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New Arcam preamp/processor

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by MikeE, Dec 12, 2001.

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  1. MikeE

    MikeE
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    Hi, does anyone have any news or gossip on the Arcam FMJ AV8 preamp/processor, like how much and when and what features? It's listed on the Dolby Labs site, along with the Diva AVR200, as a product featuring PL II.

    It could be the answer to my dreams, as ever since integrating my HiFi and Cinema systems I've been a bit dissapointed with the sound (on CD), and fed-up with looking at an untidy pile of odd components (I know the last one shouldn't matter, but it would be the icing on the cake and go a long way to keeping my wife happy....). Up to now I've been considering the Arcam Diva range but have been a bit worried that the AVR100/200 would not be good enough to show off the abilities of a CD player like the CD92 even ignoring it's internal amp and using a P85 power amp for the front speakers. Providing it's not too expensive the FMJ processor may be just the answer I need in order to build a one make system with a music bias (given that I can't afford the Meridian/Tag alternatives).

    PS first post EVER, so please be gentle...
     
  2. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Mike,

    My rep has informed me that now the cat is out of the bag I can tell folk some info about this.....

    First off let me say I haven't seen or heard it yet but that I hope to have a BETA unit soon. I'm not sure if I can tell you the price....I can mention a sort of cool thing they've done though. It will switch RGB through it's component inputs as long as you have a composite feed run from the source as well....ie SKY through amp to TV. rgb+comp to pre-amp then rgb+comp out to TV. At least, I believe it's going to do this. More info when I get my hands on one....

    Oh and having met one of the chaps in the design team for this product I can say that I am actually quite excited to hear it!

    Gordon
     
  3. lmccauley

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    That feature is pretty cool, actually. I wonder how many RGB inputs it will switch in this way?
    Does it do gain-matching like the A85?
    Does it feature audio-delay to prevent lip-synching when using a video processor?
    Does it contain any video processing, or the option of an add-on module?

    It will be interesting to see what the price is - I may well investigate using my Alpha 10/DAVE setup purely as power amps if the performance gain is worth the money. Would dealers take a DAVE module as trade in, I wonder, or is it worth keeping the 10/DAVE intact for the inevitable day when I'd be tempted to trade up the power amps to P85's?

    I wonder if Arcam'll do a lower specced Diva version for less (a la DV88/DV27)?
     
  4. MikeE

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    Gordon,

    Thanks for the info, sounds like it's going be worth waiting for. I just hope it's not priced to close to the Tag (or if it is, they do a Diva version).

    I and I'm sure others would also apprieciate any further information as you get it (or are allowed to release it) and your thoughts on what it sounds like when you hear it.
     
  5. PeteM

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    Personally being an Alpha 10 / Dave owner, I feel a bit left out in the cold WRT a lack of an upgrade to Dolby Prologic II.

    The last time I spoke to my dealer (May this year), I was informed that there would be no upgrade for Dave due to the licensing costs for DPII making it uneconomical.

    Now I see newer systems such as the DVA AVR200 and FMJ AV8 being launched that support these newer decoding standards, and also allow for the addition of an external decoder - i.e DVD-Audio / SACD support, something else which I am denied - although as an Alpha 10 / Dave owner, audio quality is likely to be quite high on my list of priorites!

    I'd like to see an upgrade for the Dave module for Alpha 10 / FMJ A22 owners - or possibily a new Dave II module.

    Certainly if I were to concider buying an FMJ AV8, I would make very sure that it were fully future proofed - i.e should have support for an external decoder, must support all current decoding standards, and must come equipped with an optical / digital output for connection to a digital recoder.
     
  6. cpark

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  7. slingshot

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    Looks good, they mention a price of 3-4000 dollars, so it looks like they're pitching it around the price of a TAG, I was hoping for a fair bit cheaper so I could realistically upgrade my ageing AV50.

    Oh well looks like I'll have to wait a bit longer.
     
  8. lmccauley

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    Thanks for the photo link - looks very nice.

    Hmm, $3-4k will be around £1500-2000 in this country, I guess. That's less than the Tag, but still quite hefty.

    Like I said, I hope they do a cheaper Diva version.

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  9. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I suspect pricing will be as much...if not more than AV32r......but they are planning on outperforming that model!

    Gordon
     
  10. lmccauley

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    Thanks Gordon,

    Should be very impressive, then, but I fear that puts it outside my reach. Mind you I said that about the 10/DAVE when I had an AV50...

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  11. MikeE

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    Just noticed some more info on the bristol show website. Seems the processor is going to be part of an FMJ+ range which also includes a 7 channel (7 x 150watt) power amp. The processor is supposed to decode every known format and have over 100 inputs!

    Sounds fantastic, but it definitely sounds like it's going to be out of my price range. I guess I'll have to keep waiting and hope Arcam do a cut price Diva version.
     
  12. ReTrO

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    When i spoke to our rep he said they were hoping to do something in the DiVA range. He didn't know when it would appear though, we were just discussing what it should have.
     
  13. General Skanky

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    This is a thread to catch the imagination.
    It has always annoyed me the dearth of high quality proc. at an achievable price point, ie £800 - £1000!
    The good ones are currently £1600+ ie, Tag.
    The only option I can think of is Rotel at the price I mention. There are one or two others, but they 'all' seem to have one shortcoming too many to make me want to splash out!
    Arcam in my opinion, are in the perfect position to produce a unit that will do all we want at a keener price. The only way I can describe this is, remember when the Yamaha A1 was launched at £1600? Great unit but a bit OTT. Then the A2 appeared, almost as good, but at £1000 a brilliant unit to those of us that couldn't go the extra for a few extra features.
    If Arcam can do a double act as it were along the same lines I'd be very interested.
    My current basis of comparison is the Tag. I mean it's in a class of its own at the moment. The quality is obvious. I want that but at a lower cost.
    Don't ask for much do I?
    :)
     
  14. JohnS

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    B]This is a thread to catch the imagination.[/B]

    Just to add my 2p worth.
    I have also been waiting for a more mid-priced (£900-£1700) alternative processor to the Tag, which will also offer future upgradeability. I dont think that anyone argues that the Tag is a great processor but a bit out of my price range.

    There doesnt seem to be any middle ground alternative at the moment. You either buy a Jap receiver that does the latest formats and then change it every 18months to 3 years or sit on the fence waiting and wanting the Tag. I know the manufactures want to sell more products but many people will happily pay for the upgrades they want, even if the price is a little over the top if it doesn't mean "starting again".

    If Arcam can produce a product of this nature and support it then they may have a winner.
     
  15. MikeE

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    Thanks for the last few responses, it's nice to know I'm not alone in wanting a decent £1000 processor.

    As a fan of Arcam's stuff, I certainly wish them luck with the FMJ AV8, I just hope they don't forget the more affordable end of the market while chasing after Tag and the like. When I first saw they were producing a processor I had hoped it would be around the price of other FMJ components (£1000 to £1600).

    It strikes me, that as Arcam already have an excellent and flexible choice of DVD and power amps in the Diva range (choose and upgrade a combination of P85/2 & P85/3 to build 5, 6 or 7 channels as required), they must be perfectly placed to bring out a matching affordable processor.

    One thought I had in trying to keep it as affordable as possible, was how many people actually use or need their video switching capabilities. I have what I assume is a fairly common set-up of DVD, VCR and Sat and as most TV’s now have at least 3 A/V inputs I don't really need to use the video side of my current receiver.

    What do others think about having an audio only processor for say less than the psychological £1000 and having an optional and matching video switcher for maybe £200-£300 for when the system grows to need it. As a dedicated video switcher with perhaps the capability to switch RGB as mentioned earlier by Gordon, it might even have a market all on it’s own.

    It would be nice if someone from Arcam (or their rivals) could let us know if any of this is likely to happen in the near future. I don’t want to spend another £800 on a receiver only to be disappointed again and find my perfect processor being launched 6 months later.
     
  16. lmccauley

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    Interesting points Mike.

    I wonder how much high-quality video switching adds to the price? I only use the s-video switching on my DAVE to get OSD.
    Is there any mileage in having it as an optional module (like the DVD-A blanked-off outputs on the back of the DV88)?
    Are there any other components that are rarely used, or have minimum impact, that add a lot to the cost?

    I don't actually expect direct answers to these questions from anyone at Arcam (I understand that a company would not want to reveal details of its costs or future plans), but I hope they do at least consider the points raised in this thread.

    £999 for a high-quality DiVA processor would indeed be tempting. I could continue to use my Alpha 10 & 10P3 power amps, upgrading to A85 when funds allowed.

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  17. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    I'd be one to advocate video switching in any unit.
    People with projectors need it.
    People with more stuff, ie 2 x vcrs, Playstation, camcorders etc need it.
    I find that a good amp is vital in every aspect of being the core of an AV system. Keep the video switching.
    I wouldn't want an add on unit, you'd need another power point, more rack space and it wouldn't be as neat.
    To keep the costs down, do NAD and use the 'bread and buter' only processing, ie DD, DTS etc. Not DSPs etc.
     
  18. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    Yes, but I think Mike's point was that the percentage of people that this covers may be relatively small. Maybe it isn't - maybe Arcam have already looked at the target audience for a device in this price range and found that they tend to have projectors, plasmas or loads of kit to connect together.
    I agree that a seperate box would be unweildy - which is why I thought of having an optional built-in module for those that want to pay for it. Arcam already have experience and expertise in doing that kind of thing (e.g. DAVE module for Alpha 10).
    Whilst I agree in principle, I suspect that the extra DSP modes come practically for free on the decoding chips these days.

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  19. bigmacx

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    There is one other processor I know of that will (soon?) be available for < £1000 (it's going to sell for $899 in the U.S. so I would expect a similar price in £'s), the Outlaw 950. They have a distributor in Finland that takes care of European orders.
    It looks amazing for the money but I think I'll carry on saving for the TAG ;)

    Mac.

    Here's the specs, more info can be found at Outlaw Audio.

    --------------------------------------------------
    Surround Processing: Dolby Digital, Dolby Surround EX, Dolby ProLogic II (two modes plus ProLogic emulation with Panorama, Center Width and Dimension Control), DTS 5.1, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete and DTS-ES 6.1 Matrix, DTS Neo:6 (two modes), Cirrus Extra Surround (5.1 and 6.1/7.1), "Five Channel" and "Seven Channel" Surround, True Stereo Bypass

    Digital Inputs: Four optical, two coaxial

    Direct Input: Full 5.1 channel direct input for outboard sources such as DVD-A or SACD

    Analog Inputs: Nine in total: seven A/V inputs, all with both composite and "S" Video, two audio only for CD and Tape. All analog inputs may be switched to a "bypass" mode.
    Component Video: Two inputs/One Output, HDTV capable bandwidth (40 MHz)

    Digital Outputs: One Optical and one coax

    Tape Outputs: One set for audio and two for video

    Multi-Zone: Separate source may be fed to a second zone or tape recorder, even while the main room is off. Separate amplifier trigger for the remote-zone amplifier.

    IR: Separate inputs for remote sensors in main room and remote zone.

    Triggers: Separate triggers for the main room and remote room power amplifiers

    Remote: Backlit, eight device capable with both internal IR code library and learning capabilities. Four separate macro programs may be entered.

    Tuner: High quality FM Stereo/FM/AM tuner built-in

    Removable IEC type power cord

    Two line LCD display and comprehensive on-screen menu system

    Triple Crossover system allows selection of different crossover at 40Hz, 60Hz, 80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz or 150Hz for front left/right, center and surround speakers

    Individual mode memories for each input
    "Bypass" mode for all analog inputs routes the source directly to the precision, VCA controlled, analog volume control so that all digital processing may be bypassed

    Full adjustment and customization of Dolby ProLogic II modes allows customized surround presentation

    "Theater EQ" mode to compensate for the roll-off in many movie sound track

    High-grade, audiophile components throughout, including glass-epoxy circuit boards and fully enclosed torrodial power transformer

    Operating system e-prom socketed and removable for future upgrade possibility

    Output level trim to input source or internal test tone for all channels

    Separate power on/power off remote commands for easy use with third-party programmable remotes and in complex audio/video systems

    Display Dim/Display Off settings for use in low-light home theater environments
     
  20. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    The Bryston pre-amp used at the Event was an audio only device. The new Naim amp will be audio only. Meridian do audio only processors...so it looks like there are a few.

    I'd guess that at the level some of you are looking at marketing demands may play a bigger role than performance. So lack of ANYTHING is likely to get a slagging from mags...or unknowledgeable staff.

    I personally think that video switching is useful but would understand the sense in having it as an optional add on, as long as the video switcher unit worked seamlessly with the audio amp.

    Gordon
     
  21. ReTrO

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    Just to ad to what Gordon said. Naim do their own audio only processor, and they are also going to have a video only processor/switcher that will take in any video and output it through a comoon output of your choice (from what i've heard). It should be good.
     
  22. MikeE

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    Thanks for all the comments, and apologies if I'm starting to drag this slightly off the original topic.

    It does seem there are a number of audio biased products out there that offer the features and performance I want, it's just that they are all too expensive.

    I'm worried Gordon may be right when he says that the end of the market I'm looking in (less than £1500 for a processor) is marketing rather than performance led. I don't think it should be though, I enjoy well reproduced music and films as much as someone with more money to spend. I also would have thought that the feature list mostly counts for people buying without listening or researching (the type of products that are on the shelves in curry's and comet's, etc). I just hope Arcam prove us wrong and produce an excellent, affordable processor, I'm still sure there must be a market for it. Well, I want one!
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

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    Although I am firmly in the Tag brigade here I did get some interesting results froma Myrad 500? processor that I think was £1500, with a discount you would probable get that down a bit. Good spec and sound but don't expect a Tag for £1500. It was the best of the bunch I heard outside Tag / Meridian / Linn / Lexicon. Worth a listen and well thought out.
     
  24. General Skanky

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    There is an audio only unit from Cyrus too. £1000 I think.
    Don't know much about their stuff but it's worth a look.
     
  25. John Dawson

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    An interesting thread gentlemen - keep the comments coming.

    We plan formally to show the AV8 at the Bristol Show in the second half of February, when all your questions will be answered. In the meantime I can guarantee you that this will be a very high performance unit indeed - including THX Ultra 2 and with extremely advanced support for analogue video including RGB. The unit is field upgradeable via an RS 232 port. Given that, I believe the price will be seen as fair and offering very good value. Start saving now guys :)

    BTW the P7 power amp will be rather special too.

    Sincerely,

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  26. ReTrO

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    John: What are your plans for a DiVA range processor? It seems to be a very popular idea.

    Cheers
     
  27. General Skanky

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    Interesting stuff.
    I hate the word 'saving'.:rolleyes:
     
  28. lmccauley

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    Yes, I'm sure that there are a lot of us that want more than a receiver, but just can't justify >£2k on a processor.

    It would make a nice upgrade route for those of us with Alpha 10/DAVE systems if we could add on a £1k DiVA processor and use the existing power amps in our 10/10P3 units.

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  29. lmccauley

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    Just found out a bit more information about the AV8.

    It was a finalist in the High End Audio category of CES 2002 (Congratulations John) and has a listed price of $4000 and available March 2002 (http://www.techtv.com/freshgear/bestofces/story/0,23008,3367496,00.html).

    From news of the Bristol show (http://www.bristolshow.co.uk/html/new.html):

    Any plans for a Diva version of the AV8?

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  30. dts_boy

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    has no-one seen/heard of the cyrus av5? its a great processor and priced at £1000 its good value as well. the only shortcoming is that it doesn't do 6.1/7.1 and PL2. although, they are re-vamping it this year...:p
     

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