Answered Move away from Arcam to increase budget?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Razorclam, May 30, 2018.

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  1. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    I’m looking for advice,
    My Arcam AVR400 needs replacing. The £2000 budget I have is on the cusp of being spent on a Arcam AVR390.
    As you can see from my sig I’m only running a 2.1 set up.
    I have put some feelers out to see if I can get a deal on a 390 and a third MA Apex A40. Initial responses look like I can get them for around £2100 which on the face of it is great.
    But this got me thinking; I’m fully aware that the Arcam AVR is a high end peice of kit at a price bracket probably over the necessity of the Apex. Do you think it would be worth stepping away from Arcam to a lesser AVR to free up the budget to maybe finish off the 5.1 and add a pair of Apex A10’s to the rear?
    Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. I don’t often have this kind of money to spend at I’d like to make the most of it.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  2. Best Answer:
    Post #5 by Rambles, May 30, 2018 (1 points)
  3. gibbsy

    gibbsy
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  4. Rambles

    Rambles
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    If you do want to stick to 2.1 or 2.2 and Arcam, the SR250 would make more sense than the AVR390.
     
  5. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    The choice of Arcam in the first place was because I was 50/50 music/movies.
    The AVRs linked would enable me to add centre and surrounds with change.
    But I love the musicality of Arcam. Plenty to think about.
     
  6. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Best Answer
    As @gibbsy said, some of us are using a mid range AVR together with a separate integrated amp with HT bypass for music. That way you can get a great system for both movies and music, at a much more reasonable price.

    For example, the Denon 3400 is currently down to £549, if you pair that with a Musical Fidelity M3i @ £550 ish, that is half the price of an entry level Arcam AVR. But you don't get a 'one box solution' and you get Audyssey rather than Dirac.
     
  7. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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  8. Rambles

    Rambles
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    The Arcam A29 and A39 are genuine bargains at the moment, some retailers (eg Peter Tyson) are selling them off at quite a big reduction as they are end of line.

    However, neither of those models have HT bypass. That isn't game over though, there are a couple of options of how you can integrate an AVR and an integrated amp without HT bypass.

    So..

    1. If the integrated amp has HT bypass, you connect the front left and right speakers to the integrated amp, and you connect the front left and right pre-outs of the AVR to the HT bypass input of the integrated amp. When used together the integrated amp is used as a power amp for the front left and right channels, the HT bypass function bypasses the pre-amp of the integrated amp, including it's volume control.

    2. Without HT bypass, you can just use any input on the integrated amp to connect the front left and right pre-outs, but you would be going through the pre-amp section of the integrated amp, as well as the AVR so will have two volume controls. You would need to level match the volumes, then mark or remember where that spot is on the integrated amp, and ensure that the integrated amp is always set to that volume when used with the AVR.

    3. You could just use the two amps completely separately, and use a speaker switch to share the same pair of speakers between the two amps:

    BERESFORD ELECTRONICS

    The problem with option 3, is there is quite a bit more cabling, and additional costs, and you then don't get the additional power of the integrated amp when using the AVR, and so allowing the AVR additional headroom to drive the other speakers.
     
  9. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    I have an understanding wife but not a wife that would understand that. It would have to be option 1. Shame because those Arcam amps are a great price at the moment.
     
  10. Hixs

    Hixs
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    Yamaha AS-1100 - £1100 (has HT bypass)
    Denon 2400 - £300

    Leaves 600 to play with.

    The Yamaha is a beast and total overkill....but it's very pretty :D and very good for the money.
     
  11. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Unfortunately the Denon 2400 doesn't have pre-outs so will not work with an integrated amp. Also it has a lesser version of Audyssey.

    The Denon 3400 would be okay if 7 channels of processing will be enough or the 4400 for 9.
     
  12. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    If I head down this route it looks like the 3400 will be the way to go. It’s just a case of finding a suitable power amp.
    I also have no analogue sources. All music is digital. Mainly FLAC or Tidal streaming. Would I then need an external DAC or streamer?
    Also I assume I wouldn’t be able to use the sub with the stereo sources? This may be an issue as the A40’s are only rated down to 60hz.
     
  13. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Integrated amp?

    Ideally, yes. Or buy an integrated amp with those functions onboard. Although in my experience an integrated amp that is very stripped back, like my Musical Fidelity M3i, sounded better in my auditions than ones with more features onboard. I use it with a Musical Fidelity V90 DAC, a Cambridge CXC transport and a HTPC.

    You could use the zone 2 pre-outs of the AVR into a spare analogue input on the integrated amp, and then use the AVR's onboard DAC's and streaming functions, but... you will almost certainly be losing some sound quality that way. You could try it and see how it sounds to you.

    I see from your signature that you have a BK monolith. Lucky you! I just this week got a BK XLS200. Presumably your monolith has the same high and low level inputs, the same as my XLS200. In which case you can use them both at the same time. The low level input for the AVR and the high level input with your music amp. The low level input will be set to maximum, so the AVR does all the bass management. The high level input can be used with the subwoofer controls to tune it to blend in with where your main speakers roll off.
     
  14. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    Yes interested amp (I’m new to this stuff )

    Something else to research then. I never really ‘got’ streamers but now I see the need.

    I hadn’t considered using both high and low on the monolith. I thought it would be messy but after a quick google I see it’s pretty simple.
     
  15. camelot1971

    camelot1971
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    Don't underestimate how significant Dirac is. It will almost certainly make a substantive difference to music and films - best to get a demo and hear for yourself :)
     
  16. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    Oh I have no doubt. I saw a video that played an On/off comparison with some music and the difference was night and day. And the video was watched on my phone!!
    It’s more a case of getting the most value for my money. I’ve wanted to finish my 5.1 for over 5 years but never had the spare funds to do so. I feel like I could squeeze a centre speaker in with a 390 which would be a tickle over my budget but if I went Denon 3400H and Arcam A29 for example I’d still have £1000 to get an A40 and the last 2 A10’s with change left over.

    It’s a really difficult decision. The more I think about it the more I lean back toward the 390. Mainly because of how pleased I’ve been with the AVR400 plus of coarse the difference I’m sure Dirac will make.

    Tough
     
  17. Rambles

    Rambles
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    You might want to factor in to the decision making the amount of power available for the speakers if powering all 5 speakers from an Arcam 390 vs a Denon 3400 + integrated amp.
     
  18. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    I did think about this. The spec sheet for the 390 states 60w/chan driving 7 channels. That seems respectable to run the Apex.
    But I understand you can never have enough headroom.

    Is there an argument that having a separate amp for the front L+R to the centre that there could be some loss in vocalisation across the front sound stage?
     
  19. gibbsy

    gibbsy
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    I've not noticed this with my Denon and Rega combination. If anything the performance of the centre has seemed to have benefitted from the extra power available to it. What is noticeable is how much better the musical soundtrack to films has improved which I think is down to the Rega giving a wider stereo soundstage. One thing is for sure and that is I could never go back to listening to stereo music just through a receiver.
     
  20. Rambles

    Rambles
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    There is, but in my room I have never had any issues mixing power amps or even speakers across the front three.

    If you want to play with some maths, there is a calculator here:

    Amplifier, Speaker & SPL Calculator - Geoff the Grey Geek

    It suggests that the 90db sensitivity of the Apex A40, at 3 metres listening distance, allowing 20db of peaks for movie soundtracks, 60 watts will get you approximately a listening volume of 78db. Capture.JPG
     
  21. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    Ok, so that’s interesting. That’s plenty right? So even if I’m looking at integrated amplification it wouldn’t really be necessary to go for anything over 60wats?
    I keep looking at the Arcam A39 @ 120w/chan but after learning what you’ve said I’d be better off saving £250 and going for the A29 @ 80w/chan.
     
  22. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Do you have an SPL meter or app on your phone? If so, do you know what volume you like to listen to things at, and do you sit approx 3 metres away.

    I am loathe to say that 60 watts will be 'plenty', but it is such a nebulous subject, I don't want to say that it won't be enough either.

    Maybe it *might* be just enough.
     
  23. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    To be fair I sit a little closer than 3 meters. The 80 Watts of the A29 is looking tempting.
    To be honest, I’m not 100% sold on the idea of using the low and high level inputs of the monolith at the same time. I’ve read a load of stuff today and can’t really nail down if it’s as ‘best of both worlds’ as it sounds.
    Do you have any info or maybe a link that would clear this up? The last thing I want to do (*edit* my wife to do) is have to make adjustments to crossovers etc when changing from TV or films to music.

    Also, are we saying that the Denon 3400H is the best choice at the moment? Everything I read it is 5 stars or 10/10 with very little to fault it.
     
  24. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Oh, I wonder what you have read then? I only got my XLS200 this week, and having set up the high level input yet.

    I have read the manual, and checked it out with BK, and I am expecting it should be a set up once and forget situation.

    The low level input is fed from the AVR subwoofer pre-out, and the filter is switched to 'Out LFE', which means that the crossover setting on the sub is disabled for that input. You set the gain when you do the speaker set-up on the AVR, then that is it job done.

    With the high level setting, you do the opposite, and use the crossover / phase and gain control to 'tune' the subwoofer to pair with your music amp and speakers. Then once set it is done, and will just work that way.

    I don't see why you would need to change the settings, as both inputs are active at the same time.

    Unless you have an older BK monolith model that works differently to my new XLS200? Maybe check the manual or send BK an email.
    Yes, it is great value for money, and quite possibly is the best choice for you right now.
     
  25. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    http://www.bkelec.com/HiFi/Sub_Woofers/Monolith manual.pdf
    It seems as though I only have one way to crossover both high and low. The crossover that I would use to blend the sub to the high level input is also the dial that ‘clicks’ to full range for AVR managed bass.
     
  26. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Yes, looks like you are right. My XLS200 has an additional control called 'Filter' which you can switch to Out / LFE for the low gain input.

    It's odd that BK don't include that with the Monolith, perhaps they don't think that it should be used for music, could it be too big and therefore not fast enough? Maybe email them and ask what they suggest?

    There is a workaround. I detailed it in this thread:

    Sharing a sub with AVR and IA - HT Bypass
     
  27. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    To save all the hassle, could I not connect a streamer to the Denon via rca then set that source to main+lfe for the stereo signal. There was something similar on my arcam AVR.
     
  28. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Yes, absolutely you could do that. Actually the Denon and Marantz AVR's have a separate setting for bass management for 2 channel music, so you can easily add in the sub for a 2.0 source if you want to.

    But... the whole purpose of using a separate integrated amp for music, is because it sounds better than using an AVR. Arcam and Marantz AVR's are better at music reproduction than most, Cambridge Audio are pretty good also. But even they can be beaten by a good quality dedicated stereo amplifier. It is somewhat subjective though, depending on your room, speakers and expectations.
     
  29. richardsim7

    richardsim7
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    If you want Dirac, the NAD T 758 V3 is worth a look :)
     
  30. Razorclam

    Razorclam
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    Only has 3 hdmi in? ‍♂️
    Other than that it does seem comparable spec wise but from what I’ve read you would need to add another £100 for full fat Dirac?
     
  31. richardsim7

    richardsim7
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    ~£75 but yeah

    Only difference is correction up to 20,000Hz, rather than 500Hz, but the first 500Hz is what makes the most difference
     

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