Arcam, thoughts?

mantismantis Posts: 15,404
Hello all,
I've been away from Arcam for quite awhile. Not the entire product line as I've done some of their DAC's as of late but I have not messed around with their Home theater stuff and I gotta check it out.
What are your thoughts on their products? Worth me investing my time into them or not?

Thanks guys
My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.


  • mantismantis Posts: 15,404
    I Installed setup calibrated the AV860 preamp into our showroom and I have some mixed feelings about it.
    Built quality is very nice. The simple layout no clutter approach they have is refreshing. Everything you need and nothing you don't. This I dig a lot.
    Sound quality wise it's also very nice. Warm and inviting with a very nice clear natural sound.
    Setup sucks. The menu system is simple with everything you need nothing you don't but I hate the way it works. It's clunky to say the least.
    Calibration really sucks. You would think that someone like me who likes to be more involved in the calibration of the system would totally enjoy the way you have to basically manually calibrate with a auto calibration tool. It's call DIRAC which is part auto calibration mostly manual calibration.
    So what you do is download the software from the website and install it to your laptop. It works with both Mac and PC so thats cool pic your poison. Then you download the Mic file of the professional Mic you use for area calibration which is a area calibration Mic.
    You first Test tone all your channels, in my case I had a 7.2.4 Atmos Theater. You discover the weakest channel so lets say your left main channel speaker gives off the weakest SPL overall. It reads 72 db while all other speakers read between 73-81 in room response. With the software you can test tone each channel not by going to the next channel but pressing a play stop button on each channel. I thought that was strange but whatever it's how they wrote it.
    Once you get all channels leveled and it's not to a standard like 75db OH NO you just go off the weakest speakers and bring all channel down to it, in this case it was 72db.
    Then you measure the in room frequency response of each speaker. Arcam has a target frequency curve they would like each channel to respond as. So you have to look at all the curves the speakers produced and pick the curve that's close to the Arcam recommended. Then once that is selected you now can measure your listening area.
    If you ever done a Audyssey calibration or a Pro Audyssey calibration which requires a license and a Pro Kit with a Professional Mic, this part is similar to how they do it. They take a 9 point average of the listening area. You can build your own KING SEAT as I call it and take all 9 measurements around the main seat where you sit which is what I think makes the best sounding system. When you do an average of lets say 9 theater seat positions like Audyssey does I feel it doesn't sound amazing in any of the 9 seats.
    So after you perform this 9 position calibration you then go back and manually inspect the levels, distance etc.Then you upload your work, save your file.
    Writing this out and then reading it sounds interesting but performing it for some reason I was annoyed. I think for a AUTO CALIBRATION software program your to involved in the aspects of it's calibration. I don't like the picking your curve part other then if you want your system to be eq'd a certain way or you like the way one of your 11 channel speakers naturally responds in the room you can select that curve and calibrate to that.
    I don't think after all that it sounded bad, it actually sounded really good. It's a Revel Ultima series system which is top of the line for them and they are pretty remarkable speakers. We used all Audiocontrol amps and as usual audioquest everything including power cables. Power was Surge X. The room is a fully treated designed room with a star light ceiling all controlled by Lutron and Savant.
    Sony 4k projector and a Screen Innovations back light screen. The screen I'm out on I don't like the stupid back lights it has. Most people love it because you can change it's backlight to many different colors. I think it's stupid and childish as I much prefer our Stewart Filscreens over all the Screen Innovation models.
    With taking an average of 9 positions the channel levels where all over the place depending where I manually SPL'd from. It makes sense but when you sit in the KING SEAT and listen before tweaking, it doesn't sound balanced. I had to fully re level the entire system to make it pleasing. Once I got all the kinks out, I found it to sound really good.
    The time it takes to calibrate the just the audio is hours. I usually can calibrate the entire Theater both audio and video in under 3 hours or so depending if I have placement issues and can correct for them. So this calibration is very time consuming and I think that's what annoyed me the most.
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • rpf65rpf65 Posts: 2,056
    You have much more patience than I have. Either that or you are just one stubborn individual. I guess if I were setting up theaters for a living, on the clock, and adhering to professional standards, as well as personal, I may have preformed that ridiculously long and complicated process.

    Since I’m just like good audio and video, and tend to read instructions before attempting something I’m unfamiliar with, that thing would have went back within 24 hours.
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,404
    I'm not sure it's worth the asking price. It's what I'm struggling with. The End result is good as the overall sound quality is top notch.
    What's really messing with me is the Integra DRX R1.1 receiver. Never have I ever wanted a Integra receiver. I always felt they lacked this or that, the sound quality was always very good but Pioneer Elite IMO always sounded more musical warm and inviting. Now that Onkyo and Pioneer are basically 1 company I'm seeing and hearing Pioneer Elite out of these new Integra DRX models especially the new R1.1.
    The first one I installed just blew me away and I'm really debating on taking one home and moving the Sony.
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
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