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How does Arcam HT compare to other brands in movie sound?

Discussion in 'Arcam Owners' Forum' started by Ashmaster, Aug 29, 2005.

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  1. Ashmaster

    Ashmaster
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    Hi guys,

    We always hear about Arcam's outstanding ability in the music department, specially in stereo. Many find Arcam's HT equipment to be ideal when they want good HT and good stereo playback. However, I was wondering (from your auditions) how do you think Arcam (in general and perhaps the AVP700/P1000) would compare to other brands (Yamaha, Rotel, etc) in providing thrilling HT sound.

    Any comments would be appreciated, because if I want to buy AVP700/P1000 I would have to order it and there isn't one available for audition. I was able however, to listen to the Yamaha Z9 and the movie playback was truly amazing.


    Thanks
     
  2. Tamas

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    Hi,
    I only have the AVP700, and it sounds great with movies as well as music dvds through Linn speakers. I would not hesitate purchasing that combo if I didnt already have separate amps.

    Regards, Tom
     
  3. Ashmaster

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    Tom,

    thanks alot for the reply, were you able to compare it to other brands?

    thanks
     
  4. Tamas

    Tamas
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    I compared it to my Denon 4802, and an Anthem AVM30. The Anthem I found needed to have the cinema eq, and thx processing turned on for movies - I found the Anthem to be bright, highly detailed but bright with my Linn Ninka's. The Denon did not fair well with these too pre/pro's. The Denon has a clean and detailed sound, but lacks in imaging...the sound is not as open, lacks punch. I like the sound of the Arcam - detailed, smooth - nice all around pleasing presentation - on well engineered DVD's the actors sound very real.
    Concert DVD's sound great too - Diana Krall live in Paris sounds very nice. Iron Maiden live in rio - they could have been playing those overdriven guitars in front of me - I play guitar and they sounded very real.

    Reagards, Tom
     
  5. Mr Perceptive

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    At the 700/1000 price point you really have to try and listen to as much as you can. Its a big investment.

    A couple of other points:-

    1) Resale value - if you're the kind of person who changes his kit frequently every couple of years or so, you will get better resale out of brands like Arcam/Meridian/Lexicon, etc than the Japanese ones as they tend to depreciate very quickly when new models come out.

    2) I wouldn't dismiss s/h or ex-demo, I bought recently an Merdian 568.2 and a couple of s/h Meridian power amps for about the same price as a 700/1000. I haven't actually heard the 700/1000 but I previously owned an AVR200 and demoed a AVR300, but IMHO the Meridian is quite a long away ahead of the Arcam kit that I heard both for stereo and movies (and it should be as the combination I've got was over £8K when originally new!!!)

    Probably does help, but may add some more options for you.

    BTW I like Arcam kit, its nicely made and sounds good, but I think if you shop carefully it can be bettered.

    Mr Perceptive
     
  6. gostan

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    How can you possibly compare the Arcam 700/1000 and the Meridian 568.2, etc as their prices are not comparable. Apples and apples, please....Not fruit and jewels. Good luck with your Meridian gear.
     
  7. Ashmaster

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    Tamas,
    Thanks for the feedback. It's good to here that you perfered the Arcam over the rest of the amps you demoed. Because currently the AVP700/P1000 are on top of my audio shopping list. However, until funds permit, I will continue researching.

    Mr Perceptove,
    The point you make regarding the resale value makes sense. I would also agree with you regarding the ability to obtain better gear if I go the second hand path for the same price of the Arcams, however, I find my self always hesitant to buy second hand due to the fear of being fooled into buying damaged goods.
     
  8. Ashmaster

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    I'm considering the Yamaha flagship receiver because I can get a very good deal on it 25% off (i have a very good relationship with the dealer). It is a very good receiver with very good specs, its sounds amazing with movies and very good in music. However, the only reason that I'm not buying it is because my main speakers are B&W N805, which are book shelve speakers with limited bass capabilities. Thus, if I'm to use the bypass (direct) mode on the Yamaha, then I will not be able to get good bass. Thats were seperates come in i.e.Arcam, I bought two B&W ASW675 subs to be incorporated into the system. This will be done by connecting the RCA from processor => sub => amp => speakers.

    Thats why the Arcam is more appealing to me, however, it is difficult to say no for 25% off such a good yamaha amp. I really want to believe that the Arcams are that much better than the yamaha flagship in order to convince myself to pay full retail for the Arcams, however, my delema is that I cannot listen to it. The dealer, however, had an AV8 connected to Bryston amp and Martin Logan speakers, this setup sounded amazing, especially with music. But I can't compare this to the AVP700/P1000 if coupled with my speakers. :rolleyes:
     
  9. cjohnson6

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    It's always a problem as you can't listen to all the brands. I just gave up my Yamaha RX-V1400 for an AVR300. I loved the movie sound of the Yamaha... I still think it's better than the AVR300... more punch.. But then, the stereo sound was not even in the same league as the ARCAM... So, those who say that stereo amps are for stereo and HT receivers are for HT are correct. I nearly went for a Z9 instead of the AVR300, but common sense got the better of me. I was thinking resale value if I didn't like it.

    Incidently, I picked up the RX-V1400 second hand for £400 and sold it one year on for £300.... The guy who bought it got a bargain. The AVR300 was ex-demo so that only cost £1000... another bargain... but the Z9 would have cost £2000... Now do you see why I went for the ARCAM.
     
  10. mightyoakbob

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    It may be true to say that a particular weakness in an amplifier will show up more in one sort of program material than another. Poor dynamics may be more of a problem with HT but the dynamics are still poor with stereo assuming its not a decoder issue.

    When an amplifier is designed with tight cost considerations it may well end up with the odd aspect of its performance a bit lacking which you may be able to hide in certain program material. The answer of course is to buy a better amp that will do both HT and stereo because it has no serious flaws. I could suggest tha Arcam AV8/P7 combo.
     
  11. Sab

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    I have an Arcam AV8 and P7 at the moment. I woud recommend the setup to anyone who can afford it. The setup is very good with music and movies. Also, anything you connect via analogue inputs will sound much better than other processor / power amp combinations at this price
     
  12. Mr Perceptive

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    Gostan

    My ex-dem 568.2MHR (list £4350) I bought for £2K, as new with full 2 year Meridian warranty and my pair of 557's were £650 each s/h. I'm only running a 4.0 system, as my main speakers comfortably go below 30Hz and are omnidirectional (positioned at the corners of my PJ screen).

    But it does show that there are some good deals out there and I spent £3300 (not a lot more than a 700/1000), ok I've only got 4 channels but if you wanted a Meridian 505 for the centre channel, it would cost perhaps £350 s/h

    I have great 2 channel and movie sound (but then I've got £4,200 of speakers at todays new prices which cost me £650, so you really do have to shop around - a pair of s/h Shahinain Arcs (£650) and Quad22Ls (£0 in a reverse eBay deal!))

    So maybe apples and organic apples!!!!

    Mr Perceptive
     
  13. Sab

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    As Mr Perceptive was saying, buying hifi equipment second hand or ex dem is the way to save money. The Arcam AV8 and P7 combo are nearly three years old so they maybe vailable ex -demo at various dealers.

    The last time I rang Audio T Epsom they had an ex - demo Arcam AV8 processor. But some of you may not live near there so this info might be useless.
     
  14. Ashmaster

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    cjohnson6,

    Thanks for your comments.The sale value point you have made makes sense. And in your situation in seems logical to go for hte AVR 300 over the Z9.

    However, I was wondering were you able to compare the Z9 to the AVR300 before making a decision. If you compared the two, what were your findings?

    thanks
     
  15. Ashmaster

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    mightyoakbob & Sob,

    Thanks for your replys the AV8/P7 is a very nice proposition. However, the price is way out of my league. Buying second hand or demo is my only chance of getting such serious kit. I think I will contact the dealer as he had the AV8 on display and try to convince him to sell it. Do you know how much a demo AV8 should cost?

    One more thing, where you guys able to compare the AV8/P7 against the AVR300. I know that they are significantly different, but it would be good to know the differences from some one that heard the two.

    Last question, do you think that the AV8 will work well with the P1000?
     
  16. lpm

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    Ashmaster,

    I have also been considering a similar challenge. Currently have a smaller Marantz receiver as I preferred its musicality over other brands at the time. First obvious thought for the upgrade was the SR8500. Then I listened too the AVR300 and absolutely loved it for 2ch (Marantz was pretty darn close though all considered), but have not listened to HT.

    Here in the Amp/Rec forum, there have been a couple of items comparing the two and whilst the Arcam always seems to take the 2ch vote, some recommend the Marantz for HT. The comments seem to centre on better dynamics, more power or punch for explosions etc. But I can't believe the Arcam power is somehow inadequate for HT. Maybe someone can explain if this is true for Marantz or similar quality receivers from Denon, Yamaha etc etc.
     
  17. Ashmaster

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    lpm,

    hi, thanks for your thoughts. I'm really interested in some comments from members of this forum comparing the Arcam kits to other brands that excel in HT.

    I have listened to Arcam AV8 with Bryston amp and Martin Logan 5.1 setup. The movies that the dealer played for me were Starwars phantom menace, and Matrix 2. Although the sound was great, I did not start smiling until we started listening to music in stereo bypass mode, wow, that was stunning.

    I could not conclude however, the extent of the AV8's influence on the sound, in HT, and in stereo. I mean there were to many variables; it was the first time I listen to the AV8, the Bryston and Martin Logans. But I know that I was more impressed by the stereo sound than the HT sound!
     
  18. Mr Perceptive

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    Ashmaster

    In my opinion you really have to either a) listen to the kit if you are going to buy new (or at least arrange to get it from the dealer on a sale-or-return basis) or b) buy kit s/h at good prices where you can sell it on for no loss (even a bit of profit) if you don't like it.

    The fact that you didn't like the AV8/Bryston set up says to me either don't buy it or find a dealer who can demonstrate the AV8 with a different power amp, etc

    I personally prefer the s/h - ex-dem route and by buying carefully (as I think I have done) you can end up with a stonking system that retails way above your budget for on the budget money.

    8 months ago I had a Yamaha DSP-E800 on the back of a old chrome bumper 1989 Naim Pre/Power/PSU (62/140/SNAPS). I chopped the whole lot in for a s/h AVR200. The Naims which cost me £800 in 1898 I sold for £500 and I got £120 for the Yamaha, the AVR200 cost me £360, so I was already up by £260. Incidently the AVR200 is now back on eBay and I expect it to fetch around the £300 mark (thus putting £560 in my new system fund).

    I then bought a whole house audio system off eBay (£1550) comprising of 3 x pair of Quad 11L, 1 x 22L, 1 x Arcam A80, 3 x Rotel RA-02, 5 x Turtlebeach Audiotrons. My original plan was to use the 22Ls and 11Ls in my system, but I preferred my existing Shahinian speakers, all I have left now are the Quad 22Ls and I'm £700 up on the deal. So my kitty now has £1260. This together with a 2K budget gives me £3260 so by buying the 568.2 + 2 x 557's I've spent £40 over budget and I have a great system for a 2K outlay plus my old system!!!

    BTW if your dealer is offering 25% off the price of the Z9 then a new model must be imminent and therefore the Z9 will be worth even less. Also although Arcam try to stick to a rigid pricing policy the two dealers I've dealt with (and I'm not naming names on an Arcam forum) would be flexible on prices of AVR300's either with decent freebies thrown in or over generous trade-ins.

    You also must really hear your speakers on the end of whatever you intend to buy from a dealer, if I had heard my Shahinians on the end of a new AVR200 (when they were available new, I wouldn't have bought, it just wasn't up to the job - as my wife said - "where have all the spaceships gone"). As I bought it unseen s/h I'm not bothered, I tried, it failed, I'll sell it on - in this case I reckon I'll lose about £60 on this deal.

    Good luck with your search. Think laterally and if you are buying new from a shop then you must listen before purchasing, you are spending a lot of money, make the dealer work for you.

    Mr Perceptive
     
  19. roffe

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    I have chosen Arcam AVR300, and the main reason is the great "Stereo Direct" function which in my opinion is superior to most other surroundreceivers in the price range. In that mode it performs as a good integrated stereo amplifier.

    When it comes to movies and surround, it is more average, especially when it comes to bass management and other setup features. I would like to be able to set different crossover frequencies for the different speaker channels, for instance. I would also like to have separate crossover settings for the front speakers depending on mode (stereo or surround). I also find the level calibrating feature lacking somewhat, since I have found no way to send an external test signal while adjusting the level. Calibrating speaker levels while listening to surround tracks rather than pink noise would be nice. On a side note: I tried a Marantz SR-5400 OSE before buying the Arcam, and found the setup menu system lacking more than the Arcam.

    When things are set up right, I find the AVR300 to be a great performer, however. :D
     
  20. Ashmaster

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    Mr Perceptive

    Thanks for your great and detailed reply. It is true that to know the impact of an HT amp, the ideal situation would be to demo the amp with your speakers. However, I doubt that the Arcam dealer would allow me to do that.

    In regards to second-hand buying, I'm afraid that I'm a little bit hesitant to buy any second hand equipment, specially on the net. Although this option will offer the best value for money (I guess I'm a risk averse type of guy).

    Your comments regarding the Z9 could be true as the unit was introduced to the market in early 2004, so 2006 would probably be a likely time for a new unit.

    I'll take your advice and will try as much as I can to pressure dealers to lend me their amps. I might also start buying second hand in less significant products, maybe start with speaker cables, and slowly buy other stuff like a CD players and so one.


    Thanks
     
  21. Ashmaster

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    roffe,

    I wasn't able to listen to the AVR300. However, I had brief audition of the AV8+Bryston, where I was much more amazed with stereo direct sound than I was with movie playback. I'm not implying that the AV8 is not good in HT, on the contrary, it was very good. However, the stereo sound was stunning, which may imply that Arcam excels in stereo more than movies.
     
  22. Mr Perceptive

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    If the Arcam dealer will not let you bring your own speakers to a demo then get a new dealer!!!!

    If the Arcam dealer will not let you do a home demo (on AVR300 or upwards of kit) then get a new dealer!! One of the two delaers I talked to would and the othe other one wouldn't, you can guess which dealer has had my business since then (cables a pair of speakers for the kitchen, etc)

    You are spending serious money, make them work for it.

    S/H should not be a worry if you buy carefully, and you can usually sell the item on for about the same price if you don't like it. Remember every trip to your dealer costs you money in petrol, parking, etc

    And as for the Z9, you can ex-demo ones £1100 off list now (http://www.alanjameshi-fi.co.uk/yamahaz9.htm) so your delaers 25% doesn't look so inviting, and you'll probably loose a further £500 of value in the next 6 months, not quite so attarctive for the risk adverse!!!!! (Don't believe everything your dealer tells you - he is there to make money, I don't begrudge this, everyone has to make a living!). Arcam type gear will not depreciate this fast!

    Mr Perceptive
     
  23. Ashmaster

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    Mr Perceptive,

    Great insights, I will only buy if I can demo the equipment with my speakers.

    Regarding the Z9, hehehe, I guess the offer does not sound so great after all.

    Arcam is still on top of my amp list.

    regards
     
  24. lpm

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    Ashmaster,

    I think, or perhaps really I know, that Mr Perspective is right about listening in your own home being best. Problem is, you can only ever listen to one at a time even if the dealer lets you bring something home. I've found that even at the dealers where you can often swap two items in and out fairly rapidly, audio memory is short and often I can hear a difference, but darned if I can always say which is 'best'. (Here I am talking about comparable equipment.)

    I have now listened extensivly 2ch direct to an SR7500 (no SR8500 available) compared with an AVR300 using my speakers and whilst the Arcam is clearly better in soundstage etc, the difference (to me) is not chalk and cheese.

    My personal problem is that my mix is currently about 50/50. If it was mainly HT, I would simply buy the Marantz (or Denon or other) which are a fair bit cheaper. Who knows what tinkling shell cases hitting the deck at Pearl Harbour really sound like and Denon, Yamaha and others seem to thrive on such effects. If I was purely into music, I probably wouldn't even be thinking about a receiver.

    If I had bought the SR8500 without listening to the Arcam, I would probably be sitting back now very smug and happy. Problem is that now that I have listened to the Arcam 2ch, as good as Marantz is, I know I can have better. Now if only I could organise a reasonable period of HT listening to hear if the AVR300 suits me for that!!!
     
  25. Mr Perceptive

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    lpm

    Its often when you take something away that you notice the difference, when I had the Naim/Yamaha combo and replaced it with an AVR200, even my wife noticed the lack of bass (spaceships, sinking of the Arizona, etc) but the overall level of detail rose (background noise during chess game in Independence day, rain outside, etc).

    I heard an AVR300 for about 2 hours at a dealer when I bought my Projector and I wasn't that impressed but I put that down to the speakers (KEF Eggs + Sub)

    All I can say is that the Meridian kit combines the impact from the Japanese receivers with the detail from the Arcam, and then takes it up a few levels, the realism of sounds is now awesome, especially voices (and scenes like the drums in House of Flying Daggers, scraping the hands through the bowl of beans really does sound real)

    It can be difficult to understand which is best at a straight demo, especially as small changes in volume can make a difference and as you point out audio memory can be short, this why I prefer the s/h route, you have much longer periods to try and can change back and find out if you are missing anything on the return.

    Can you not consider buying perhaps a s/h AVR200 and trying it for a while at home, if you don't like it you can sell it on, but it will give you a good taste of what the Arcam sound is like (while accepting its not as good as a AVR300 for AV duties, its pretty good in 2 channel)

    Best of luck in your hunt.

    Mr Perceptive
     
  26. lpm

    lpm
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    Mr perceptive,

    Good advice. Thank goodness the jourey is so much fun. Haven't looked at Meridian and will certainly look at what is available 2nd hand Arcam wise.
     
  27. Mr Perceptive

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    <Shameless Plug> If you are in the UK, then my AVR200 is on eBay - no reserve at present, if you are in Melborne, Australia, then the shipping changes will be huge <End of Shameless Plug!)

    Good hunting with your equipment change

    All the Best

    Mr Perceptive
     
  28. lpm

    lpm
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    No problem whatsoever with shameless plug, but I am in Melb. Haven't been in mid Wales since 2001 (loved it) and if I spend my money going back (very tempted) then a 2nd hand 200 is probably off the cards let alone a new 300.
     

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