My Pioneer SMASHED my Arcam

J1nkz74

Novice Member
Hi, very long time reader but not posted much. I’ve been using a Pioneer VSX 924 for a long time. For speakers I only use front three channels I have two IPL transmission lines as my fronts and a matching IPL centre. I wanted a upgrade so I sold my Pioneer 924 and bought a Arcam AVR450 it’s my first Arcam receiver and I bought it because I read a ton of reviews how Arcam are supposedly one of the best for music. Within 5 minutes of setting up and trying out I realised I had made a mistake. For both music and especially for movies my old Pioneer 924 utterly destroyed the Arcam.
Soundstage on Arcam is a drastic downgrade. I really didn’t expect this. I have had the Arcam now for a few weeks and I still feel the same. With music the pioneer was also MUCH more superior music used to feel alive and engaging and experienced in the sound. The Arcam is just like a boring box with the sound coming from the speakers but the pioneer made my speakers disappear.
I sold the the Pioneer for £150 bought the Arcam for £400, they both came out at the same time and at the time pioneer was £499 and Arcam was £2200 I honestly can say in a blind test anyone with ears would have said those prices should’ve been reversed.
My problem now is I want a new AV receiver. As I only use the three front speakers I don’t care much for atmos I don’t need a lot of hdmi inputs as I use my tv and connect through arc. I want something that is similar but hopefully “definitely “ better than the pioneer in sound quality. Pioneer had 150w per channel so that may have cause the drop when I switched to the Arcam as the Arcam is slightly less powerful I dono. I’m looking to get some advice, what are newer versions of the 924? I can’t find anything and the newer models all have different numbers and letters now. I don’t mind buying anything from the 924 onwards I don’t need new functions but I’m open to buying the latest if sound quality is worth it. I can spend maybe £1000-£1500 and now I know for sure that higher price definitely does NOT mean better. I have a open mind but the way it’s going I might try to find another Pioneer 924 and stay where my grass is greener.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
You have taken some sticker wattage figure which is for 1ch and high THD %. Looking the manual for a comparable spec Pioneer gives 75w for 8ohm 2channels and Arcam 125w for 8ohm 2channels. These are both for 0,2% THD so Arcam is more powerfull as it should be for the price.

There is clearly something wrong if the Arcam sounds worse than 500£ Pioneer. I tried to search factory reset, but i can´t find it for AVR450. Best thing to do would be resetting the unit and then running auto setup again with the microphone placed at MLP on seated ear height (and hopefully using tripod or boom arm mic stand) and manually tweaking few settings if required (speaker distances, speaker crossovers, speaker sizes etc). Of course for 2ch music listening Pure Direct/Direct mode should put everything off from background and it should sound good.
 

J1nkz74

Novice Member
You have taken some sticker wattage figure which is for 1ch and high THD %. Looking the manual for a comparable spec Pioneer gives 75w for 8ohm 2channels and Arcam 125w for 8ohm 2channels. These are both for 0,2% THD so Arcam is more powerfull as it should be for the price.

There is clearly something wrong if the Arcam sounds worse than 500£ Pioneer. I tried to search factory reset, but i can´t find it for AVR450. Best thing to do would be resetting the unit and then running auto setup again with the microphone placed at MLP on seated ear height (and hopefully using tripod or boom arm mic stand) and manually tweaking few settings if required (speaker distances, speaker crossovers, speaker sizes etc). Of course for 2ch music listening Pure Direct/Direct mode should put everything off from background and it should sound good.
There is nothing wrong with the Arcam, it’s been set up manually because the auto setup doesn’t work with only three channels being used. It was setup correctly and is set up correctly it quite simply does NOT sound better than the pioneer. I’ve heard a lot of amps I’ve owned a lot of amps. I know good sound when I hear it. The Pioneer was better all round than the Arcam hands down. I still own the Arcam but I’m trying to sell it. It’s still set up right now. It is in pristine condition there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I just prefer (miss) the sound I had from the pioneer. Movies on the Arcam sound flat no depth. The same movies on the pioneer blew it away. Music on the Arcam through a bluesound streaming tidal sound flat compared to how it sounded through the Pioneer. Maybe I just don’t like the Arcam sound, or maybe it’s just that some people hang on to a name too much or think just because something costs more that it will sound better. All I’m saying is I’d prefer to move on from the Arcam now already and I’d appreciate any recommendations on anything along the same line as the Pioneer. I can’t find or make sense of the newer model numbers any newer ones I see do have a lot more features but all I use it for is 3 channels connected through arc on tv I use separate units for music
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Fair enough then.

New Pioneer models should arrive in UK/EU in few month time same as Onkyo. They also come with Dirac Live now. I believe the LX-305 shoud fall within your budget, but nothing has been put out yet so we will see.




Yamaha is always good choice and maybe you have option to get one for home trial if you call around the dealers. You probably fine with 7.2 receiver if you run 3.1 system so A4A would do the trick:
 

J1nkz74

Novice Member
Thank you, I’ll have a look at those. The last Yamaha I had was a 1040 I believe. That was pretty good but I don’t feel like a Yamaha this time around.
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
Sounds to me you prefer a more lively sound like you get with Pioneer and Onkyo, Arcam amps
tend to sound quite flat and neutral which a lot of people do like (I like) then you match it with speakers of your choice to get the balance of sound you want.
I have always liked Pioneer gear and might have a look at their new stuff if it ever arrives here.
One thing I remember is about 5 years ago a mate of mine invited me round to show me his new really expensive top of the range Pioneer/ KEF setup, I didn't want to say anything to him at the time but I thought it sounded terrible especially with music, he was over the moon with it and thought it sounded amazing, which just shows how we all perceive music and sound differently and have different expectations.
I NEVER sell my old gear before hearing my new gear these days simply because I ended up in your predicament more than once, not again for me, so lesson learnt.

If the Pioneer's take longer than expected, have a look at the Marantz AVR's like the SR-6015 or
SR-7015 they do tend to sound pretty good with music and surround sound.
 

J1nkz74

Novice Member
Sounds to me you prefer a more lively sound like you get with Pioneer and Onkyo, Arcam amps
tend to sound quite flat and neutral which a lot of people do like (I like) then you match it with speakers of your choice to get the balance of sound you want.
I have always liked Pioneer gear and might have a look at their new stuff if it ever arrives here.
One thing I remember is about 5 years ago a mate of mine invited me round to show me his new really expensive top of the range Pioneer/ KEF setup, I didn't want to say anything to him at the time but I thought it sounded terrible especially with music, he was over the moon with it and thought it sounded amazing, which just shows how we all perceive music and sound differently and have different expectations.
I NEVER sell my old gear before hearing my new gear these days simply because I ended up in your predicament more than once, not again for me, so lesson learnt.

If the Pioneer's take longer than expected, have a look at the Marantz AVR's like the SR-6015 or
SR-7015 they do tend to sound pretty good with music and surround sound.
Yeah lesson learnt indeed, I won’t sell before hearing my replacement again. Thank you I’ll look at the marantz I’ve never had a marantz av I had a 1060 stereo amp before and I did really like that
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
'I won’t sell before hearing my replacement again' - ideally that should be in your room with your loudspeakers as your Arcam experience highlights how important the overall 'mix' of kit plus your room/room acoustics far outweighs any price point or brand expectations.

Your experience of Arcam is not the same as many others, that doesn't mean anyone is right or wrong just that kit combinations and individual preferences all differ.

Joe

PS I have Arcam and Yamaha kit :)
 

J1nkz74

Novice Member
'I won’t sell before hearing my replacement again' - ideally that should be in your room with your loudspeakers as your Arcam experience highlights how important the overall 'mix' of kit plus your room/room acoustics far outweighs any price point or brand expectations.

Your experience of Arcam is not the same as many others, that doesn't mean anyone is right or wrong just that kit combinations and individual preferences all differ.

Joe

PS I have Arcam and Yamaha kit :)
I understand, but as it stands now I still have the arcam and don’t get me wrong it does sound nice but I’m still shocked at how much better my older pioneer VSX 924 sounded. It was better in every way for music and especially movies, and at less than a quarter of the arcam price it just goes to show.
 
I would pretty much guarantee...

The Arcam is faulty - which you claim it isn.t...

The Arcam hasn't been set up properly which is probably the case if you don't have the set up mic etc.

You prefer the Pioneer sound to the Arcam sound!

As has been mentioned it does come down to matching kit together but I still don't think a properly set up / working Arcam AVR 450 would struggle to outshine your pioneer - Just read some of the old reviews on the Arcam all harp on about how good it sounds and it only loses out on small things like USB ports etc.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
What's it sound like in pure stereo, all room EQ, all bass management disabled?
 

J1nkz74

Novice Member
What's it sound like in pure stereo, all room EQ, all bass management disabled?
Actually now that I’ve played about with this I still have to say I did prefer the pioneer 924 hands down for movies compared to the avr450. Stereo on the other hand was actually amazing. So much so now I just sold the avr450 for 400 and I am about to buy the avr750 tonight for 600. The reason for this is I want the highest possible stereo sound for music and still have the extra channel for my centre channel for movies. I plan on trying out bi amping my speakers with the 750 I will post what I think later if anyone is interested. I know the avr750 is old but my thinking is for my uses (stereo music sources and only using centre channel for movies) this should be up there with the best possible sound I can get. I will wait and see.
 

Ultra2man

Well-known Member
Interesting as you seem to have the complete opposite to my experience with Pioneer.
I had the LX76 and it was without doubt the worst sounding receiver/Amp I had ever owned, previously having had Denon models. It was just flat and lifeless, unable to create a sound that was not boxy and this showed up in movies as well as music.
Fortunately I had not yet sold my last Denon and was soon rid of the Pioneer.
The last Denon lasted for another 2-3 years before I moved onto my Arcam AVR 850 and have been extremely pleased with it's performance.
Hopefully you will love the 750 (basically the same as the 850 but without Atmos and Dirac).
 

J1nkz74

Novice Member
Interesting as you seem to have the complete opposite to my experience with Pioneer.
I had the LX76 and it was without doubt the worst sounding receiver/Amp I had ever owned, previously having had Denon models. It was just flat and lifeless, unable to create a sound that was not boxy and this showed up in movies as well as music.
Fortunately I had not yet sold my last Denon and was soon rid of the Pioneer.
The last Denon lasted for another 2-3 years before I moved onto my Arcam AVR 850 and have been extremely pleased with it's performance.
Hopefully you will love the 750 (basically the same as the 850 but without Atmos and Dirac).
Maybe you or someone can answer a few questions I have about the AVR750. I believe it’s the same as the 850 without some newer features.
I only use it for the front three channels for movies and for the front two channels for music. I currently use hdmi arc from my tv for tidal and Spotify but I want to move to a dedicated streaming dac like maybe bluesound node or Cambridge cxn v2. First question is I’ve only ever use the hdmi arc so haven’t been able to use direct stereo mode as it doesn’t show up as a option. Will it show up using a outside source like bluesound or cxn? And is it better than or just the same as digital stereo option? Also I haven’t tried yet but I plan on trying out bi amping my front two channels does this restrict me for listening in stereo mode or does it just act like two channels with 4 channels running? Also if anyone has experience with separate streamers with the arcam AVR what is the best way to connect? I’ve read it has to be analogue rca to use direct mode. Also I don’t know about using digital connection whether I should use the arcam dacs or the dacs in cxn or bluesound. A bit confused.
 

Ultra2man

Well-known Member
Maybe you or someone can answer a few questions I have about the AVR750. I believe it’s the same as the 850 without some newer features.
I only use it for the front three channels for movies and for the front two channels for music. I currently use hdmi arc from my tv for tidal and Spotify but I want to move to a dedicated streaming dac like maybe bluesound node or Cambridge cxn v2. First question is I’ve only ever use the hdmi arc so haven’t been able to use direct stereo mode as it doesn’t show up as a option. Will it show up using a outside source like bluesound or cxn? And is it better than or just the same as digital stereo option? Also I haven’t tried yet but I plan on trying out bi amping my front two channels does this restrict me for listening in stereo mode or does it just act like two channels with 4 channels running? Also if anyone has experience with separate streamers with the arcam AVR what is the best way to connect? I’ve read it has to be analogue rca to use direct mode. Also I don’t know about using digital connection whether I should use the arcam dacs or the dacs in cxn or bluesound. A bit confused.
I don't know much about the 750 as never had one but guess it is similar in functionality to the 850 so all of the below is based on the assumption they work the same way.

Stereo Direct only works with analogue inputs, bypassing any digital processing (i.e. if you wanted to also run a sub in 2 channel mode) and running your stereo pair as full range. This will be using the DAC in the source device as opposed to the Arcam's internal DAC.

If you add an external streamer (BTW I use a Naim one) then you have the option to try both analogue and digital and only you can decide which sounds better to you. I would have expected analogue with Stereo Direct to be the better option but if the DAC in the source device is pants then Digital Stereo would be better. As I said only you can decide which sounds better to you.

Personally between the 2 streamer options you have mentioned I would go with the Cambridge device as I would expect it to have the better internal DAC, but that's just my opinion.

Regarding Bi-amping, I don't know how configurable the 750 internal amps are but if you can reconfigure one of the unused pairs to Bi-anp the front pair this should not limit you to being unable to use 3 channel mode for movies.
Will it sound any better? Probably unlikely as you are using the same power supply to drive the speakers but no harm in trying.
 

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