Upgrading Arcam A19 sound

Rmc696

Member
May 7, 2021
3
0
20
I have just purchased some Dali Opticon 6 MK2 speakers and am looking to upgrade my Arcam A19 amplifier. I am considering the Cambridge AX81, but could I just add an external DAC instead?
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
679
294
19,270
I have just purchased some Dali Opticon 6 MK2 speakers and am looking to upgrade my Arcam A19 amplifier. I am considering the Cambridge AX81, but could I just add an external DAC instead?
Hi. You're considering a DAC in addition to the A19 vs the CA with it's integrated DAC?

Also, what's your source?
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
948
602
19,770
Source is a Project Carbon turntable and Cambridge CXN (V1)
I think the DAC in the CXN should be fine for your system. But if you want to try one, get a new Cambridge DAC Magic 200M on home trial from Richer Sounds. It would make sense in the context of your system.

Otherwise, look for a used Arcam A39 on eBay, preferably from a dealer.

All that said, I’m not really sure what you are seeking to improve, or what is lacking with your new speakers
 
Last edited:

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,976
288
20,070
I have just purchased some Dali Opticon 6 MK2 speakers and am looking to upgrade my Arcam A19 amplifier. I am considering the Cambridge AX81, but could I just add an external DAC instead?
My instinct would be to go for a Arcam A39, as mentioned by @nopiano . It's an excellent amp and will be a very decent upgrade to the A19. And the added bonus is its phono stage. It doesn't have a Dac built-in so you'll need to budget for something like a Arcam iirDac.

In terms of synergy, my hunch is It's a better match than the Cambridge.

Alternatively, I'd also look at a Creek Evo 100A, but you'll have to factor in a phono stage and Dac.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
679
294
19,270
My instinct would be to go for a Arcam A39, as mentioned by @nopiano . It's an excellent amp and will be a very decent upgrade to the A19. And the added bonus is its phono stage. It doesn't have a Dac built-in so you'll need to budget for something like a Arcam iirDac.

In terms of synergy, my hunch is It's a better match than the Cambridge.

Alternatively, I'd also look at a Creek Evo 100A, but you'll have to factor in a phono stage and Dac.
I also think an amp upgrade would be beneficial, and the CXA81 is not it, imo, just a sideways move. I'd also audition Naim's Nait XS3 and Musical Fidelity M5si. The CXN has a decent dac, imo, and only a similar expenditure would be a real upgrade, and atm I think an amp brings more to the table.

Also, I think the A19 is a great amp at it's price level.
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
211
93
370
CA's CXA81 is a (very) capable amplifier for the cost. I did briefly try it when I considered an Audiolab 6000a. It sounded powerful and controlled. However, at the time I preferred the CXA61 over both the others, just, because it sounded slightly warmer, a result of less control over upper bass due to a lesser power supply.

With a floor stander I would imagine the 81 to excell over the other two though the Audiolab would likely not be far behind. Terrific bass for a small amp but does not quite have the mid range solidity of the other two.

The Audiolab was the best built/looking by some margin and has superb features. A bargain.

I never thought much of older (pre class G) Arcam's but the newer ones sounded good at the Bristol.

As an alternative may I suggest a s/h Hegel H90 if you can get your hands on one. - Imho better than any of the above and it will work with most speakers regardless of sound or impedance difficulty. £900 should get you a mint one. Because its only a few years old you should not have any issues for a long time and may even have some manufacturer/dealer warranty left if you are lucky. Good DAC's and subjectively looks high end in the flesh. Certainly more so than the others. Don't let the 60w power rating put you off. The H90's power supply is bigger than some amplifiers twice the rating and it sounds it.

It would be my pick at the price.
 
Last edited:

muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
333
88
10,970
I don't know too much about add on DACs. What would you recommend?
Firstly I'm not sure exactly vwhat you want it for, but this unit (which I haven't heard but is getting rave reviews around the net) covers a multitude of bases at not silly money
 

amormusic

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2016
238
135
10,970
It's already been said above, but to echo...

Forget about a DAC your CXN is great in its own right. If you like the A19 go up the range.

I've previously owned the A29, A39 and a CXN.

Skip on past the A29, they are prone to issues with the rails. The A39, for the money is a beast of an amp and is an almighty jump up from what you've got at the moment. I loved mine and it saw off plenty of competition...

Expect to pay in the region of £550-£650 for a good example. Also, if you pick one up, ask the seller if they have proof of purchase or warranty details - the FMJ's have a 5 year no quibble transferable warranty which you can take advantage of.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,976
288
20,070
I also think an amp upgrade would be beneficial, and the CXA81 is not it, imo, just a sideways move. I'd also audition Naim's Nait XS3 and Musical Fidelity M5si. The CXN has a decent dac, imo, and only a similar expenditure would be a real upgrade, and atm I think an amp brings more to the table.

Also, I think the A19 is a great amp at it's price level.
I think the Naim XS3 would be a step too far. Heard earlier Naim XSs and they require smooth speakers to hear them without the eardrums exploding.

IMO Arcam and Creek are the best match for Dalis on a budget.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,976
288
20,070
It's already been said above, but to echo...

Forget about a DAC your CXN is great in its own right. If you like the A19 go up the range.

I've previously owned the A29, A39 and a CXN.

Skip on past the A29, they are prone to issues with the rails. The A39, for the money is a beast of an amp and is an almighty jump up from what you've got at the moment. I loved mine and it saw off plenty of competition...

Expect to pay in the region of £550-£650 for a good example. Also, if you pick one up, ask the seller if they have proof of purchase or warranty details - the FMJ's have a 5 year no quibble transferable warranty which you can take advantage of.
Agreed: if it wasn't for the Leema I would have the A39 at the top of my short list.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
679
294
19,270
I think the Naim XS3 would be a step too far. Heard earlier Naim XSs and they require smooth speakers to hear them without the eardrums exploding.

IMO Arcam and Creek are the best match for Dalis on a budget.
Never heard a Dali that wasn't smooth, but also like Arcam and Creek ( Evo 2 and Destiny, don't care much for the Evo 50, though, sounded a bit gutless to me, haven't heard the 100).
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,976
288
20,070
Never heard a Dali that wasn't smooth, but also like Arcam and Creek ( Evo 2 and Destiny, don't care much for the Evo 50, though, sounded a bit gutless to me, haven't heard the 100).
Fair play.

Do you remember JoelSim? He had a Arcam A85 with a P85 powering his Ikon 6 and loved it. Currently @Blacksabbath25 has a Yammy powering his Rubicon 8. Although not a bright speaker Dali seem to prefer a more considered presentation.
 

Blacksabbath25

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2015
309
85
10,970
I would not put a Cambridge amp with Dali speakers i had a demo on a Cambridge flagship Pre - and power amp and i felt it sounded dull .
Do not get me wrong the Cambridge amps are capable but just not on a sonic level and not to get the very best out of the Dali opticons .
Amps you want to look at are Yamaha , Arcam A39 upwards , Hegel , Luxman if you get the combination right you will no .
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
679
294
19,270
Fair play.

Do you remember JoelSim? He had a Arcam A85 with a P85 powering his Ikon 6 and loved it. Currently @Blacksabbath25 has a Yammy powering his Rubicon 8. Although not a bright speaker Dali seem to prefer a more considered presentation.
Yeah, sorry about my lazy wording there, what I meant was that I was also a fan of the Arcam suggestion. But having Naim on the list is never a bad thing, imo.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
679
294
19,270
To the OP, if you thought you'd come out of this with a clear idea ... 😁
Hahaha, you're right, but at the same time, the only clear idea that can come out of this is that everyone's hearing and preferences are different, and auditioning yourself is the only way to know.

Make a shortlist, take your time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RoA

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,976
288
20,070
I would not put a Cambridge amp with Dali speakers i had a demo on a Cambridge flagship Pre - and power amp and i felt it sounded dull .
Do not get me wrong the Cambridge amps are capable but just not on a sonic level and not to get the very best out of the Dali opticons .
Amps you want to look at are Yamaha , Arcam A39 upwards , Hegel , Luxman if you get the combination right you will no .
Can you explain what you mean by dull? Cambridge are generally livelier than the brands I've mentioned. One thing the Cambridge shouldn't be is dull.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts