Replacing the Arcam Alpha 9 + 9p kit with an integrated one.

Patryparty

Novice Member
Hey. I need help choosing an amplifier. I currently have the Dali 450 Arcam Alpha 9 + 9p / biamping kit. I am rearranging and I will not have space for two devices so I am thinking of converting to one integrated. Will I lose parameters (sound quality, dynamics, bass control, etc.) by exchanging this set, e.g. for Alpha 10? Or maybe some other, e.g. some Roksan Caspian, Audiolab 8000s or maybe you recommend something different? I had NAD c350 before but that was not good. I am happy with the current system but I know it could be better. I listened to Audiolab 8000s and the sound was a bit obtrusive, as if the bass was less (it played maybe 15 minutes and may not have warmed up). Arcams start playing after about 60 minutes. My budget is £400-500. I know that Dali 450 can play with a good amplifier but what?
I listen to different music, rock, jazz, electro, without heavy metal and some heavy. I don't listen very loudly but I like to feel bass and dynamics.
greetings
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
A couple of interesting offers here.

Brand new, with a 2 year warranty and a serious amp... and obviously something of a bargain here...

Arcam FMJ-A29 Integrated Amplifier {BRAND NEW} - 2 Year Warranty | eBay

A used one to consider...

Arcam Integrated Amplifier A29 Mint | eBay

Or, if you’re happy to veer from Arcam...

MUSICAL FIDELITY A3 DUAL MONO INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER | eBay

And this one. Often overlooked in the used amp market, but quite a fine amp indeed.

Marantz PM17 Integrated Amplifier - Boxed with Remote | eBay
 

Jampot90

Active Member
If you would like to maintain the benefit of bi-amping, why not look at a home theatre amp which accommodates bi-amping by utilising 2 surround channels?

I can't suggest a candidate but did have an Arcam 350 back in the day, which sounded excellent on music.

I'm sure there will be recommendations forthcoming from those familiar with more recent offerings available used for your budget.

Jim
 

Patryparty

Novice Member
I would like to buy a cheaper amplifier and save money on another CD source. Will arcam Alpha 10 (FMJ A22) be good? Will the sound quality be comparable or better than my set?
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
I have an Alpha 10 and A22 and did have a 9/9p combo many years ago but unfortunately never did any serious side by side comparisons of the one more powerful amp against the slightly less powerful pair. Unlike some people, I've always found bi-amping to be beneficial but with the Alpha 10 being a bit more powerful in the first place, my guess is there wouldn't be much between the two and I certainly don't think it would be a massive downgrade. If downsizing to a one box amp then I don't think you would find anything better for the price than an A22 when you consider you already know you like the Arcam sound. There's one on ebay at the moment for £325 which seems like a good price.
 

wokeye

Active Member
I would be tempted to use the Alpha 9 integrated by itself. Unless you need more power. It's a really good amp, still is. I think through my own experiences you won't see a huge difference in sound quality with the later Arcam amps mentioned. As long as it's working correctly. It was £500 back in the day, I think you'd have to pay more today for a similar spec of amp.

I'm just speaking from experience as I had the same amps as yourself. I bought speakers that needed more power so I looked for an upgrade. The Alpha 9 that was driving the low frequencies would cut out at high volumes. So I looked for another amp with more power and wasted a bit of money, mainly because of looking at reviews on what hifi etc. I certainly would not buy any different make of amp without listening to it. I got a Roksan Kandy K2. It has more power, but to me the Arcam Alpha 9 sounds better. It puts a veil over music, the mids sound recessed and it gets very harsh when pushed. I listen to similar music to yourself, except I like metal too. If your used to the Arcam, open, detailed but never harsh sounding, definitely listen before buying. The Roksan I had sounded way different to Arcam. Maybe in a good way to some, really not my thing again. The later ones are supposed to be better. I'd still have to home audition one after my experience.

I then tried a new Yamaha A-S801. Again more powerful, hoping that things had maybe moved on. It's not a really expensive amp, it's well built with loads of features. Great value for the money. But again I thought the Alpha 9 sounded better. Just more open and detailed and not as thin sounding so I returned it. It's a good amp for the money, but I wasn't really keen on upgrading to something that despite being more powerful, didn't sound as good as what I had had for nearly 20 years.

I'm not keen on the sound of Audiolabs. Well I wasn't when I auditioned the 8000A when I bought the Alpha 9 all those years ago. It was more clinical and cold sounding. Just not my thing, but I'm sure others love it.

In the end I bought another Arcam blind ignoring the what hifi review, although it got the highest score offered by hifi Choice. Which to me, maybe not others made sense. I got the FMJ A39 as an ex dem for a pretty good price. About £850. This amp is 120 watts RMS, compared to the Alpha's 70 watts. It can drive my Kef R500's really well and never, ever sounds shrill, thin in any way. Having said that at lower volumes it doesn't sound a real lot different to an Alpha 9. But at loud volumes it's awesome. If I lived in a semi or had smaller speakers, didn't like loud music, knowing what I know I know now, I'd of kept the Alpha 9. It's a really good amp. Bi-amping them in my experience doesn't offer a huge benefit . You'll be fine with just the Alpha integrated. I was guilty of reading reviews etc and thinking that things had moved on a massive amount. I don't think they have, yes they have more features etc.

If I was you I'd maybe get new speakers. They make the biggest difference in my experience. Then again the other Arcam amps mentioned above will be really good. I'm just not sure that you will see a huge difference in sound quality, but I might be wrong. New amps offer more features. Then again they can be added with external units. But those FMJ ones don't. You'd have to buy the newer SA Series.

I wouldn't assume that just because your amp is 20 years old, things have moved on a great deal. In my experience they haven't. I've still got my Alpha 9 integrated. I'm going to put it in my bedroom in the new house in buying. It's a really good amp. I see no point at all buying anything new. I'll just add a streamer if I need it.

But if you really feel the need to change it because it's old. I would really home demonstrate different models if at all possible. Or if you have lots of cash just buy something anyway. The later FMJ series amps look better though.

People have different opinions though. When I asked on another forum I was told that the A39 is a clear big step up from the Alpha 9. I agree it is at louder volumes, I'm just not so sure it is at lower volumes. Certainly not an extra £700 or so at used values after selling the Alpha. I also read that the sound of these amps can deteriorate with age. I'm sure it can, but I don't think it has at all with mine.

I agree with Timmy. If you like the Arcam sound stick with it. Unless you can listen to others first.
 

Patryparty

Novice Member
Thank you so much for all the answers. You gave me food for thought :) One more thing. What other amplifiers sound like the Arcam signature? Honestly, I don't insist on Arcam, I'm curious about other brands. And one more question about the speakers. What brands play well with Arcam?
 

musicphil

Active Member
Look for a second hand FJM A38 - mine is connected to a pair Tannoy x6ft speakers.
Sounds fantastic with either CD or vinyl.
 

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