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Should I ditch my old Arcam or use it with a new decoder?

largetrousers

Standard Member
Hi All

Tried posting on another thread but had no reply so here goes again...I own an Arcam AV50, quite a few years old but still sounds lovely bi-amped with an 8P power amp powering my Kef setup (Q65.2s, Q35s, Q95c.2 and PSW3000). Anyhow this was fine before my missus bought me a PS3 - where the AV50 only takes analogue inputs I am tied as cannot reap the rewards of the sound from the unit - do I get a current AV amp that can process HD stuff via the HDMI input, with pre-outs to feed the Arcam - and leave the speakers plugged into the arcam (meaning the Arcam would therefore act as a straight-through power amp), but the benefit is it'd also give me a nice sound for my Arcam Alpha 8SE CD straight into the Arcam for normal Stereo which does sound lovely - or do I ditch the AV50 and the 8P Power amp completely? Without hauling my setup to my local hifi shop I am stuck as cannot test these options fully - are nowadays AV amps (eg the Sony 2400 or the Denon 1910) sonically as good as what i'd hope to get when in stereo mode for normal CDs, or would my old Arcam still sound better on this front? If I can ditch the arcam (not that I want to!) it'd score brownie points with the missus as well as it'd mean another box or two gone from under the TV, where as i'm planning on adding the AV to complement - HELP!

Thanks all!
 

Chester

Member
Oh Crikey! Without spending a lot of money, like on an Arcam AVR600, you're not going to get the 'warm' sound you've come to appreciate from your amplifier combination. Yes, Denon is great at surround sound, but if you listen to a lot of CDs, I think it would be a slight compromise.

For Home Theatre use, one objective is to keep the timbre of at least the front sound stage the same, through the use of speakers from the same range, and similar, if not identical amplification. If you used your 8P in conjunction with even an AVR-1910, the centre is going to sound different. Not sure the 8P will have enough power for HT use anyway to be honest, in conjunction with a modern receiver.

So in summary, I don't think anything less than a <£1'500 receiver is going to cut it for 2 channel use for you. Have a listen to the Pioneer SC-LX82 and a Denon AVR-4310. I think Yamaha and Marantz might be a little too clinical, and Onkyo won't cut it in 2 channel (I've made a big concession here myself!). To save money, choose the next models down, but I don't know what you'd lose in terms of sound quality.
 

largetrousers

Standard Member
Thanks for the reply Chester - makes me think that my idea of using a modern AV processor as a pre-amp and via its analogue pre-outs into my arcam AV50 inputs (with the arcam 8P still bi-amped off the AV50 to give bi-amping on the front stage) would be best - that way keeping the Arcam for stereo and actual amplification of signals to the speakers, but leaving a modern AV processor purely to process the signal before pushing it to its pre-outs - shame I cannot find a slender little box which does HDMI processing (inc DTSHD, TrueHD etc) and switching that is purely a pre-amp, without breaking the bank. So my thoughts are on getting the Sony 2400 or similar to act as just a pre-amp decoder. If I could, i'd get an all singing all dancing Arcam AVR600 but with a wedding to pay for i'll end up sleeping under the stars with no hifi! :suicide:
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
An Audiolab 8000AP processor might fit the bill, it has generally been given rave reviews, and it's rather cheaper than an Arcam AV888. Another option is the Marantz AV8003.

Since the PS3 has onboard HD decoding and the Audiolab accepts LPCM over HDMI, you have full functionality. You already have power amplification, so buying a receiver means you're spending most of the cash on features you don't need, at the cost of performance where you do need it.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
If you used your 8P in conjunction with even an AVR-1910, the centre is going to sound different. Not sure the 8P will have enough power for HT use anyway to be honest, in conjunction with a modern receiver.

Besides which, the Denon AVR1910 lacks pre outs so wouldn't be of any use with an external power amp anyway.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
An Audiolab 8000AP processor might fit the bill, it has generally been given rave reviews, and it's rather cheaper than an Arcam AV888. Another option is the Marantz AV8003.

Since the PS3 has onboard HD decoding and the Audiolab accepts LPCM over HDMI, you have full functionality. You already have power amplification, so buying a receiver means you're spending most of the cash on features you don't need, at the cost of performance where you do need it.
But what about the remaining channels, what is he supposed to use to amplify them with? His existing Arcam 8P only has two channels of amplification and the Audiolab 8000AP has none.

Hi largetrousers

What kind of budget do you have at your disposal?
 
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eaglemmoomin

Novice Member
But what about the remaining channels, what is he supposed to use to amplify them with? His existing Arcam 8P only has two channels of amplification and the Audiolab 8000AP has none.

Hi largetrousers

What kind of budget do you have at your disposal?
Mark is suggesting using the AV50s analogue MCH thus the 8000AP will be doing the audio processing before converting to analogue and squirting it out to the AV50 which has the front channels biamped with his 8P. This is workable (the OP just needs to fix the AV50s volume to a sensible level and leave it well alone after that point). This would allow the OP at a later date to ditch the two Arcams and replace it with a single power amp leaving a two box solution. Only issue is that an 8000AP will set you back 800 notes so about 300 more than I suspect the ball park figure the OP is looking at but long term its probably the best solution allowing for a system that will be very good at music and movies.
 

Chester

Member
That would pave the way to the Arcam 7P (or the new P777) assuming that it would be a good combination with the Audiolab processor. Expensive after both stages are complete, but well worth auditioning I think!
 
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