Can I use an Arcam SA30 for L&R channels on AV system

Mikey 21

Standard Member
I want to update my nearly 20 year old AV/Hi Fi set up. I am currently running a Sony STRDB940 5.1 doing the surround sound duties. I use the “pre outs” from this amp to the dedicated processor input to run the left and right channels on my Arcam Alpha 10/10p combo. Using the processor input on the Alpha 10 gave the Sony AV amp control of all channels

I would like to stick with Sony for the AV amp as its been a great amp and so reliable. Trouble is the newer Sony AV amps don’t have pre outs? Any suggestions?

I would like to replace the whole Alpha system as the CD player operation is temperamental. The amp is also starting to show its age where sometimes the front panel display doesn’t light up and input selectors often won’t switch. Other than this, it’s also been brilliant, and would like to stick with Arcam

I am at a loss as to what I can replace it with? I would like something comparable with Arcam’s 100 wpc but it seems a lot of the newer stuff just doesn’t have dedicated inputs for AV channels such as the one I am used to? Any ideas? Can I use the AV input of the SA30 and use the volume control of the AV amp in the same way as before?

Thanks in advance for your time.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The AV30 does have HT by-pass abilities and can be used and controlled from the AV amp's pre-outs. There are a good selection of stereo amps that have HT by-pass, my Rega Elicit-R being one. You could of course replace both amp and AV with an all in one unit from Arcam if you like the brand. That would give your Dirac for the full system and a pretty good stereo music performance.
 

madfiddler

Active Member
In short “yes”. I don’t personally but there are other users hereabouts who do, it’s what Arcam call Processor Mode...

 

Mikey 21

Standard Member
Thanks for your input guys. I have ordered the Arcam SA30 integrated and CDS 50 CD player which will be delivered on Monday. I will sort out AV side of things in the coming months.
While I think of it, would it be better to connect the CD player to the amp using coaxial, optical or RCA.

Thanks, Mikey.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Thanks for your input guys. I have ordered the Arcam SA30 integrated and CDS 50 CD player which will be delivered on Monday. I will sort out AV side of things in the coming months.
While I think of it, would it be better to connect the CD player to the amp using coaxial, optical or RCA.

Thanks, Mikey.
If they both have the same DAC then use analogue. If they have different DACs then try both digital and analogue and listen for what you prefer.
 

goingoingong

Distinguished Member
Thanks for your input guys. I have ordered the Arcam SA30 integrated and CDS 50 CD player which will be delivered on Monday. I will sort out AV side of things in the coming months.
While I think of it, would it be better to connect the CD player to the amp using coaxial, optical or RCA.

Thanks, Mikey.
If you don't have good quality RCA cables probably optical or co-ax to use the SA30 DAC. Both DACs (ESS9038 ) likely peform the same, unless the CD one has been tweaked.
Player DAC ESS9038 32-bit/192kHz Delta-Sigma DAC
SA30 DAC 32-bit DAC,Sabre ESS9038K2M
It's a suck it and see situation...
 

madfiddler

Active Member
Thanks for your input guys. I have ordered the Arcam SA30 integrated and CDS 50 CD player which will be delivered on Monday. I will sort out AV side of things in the coming months.
While I think of it, would it be better to connect the CD player to the amp using coaxial, optical or RCA.

Thanks, Mikey.

I have this combo and am very happy. One word of warning about the SA30 firmware...if it comes with version 521 I would suggest sticking with it and disabling the auto OTA updates. Keep track of user input and newer firmware and whether you really want or need it here... The unofficial Arcam SA30 community

the CDS50 and the SA30 have the same DAC AFAIK but the CDS50 is behind in the streaming capability(maybe actually that is the “K2M” bit?) , so whilst I tried it I tend not to use it and use the SA30 for that. It’s unfortunate that there is duplication in The streaming, but the CD and SACD sounds great to my ears.

I have both analogue and digital co-ax (on BD input) connected at present and tend to flick from one to the other as I haven’t entirely decided about the sound, the analogue input seems a little quieter so when you first flick from one to the other the digital connections sounds somewhat fuller and brighter (my speakers perhaps responding positively to the extra push), but turn up the analogue just a couple of clicks and I’m not so sure there really is a difference, I have no way of measuring other than my ears! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed either way tbh.
 

madfiddler

Active Member
Interestingly I couldn’t spot the ESS9038K2M data sheet on the ESS website. The 9068 is listed as having MQA decoding onboard and I thought the K2M had this too. So maybe this could just be a minor variation produced for limited partners (I think project use it too), unsure!
 

jonno73

Active Member
Interestingly I couldn’t spot the ESS9038K2M data sheet on the ESS website. The 9068 is listed as having MQA decoding onboard and I thought the K2M had this too. So maybe this could just be a minor variation produced for limited partners (I think project use it too), unsure!
I think I saw the K2M being described once as something like the portable/ mobile version of the 9038.

Out of interest, do you hear a difference using the CDS50 DAC against the SA30 SAC?

You mentioned above that the CDS50 was ‘behind’ in its streaming - would you be kind enough to elaborate please?
 

madfiddler

Active Member
AFAIK it doesn’t support MQA...to be honest I haven’t tried too much To compare the DACs when streaming, as mentioned despite the slight volume and brightness difference playing CD and SACD (which could easily be down to my RCA stereo cables) I kind of set up the wifi checked it basically worked with the MusicLife app then left it alone....since I can stream with MQA support direct to the SA30 and just have to have the one box switched on that’s what I tend to do.
 

jonno73

Active Member
AFAIK it doesn’t support MQA...to be honest I haven’t tried too much To compare the DACs when streaming, as mentioned despite the slight volume and brightness difference playing CD and SACD (which could easily be down to my RCA stereo cables) I kind of set up the wifi checked it basically worked with the MusicLife app then left it alone....since I can stream with MQA support direct to the SA30 and just have to have the one box switched on that’s what I tend to do.
Nice one, thanks for the info. :)
 

madfiddler

Active Member
BTW this doesn’t mean the CDS50 can’t stream Tidal masters just that it won’t be receiving the MQA and doing all the “unfolding” like the SA30 will. Whether that matters to you unsure, I know there is a lot of debate about MQA given despite everything it is not a lossless codec.

FWIW I just streamed the same Tidal master version of The Killers “Imploding the Mirage”. The CDS50 reported it simply as FLAC 1891kbps, with no other details to see. With the SA30 streaming it reported as MQA 96Hz (showing in the amp web client at similar bit rate and 24 bit). With the CDS50 on and the analogue input to the SA30 it has to be set to DIRECT mode (never quite understood why), when sent over digital co-ax the amp reports 48hz

I know you are going to ask me which sounded best, but that’s somewhat subjective and also down to my room and speakers. the MQA almost sounds like a slightly different mix, not a lot in it but the mid frequencies more prominent and the bass tighter and maybe not quite as “warm”, wider soundstage.

I did a lot of testing when I first got the SA30 and to me the MQA versions of the same track won out compared to the hi res FLAC from Qobuz. I know technically others will explain why that shouldn’t be the case, but I can only say what sounded best to me.

I think it’s kind of nitpicking between these different options, my ears and convenience says MQA direct to amp, but honestly it all sounds good, just maybe slightly different “shades”

all IMHO of course, YMMV

HTH.... and any other acronyms I can thinks of 🙂
 
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jonno73

Active Member
BTW this doesn’t mean the CDS50 can’t stream Tidal masters just that it won’t be receiving the MQA and doing all the “unfolding” like the SA30 will. Whether that matters to you unsure, I know there is a lot of debate about MQA given despite everything it is not a lossless codec.

FWIW I just streamed the same Tidal master version of The Killers “Imploding the Mirage”. The CDS50 reported it simply as FLAC 1891kbps, with no other details to see. With the SA30 streaming it reported as MQA 96Hz (showing in the amp web client at similar bit rate and 24 bit). With the CDS50 on and the analogue input to the SA30 it has to be set to DIRECT mode (never quite understood why), when sent over digital co-ax the amp reports 48hz

I know you are going to ask me which sounded best, but that’s somewhat subjective and also down to my room and speakers. the MQA almost sounds like a slightly different mix, not a lot in it but the mid frequencies more prominent and the bass tighter and maybe not quite as “warm”, wider soundstage.

I did a lot of testing when I first got the SA30 and to me the MQA versions of the same track won out compared to the hi res FLAC from Qobuz. I know technically others will explain why that shouldn’t be the case, but I can only say what sounded best to me.

I think it’s kind of nitpicking between these different options, my ears and convenience says MQA direct to amp, but honestly it all sounds good, just maybe slightly different “shades”

all IMHO of course, YMMV

HTH.... and any other acronyms I can thinks of 🙂
Thanks, that’s really interesting. Just to clarify, I have a CDS50, but am thinking of changing up my stereo amp (a Roksan K3).
Hence, was initially considering the SA30 as a contender.... and as I don’t use the cds50 for CD, it might have meant I could even lose the CDS50 if I went to a combined Amp & Streamer.

I’m doing some research into options now. The CDS50 does have its well publicised quirks of course, so losing it might not be too big an issue!
 

madfiddler

Active Member
For me, I know maybe it seems I’m not getting full value from it, but for CD and SACD playback the CDS50 doesn’t really have quirks....as a streamer maybe, but then so does the SA30 and the Arcam apps.....or more precisely “bugs”! I got a decent deal on the CDS50 and there aren’t really any other SACD contenders for the money. marantz and denon get a lot of praise here but are more expensive or certainly were new when I was looking.

not really sure how the K3 compares to the SA30 but I suspect it’s a sideways step and you’ll possibly be annoyed by the software “quirks”. if you are looking for a single box then Lyngdorf TDAI ought to be considered (with room perfect rather than Dirac in the SA30), possibly NAD and others here again I’m sure will recommend other options.
 
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Mikey 21

Standard Member
So, one month on with the SA30 and still haven’t quite got to grips with it yet, not used it more than half a dozen times though. I have the streaming sorted out and that works well after some initial drop out issues, a new BT hub seems to have cured those. I am presently unable to get any sound using it in processor mode where I use the pre outs from my AV amp. Also, works fine turning off but still unable to turn it back on using the remote? Any ideas? TIA
 

madfiddler

Active Member
For the remote it isnt just an amp remote but a universal one. If you press CD for example to switch to the CD input it also switches the remote to primarily operate the CD player, so the power button would affect the CD player. So you have to press AMP button first then you should be fine.

i‘ll have to leave others to comment on the processor mode, since as mentioned I don’t use it, sorry.
 

rc789

Active Member
So, one month on with the SA30 and still haven’t quite got to grips with it yet, not used it more than half a dozen times though. I have the streaming sorted out and that works well after some initial drop out issues, a new BT hub seems to have cured those. I am presently unable to get any sound using it in processor mode where I use the pre outs from my AV amp. Also, works fine turning off but still unable to turn it back on using the remote? Any ideas? TIA
Have you selected an input for processor mode and is that what you’re av pre outs are going in to? Sorry if this seems a dumb question but it’s some basic troubleshooting. Another one I almost did as I couldn’t be bothered to pull the avr out was plug it in to analogue out left and right on the avr and not the pre outs. You have said you are using pre outs so probably not an issue...
 
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Mikey 21

Standard Member
Hi Guys,

All good with the SA30 now! Everything working as it should. Thanks to everybody for their input.

Thanks, Mike.
 

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