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Arcam Diva A85 has no Personality, New Amp Needed!

admin_exported

New member
Aug 10, 2019
2,556
2
0
Hi Guys,

My current set-up is Monitor Audio RS8s connected to Arcam Diva A85 via QED Silver Anniversary Bi-Wire. Music is played through laptop through Musical Fidelity V-Dac - this is connected to Amp with Silver High Breed interconnects.

When I first got the set-up, I was ecstatic, but the more my ears have become used to the sound, the more plain it is becoming. I listen to mainly Hip Hop/RnB which is quite punchy music, so I need an amplifier with a bit of life to it, which isn't going to sound harsh. I don't play music particularly loud, apart from on the odd occasion, so the clarity is what I am most concerned with. However, even at low-levels the Arcam seems to struggle, and the clarity fades with the higher volumes.

I imagine bi-amping would really improve things, but unfortunately I'm not in a financial position to do that at the moment. For that reason I will probably sell on my Arcam Diva A85 for about £250 and then add a bit to that for a power amp upgrade.

So based on the requirements, what amp would people recommend for around £300 second-hand to improve this set-up? I'm not expecting anything massive given the constraints, but would still like to hear people's opinions.

Cheers!
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,637
84
19,770
In a nutshell, it'll almost impossible to improve on the A85 for £300. You'll certainly get a different presentation, finding an amp to gel perfectly with your RS8 could be problematic.

As you mentioned at first you were over the moon, but now it become bland. I think you'll find that the novelty has worn thin...you could probably spend 2,000 pounds on an amp, probably the result will be scarily similar.
 

aliEnRIK

New member
Aug 27, 2008
92
0
0
I agree. I cant see you getting anything better at that price

I had (Well its still boxed somewhere) an A85. I found fitting a decent braided mains cable made quite a difference, as did a mains conditioner (Not a tacima which robs dynamics)

Id also say your silver breeds arnt helping, as they tend to make everything hard and bright sounding

Im not a fan of the QED speaker cable either (Which ive also used with the A85)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Maybe a source with more verve would improve things a bit. Looking to others here for tips, but maybe a Beresford DAC and the aforementioned mains cable upgrade could assist.

Also, what sort of file quality do you use? Perhaps this is where improvements can be found.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
plastic penguin:As you mentioned at first you were over the moon, but now it become bland. I think you'll find that the novelty has worn thin...you could probably spend 2,000 pounds on an amp, probably the result will be scarily similar.This is a joke? Have a look at what type of music the OP likes, and you'll see why Arcam wasn't a good choice to begin with.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
igglebert:Maybe a source with more verve would improve things a bit. Looking to others here for tips, but maybe a Beresford DAC and the aforementioned mains cable upgrade could assist. Also, what sort of file quality do you use? Perhaps this is where improvements can be found.

Don't think the Beresford DAC would be massively different to the Monitor Audio to be honest... minimum files I generally play are 192kbps
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Tarquinh:plastic penguin:As you mentioned at first you were over the moon, but now it become bland. I think you'll find that the novelty has worn thin...you could probably spend 2,000 pounds on an amp, probably the result will be scarily similar.This is a joke? Have a look at what type of music the OP likes, and you'll see why Arcam wasn't a good choice to begin with.

Care to elaboroate :)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
i would change the interconnect and speaker cable first of all for something with no silver in it. QED is bright sounding cable with speakers that have a forward treble.Not a good combination imo. You said you use your laptop for music, i take it your tracks are on the laptop lossless?
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Your fundamental problem is with the core component - in this case your amp. I'd suggest you confront that first and deal with - if you must - ancillary sidelines like cables and mains conditioners later. A thin sliver of icing on a substantial cake.

£300? Secondhand you could do very well indeed - depending on what you're prepared to go for.

If you'd consider going back to the 1970s, then Sansui is a top notch buy. My amp would set you back about £200. Allow another £100 or so for a service. Job done. I've been amazed by how un-1970s it sounds. Heaps of power, punchy, well built, totally musical, loves a driving beat or something softer, never been phased by any music I've played on it from Leftfield to Motorhead, classical to world.

Some of the older Exposure gear would be worth a glance, I was going to say some of Harman Kardon's 1990s amps, but they might not do the RS8s full justice (you need a bit of welly I think).
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Fraz1:i would change the interconnect and speaker cable first of all for something with no silver in it. QED is bright sounding cable with speakers that have a forward treble.Not a good combination imo. You said you use your laptop for music, i take it your tracks are on the laptop lossless?

What cabling/interconnect is better then? Everybody recommended QED for speaker cable to me on here and Silver High Breed for the interconnect on here for me.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
the record spot:Your fundamental problem is with the core component - in this case your amp. I'd suggest you confront that first and deal with - if you must - ancillary sidelines like cables and mains conditioners later. A thin sliver of icing on a substantial cake. £300? Secondhand you could do very well indeed - depending on what you're prepared to go for.If you'd consider going back to the 1970s, then Sansui is a top notch buy. My amp would set you back about £200. Allow another £100 or so for a service. Job done. I've been amazed by how un-1970s it sounds. Heaps of power, punchy, well built, totally musical, loves a driving beat or something softer, never been phased by any music I've played on it from Leftfield to Motorhead, classical to world. Some of the older Exposure gear would be worth a glance, I was going to say some of Harman Kardon's 1990s amps, but they might not do the RS8s full justice (you need a bit of welly I think).

Call me snobbish but I would something a bit more current. I actually had an old Harmon Kardon amp sitting round somewhere, will dig it out and test tomorrow :)
 
T

the record spot

Guest
APatel8:Call me snobbish but I would something a bit more current. I actually had an old Harmon Kardon amp sitting round somewhere, will dig it out and test tomorrow :)

Not snobbish at all. Dismissive perhaps, but you don't know what you're missing if you never try it. More current, plenty out there, just most of it not as good! Happy hunting though!

How about the Audiolab 8000S - you could then get - when funds allow - an 8000P power amp (100w) which will give you a fine bi-amped system. See also Gumtree for good used kit at wallet-friendly prices.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
APatel8:
Fraz1:i would change the interconnect and speaker cable first of all for something with no silver in it. QED is bright sounding cable with speakers that have a forward treble.Not a good combination imo. You said you use your laptop for music, i take it your tracks are on the laptop lossless?

What cabling/interconnect is better then? Everybody recommended QED for speaker cable to me on here and Silver High Breed for the interconnect on here for me.

my dealer told me when buying my MArx6s that one should always use a copper based speaker cable with monitor audios...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
APatel8:
Tarquinh:plastic penguin:As you mentioned at first you were over the moon, but now it become bland. I think you'll find that the novelty has worn thin...you could probably spend 2,000 pounds on an amp, probably the result will be scarily similar.This is a joke? Have a look at what type of music the OP likes, and you'll see why Arcam wasn't a good choice to begin with.

Care to elaboroate :)I'd go along with RS on this. The Audiolab is a good suggestion.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
SonofSun:
APatel8:I listen to mainly Hip Hop/RnB

I think I have isolated the problem.

Thanks.
 

d_a_n1979

New member
Sep 6, 2007
134
0
0
Amp = Very good
Speakers = Also good
Speaker cable - Easily bettered
Source = Can be bettered as well...

IMO the likes of QED Revelation or the Chord Oddyssey 2 speaker cable should be looked at as well as aChord Cobra 3 or Black Rhodium Prelude interconnect

I think you'd also find that a decent budget CDP would better your music as well; the likes of the NAD C545BEE would be spot on.

However; changing your speakers to the M/A RS6's or the RX6's would also greatly improve your system; IMO the 6 speakers were always better than the 8s!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
maxflinn:APatel8:
Fraz1:i would change the interconnect and speaker cable first of all for something with no silver in it. QED is bright sounding cable with speakers that have a forward treble.Not a good combination imo. You said you use your laptop for music, i take it your tracks are on the laptop lossless?

What cabling/interconnect is better then? Everybody recommended QED for speaker cable to me on here and Silver High Breed for the interconnect on here for me.

my dealer told me when buying my MArx6s that one should always use a copper based speaker cable with monitor audios...

Bloomin heck, didn't know that. Which copper cables did he suggest, or do you? Guess I'd have to sell my QED on eBay or something..
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Get some single strand copper core stuff - I use Audioquest Type IV. Bought it years ago (late 1990s) and it's ideal. No need to go mad on this, the issue appears to be your amp, so going mad on anicllary spend at this stage is pointless (and I'd argue it's relatively pointless anyway - see Roger Russell's comments on speaker wire, interconnects, capacitance and so on).
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
d_a_n1979:Amp = Very goodSpeakers = Also goodSpeaker cable - Easily betteredSource = Can be bettered as well...IMO the likes of QED Revelation or the Chord Oddyssey 2 speaker cable should be looked at as well as aChord Cobra 3 or Black Rhodium Prelude interconnectI think you'd also find that a decent budget CDP would better your music as well; the likes of the NAD C545BEE would be spot on.However; changing your speakers to the M/A RS6's or the RX6's would also greatly improve your system; IMO the 6 speakers were always better than the 8s!

Hi,

Agree source could be better, but realistically I am never going to use CDs for my music, I have too many MP3s on my machine.

r.e. the cable, forgive my ignorance, but why are these others better than QED Silver Anniversary... are they copper? I went with the Silver Anniversary on recommendations from ppl here when I asked..
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
the record spot:Get some single strand copper core stuff - I use Audioquest Type IV. Bought it years ago (late 1990s) and it's ideal. No need to go mad on this, the issue appears to be your amp, so going mad on anicllary spend at this stage is pointless (and I'd argue it's relatively pointless anyway - see Roger Russell's comments on speaker wire, interconnects, capacitance and so on).

Ok mate. I will check out your amping recommendations.

Thanks!
 

Sorreltiger

Well-known member
Apr 22, 2008
40
0
18,540
After all the suggestions, the answer is obvious - unless you play lossless files or CDs, your music will inevitably sound lifeless. MP3s, by definition, cut out extremes of frequency and nuance that bring music to life. Fine for music on the go, but not IMHO for serious listening.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
just something my dealer said re. copper cables with MA .. dont know how much truth there is in it though ..
 

airconace

New member
Jul 19, 2010
1
0
0
I would agree that the Arcam is too laid back for the type of music that you are listening to. I've taken delivery today of the NAD C545BEE CDP, replacing a NAD C521i and it very impressive. Interconnects can change the sound, I have both Chord & Van Den Hul cables and the slightly cheaper Chord ones sound better. Speakers are bi-wired with decent speaker cable. You could play around with the cables quite cheaply by buying used ones off Ebay. I have done a lot of experimenting with interconnects on my AV system with impressive results.

System NAD 545BEE, Arcam Alpha 7 amp, Acoustic Energy AE100 SE speakers, Sony ST-SDB900 DAB/FM tuner.

Yes I'm starting to upgrade, before you comment on my system.....
 

aliEnRIK

New member
Aug 27, 2008
92
0
0
APatel8:maxflinn:APatel8:

Fraz1:i would change the interconnect and speaker cable first of all for something with no silver in it. QED is bright sounding cable with speakers that have a forward treble.Not a good combination imo. You said you use your laptop for music, i take it your tracks are on the laptop lossless?

What cabling/interconnect is better then? Everybody recommended QED for speaker cable to me on here and Silver High Breed for the interconnect on here for me.

my dealer told me when buying my MArx6s that one should always use a copper based speaker cable with monitor audios...

Bloomin heck, didn't know that. Which copper cables did he suggest, or do you? Guess I'd have to sell my QED on eBay or something..

Entirely upto you how you go about this. Ive had an A85 so I know for a fact it can be as punchy as hell so long as everythings set right and the source is half decent. I remember it shaking the door in the place I was auditioning it, so its certainly not through lack of power or grunt.

Id recommend at LEAST changing your interconnect (Which I feel is the main problem, especially with you using MA speakers). Buy a van damme interconnect off ebay for about 15 quid (transparent, and van damme cables are used in recording studios)

As I said, a decent mains cable made a hell of a difference to my set up. The stock always made the A85 sound 'flat' to me
 

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