• If you ever spot Spam (either in the forums, or received via forum direct message) please use the Report button at the bottom of each post to make sure a Moderator can handle it quickly. Thanks for your help in keeping things running smoothly!

Arcam Alpha 8 in 2019

The Darker Wave

Well-known member
Oct 18, 2014
17
4
10,525
Hi guys. I currently run an old Arcam Alpha 8 set up. It sounds pretty good to my ears but I'm wondering how it actually compares with modern systems and if I should look at upgrading at some point in the (near) future? Does this kit still hold it's own in 2019?

My full set up is:

iTunes library steaming to an Apple TV 3
Optical out to Arcam irDAC
Arcam Alpha 8
Arcam Alpha 8P
PMC DB1i (bi-amped)
Audioquest SLiP 14/4 speaker cable
Atlas Element Integra Interconnects

I also own an Arcam Alpha 7 CD player but it's currently not connected up.

I appreciate that the iTunes source is not ideal and I'm toying with getting Roon and an Allo DigiOne Signature to act as an endpoint. Though slightly worried that my system might need upgrading the hear the difference (I couldn't really tell the difference between my iTunes library and the Alpha7 CD player - hence why it's currently not connected up).
 

emcc_3

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2008
59
11
18,545
Best thing to do is go to a local hifi shop and demo some set-ups and tell for yourself whether you like the difference between your older system and newer equipment.

Good start is probably the newer Arcams and go from there. If you think the newer stuff is a significant improvement then set a budget for components and shortlist amps, speakers etc.. in that range.

Newer isn't always better though.
 

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
780
178
19,070
Best thing to do is go to a local hifi shop and demo some set-ups and tell for yourself whether you like the difference between your older system and newer equipment.

Good start is probably the newer Arcams and go from there. If you think the newer stuff is a significant improvement then set a budget for components and shortlist amps, speakers etc.. in that range.

Newer isn't always better though.
I'd agree with the newer emcc that newer isn't always better, and actually extend it to say: in some cases newer may be better, but the improvement isn't worth the cost.

I've still got my trust Arcam A85 as my stereo amp and I'm not going to replace it as I still love how it is, and plenty of people love the Alpha8/8P combo. And PMC DB1i are great speakers.

Your iTunes library: is that downloaded or self-ripped music, and what quality - i.e. is it lossless?
I've ripped my CDs to a local NAS lossless and the quality is excellent...
 

The Darker Wave

Well-known member
Oct 18, 2014
17
4
10,525
Cheers guys :)

Solid advice for auditioning some new kit. Just don't want to waste anyone's time (myself included) if my gear still holds it's own without spending megabucks. Though it would be interesting to see / hear what's out there at the moment. Though I always find speaker pairing so divisive when demoing kit.

One option that is appealing is to upgrade to an Alpha 10 / 10P on the used market. For no to other reason than I've always lusted after to Alpha 10's.

My iTubes library is a bit of a mixed bag tbh. Most of it is self-ripped from CD originals to lossless AAC. However there are some downloaded MP3s and AIFF files in there too.

I was toying with putting Roon on a Synology NAS and building up a FLAC library.
 
You’ll find the Alpha 10 to sound a little different to the Alpha 8 stuff. Rather than a nice, easy going warm sound, the 10 models were far more neutral, ideal with the right speakers, but didn’t suit all.

Also, I think a lone Alpha 10 integrated amp will be ample for the DB1i speakers.
 

bigfish786

Moderator
Jan 29, 2013
270
87
18,970
I had the old Arcam alpha CD player, then had 2 newer Arcam DVD players on dual duties.
The alpha was a much better sounding player. I regret giving it away.
I also had the Arcam A70 amp and P85 power amp. All good sounding stuff.

I’m now using Marantz gear, and very happy with it too.
If you can, give marantz a go/demo.
 
Last edited:

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,732
149
19,870
Given the OP doesn't seem to have a turntable, I would seriously look at Creek Evo 50 or 100, depending on budget.

If he is looking for something with similar tonal qualities then NAD should fit the bill.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Al ears

JamesOK

Well-known member
May 24, 2008
86
4
18,545
Hi guys. I currently run an old Arcam Alpha 8 set up. It sounds pretty good to my ears but I'm wondering how it actually compares with modern systems and if I should look at upgrading at some point in the (near) future? Does this kit still hold it's own in 2019?

My full set up is:

iTunes library steaming to an Apple TV 3
Optical out to Arcam irDAC
Arcam Alpha 8
Arcam Alpha 8P
PMC DB1i (bi-amped)
Audioquest SLiP 14/4 speaker cable
Atlas Element Integra Interconnects

I also own an Arcam Alpha 7 CD player but it's currently not connected up.

I appreciate that the iTunes source is not ideal and I'm toying with getting Roon and an Allo DigiOne Signature to act as an endpoint. Though slightly worried that my system might need upgrading the hear the difference (I couldn't really tell the difference between my iTunes library and the Alpha7 CD player - hence why it's currently not connected up).
Definitely worth going to demo something different as others have said. I had Arcam Alpha 8, then an A85 for a bit. But (several years ago) I went along Audio T to see what else was out there, and realised compared with other kit I found the Arcam stuff a bit too warm and treacly. In the end I changed everything up for a Cyrus setup, which I am now very happy with.

Go and have a demo!
 

Rapscallion

Active member
Nov 14, 2019
8
4
25
Hi guys. I currently run an old Arcam Alpha 8 set up. It sounds pretty good to my ears but I'm wondering how it actually compares with modern systems and if I should look at upgrading at some point in the (near) future? Does this kit still hold it's own in 2019?

My full set up is:

iTunes library steaming to an Apple TV 3
Optical out to Arcam irDAC
Arcam Alpha 8
Arcam Alpha 8P
PMC DB1i (bi-amped)
Audioquest SLiP 14/4 speaker cable
Atlas Element Integra Interconnects

I also own an Arcam Alpha 7 CD player but it's currently not connected up.

I appreciate that the iTunes source is not ideal and I'm toying with getting Roon and an Allo DigiOne Signature to act as an endpoint. Though slightly worried that my system might need upgrading the hear the difference (I couldn't really tell the difference between my iTunes library and the Alpha7 CD player - hence why it's currently not connected up).
No do not try to upgrade.
Just replace all the electrolytics and clean out the possible dust and dead insects.
Arcam is quality stuff especially the old amps.
I think bi-amps only work with active filters...the only benefit is that you have halved your cable runs ohmage.
 

Chas_N_Dave

Active member
Apr 14, 2020
4
2
25
You may find that a refurbished higher end amp gives you a nice bump in sound quality. I've recently upgraded my system from a Naim Nait 3, with Q35 speakers and Arcam Alpha 8se CD player (bought new, 25+ years ago). I spent a long time listening to music through wireless, so never upgraded. Now with with more space and more time, I've started getting back into listening to albums, and bought a Naim pre/power system and some new speakers.

As there was nothing wrong with the amp, I lent it to a friend whose Arcam Alpha 8 integrated amp needed repair. They found a marked improvement in the sound and as friends are often prone to do, I let them keep the amp. I'm not trying to sing the praises of Naim, I personally really like the sound from their system, but I listened the NAD M12/22 and Cyrus Mono amps, along with several different sets of speakers, to get the sound that appealed most to me.

Although I purchase a reasonably expensive setup, it's no less important to listen at a store, whatever the cost of what your buying. In fact it may be more important when your on a tighter budget. I'd even recommend taking your current amp and speakers along with you if you can, as you may find the improvement in sound you're looking for with just a new set of speakers, or an amp that makes your speakers sing. Taking a friend can help too, as another person's input can really help. Also don't be afraid of refurbishments, just make sure you're paying a decent price and the company that did the refurbish is reputable and gives a guarantee on their work. Remember if you do buy a refurbished amp, then check that it has the connections you want (digital, optical, etc). Whatever you decide to do, don't buy something just because you think your equipment is old, or looks tired.

I wanted to add that although I can airplay directly to my system, I don't due to the bitrate limitation with streaming from iTunes, I have my PC connected to the pre-amp via an optical cable, and avoid the streaming limitation. I'm not sure if a direct optical, or digital coaxial connection is possible with your set up, as I do not have Apple TV, but if it is I am sure that you would notice a huge difference, even using a modestly priced cable.

I'm new to this forum, so hopefully I haven't rambled on too long, made my reply purely into a set of dos and don'ts, or said something previously mentioned.

Good Luck.

Edit
Forgot to mention that I have an Arcam Alpha 8se CD player and in my new system it more than holds its own. I have it connected using analogue RCA currently, and comparing the sound of albums that I have on iTunes and CD, they are virtually indistinguishable, if anything the CD player is a little more palatable to the ears. That's iTunes through optical cable, not via airplay. I've even started buying CDs again.
 
Last edited:

SteveH72

Well-known member
Feb 25, 2020
57
36
70
It’s all down to personal preferences. I’m a big fan of older kit, especially Arcam. The trend with modern kit seems to be detail and resolution; the same with televisions. However, this doesn’t necessarily make them better or more musical. Plug a Marantz CD 63 mk II K.I. into an Arcam amplifier through Quad speakers and you can listen all day. This kit was just so musical.
 

knaithrover

Moderator
Nov 24, 2013
190
74
18,670
I'd agree with the newer emcc that newer isn't always better, and actually extend it to say: in some cases newer may be better, but the improvement isn't worth the cost.

I've still got my trust Arcam A85 as my stereo amp and I'm not going to replace it as I still love how it is, and plenty of people love the Alpha8/8P combo. And PMC DB1i are great speakers.

Your iTunes library: is that downloaded or self-ripped music, and what quality - i.e. is it lossless?
I've ripped my CDs to a local NAS lossless and the quality is excellent...
Agree the A85 is very very good, wish I still had mine
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts