Upgrade from Arcam A18 to A28

Alex P79

Active Member

I just thought I would give some feedback on the direction I went after considering many options upgrading my system. I considered speaker upgrades and going to some form of room correction (Linn/Lyndorf) as well as amp options. In the end I bought a 'new/old stock' Arcam A28 and am very pleased with the results.

My system originally consisted of:
Naim CD5Si
Arcam Alpha 7r biamped with an 8p
Tannoy Revolution 2 floorstanders and matching R-15 sub.
I generally liked the sound but it could sound slightly harsh when turned past 10 o'clock and wasn't always as transparent as it could be.

First step was to swap the 7r with the A18 that I used in my office - the sound was much sweeter and clearer but not always completely cohesive - I played around with speaker positioning (away from walls and corners) and repositioned the sub to a different location - the end result was a big improvement. I also had a Solid Sounds hifi rack made to my spec by Paul and this improved things as well as being a great piece of furniture.

I then ran the A18 on its own without the 8p (sold to my bro) and I liked the sound a lot - very refined and clean + I was hearing things that I had not heard before - however the volume dial needed to be wound up a lot for the music to sound full, punchy and exciting. I considered trying different amps and heard an Exposure 3010s2d through PMC 25.23 floorstanders and this sounded great, but that would require spending the best part of £5k! I also considered amps from Naim (XS2) and Rega (Elex-r etc.) but was not keen to spend such money without hearing them in my room and system - not an option really and as an afternoon session with several Arcam amp permutations demonstrated, my Tannoys are clearly capable of revealing considerable differences between amps from the same stable, never mind other manufacturers.

So I played it safe in the end and bought the Arcam A28 on the basis of reviews, tech specs (power output into 8 and 4 ohms compared with the A18) and 'house sound'. I have so far only played about 15hours of music on it (it is effectively brand new - still in a sealed box) but it has all the things I liked about the A18 but crucially, provides what was missing. Namely drive, punch and body - a range of musical genres just sound more interesting to listen to than before. The A28 has even greater clarity and overall it just sounds more at one with the Tannoy speakers - it has plenty of power and has brought them to life with greater depth, space and instrumental separation.

I still like the A18 and think it will work well with good, sensitive stand mounts or transparent compact floorstanders in small to medium sized rooms but for me the A28 is well worth the upgrade in my set-up in the larger room. Paring the A18 with a CDS27 and a suitable speaker pair may well be a project for a future 'bedroom' set up.



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