Proc For Music: Arcam AV8/AV9 - Naim AV2 - Primare - Audiolab

Arfa

Active Member
Thinking about going for a it reshuffle of my gear. Currently use an Exposure XXV for pure stereo duties and an old Rotel pre/power combo tagged on for surround. I would like to swap these for a decent pre/pro, less boxes, one volume control, without sacrificing too much.

So from a pure stereo sound quality perspective which is best:-
Arcam AV8 (cheapest option)
Arcam AV9 (HDMI switch be handy)
Naim AV2 (prob closest sound to my Exposure)
Primare SP31.7 (Get good reviews for being transparent, balanced in/out)
Audiolab 8000ap (hdmi audio be good, no stereo bypass though :(
Or wait for the Audiolab 8200ap...

Budget wise: as under a grand as possible! Will probably stick with Rotel power amp for short term, then get a nice 2 or 3 channel power amp for fronts (Exposure IV, Naim NAP150 NAPV175 etc), when funds permit.

I say stereo is important, it is, 60% of my time is music playback, however I do have bluray player & PS3 so need 5.1 analogue inputs or HDMI audio support. My soundcard has balanced outs too.
 

Ianfromnotts

Well-known Member
I would add the Classe SSP30 Mk2 to your list too, great for music and has a 7.1 input.
 
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Arfa

Active Member
As does the Audiolab. Well a 5.1 bypass anyway.

Russell

Been umm'ing and arrr'ing about the 8000ap. Its a good price, the hdmi audio support is definitely tempting. But no bypass on the other stereo inputs. So I've got the cd player, turntable and tuner competing for the 5.1 input. Also with just 2 hdmi ports, I'm still going to need my hdmi switch (got 3 hdmi sources). So basically I'm going to be sticking a hdmi switch and a little pre switch in front of it... If the 8200ap ever turns up at a good price, then yeah, definitely an option.

Also I do wonder if an Arcam/Primare/Naim that was £2-3K 5 years ago would be a better pre for stereo duties.
 

Mr_Orange

Well-known Member
You mentioned the 8200AP in your original post, so I guess you are aware it has a 7.1 bypass and the stereo analogues inputs are configurable as bypass if required?
 

Arfa

Active Member
Yep, aware of the 8200ap. Big questions are, when will it be out, how much and how good will it be as an stereo analogue preamp?

Currently split between the Arcam AV8 and Primare SP31.7 on ebay...
I like the idea of the Primare's balanced in/out, simply looks, diminutive size and good rep for being transparent. Downsides; price and lack of inputs (once you use 4 up with the 7.1 bypass).
As to the Arcam, more inputs, phono stage built in, British brand ;) and cheaper, so be able to sort out a decent stereo power amp sooner. Downsides are size/height, too many buttons spoil looks and will it be as good as my other choice for analogue?

So nearly went for the Naim AV2 that went on ebay last week. But seller has zero feedback and the bid history was full of one other ebayer with just a couple of feedback. Smelt dodgy and of shill bidding, got cold feet. :(
 

IWC Dopplel

Distinguished Member
I moved from an AV8 to an AV2 it is better sonically for music and as a processor IMO plus you can use a preamp with this so you get the best of both worlds.

The analogue pass through is excellent, better than the AV8 this was the primary reason for keeping my 2 and selling the 8
 

Arfa

Active Member
After what you said I've left the Arcam AV8 and gone for the Primare SP31.7. Had I gone for the Arcam I would have been forever speculating whether the Primare would have been better...
I'd have been happy with a Naim AV2, but none about at the moment and the lure of balanced in/out on the Primare won out.
 

IWC Dopplel

Distinguished Member
Good luck Arfa :smashin:
 

Arfa

Active Member
Well it turned up yesterday, only had a little time to check it out. Not sorted out surround levels and what not yet, just run a few stereo source through it and using the Rotel RB985 as power amp for all channels. Only played couple of CD tracks off the Apollo (analogue out) and couple lossless iTunes tracks, over balanced input from my M-Audio Audiophile 192 card, both with stereo bypass and only quietly as it was late last night. First impressions are good; very clean sound, no background hiss/noise. Don't have the bouncyness and slam of the Exposure, though I don't know how much of this is the Primare or the Rotel. I shall have to try taking a front out into to the Exposure, using it as a power amp to better gauge what's changed what.

Build quality is good, very solid, like the minimal look, even wife reckoned it looked better than the old Rotel processor and the Exposure! Power switch is underneath the front left corner - took me a while to find that - no mention in manual! Its very deep mind, hangs off my shelf a bit, front and back. Noticed the 4 12V triggers can be setup per input, which could be very versatile.

So, either tonight or weekend I'll get it all setup properly and run it through its paces. It has a mic input for setting up, can I just plug in my sound meter into this? Or do I need to buy a specific mic?
 

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