Arcam FMJ A19 Vs. Cambridge Audio CXA60

marweb

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Aug 26, 2015
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I'm retiring my old Denon D-M30 / Mission SC-M50 music system (it served me well when money was tight) and want to buy quality components over time, starting with an integrated stereo amplifier and speakers. For now I'll hold fire on other components and continue to use my Squeezebox2 and Project Essential 2 with Cambridge Audio 551P preamp.

The room, which is primarily used for listening to music, is a tad under 4 x 4 M and 2.4 M high. I'll use stands ... but there's not that much room, so they're not going to be placed that far from the walls. I listen to a wide range of music: rock, electronica, country, blues, jazz, folk, classical, opera and so on.

I've set a loose budget of £1,000, but getting the correct pairing is more important. I'd appreciate some help selecting some items to audition.

So, for starters, after reading various reviews and forums I have honed in on the Arcam FMJ A19 and Cambridge Audio CXA60 (but am open to other suggestions.) Although the FMJ A19 costs more, it has a phono stage. Then again, the CXA60 has digital inputs.

For pairing I was considering B&W 685 S2s. However, after reading and listening to some videos I think I may enjoy the sound of KEF LS50s or Focal Aria 906s. Now these would blow my budget, but I'd rather wait and make use of some old Bang and Olufsen Beovox S80 until I can afford the right speakers.

My next upgrade is most likely to be a new turntable (Pro-ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB) and later a network music player to replace the ageing Squeezebox. Choice of amp may have a bearing on this and CD player. The Marantz CD6005 looks like a popular choice unless I go all for Cambridge Audio and use their CXC.

So, what amp and speaker should I pair for audition? Although listening to YouTube videos doesn't carry too much weight, I thought the B&W 685 S2s and Dali Ikon 1Mk2s lacked the clarity of the KEF and Focal.
 

CnoEvil

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Other Amps to consider might be Rega Brio R, Creek Evo 50A, Peachtree Deco 65 and possibly Croft Integrated.

On the speaker front, I was very impressed with the Q Acoustics Concept 20s.
 

Andrewjvt

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Jun 18, 2014
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If was between the 2 amps you originally looked at id choose the cambridge as it has all the digital connections.

But id go into a deler and listen first as the sq is most important. You can always add a dac later

Kef r300 are very good speakers also.
If i was to choose the ls50s id get a musical sub to go with it.
 
Andrewjvt said:
If was between the 2 amps you originally looked at id choose the cambridge as it has all the digital connections.

But id go into a deler and listen first as the sq is most important. You can always add a dac later

Kef r300 are very good speakers also. If i was to choose the ls50s id get a musical sub to go with it.

This'll boil down to the OPs listening habits. If he has long listening sessions (hour plus at a time), Arcam are superb with this. But if it is only short sessions the Cambridge has more immediacy...

Two different amps...
 

rainsoothe

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Apr 30, 2012
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I have the Arcam A19 + Focal Aria 906 combo, and I fall inlove with it over and over everytime I turn it on. You should let your ears decide, so audition if you can. Go Arcam for a warmer sound, and CA for more clinical. But the Arcam + Focals give a huge soundstage, with good focus and more then enough detail - I love it to bits - just make sure your source isn't on the warm side as well - I have mine paired with Naim Dac V1, but for a cheap alternative, look at Micromega Mydac (or, for more expensive alternative, Audiolab M-Dac or Chord Qute HD), or CA CXN (Cambridge Audio's Streamer).
 

marweb

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Aug 26, 2015
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Thanks for your replies, I am grateful. There aren't that many hifi specialist nearby with the right "mix", so I'm going to first arrange the following auditions. Depending on the outcome I may travel further to audition others including the LS50s.
* Focal Aria 906 * DALI Ikon 1Mk2 * Q Acoustics Concept 20 * Roksan Kandy K2 TR-5 * Cambridge Audio CXA60 * Arcam FMJ A19 I tend to have listening sessions in excess of an hour as a minimum, so thanks for the tio about the FJM A19. PS. Can't seem to format tect in this forum, sorry.
 

matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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If you want an amp that you can listen to for long sessions the Rega Brio-R fits the bill perfectly. I can't praise it highly enough.

You could also look at the Quad Vena.
 

rainsoothe

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Apr 30, 2012
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marweb said:
Thanks for your replies, I am grateful. There aren't that many hifi specialist nearby with the right "mix", so I'm going to first arrange the following auditions. Depending on the outcome I may travel further to audition others including the LS50s.

* Focal Aria 906 
 
* DALI Ikon 1Mk2 
 
* Q Acoustics Concept 20 
* Roksan Kandy K2 TR-5 
* Cambridge Audio CXA60 
 
* Arcam FMJ A19 
 
I tend to have listening sessions in excess of an hour as a minimum, so thanks for the tio about the FJM A19. PS. Can't seem to format tect in this forum, sorry.

That's a nice looking list. The Q Acoustics Concept 20 should be a nice match for CA and also the afforesuggestioned Quad Vena.
 

Andrewjvt

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Jun 18, 2014
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What you think after you have arranged the demo.
Dont let the hifi dealer pressure you into a quick purchase as many people demo for a long time before making a decision.
 

marweb

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Aug 26, 2015
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I have sent my list and the dealer can't do everything, but can do both amps with the Focals and Q Accoustics. Has also suggested KEF Q300 and thinks I should hear the CXA80 too.

Hopefully, I'll demo in the next fortnight. I'll report back.
 

marweb

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I had my first weekend free for a long time, so arranged auditions of the following amp and speaker combination.

Roksan Kandy K2 BT
Quad Vena
Arcam FMJ A19

Quad S2
Dali Zensor 3
Dali Zensor 5
Dali Zensor 7

I started with the Kandy and the Quad's. I found this combo a little neutral and unexciting, so tried the Zensor 3s before moving onto the Vena. Although I enjoyed the sound from both amps, I thought the Vena lacked detail. I also decided that the stand mounts were lacking and wanted to hear a floor standing speaker. So, out came the 5s. Although an improvement the Vena was a dissapointment.

Next up, the A19. Wow! The clarity and breadth was supurb. I really enjoyed the sound and the Zensor 5s were a good match. That is, until I put on a little Zeppelin. The 5s didn't deliver in the lower frequencies; it was a little muddy. Although I wasn't keen on floor standers at first, I thought "what the heck" and moved onto the Zensor 7. Definitely a much better match for the A19, and I found myself getting lost in the music. Although the bass was still a little inprecise at times, I still think for all rounders these are very good indeed. Zensor floor standers aren't an in-your-face design, so there's at least a 50:50 chance "the other half" may accept them into the home.

Finally, I decided to try the K2 again. Although pleasant, this amp isn't that lively, so mow I am sure the A19 is my front-runner. I still want to hear the Cambridge CXA60 and possibly the Rega Brio-R (both elsewhere.) However, I am returning to this dealer with some CDs and vinyl to spend more time with the A19 and Zensors.

I'll report back in a few weeks ... I'm taking my time with this decision.
 

iceman16

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Feb 8, 2011
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marweb said:
I had my first weekend free for a long time, so arranged auditions of the following amp and speaker combination.

Roksan Kandy K2 BTQuad VenaArcam FMJ A19

Quad S2Dali Zensor 3Dali Zensor 5Dali Zensor 7

I started with the Kandy and the Quad's. I found this combo a little neutral and unexciting, so tried the Zensor 3s before moving onto the Vena. Although I enjoyed the sound from both amps, I thought the Vena lacked detail. I also decided that the stand mounts were lacking and wanted to hear a floor standing speaker. So, out came the 5s. Although an improvement the Vena was a dissapointment.

Next up, the A19. Wow! The clarity and breadth was supurb. I really enjoyed the sound and the Zensor 5s were a good match. That is, until I put on a little Zeppelin. The 5s didn't deliver in the lower frequencies; it was a little muddy. Although I wasn't keen on floor standers at first, I thought "what the heck" and moved onto the Zensor 7. Definitely a much better match for the A19, and I found myself getting lost in the music. Although the bass was still a little inprecise at times, I still think for all rounders these are very good indeed. Zensor floor standers aren't an in-your-face design, so there's at least a 50:50 chance "the other half" may accept them into the home.

Finally, I decided to try the K2 again. Although pleasant, this amp isn't that lively, so mow I am sure the A19 is my front-runner. I still want to hear the Cambridge CXA60 and possibly the Rega Brio-R (both elsewhere.) However, I am returning to this dealer with some CDs and vinyl to spend more time with the A19 and Zensors.

I'll report back in a few weeks ... I'm taking my time with this decision.

For a little more money try to listen to the Arcam A29...IME more power does'nt mean better sound quaility. And Im not a fan of Roksan despite it has more power...
 

Blacksabbath25

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Sep 20, 2015
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if it was me i would go for the arcam a32 -39 as the arcam a29 sounds a bit flat and basic but the cambridge is miles better then the a29 in my book but some will disagree with me
 

iceman16

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Feb 8, 2011
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Blacksabbath25 said:
if it was me i would go for the arcam a32 -39 as the arcam a29 sounds a bit flat and basic but the cambridge is miles better then the a29 in my book but some will disagree with me

Arcam A29 flat and basic?
 

marweb

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Aug 26, 2015
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Thanks for the recommendations, but I've already narrowed down my choices to suit my listenening room and music tastes. The A29 is way over my budget and I'm not going to buy anything I cannot audition first, so second hand is unlikely.

Mark: Thanks for the heads-up. Fortunately the audition was in a room very similar to that at home. The major difference is the solid floor: I have 80 year timber (hard) on joists. What I liked about the Zensor 7s was that they didn't seem too fussy about space and sounded good fairly close to the wall. I'm not positioning them in corners.

However, when I come to making a deal I'll discuss the returns policy in case they don't perform as expected. That said, I've still got more amps / speakers to audition. I still what to hear the Aria 906, but they are proving hard to find in the Midlands.
 

marweb

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Aug 26, 2015
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4,520
Well, I eventually settled for the Arcam FMJ A19 and the Dali Zensor 7s. What can I say? Through the whole process of auditions I learned that choosing hifi components is a very personal matter. And, I love the combination of these items.

They're well matched and work really suit my listening room: (4 x 4 x 2.6)m. Being front ported, the Dali's don't seem too fussy about position. I've givem them about 6" albeit there's a wall-to-wall bookcase behind them. No toe in necessary. I could talk about soundstage, mid range, bass etc. But, what really matters is that I get totally absorbed in the music and have started to discover detail I'd previously missed out on.

After auditioning with various CD players I was concerned that my current equipment may sound a little flat, especially after hooking up a Roksan K2 CD player which was a real joy. But that's not the case.

So, thanks for the input and suggestions. I'm very happy with my choices. No doubt I'll be back for some advice on CD players / transport and / or a DAC / network streamer.
 

iceman16

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2011
244
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marweb said:
Well, I eventually settled for the Arcam FMJ A19 and the Dali Zensor 7s. What can I say? Through the whole process of auditions I learned that choosing hifi components is a very personal matter. And, I love the combination of these items.

They're well matched and work really suit my listening room: (4 x 4 x 2.6)m. Being front ported, the Dali's don't seem too fussy about position. I've givem them about 6" albeit there's a wall-to-wall bookcase behind them. No toe in necessary. I could talk about soundstage, mid range, bass etc. But, what really matters is that I get totally absorbed in the music and have started to discover detail I'd previously missed out on.

After auditioning with various CD players I was concerned that my current equipment may sound a little flat, especially after hooking up a Roksan K2 CD player which was a real joy. But that's not the case.

So, thanks for the input and suggestions. I'm very happy with my choices. No doubt I'll be back for some advice on CD players / transport and / or a DAC / network streamer.

*drinks*
 

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