A18 owners - anyone out there?


New member
Aug 10, 2019
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I have an A18, Lektor 2 speakers and various sources - though the main one I use is a Squeezebox Classic which plays a variety of stuff from lossless rips to 320mp3s from Spotify or elsewhere.

The volume runs from 0-72 on this amp. While I admittedly like my music louder than average, I find that I'm constantly around the 60 mark to get significant volume. And by significant I mean quite loud (v.difficult to quantify) - not deafening but you certainly couldn't talk to someone at the same time.

The SB is fixed at 100% volume so this isn't the issue. Plus I've done a direct comparison with a different CD source on exactly the same track. Cables etc are also fine.

Can I ask a few questions:
1) With your A18, what sources do you use?
2) What are your speakers and their db rating?
3) And most importantly, what's the max you put your amp at - ie when you're listening 'loud'?

Appreciate the help. Not sure if I've got a duff A18 or, in fact, whether I'm just in the camp of liking my music a lot louder than most...

I've not owned a A18 but am I right in thinking it is only rated at 50 watts per channel? Looking at the specs of your Dalis they are only 85db. I know from Arcams I have owned they need a speaker that's a little easier to drive - personally wouldn't be looking at a speaker below 87-88db absolute minimum. I know that is marginal but I think that's the tipping point for lower powered Arcams. For best results, to my ears, I'd be looking out for 90-91db, or perhaps adding a power amp which will give a little extra pep.

If you're looking at changing altogether, then Marantz maybe a better option, Rotel (RA-04 & 05 is only 40 watts but are a powerful sounding amp), S/h Arcam A85, Creek Evo, Roksan Kandy LIII...

I've said many times on here that entry-level Arcams are wonderful little amps at low to medium volumes, but lose it a little when cranked up.

Edit - Just a quick thought: If you have a pair of headphones, see if they give an improvement with volume over the speakers.

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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agree with pp, if you like to listen loud you need more power. i'd say if it is too loud to talk over, you are feeding your speakers some distortion, a distorted sound seems louder then a clean sound, and this will eventually kill your speakers. my experience is when you have a powerful enough amp, you can play loud enough to rattle the room and still speak to someone.

or get some more sensitive speakers.


Well-known member
I have owned an A18. Firstly, the volume control is a good quality one with fairly low gain so that more of the control is useable. This will be contributing to the feeling that you have to really turn the amp up .

However, you have hit upon the amp's main problem. It is a bit gutless and it doesn't really grip speakers very well. I initially used it with B&W 686s which are hard to drive at 85dB and it just couldn't keep control of them at all. The bass was all over the place and although this can be a trait of the 686s they were controlled far more convincingly by a Rotel RA04SE. It worked better with some much more sensitive KEF iQ10s and KEF Q300s, but even then I didn't feel like it was getting the best out of the speakers.

I actually think my current Marantz amp is a far more useful piece of kit. It drives a wide range of speakers with ease and is more dynamic than the Arcam whilst maintaining some element of warmth and depth to its sound. I've used the Marantz with Lektor 2s in the past and it is a superb combination. The Lektor 2s aren't a particularly hard speaker to drive despite their low sensitivity.

For me, Arcam are at their best in their higher models like the extraordinary A38. Their entry level product is (mostly) average at best.

One thing you could do is buy an Arcam power amp and use the A18 as a pre (you can't bi-amp the Lektor 2s as they only have one set of terminals) or, if you like the Arcam sound, consider stepping up to an A28 OR look for a used A32.

The Lektor 2s are very capable speakers and will thrive on the better amplification.


Thanks for these replies. It really does confirm what I suspected - that the amp is the source of my problem. (though I'm slightly confused as to whether 87dB+ speakers would solve this issue.

I've got a depth problem with the shelf for the amp hence the choice. The A28 fits this requirement so that may be my next stage. Though I'm going to have to find somewhere that will let me trial one as I'm not gambling again.

At least I didn't buy new...

ps sadly no response from Arcam - bit disappointing that - after their much-praised customer service.


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