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Can the A90 make pop/rock sing?

Discussion in 'Arcam Owners' Forum' started by David-Bel, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. David-Bel

    David-Bel
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    I've been now the owner of an A90 (multi-channel board fitted) + P90 combo for about a month or so. The reason why I chose Arcam was for two main reasons : the multi-channel board and the reputed Arcam laid-back and smooth sound.

    During the demo of the A90 (associated with B&W 704 + CD93, comparison made vs Cyrus 8 and Micromega A120) at my local dealer, I was pleased indeed with the smoothness and poise of that amp that was not to the detriment of dynamic and detail. Hence, after a couple of hours of careful listening, I decided to buy it together with the P90 in order to end-up with a sort of purist 'all-analogue' multi-channel audio set-up.

    Back home, after a couple of days of burning, I started to play some of my collection of Genesis Remastered. These rather old recordings used to be nearly unbearable to listen to, owing to their (too) bright top-end when played on my previous A/V amp. With the A90, there was not a hint of harshness anymore, which made the listening experience much more enjoyable and much less fatiguing.

    Things seemed a little different, though, with Radiohead (The Bends) for instance. I'm still not quite sure but I had the impression that something was missing somewhere. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean there was any flaw. It was just that the more complex tracks seemed to lack life and impact and appeared a bit too leaned for my taste. Unfortunatly, I had the same feeling with other pop/rock cd's especially when the music got more complex and guitares got 'saturated'.

    So my question is, would it be possible that Arcam's polite way of reproducing music is more suited to classical/jazz and vocals instead of fast paced and 'guitare-full' rock/pop?

    I'd be really interested to hear what type of music Arcam aficionados, like most of us on this forum, usually listen to. Because maybe (and I do hope so), it is just my set-up that needs to be tuned/tweaked. Or maybe it is just a matter of amp/speaker association. I admit my kef eggs do not really compliment the A90 and I'm planning to replace them (with most probably Dynaudio Audience 52SE), but the thing is that I did not have that unpleasant feeling of 'lack of life' on my previous A/V amp (!) partnered with the kefs (yet, there were obviously other more serious shortcomings, but not that one).

    I'd appreciate if some of you could give me their own impression on this.
    Thks,

    David
     
  2. db1234

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    Hi David,

    I think your speakers are definitly the problem.

    I had an A85/P85 and a pair of B&W CM4's, rock/indy sounded fantastic.

    I recently got rid fo the CM'4s and now have satellites/subwoofer and get a very similar sound to what you are describing on the midrange.

    My advice - get some decent floorstanders !

    Cheers,

    Darren
     
  3. Sweden

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    Hi David,
    I also looking for speakers and cables for my a90 to sound better with rock ,indie and hardrock. i want more definition in midrange especially lower midrange and upper/mid bass i want more power and definition in voices and drums.

    Do a p90 make a difference ?

    Mats
     
  4. bluesfan

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    I demoed some Santana and they rocked on BW603s.
     
  5. David-Bel

    David-Bel
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    Sweden,
    I'm afraid I won't be very helpful here because I use the P90/3 for the sole purpose of having 3 additional channels (centre + surrounds). I don't use it for biamping.
     
  6. Sweden

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    Hi Bluesfan,
    So it seems that B&W is good parter with a90 if you like rock/harder rock.

    I saw this on a review :
    "As usual, I listened to some non-classical music towards the end of the review. Needless to say, the A90 and Thiel 2.2 combination made mincemeat of MOR pops, folk, C&W and “soft” rock. With hard rock, it’s another matter, and I blame speaker shortcoming for this. Perhaps coupling the A90 with one of those high-speed Danish speakers would produce better results."

    Like Audiovector or Dynaudio perhaps ?

    And on a other review:
    "Stereo performance requires careful system matching"
     
  7. MarkE19

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    I previously biamped B&W DM603's with Arcam 8R & 8P amps. I mainly listen to rock music and can assure everybody that the combination worked very well. I would never say 'Arcam's polite way of reproducing music is more suited to classical/jazz and vocals instead of fast paced and 'guitare-full' rock/pop'.

    Mark.
     
  8. David-Bel

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    Thks for your comment Darren. I should have figured it out myself. I absolutely did not have that bad impression when I auditioned the A90 with the B&W at my dealer. But you know, it's very difficult to draw definite conclusions when you're in your dealer's room. Very difficult to find your marks indeed.
    But you're enventually not the first person who advises me to dump my current speakers (for several other reasons also).

    Other than that, I'm happy to hear that you play Rock/Indie on your Arcam gear and that you are happy with it. And that was the most important to me. My speaker upgrade will have to come next.

    Cheers,
    David
     
  9. David-Bel

    David-Bel
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    I read that too in What-Hifi (Feb or March issue), and if I do remember well : they even said that without careful matching, the A90's sound could have the tendency to become lush. I wondered what the hell this 'careful system matching' could really mean. Anybody has any idea?

    David
     
  10. malcolm mccabe

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    Hey David,

    going back to your original question, I definately don't find the Arcam sound warm, I believe this used to be the case but not any more. I have a P90/3 with an AVR200 running B&W603 speakers and the AVR could be desribed as warmer in sound than the A90. I didn't bi amp, but have the Power amp running the fronts and yes, have listened to a wide range of music including dare I say the Prodigy/Roni Size/Chilli Peppers. The bottle neck is with your speakers, maybe your local dealers could lend you some to audition...HTH
     
  11. pringtef

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    Absolutely agree regards B & W with Arcam kit.

    Started of when i had my Alpha 9 series with CDM1SEs bi-amped

    When I got my A32, with P35, moved up to CDM7-NTs
    Now using CDM9-NTs with the same kit.

    Radiohead, The Bends sounds incredible.

    If you're auditioning, then another good CD for testing out "rawness" is Led Zeppelin's BBC Sessions.
     
  12. Sweden

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    David,
    Maybe you could try biamping to see how it sounds ?
    Or and could you please tell me when you have get a new pair of speakers that makes your a90 to sing w rock,indie and hardrock ?

    Best Regards
    Mats
     
  13. Hifi addict

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    Sweden: Bi-amping sure helps !! you will get a more controlled and clear mid (and even high) en control and speed on your bas will improve as well.

    David: I'll try some guitar music myself soon, but overall I am listening to dance (tiesto) a lot, together with almost ALL other kinds of music, but Arcam keeps pleasing me with great sound.
     
  14. Sweden

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    HiFi addict: what kind of speakers do you have w your a90 ?
     
  15. Hifi addict

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    I have B&W 803 connected to my Arcam. I don't have an a90, but an AVR300. Although some people say that the 300 sounds alike to the A85.

    But the point I wanted to make is that bi-amping really improved the sound. I bi-amped with an P35 and with channel 6+7 of the AVR300 and both gave much more control and 'air' to the overall sound. Even in the high-tones.
     
  16. db1234

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    Must agree that bi-amping makes a big difference. In recent years I have has an A85, FMJ A32 and A85/P85, the A85/P85 bi-amped produced by far the best sound.
     
  17. David-Bel

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    Mats,
    I'll keep you posted (promised!) when I (finally) buy the Dynaudio 52 SE or even maybe the 72 SE, depending on whether we move to another place or not.
    You should have a look at Dean Wette's posts concerning the Dynaudios partnered with Arcam gears (he's got the AVR 300 if I do remember well).

    And BTW, I listened to the floorstanding 72 SE at Brussels' Hi-Fi Show a couple of weeks ago and they were absolutely awesome! (not to mention the Confidence C2, which are much too far away from what I can afford). They were associated to a dutch brand called "Sphinx", which I had never heard about before.

    To all the others who answered to my original mail : thanks for your comments. I'm happy to see that Arcam owners listen to ALL types of music without any trouble.

    Cheers,
    David
     
  18. David-Bel

    David-Bel
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    Mats,
    Forgot to tell you also : I think the 52 SE cannot be bi-amped...
     
  19. Sweden

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    David,
    Yes i know but im interrested anyway if you like it with your a90 (to play rock,indie ,hardrock etc) If it fits tha a90 with that kind of music maybe i dont need to biamping. btw have you listen to Audiovector (Danish brand) they use Arcam when they make their speakers.

    Good luck
    Mats
     
  20. vistisen

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    I have recently upgraded from an FMJ CD23 and A25 running on Kef 104/2 Reference speakers by using my old A&R Cambridge Sa200 Amp (a forrunner to ARCAM for those who are younger than me) to bi amp a newer version of the kef 104/3.

    I used to be very jealous of my friends Krell/Martin Logan setup. But now I am not, sure with the right recording (try Diana Krall or Sting) his system is still better, though not by much. But give his system Madonna's "Ray of light" CD or Peter Gabriel's "UP" and it just gives up. whereas mine gets down to shaking the floor, which is not bad as the floor is solid concrete. At the same time it is rattling the windows with music not noise!

    On another note (and off topic) I can see that there are a number of Scandinavians in this thread) So a quick question which Eidsvåg CD do you think is best for testing HiFi?
     
  21. JH1

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    I have B&W 704 floorstanders paired to an A85 and I am thoroughly impressed with the sound with most music. With these B&W's the A85 could do with being bi-amped, so I will soon invest in P85 or P90, which match the A85/A90 equally, and will hopefully control them better. That said, the A85 is certainly capable in its own right.

    I believe with larger speakers/floorstanders, you should always get a sharper response from your speakers if you biamp. I suppose if you look at it logically, when you bi-amp, you've got 2 amps doing the job that only one was before. This way, I would think each amp can concentrate on specialising in dealing with low or high end, rather than trying to reproduce both.

    In any case, if you want to try a cheap way of improving your sound, look at your speaker cables. If you are running only a lower end priced cable and you don't mind a little bit of work, try the cat5 speaker cable upgrades talked about on the cables area of this forum. It really did improve the sound of my system. For around £30 for two runs of 3 metre cable, this is probably the most noticeable improvement I have had to a system. I have put cd players costing twice as much as my player on a system similar to mine and never got as much of an improvement as when I tried this cable! (Thats not to say you will get the same result in your system, but for only about £30, it would be one of the cheapest ways of trying!) :smoke:
     
  22. mick23

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    hi all
    david bel i have most of genisis stuff lps,cds,cassette also have genisis foxtrot remasterd, the best of santana, used to modest tt player,yamaha integrated,technics cd player mordaunt short speakers,

    and changed to denon 3802 , still using m/s speakers did a very brief comparison between yam and 3802 playing m/knopflers golden heart not really any differance so sold yamy,technics cd player .

    then changed to nad 540 cd player ,bw cdm1nts found most cds

    such as annie lenox diva, genisis ,santana any rock stuff far too bright and fatiging.

    so changed to a85 amp ,slightly better,but decided to sell on.

    so i changed speakers to dynaudio 62 floorstanders, and arcam 73t cd playerthinking this might tame the top end , but they are still to harsh with rock music, also tried mf 3.2 amp better but still bright.

    have heard avr 200 with bw603 arcam dvd player ,more mellow,fuller sound than 3802, not heard bwcdm1se ,or cd4 loudspeakers.
    .

    the dyns are not biwirable though,

    i not 100% sure but i believe you can biamp dyns by using say arcam integrated to f/l speaker terminals and a separate power amp to the f/l terminals of speakers.
     
  23. Timmie Boy

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    I currently have CD72T, B&W 603's, Denon AVR2800 cinema amp, QED Original MK2 Biwire cables.
    I want to make my hi-fi stereo experience better, and have demoed both the A90 & the new Cyrus 8XS amp at home. I absolutely adore the looks & features of the A90.
    I am right into rock and heavy metal, and amazingly with my old Denon cinema amp i get amazing midrange, you know that lovely raw edge to the lead guitars, unfortunately the Denon dosen't have the punch & snap with percussion instruments.
    So the A85 was the supposedly the dogs whats its a few years ago, so i thought the A90 would be even better - wrong! The guitars have gone, and it just couldn't keep up with the complex and fast tempo arrangements.
    Now the Cyrus was a bit better, but the guitar sound just wasn't quite there still (maybe needed burning in more as the amp was brand new), but everything else was spot on, speed, depth, agility, dynamic.
    The online & hifi magazines seem to give the A90 a bad time of recent, so i am really frustrated on what to go for.
    I hate to say it but i don't think the A90 is upto spec for that truly rock sound. Maybe the Roksan stuff is better?
     
  24. David-Bel

    David-Bel
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    JH1,
    I do agree, speaker cables do matter. Thks for mentioning the cat5, I'll have a look in the cable part of the forum. But what about the QED Silver Anniversary? Just asking because, these would be in the fact the first I would think about if I were to replace my speaker cables. ... Until I read your post maybe.

    PS: After reading your reply, I realised that I made a typo in my original post : the A90 was in fact associated to B&W 704 (instead of 804!!!).
     
  25. Timmie Boy

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    David, what did you think to the Cyrus 8? Was it the new model?
     
  26. David-Bel

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    No Timmie, I auditioned the Cyrus 8, not the 8vs.
    To be honest with you I spent more time on a comparison between the A90 and the Micromega A120 (a small french brand not so well known in the UK I guess) for I had to make up my mind between these two stereo amps that are amongst the very few brands that offer multi-channel inputs (Cairn Audio would be the only other one I know, but it is much more expensive ).

    When I decided to go for the A90, I put it to the test against the very well rated Cyrus 8, just by curiosity I admit. It didn't take me too long to spot the small differences between the two amps, but I must say that, in any case, they are absolutely minor, at least to my ears. I would simply say that, to me, the Cyrus is a tad more lively and the Arcam slightly smoother (which is precisely one of the reasons why I put Arcam on my shortlist BTW). But the two amps were really close. Too close for me to decide not to buy the A90.

    I wasn't interested in the Cyrus in the first place precisely because of the absence of multi-channel capability, but I have to say that I could have chosen the Cyrus vs the Arcam as well. If it could have been upgraded to multi-channel, I might have gone deeper into the comparison and would have most probably auditioned the Cyrus 8vs.

    Back home, as you know, things sounded differently, but this was mainly because of my satellites/sub speaker set-up (which I figured out thanks to this Thread).

    So, the two amps are very close indeed, but if you're only looking for a stereo amp and don't care about features such as sophisticated tone controls, input trims and, obviously, multi-channel inputs, then you might very well want to audition the Cyrus 8vs, in order to figure out what sounds best to you.


    Cheers,
    David
     
  27. dvddude

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    hello mate, what speaker cables and interconnects are you using? try van den hull. things like qed silver spiral/anniversary dont work too well with the arcam i find.
    think your speakers are fine.
    the p90 will make a diffrence but wont change the sound. will give you better imaging etc
     
  28. David-Bel

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    I'm using Qed Qnex 3 interconnects. You think Van den hul would be a better match with Arcam? I understand you have been able to make a comparison. Can you tell us a little bit more on that?

    Thks
    Cheers,
    David
     
  29. Sweden

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    Hi David,
    I dont know how Qed sounds but i guess he mean that they are on the bright side and VDH is on the Dark.


    Mats
     
  30. Crustyloafer

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    I use three pairs of Black Rhodium Rythym interconnects for multichannel and one pair of QED Silver Spiral for stereo and it works very well.
     

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