Do You Really Know What You've Bought?

General Skanky

Well-known Member
Ok, so it's well known that components and internals are shared about amongst manufacturers. For instance, we all know that CD transports are commonly from Sony and Philips.

However, just recently I was disappointed to realise 'fully' that manufacturers we all rate highly, in this example NAD and Arcam, will market products that are practicaly identical. Plenty others abound but at least here I have easy access to articles.

See here - http://www.homecinemachoice.com/testbench/Amplifiers/NAD/NADT751.shtml

An old review that at the time I skimmed over. Then I saw last night the photos at www.smr-group.co.uk showing the internals of these units. (http://www.smr-group.co.uk/components/index.html).

Apart from price and perceived value, what's the difference really? Ok a transformer and one or two bits and pieces, but the 'real' manufacturer is in China, mass producing chasis for others, just like the pc market.

The question is, just how far reaching is this? I have read other HCC articles for high end kit, that use the brains from 'off the shelf' kit/IC's and so on. Is that really good enough when the marketing will sell you what is supposed to be their next great thing?
 

gringottsdirect

Active Member
The devil is in the detail...
It's not the components, it's how you utilise them...
Or....
Granted, that I.C. costs 50p, but it's the design expertise that makes a difference, to extract the extra performance...

Any fool can make for £5, what an decent engineer can make for 5p...
Only a " specialist " can market for £500 the internals a mainstream brand markets for £150...

Often worries me when I'm choosing stuff, am I being taken for a ride.
How much of the asking price is for the components and how much for the design skill, and does it really matter if the pudding proves tasty ?
I think it does really.
 

buns

Banned
This is one reason why i like to stay with some of the lesser known manufacturers who will tend to do their own thing.

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Guest
I'll give you an example.

The disc tray on my Meridian 596 is very easy to move about when it's been opened...It gives you the impression that it can be be snapped off easily & that the general 'wobblyness' (great word!!!!) will mean some rather shank CD replay

Not true.

The 596 is a cracking CD player.

I've no doubt that the tray costs Meridian peanuts.
Once it's in its bed.......it delivers the sonics.....

Adzman.
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
Hmmmmmm.......

Ok, how about a few years back when Philips made a CD transport used by many manufacturers, the grease on the carriage didn't stand up to use and caused a lot of failed decks. So it was improved upon and any units that came in for repair had the grease renewed. This afflicted many, many manufacturers.

It would be nice to know that a company, designed, built and distributed their own equipment to justify the blurb. 'Ideal World' here I come.:)
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
'It's not the components, it's how you utilise them...
Or....
Granted, that I.C. costs 50p, but it's the design expertise that makes a difference, to extract the extra performance... '

In the NAD v. Arcam instance, practically the whole of the chasis was identical!

They hadn't taken individual components and designed something new, they'd both simply built upon something already there. In the case of Arcam, a better transformer, maybe some operating software and a nice, shiny case, but in essence, what was really the difference between it and the NAD?
 

Guest
I'm the sort of chap who doesn't tend to want to know what happens everytime i press my play button, and what processes that command sets off, or what components inside are beavering away..........I'll leave that to Meridian.
Perhaps i should try to take a greater interest in this sort of stuff.

If i'm being honest......i just cannot be arrrrrsed:)

I prefer to sit back, grin & listen.

Although i admire you guys who know everything about your machines, inside & out.

Good stuff


Adzman.
 

Reiner

Active Member
that the general 'wobblyness' (great word!!!!) will mean some rather shank CD replay

Bad example. The CD does not lay on the tray during playback! That's a common missperception or a myth and as such the build quality (of the tray) says nothing about the playback quality.

As for Arcam/NAD: they are based on the same ODM platform, but build (i.e. modified) according to specifications by those.
In credit of Arcam I would say they have taken more effort for improvement than NAD, perhaps explaining the difference in price.

That said I am no friend of such products but my DVD players (both Yamaha) are based on Panasonic technology ... at the time the only way to get a player which matches the look of my amp.
Ok, not the best argument to buy them but I am happy with the performance.
Even the big Denon DVD players aren't completely engineered by Denon, so there are many examples where not all is as it seems.
But if the performance and perhaps price are deemed acceptable - then why not go for it!?
 

GrahamC

Active Member
If every company had to re-invent the wheel then think of the price we would have to pay for equipment. I understand that your point is how much are they charging for the name on the front but that is a product of the marketing and is the same for shoes, cars and AV gear. Somebody will always pay for an image.:cool:
 

buns

Banned
there will always be evolutionaries and revolutionaries. There is a place for both. I garantee that only the very brave will follow the revolutionary product, that is why the situation is as it is.

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Guest
Bad example. The CD does not lay on the tray during playback! That's a common missperception or a myth and as such the build quality (of the tray) says nothing about the playback quality.


That's not a common missperception or myth to me...as i didn't know that was the case...In another thread, i said i didn't really care what happens when i press 'play' on my handset.
I'll leave that for Meridian to worry about.

cheers for the straightening.

Adzman
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
This all came about as I'm considering changing my amp.

My worry is that I could buy the same thing for less.

My Yamaha uses in house IC design etc. I know its theirs. I like it.
But if I go, (and for arguement purposes only), Arcam, could I buy a NAD, save £200 and get practically identical performance?

I'm not hung up on it all too much,:rolleyes: , but I would like originality.

And Buns. I came across your link to Korato amps. Now that's something of interest. You can see it's their own. Look good too. How have you found them?
 

buns

Banned
I have found them very good. They have alot of power and yet the control of subtleties remains. As i have noted before, there is a bit of the big rotel power, yet not quite the same tonal dryness. They are not warm so to speak, rather very accurate in a listenable kind of a way.

There is still an issue with a lot of hum though......i always have to turn the power amps off because of the noise which they make through the speakers when no signal is present. As yet, i cant track this down. The Mains is most likely. Basically the korato's remove much of the protection circuitry that others use, so that the sound is over all less coloured. Not a big deal, but it all becomes a hassle to go around my room turning them all off!

There is a new distributor for the UK, so hopefully they should be available to listen to soon!

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buns

Banned
In fact, I do.......if i can find it! Which it appears I cant..... I told Karkus30 the name .......maybe drop him a message and he might still have it........

but hold on.......here it is, in the last place you expect!

"A" Audiosolutions
63, Love Lane
PONTEFRACT
West Yorkshire
WF8 4EG
England

And the name Andy Davison is the guy to talk to im told!

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Reiner

Active Member
But if I go, (and for arguement purposes only), Arcam, could I buy a NAD, save £200 and get practically identical performance?

Well, the AVR-200 (I assume you are looking at that model and not the AVR-100) has gotten good reviews and maybe has a beefier power supply than the NAD (comparable model is the T752). For any other improvements not visible you may want to contact Arcam.
If those changes however justify the additional expense can IMHO only be decided in a direct comparision (listening test).

And of course some people prefer the "Arcam" badge (and looks) instead of the NAD the same way I like the Yammy look of my (Panasonic) DVD players ... :)
 

AOD

Active Member
An interesting thread this one and it got me thinking about what would be a suitable analogy.

Consider what happens in the car industry with major components such as an engine.

Take an engine that's in use in a number of different vehicles such as the Rover 'K' series engine. This has been used in cars such as the Rover 200 (now the 25 I think), the Lotus Elise and possibly the Caterham 7.

All 3 will get you from A to B, but what separates them is the engineering that goes into the vehicle as a whole. They are pitched at different sections of the market and promoted/priced accordingly.

Consider an even more blatant example. An Audi TT has the chassis from a Golf. Would you pass up a TT because of this?
 
S

sinister_stu

Guest
An important point which seems to have gone unoticed is the fact although they may look the same, the values of the resistors, capacitors, etc... may be totally different. The fact that they have different transformers suggests to me that other components will be different also.
 

Reiner

Active Member
Actually that's the point I wanted to make: though based on the same ODM platform there might be differences inside "the box" you can't see on a glance. Not sure if it actually goes down to a component level, but rather functional parts like the power supply or (just assuming) any other modules.
 

John Dawson

Novice Member
Well done guys, some of you at least have got the point :)

As well as obvious changes like using a highly specified (and expensive) toroidal power transformer, there were literally hundreds of component level changes made when we developed the AVR100 from the ODM platform. In particular we specified metal film resistors rather than carbon film ones (closer tolerance, less noise) and changed lots of electrolytic capacitors for types and values that we knew from experience would benefit the overall sound quality. A lot of tuning went on. That's why it sounds better than the competition.

The AVR200 has continued this process, improving a number of PCB layouts to lower noise levels and further increase fidelity, as well as adding DPL II, improving the bass management and so on.

John Dawson (Arcam)
 
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Lowrider

Guest
I would take the AUDI A3 1.9 TDI over the SEAT Ibisa 1.9 TDI anytime, wouldn´t you ?

They also share main components... :rolleyes:
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
'As well as obvious changes like using a highly specified (and expensive) toroidal power transformer, there were literally hundreds of component level changes made when we developed the AVR100 from the ODM platform. In particular we specified metal film resistors rather than carbon film ones (closer tolerance, less noise) and changed lots of electrolytic capacitors for types and values that we knew from experience would benefit the overall sound quality. A lot of tuning went on. That's why it sounds better than the competition.'

Well that explains it then. Thanks.

I just like to pick holes as I'm always suspicious of 'clones' for want of a better word. I know the Arcam reputation, and yes on the demos I've heard they do sound good.

Doesn't hurt to keep you on your toes.:D

In this instance, with NAD being a direct competitor using the same platform, you can see why doubts are raised considering the price difference.

Anyway, I'll get my coat................
 

buns

Banned
surely the use of a standard basic configuration (for want of a better description) will always leave you open to competition, whereas a more unique design will have the potential of being almost un-matchable?

I totally understand the reasons behind, but i would like to know if manufacturers, John you can help here, keep there eyes fully open to the prospect of change. Or is the opinion, if it aint broke, dont fix it!?

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Plump

Standard Member
John Dawson wrote:
That's why it sounds better than the competition
Sorry but I have to dissagree with this.
I had good chance to put my hands on AVR-100 for about three weeks. I got DV88 at that time and wanted to check appropriate receiver. In my opinion (it is important to bold this) it did not sound soooo good, maybe just good in some average terms, but nothing special. Compared to Alpha 10 it was way back.
I do not know if new model is any better but for me the story with OEM amps was closed book. (So that's about how I lost my mind and went TAG way . . .)
Cheers
Plump

And about reviewers: I dislike them, do not believe them and read the reviews only to learn technical issues and check features if no specs available online or thru dealer. But their opinion is mostly build before they plug the toys in!
 
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Lowrider

Guest
Wasn´t your opinion about the TAG mostly built before you plugged the toy in... :confused:

Most equipment I test, except cables, I already have an expectation, now if you say reviewers are somewhat biased towards new features, etc... :devil:
 

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