Question Changing from Denon X4300H & Minidisp DDRC-88a to Arcam AVR390?

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Hi all

I've been out of the AV game for a while, and just wondering how good the Arcam AVR390 is? It's a few years old now, and my memory of Arcam AVRs a few years back was "sound nice, but loads of bugs", but I've got so many units in my AV stack drawing lots of power I wondered if it's worth considering a change out.

Right now I have the Denon X4300H, a minidisp DDRC-88a and a NAD T955 power amp ...and I could in theory change for a one-box Dirac solution with little cost. Obviously this setup wouldn't be as flexible as what I have currently, but I only ever use a single Dirac filter (I believe the Arcam only allows one slot vs the 4 slots I have with the standalone unit), and it would be a very neat solution.

Power handling isn't an issue, as I run JBL 3677 mains which are 99db efficient - so I don't need to run a power amp etc.

Any thoughts?
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
I think you will be pleased with the change. I was when I switched from a Denon 4400 + multiple power amps + Musical Fidelity HT bypass stereo amp to an Arcam AVR550.

A few caveats though, the FMJ Arcam's do have their 'characteristics'.
  • The latest firmware has a bug with DTS and with the crossover for the height speakers re-setting, the penultimate firmware v4.41 is fine, but no Imax Enhanced.

  • There is an issue with low pre-out voltage if speakers are set to large. If you are not using power amps, and / or you have speakers set to small - no problems.

  • The DAC on the Arcam is a Cirrus Logic one, which personally, I am not keen on for music. I use an external DAC and keep the Arcam in analogue stereo direct mode for music. Which means no Dirac. However, that's just me, there are lots of other owners who use theirs differently.

  • There is only one global crossover setting for the base layer speakers.

  • The five main amp channels are not assignable. Only amps 6 and 7 can be allocated to different speakers.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
I think you will be pleased with the change. I was when I switched from a Denon 4400 + multiple power amps + Musical Fidelity HT bypass stereo amp to an Arcam AVR550.

A few caveats though, the FMJ Arcam's do have their 'characteristics'.
  • The latest firmware has a bug with DTS and with the crossover for the height speakers re-setting, the penultimate firmware v4.41 is fine, but no Imax Enhanced.

  • There is an issue with low pre-out voltage if speakers are set to large. If you are not using power amps, and / or you have speakers set to small - no problems.

  • The DAC on the Arcam is a Cirrus Logic one, which personally, I am not keen on for music. I use an external DAC and keep the Arcam in analogue stereo direct mode for music. Which means no Dirac. However, that's just me, there are lots of other owners who use theirs differently.

  • There is only one global crossover setting for the base layer speakers.

  • The five main amp channels are not assignable. Only amps 6 and 7 can be allocated to different speakers.

Thanks - none of those caveats affect me to be honest. I use a blanket crossover for my mains and surrounds, I'm only running 5.1 and won't be using a power amp.

Not sure of the difference between HDMI 2.0 and 2.0b though, which all the new AVRs seem to carry...
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
I think most of the FMJ owners, like myself, have accepted the characteristics and found a way to configure our systems to get the best out of the AVR, taking into account it's strengths and shortcomings. The reason being that the sound quality is fantastic, and at the current prices, it is hard to beat in that regard.

EDIT: I am getting HDR10 passed through to the TV okay on my AVR550, and I have ARC working nicely with a Samsung 65Q90R.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I used to have a Marantz SR6010 and DDRC88A, plus power amp before I changed to a 390, plus the same power amp (I have more speakers than the 390 can run before anyone brings up about using it with a power amp ;) ).

Have to say that if I hadn't upgraded to Atmos in hingsight I wouldn't have bothered. I don't know how the X4300 compares to my old 6010, but with the '88A you need to use it as a pre anyway, so maybe that levels things a bit?

My 390 has been stable using the second to last firmware, plus I have properly matching speakers (even my Atmos speakers are larger satillite MK Sound MP150 speakers), so the limitations of crossover settings don't effect me: I run everything at 100Hz crossover anyway. I spent a lot of time with REW before setting up Dirac and a bit of time afterwards fine tuning sub delay relative the to LCR speakers to get a more optimised sub integration.

Since my last update (some version of Dirac V3 I think) I prefer even 2 channel music with Dirac on, which is contrary to other users: That's MK Sound MPS300 LCR speakers and a pair of 15" sealed DIY subs in the front corners of the room, which perhaps makes a difference. But again, this isn't anything you couldn't already do with the '88A, just that you are comparing the Denon verses the Arcam for stereo music 'quality'...I don't think I can tell the difference myself, but to be fair I've got hearing issues these days so that could make it moot (I was tempted to say 'mute', but it's tinnitus I have rather than deafness as such).

Tl;dr. Keep the '88A and X4300.

EDIT: Forgot to say that I don't pass any critical video through the 390 as I use a Lumagen and that sends audio only to the 390's HDMI input.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
Odd. I find that it is a completely different sound for movies to the Denon and Marantz AVR's that I have had previously (and still have in other rooms). In an attempt to describe it, I would say that the Arcam sound, even without Dirac, is expansive, sounds coming from places in the room where that are no speakers, and generally not as bass heavy as D&M AVR's. There is more detail in the mid and high frequencies. The bass is there, and pronounced when it needs to be, but doesn't overpower the other frequencies.

For music, no contest, Denon is horrible, Marantz a bit better, but Arcam is equal to a decent stereo integrated amp to my ears (when using an external DAC).

Then of course, as you know, you can add Dirac in and make it sound exactly as you'd like!
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
I used to have a Marantz SR6010 and DDRC88A, plus power amp before I changed to a 390, plus the same power amp (I have more speakers than the 390 can run before anyone brings up about using it with a power amp ;) ).

Have to say that if I hadn't upgraded to Atmos in hingsight I wouldn't have bothered. I don't know how the X4300 compares to my old 6010, but with the '88A you need to use it as a pre anyway, so maybe that levels things a bit?

My 390 has been stable using the second to last firmware, plus I have properly matching speakers (even my Atmos speakers are larger satillite MK Sound MP150 speakers), so the limitations of crossover settings don't effect me: I run everything at 100Hz crossover anyway. I spent a lot of time with REW before setting up Dirac and a bit of time afterwards fine tuning sub delay relative the to LCR speakers to get a more optimised sub integration.

Since my last update (some version of Dirac V3 I think) I prefer even 2 channel music with Dirac on, which is contrary to other users: That's MK Sound MPS300 LCR speakers and a pair of 15" sealed DIY subs in the front corners of the room, which perhaps makes a difference. But again, this isn't anything you couldn't already do with the '88A, just that you are comparing the Denon verses the Arcam for stereo music 'quality'...I don't think I can tell the difference myself, but to be fair I've got hearing issues these days so that could make it moot (I was tempted to say 'mute', but it's tinnitus I have rather than deafness as such).

Tl;dr. Keep the '88A and X4300.

EDIT: Forgot to say that I don't pass any critical video through the 390 as I use a Lumagen and that sends audio only to the 390's HDMI input.

Thanks for this. Question though: I can probably do this at zero cost when I factor in selling the power amp, AVR and minidsp...and I go to one box. Would you still not bother to change?
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
That was partly my rational behind the change. Can't remember how it stacked up price wise, but I sold the '88A and traded the 6010 in, but at the time the 390 was quite new, so not much discount off the RRP. Obviously I kept the power amp, so didn't have that to counter the cost. To be honest if it's zero cost for a 390, I'd consider whether you could stretch to a 550 or even a used 850 if you can find one in the classifieds?

The issue I've had with the 390 was that it would cut out as it couldn't power 4 speakers, let alone all 7 that I could connect to it (I run 7.1.4): There were certain scenes that even at -10db below reference I could trip the 390. At that time I had a faulty channel on my PA, so was using the 390 to power a pair of surrounds (MK S150T 4ohms) and one of the Atmos pair (MK MP150 4ohms).

It was only when my PA was fixed and I could go back to the 390 just powering the front heights alone (MK MP150) that I stopped the issue of it tripping: You can change a sensitivity setting in a hidden menu, but I figured that might be pushing my luck and it shouldn't trip anyway if the load was within it's limits.

I don't know how your JBLs will work with the 390, but they are more efficient than my MK Sound 300/150 series. Even so I wonder if you'll be able to run 5 speakers without tripping if I was having issues with 4 speakers that are only 1.5-2.5 metres from me, albeit lower efficiency?

I don't know if you remember, but I put a lot of rockwool in my room and have reduced the decay times by quite a significant amount, even down to 40Hz. I still use Dirac full range though, having tried various methods over the years.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
I don't know how your JBLs will work with the 390, but they are more efficient than my MK Sound 300/150 series. Even so I wonder if you'll be able to run 5 speakers without tripping if I was having issues with 4 speakers that are only 1.5-2.5 metres from me, albeit lower efficiency?
It is more the low impedance than the sensitivity that would cause the Arcam 390 to trip. The JBL 3677 at 8 ohms and 99db sensitivity, should be okay.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
The JBLs can be powered by a very low powered AVR. If the difference between the 390 and the 550 is just power I'm not sure it's worth it?

The question is: for zero cost, would you change? :) (assuming amplification wasn't an issue).
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
If amplification wasn't an issue, then yes.

As long as you don't blame me if you do have any issues with the Arcam 'characteristics'. :D Stick to the older firmware (first page of the original thread), make sure you're happy with the same crossover for your LCR and surrounds and maybe don't expect it 'just work' all the time. Occasionally I have to turn mine off and back on (just the front panel switch) and sometimes I don't get any TV sound until I go from another input, then back to 'display', but it's very occasional.

To be fair I have my TV CEC on and can often just use the TV remote to control everything, but I do have a Harmony remote that I use most of the time. My little Marantz NR1605 in the conservatory works 99.999% perfectly (though doesn't sound as good as the main system, with it's 4.1 set up using much smaller MK speakers). Even my Mother in law could use the TV remote and be unaware that she was controlling the AVR: I wouldn't expect the Arcam to work nearly as perfectly.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the comments all - I just bought an Arcam AVR550, will be great to simplify my system, although not actually expecting anything significant by way of a sound upgrade.
 

TruroSpurs

Active Member
Thanks for the comments all - I just bought an Arcam AVR550, will be great to simplify my system, although not actually expecting anything significant by way of a sound upgrade.

Be interested to hear how you get ones I'm looking at replacing my Denon 4300 with an Arcam 390
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
Thanks for the comments all - I just bought an Arcam AVR550, will be great to simplify my system, although not actually expecting anything significant by way of a sound upgrade.
Let us know how it goes. Do you listen to 2ch music, or just movies?
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Let us know how it goes. Do you listen to 2ch music, or just movies?

In my living room I just watch movies - occasionally 2 channel but I'm not into critical listening like many are.

My JBLs can be driven by a tiny amplifier, so I think this is going to sound great :)
 

AndreNewman

Active Member
In my living room I just watch movies - occasionally 2 channel but I'm not into critical listening like many are.

My JBLs can be driven by a tiny amplifier, so I think this is going to sound great :)
Hi, I just stumbled across this thread, did you sell your DDRC-88A?

I'm looking for a second one, preferably in the UK.
 

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