distance. All help. Also read the manual if you haven't already, the other two I helped hadn't, both work in the computer industry. Apparaently they never read manuals!!

    A dedicated L+ R amp helps BIG time here, as does biamping and using 5.1. The former is better.

    sorry if you didn't like the tone, it was meant to help people think about the problem and analysis it to help find a solution.
     
  13. fabfour

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    I run Arcam amplification and B&W speakers (w/ QED silver anniversary bi-wire) and they've always sounded great
     
  14. cpd

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    It seems like the real strengths of the AVR300 are the DACs and pre-amp stage. Maybe they should just take out the amps, improve some of the internal components, and heck... add HDMI while they're at it. I bet that would make a great processor! Oh wait...

    Seriously, the 300 is not right for everyone. It you don't have an external amp, you can't expect it to sound as good as an integrated stereo amp. The performance of the amps probably depends a lot on your speakers and room as well. If you are really serious about having a combined HT and music system, you're probably better off getting the AVP700 and matching it with an external amp. There are plenty of good used options out there if you need to keep the costs down.

    Chris (the other one)
     
  15. bluesfan

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    The AVP-700 is a just a bit too pricey for me.

    Which Rotel can you suggest.

    Perhaps I was too mean expecting to get good stereo from an avr but everyone said the 300 was good for stereo. Not to my ears - quite ordinary in fact. As an AVR I can't fault it, nicely designed and that, but the dynamics are just not there - far too smooth.
     
  16. niceguy235uk

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    hasnt anyone tried the direct mode on the amp?

    It is designed to shut down the whole dsp side of the amp and run only 2 clean channels. As you will see from my sig im driving 602's at the mo to fantastic effect. Choice of cables will also make a huge difference.

    Mind you, i know eveyones tastes are different but elsewhere on this forum there have been discussions about Arcam and the B&W match.
     
  17. Tamas

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    I would recheck all my cables and make sure all speaker wires were in phase (+ to + and - to -). It is a very common and easily made mistake when wiring a new system.
    Before I purchased an avp700 I demoed the 300 at home against my Denon AVR4802 - no slouch either, and I preferred the sound of the Arcam - Def Lep and Iron Maiden never sounded better.
    Good Luck

    Regards, Tom
     
  18. hedrick@rutgers

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    The original question was about unexciting sound at low volumes. I believe you're hearing the effect of the Fletcher-Munson curve. The frequency response of our ears changes depending upon volume. At lower volumes, you need more bass and treble. See e.g. http://www.webervst.com/fm.htm Receivers used to have "loudness" compensation, which automatically increase bass and treble as you turn them down, but I haven't seen that recently on very many products. The graphic equalizer in iTunes has a "loudness" setting for the same purpose. You're probably going to have to turn up bass and treble either using the tone controls in the Arcam or somewhere else.

    If a receiver didn't have this problem, I'd worry that it was exaggerating the bass and treble at normal volumes (unless of course it has loudness compensation).

    For the Arcam staff: given all the DSP power currently available, I would think you ought to do something in way of loudness compensation. Not everyone plays it (or can play it) at reference level all the time. My source is a Mac, so I can easily do equalization in the application, but not everyone is so lucky. My impression is that the frequence response of the bass and treble controls is not well suited to implementing Fletcher-Munson compensation. I generally find bass and treble cut and boost in iTunes more useful than the Arcam 250 tone controls.
     
  19. jakeman

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    I demoed the avr300 for a week and found the amp was not a good match with my speakers. When I demoed the avp 700 the sound was much improved with more air, transparency and tighter bass. I am very happy with the move to the 700 from a sound quality perspective. If Arcam will only fix the hdmi switching problem it will make it easy to recommend the processor to all my friends.
     
  20. bluesfan

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    Not everyone can afford the 700!

    It will probably go back Sat.

    The direct mode just serves to show how poor the basic amp is. Lifeless and unexciting and low volumes boring.

    If it is 100 watt then it is a low output 100 watts even on stereo direct. My miserable 40 watt Pioneer sounds louder than this thing. Above 85dbs it starts to clip (with no input sound). It will clip or crack as I move the dial repeatedly between 90/91 dbs.

    On that, why does the dial run in dbs when on NEO 6 the output volume decibels is actually much lower than stereo (eg 80dbs in stereo is louder than 80dbs in NEO 6).

    I found the loudness jump and pause when switching between modes quite annoying (my kids screamed at me when the volume went off for 2 seconds!).

    I still can't understand why for a £1200 amp direct mode is so poor. The A85/A90 sounded much better on my 603s. What did they do to make this amp so unexciting for stereo?

    From all the hype I though Arcam had produce a product for both HT and hifi fans. Sorry, just didn't do it for me.
     
  21. Nobber22

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    I suspect your Pioneer amp has "ruined you" when it comes to listening to any other amp that is warm or even neutral sounding. :(

    Pioneer amps usually shriek out the top-end of any recording, at any volume and you've got used to this sound. Hence the warmer Arcam sounds dull.

    The B&W's are also pretty warm speakers with a slightly slow bass and the Arcam is exaggerating that sound. The Pioneer was able to mask it, but also wasn't reproducing the music the way most of the artists intended.

    The Rotel amp advice is probably more up your street. Horses for courses. :)
     
  22. jakeman

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    Yes it is too bad about that amp. I had the same experience with it but not the crackling. I found it hard to believe it was rated at 100w but I was more charitable with it than you because my 4ohm speakers can be hard to drive. I gave up on it when my old 85w HK produced higher decibels. Great sound nonetheless. But the avp 700 is even better.
     
  23. bluesfan

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    I mostly shocked that so many reviewers and users can't tell the difference between this (and many other avrs) and an average 2 channel amp.

    Wonder why they spend so much on hifi if that's the case.
     
  24. kid rock

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    I think you are naive in expecting the 300 to sound as good as the a85 or a90. These integrateds retail for the 800 quid mark.If Arcam had produced the 300 with that sort of stereo capability it would have cost about 400 quid more. As it stands it is on a par with the entry level Diva integrated. When I demoed it I was under no illusions that it was not nearly as good as an a90- my dealer told me as much. Rotel has been mentioned as an alternative ie the 1067 but boy is it crap in stereo.Yeah it likes loud but its so bright .

    Why dont you get the a90 with 7.1 board fitted and buy some p85s second hand. I think if i were you I would trade in the 300 for the a90 7.1 and rob the piggy bank for extra power amps.


    As for me I have never been happier.The Avr 300 sounds great in all surround formats with my Pioneer dvd player 868, and the a90 and the p35 in tandem with my Shanling cdt100 and biamped Kef xq3s in stereo is simply stunning.

    Finally I think you may well need to ditch your b+ws as i dont think they are as good as you think especially when or if you get an a90.

    Kid Rock
     
  25. WRG

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    You know it's a shame that more AVR300 owners don't chime in here. I for one am extremely pleased, beyond my meager expectations. Previously I had a Yamaha DSP A1 coupled with the B&W N805s, good SQ. I just wanted a change, as most do, from time-to-time. I purchased the AVR300 along with the DV29 and the CD33. I certainly didn't need anything else for my size room. I bought Paradigm Signature speakers to couple with the Arcam gear. I've said it before and I'll say it again..I'm extremely pleased way beyond my original expectations. I listen to 75% music 25% HT, and of that 2-ch and DVD-a and I'm baffled, I hear nothing but clear, musical, articulate music. My B&W's were very good with the Yamaha but, the Paradigm/Arcam is certainly a match made in heaven. Perhaps there's a lot of truth to the matching of the speakers to the appropiate receiver/amp, more than imagined actually. If your happy with your B&Ws get a better matched receiver/amp to drive them, or follow some of the advice here and get speakers that are a good match-up. Mine are perfect, the AVR300 is an outstanding musical receiver coupled with the right gear...period :smashin:
     
  26. chrislewis

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    Im chuffed with mine as well,sounds fantastic with my E82 elegantes :thumbsup:

    chris
     
  27. niceguy235uk

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    it seems to me that you are looking for someone to say 'yes you are right, the Arcam does sound like this and that'.

    The fact is... if you aint happy with it then try something else, Arcam is obviously not for you. Personally, and i think many here will agree, that the 300 is a superb piece of equipment for what it does. i do think the jap sound has influenced you somewhat but then anything new will sound different, whatever manufacturer you try.
     
  28. jakeman

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    I think you should cut bluesfan some slack. His main complaint was not with the sound quality of the avr 300 per se but with the amp performance and I will support him on that one. The amp in the 300 sucks. For an avr with such a marvellous sound why they included such a sappy amp is beyond me. It simply does not do the job with higher end low impedance speakers. For that reason I returned the 300 and went the 700 plus big amp route.
     
  29. LFCRules

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    I have the AVR300 with P90/3 biamped the front channels, with B&W603 fronts, LCR600 centre, 602 rears and CC6 centre rear, with ASW1000 sub. And to my ears it is great, and a big step up from the old Sony Amp I replaced it with, and when I had my 602's as fronts. I listen to probably 90% HC and 10% music, and it sounds cool ramped up watching a film on the projector :D The P90/3 added on was an improvement for me, especially on the front centre channel.

    But as others have said, we are all different, so check out some more options, maybe even non-Arcam options :eek: :rotfl: , and see how you get on.

    Cheers

    Andy
     
  30. WRG

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    No cuts at bluesfan here, as he seemed to me to be talking about the sound quality, he mentioned sound at least 7 times and referenced to music at least 7 times also, I just assumed it I guess :)

    ...jakeman, sorry about your experience with the AVR300, I read the threads on the avs forum also...there are those like me who have great experiences with the 300, money wasn't an issue for me at all, the avp700 was overkill for my set-up, the amps work just fine for me, so I will continue to boast about the AVR300...for my particular needs, it's perfect. I think that the amp sucks is a bit harsh, but your certainly entitled to your opinion, thats what the forums are for, mostly opinion ;)
     

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