Thinking of getting Arcam SA10

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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Thinking of getting one of these and moving on from my beloved little Marantz m-cr603.

Can anybody tell me about the relative strengths and weaknesses of this amplifier who has one or has experience of it? I know it is supposed to be on the warm side rather than analytical which would suit my musical taste. I tried the Audiolab 6000A for a bit and didn't really like it: I find it sterile and uninvolving. I also had a Marantz pm6006 uk for a bit and that was just meh which was surprising.
I listen to a lot of music across the board from rock, jazz, alt country to classical but hip hop (with the exception of a bit of classic 90s stuff) and metal are not my genres. I'm currently listening to mostly Amazon HD using a newly acquired ifi Zen Blue connected with QED graphite interconnects to my Marantz and I the sound is just dandy, albeit without that aforementioned punch. My current speakers are Elac debut b5 (originals), which I absolutely love and would probably keep but if a new amp gave me the itch there I'd think about upgrading to the Debut Reference dbr62 as I think Elac and Andrew Jones are bloody great.

Any pointers on this amp or other contenders maybe including older Arcam amps would be much appreciated. Thanks guys.
 

abacus

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Sep 24, 2008
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Differences in amps are small if used within their limitations; however in this price bracket how an amp reacts with a set of speakers makes a big difference to the sound, so the only way to be sure is to try the combination before you buy. (If you think you may change your speakers try the amp with these as well or you may find you will be disappointed when you change)

Bill
 

plastic penguin

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Thinking of getting one of these and moving on from my beloved little Marantz m-cr603.

Can anybody tell me about the relative strengths and weaknesses of this amplifier who has one or has experience of it? I know it is supposed to be on the warm side rather than analytical which would suit my musical taste. I tried the Audiolab 6000A for a bit and didn't really like it: I find it sterile and uninvolving. I also had a Marantz pm6006 uk for a bit and that was just meh which was surprising.
I listen to a lot of music across the board from rock, jazz, alt country to classical but hip hop (with the exception of a bit of classic 90s stuff) and metal are not my genres. I'm currently listening to mostly Amazon HD using a newly acquired ifi Zen Blue connected with QED graphite interconnects to my Marantz and I the sound is just dandy, albeit without that aforementioned punch. My current speakers are Elac debut b5 (originals), which I absolutely love and would probably keep but if a new amp gave me the itch there I'd think about upgrading to the Debut Reference dbr62 as I think Elac and Andrew Jones are bloody great.

Any pointers on this amp or other contenders maybe including older Arcam amps would be much appreciated. Thanks guys.
Hiya.

When you say "absolutely love and would probably keep [Elac]", what did you demo them with originally. It could well be the speakers are the issue. Marantz and Audiolab are very good, should sound the part with the right speakers.

I would suggest, as a big Arcam and Marantz fan, if the Marantz doesn't sound right nor will the Arcam -- they're similar in tonal quality.

For Arcam I would go up the scale to a SA20 or the older A39. If you can save your pennies a bit longer look for a Creek Evo 50A. Creek has the attributes of a budget Marantz or Arcam but has more drive and dynamics.
 
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robdmarsh

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Hiya.

When you say "absolutely love and would probably keep [Elac]", what did you demo them with originally. It could well be the speakers are the issue. Marantz and Audiolab are very good, should sound the part with the right speakers.

I would suggest, as a big Arcam and Marantz fan, if the Marantz doesn't sound right nor will the Arcam -- they're similar in tonal quality.

For Arcam I would go up the scale to a SA20 or the older A39. If you can save your pennies a bit longer look for a Creek Evo 50A. Creek has the attributes of a budget Marantz or Arcam but has more drive and dynamics.
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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Sorry, I don't really know how to use this quote function. Anyway thanks for the replies.
I didn't really "demo" the Elacs. I bought them blind after seeing glowing reviews about them online. I paired them with the little Marantz (where they've been since) and was immediately completely taken with the sound. They sounded so much better than half a dozen other speakers I tried and they sound great to this day. I realise it could be a synergy thing with the little Marantz. The Marantz 6006uk had none of the warmth of its little cousin and the Audiolab was just lifeless with these speakers.
I didn't know that Marantz and Arcam were considered to have a similar house sound but if you've had experience with both I'm sure that must be so. It's funny you mentioning Creek because I've read about it online and it sounds like something I might enjoy, apart from it looking great. Cambridge Audio (cxa61) is another brand I've heard, mostly for speaker demos in Hifi stores, and again it left me a bit non-plused.
 

robdmarsh

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2015
92
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Hiya.

When you say "absolutely love and would probably keep [Elac]", what did you demo them with originally. It could well be the speakers are the issue. Marantz and Audiolab are very good, should sound the part with the right speakers.

I would suggest, as a big Arcam and Marantz fan, if the Marantz doesn't sound right nor will the Arcam -- they're similar in tonal quality.

For Arcam I would go up the scale to a SA20 or the older A39. If you can save your pennies a bit longer look for a Creek Evo 50A. Creek has the attributes of a budget Marantz or Arcam but has more drive and dynamics.
Thanks for your reply. When you say go up the scale for Arcam is that because of the greater power output or the benefits of the class G amplifier technology?
 
Thanks for your reply. When you say go up the scale for Arcam is that because of the greater power output or the benefits of the class G amplifier technology?
not too sure of P P's reasoning for this but if you were thinking of upping your budget please note that there are new Creek Evolution 50A amps on eBay from a well known dealer at £899
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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Thanks, £899 is a bit beyond my budget at the moment.
Anyway, going back to Arcam has anyone got the SA10? I did see a thread with rumblings about reliability issues and Arcam. And then other comments along the lines of Arcam"don't really know how to do digital features" on their gear or are not very good with software. I get the impression that on this forum people are a little bit luke warm as far as new Arcam lines are concerned and even the future of the company in general.
 

plastic penguin

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Thanks for your reply. When you say go up the scale for Arcam is that because of the greater power output or the benefits of the class G amplifier technology?
Pretty much the Class G. I heard the SA20 before the pandemic started, when I was looking to replace my old Arcam CDP. Wasn't that impressed. More impressed by the A39 which I heard a couple of years beforehand. Excellent value for money IMO.

Hi-fi is about synergy. I remember a poster from last year (@Al ears may recall) when this person had a old NAD and B&W speakers, who complained about not being warm enough or shrill or something on those lines. Al and I and one or two other suggested try a Rotel amp. Not as warm as the NAD.... anyway he came back astonished how they work so well together and went against his original brief.

Synergy, and not tonal balance, is everything.
 
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plastic penguin

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Pretty much the Class G. I heard the SA20 before the pandemic started, when I was looking to replace my old Arcam CDP. Wasn't that impressed. More impressed by the A39 which I heard a couple of years beforehand. Excellent value for money IMO.

Hi-fi is about synergy. I remember a poster from last year (@Al ears may recall) when this person had a old NAD and B&W speakers, who complained about not being warm enough or shrill or something on those lines. Al and I and one or two other suggested try a Rotel amp. Not as warm as the NAD.... anyway he came back astonished how they work so well together and went against his original brief.

Synergy, and not tonal balance, is everything.
@robdmarsh

When you say you had a "liittle" Marantz, which model was that?
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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It's the Marantz m-cr603, the first in the line-up of 6** all in one products that they have been doing over the last 8 years or so. This one has a metal chassis unlike the new ones which are plastic. I suspect that the sound is also better on the mcr603. It's hard to describe the sound, it's definitely not big but I would say it has "charm", not a strictly audiophile term I know, but the sound it produces with some well-recorded acoustic rock and folk rock material is just wonderful. I've been listening to Father John Misty's I love you, honeybear album and it had me transfixed. Ridiculous really - these things can be had for £120 on eBay. I think people just don't know what they're capable of with a good pair of speakers.

Oh and by the way, I totally get what you're saying about synergy - if anything has synergy then this Marantz and Debut b5 has it in spades. I'm well aware that looking for something similar but only a bigger sound may be difficult to find.
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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It's the Marantz m-cr603, the first in the line-up of 6** all in one products that they have been doing over the last 8 years or so. This one has a metal chassis unlike the new ones which are plastic. I suspect that the sound is also better on the mcr603. It's hard to describe the sound, it's definitely not big but I would say it has "charm", not a strictly audiophile term I know, but the sound it produces with some well-recorded acoustic rock and folk rock material is just wonderful. I've been listening to Father John Misty's I love you, honeybear album and it had me transfixed. Ridiculous really - these things can be had for £120 on eBay. I think people just don't know what they're capable of with a good pair of speakers.

Oh and by the way, I totally get what you're saying about synergy - if anything has synergy then this Marantz and Debut b5 has it in spades. I'm well aware that looking for something similar but only a bigger sound may be difficult to find.
Ah, okay. That explains a lot. Former reviewer/employee of WHFI reviewed this amp on his own system and he was incredibly surprised how good the 603 was. He even played the 603 with PMC GB1i, and stated it doesn't sound out of place on those £1700 PMCs. I've also heard it at Richer Sounds and I was stunned how good it was on budget Q Acoustics.

To better or improve on the amps you've had since the 603, you need to be looking at Creek, Arcam A39 or something along the lines of Roksan K3 or Caspian.... I know these are out of your price bracket but that's how good the 503 is IMHO.
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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Ah, okay. That explains a lot. Former reviewer/employee of WHFI reviewed this amp on his own system and he was incredibly surprised how good the 603 was. He even played the 603 with PMC GB1i, and stated it doesn't sound out of place on those £1700 PMCs. I've also heard it at Richer Sounds and I was stunned how good it was on budget Q Acoustics.

To better or improve on the amps you've had since the 603, you need to be looking at Creek, Arcam A39 or something along the lines of Roksan K3 or Caspian.... I know these are out of your price bracket but that's how good the 503 is IMHO.
Aww, finally someone who gets it and believes me about how good the Marantz mcr603 really was/is.
Now, if we're talking about Roksan, what do you think about the look of the soon to be released Roksan Attessa? Looks gorgeous and if it sounds anything like the way that it looks I don't think £1000 would be OTT price wise.
 

shadders

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Nov 19, 2009
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Hi,
From the internet, the MCR603 is a class D power amplifier stage. In reading th manual, the AUX outputs can be connected to a pre-main amplifier (page 37 of the english manual)

Therefore, you could keep all the functionality of the unit, and purchase a class D power amplifier. Nord implement the Hypex units which get good reviews :


If the Aux-Out is volume controlled, then it is an easy upgrade.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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I am not criticising this product from the excellent iFi company …..but I would never judge ANY equipment based on the ‘lossy’ Bluetooth protocol….🤔
Well the codec that I'm using is LDAC from my phone and actually sounds pretty good. Have you heard how close bluetooth has come to CD sound quality recently through something like this amazing little box of tricks? The engineers have developed this for one purpose and one purpose only so it's bound to sound better than the bluetooth built into most amplifiers. And no, higher than CD quality, dsd, mqa and all those other acronyms whose names I've forgotten are wasted on me, and from what I read, plenty of others too. So if I'm "judging" the performance of a piece of equipment for its real world use in my set up rather than feed it massive sample rates from streamers costing thousands, then I make no apologies for such judgement!
 

robdmarsh

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2015
92
14
10,545
Hi,
From the internet, the MCR603 is a class D power amplifier stage. In reading th manual, the AUX outputs can be connected to a pre-main amplifier (page 37 of the english manual)

Therefore, you could keep all the functionality of the unit, and purchase a class D power amplifier. Nord implement the Hypex units which get good reviews :


If the Aux-Out is volume controlled, then it is an easy upgrade.

Regards,
Shadders.
Thanks for this Shadders. Really interesting!
 

Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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Well the codec that I'm using is LDAC from my phone and actually sounds pretty good. Have you heard how close bluetooth has come to CD sound quality recently through something like this amazing little box of tricks? The engineers have developed this for one purpose and one purpose only so it's bound to sound better than the bluetooth built into most amplifiers. And no, higher than CD quality, dsd, mqa and all those other acronyms whose names I've forgotten are wasted on me, and from what I read, plenty of others too. So if I'm "judging" the performance of a piece of equipment for its real world use in my set up rather than feed it massive sample rates from streamers costing thousands, then I make no apologies for such judgement!
Whilst LDAC is the best of the lossy Bluetooth codes, it is still only maximum 990 Kbps and usually falls back to 660 Kbps for stability. This is nowhere near even CD quality at 1411 Kbps. Until we get proper lossless Bluetooth it is still a compromise on sound quality. You don’t need streamers costing thousands and ‘massive sample rates’ … just plug in your phone or iPad to hear the difference at even CD quality … or use Airplay or Chromecast.
 

abacus

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Sep 24, 2008
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I don’t know how anyone who has actually listened to equipment could say this………🙄
Everybody that listens and has a basic understanding of electronics, instead of believing it’s all to do with magic that cannot be explained; also taking a quote out of context is unbecoming.

Bill
 

MUSICRAFT

Well-known member
other contenders
Fir a modest sum of around £250 - £350 look at the used market for Rotel's RA-1062 integrated amplifier. The RA-1062’s overall tonality combined with it’s high current capability and one which is working to its full intended specification will grip, drive and energise your Elac Debut b5 speakers far more effectively and offer better stability at almost any comparable level and thereby enhance the traits such as punch, attack, etc.

The RA-1062 is a high current amplifier which was partly designed around and to power the resistive speakers such as 801’s. Therefore in comparison your existing Elac Debut b5's and future speakers such as the Debut Reference dbr62'will be a walk in the park for an RA-1062.
 
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Tinman1952

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Everybody that listens and has a basic understanding of electronics, instead of believing it’s all to do with magic that cannot be explained; also taking a quote out of context is unbecoming.

Bill
Well firstly the quote was not ‘out of context’. Secondly almost everyone on this forum agrees that amplifiers sound different….and not just because of impedance matching.
A basic knowledge of electronics does not qualify anyone to make generalised comments that are nonsense. You certainly do not know enough about human auditory systems to make such judgements….and it’s not magic… (a lazy argument).
 

robdmarsh

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2015
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Whilst LDAC is the best of the lossy Bluetooth codes, it is still only maximum 990 Kbps and usually falls back to 660 Kbps for stability. This is nowhere near even CD quality at 1411 Kbps. Until we get proper lossless Bluetooth it is still a compromise on sound quality. You don’t need streamers costing thousands and ‘massive sample rates’ … just plug in your phone or iPad to hear the difference at even CD quality … or use Airplay or Chromecast.
OK fair point, I defer to your superior knowledge about bit rates. I would use wifi but I have Amazon music unlimited and this was not supported by my old Yamaha streamer and I have a PC so I don't think I can use Airplay either. I was using iTunes with Airplay and the ifi Zen Blue sounds so much better than that but that was only 320kbps. But I'm hearing plenty of detail with LDAC so I'll probably carry on using it.

By the way, which of your speakers would you choose if you had to choose one: the Wharfedale evo 4.2 or the Dynaudio emit 10? I'm drawn to the Emit 20 but they can't be found anywhere (the previous model I mean).
 

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