Posted on Mon, 22 Sep, 2014
Posted by Peter


Today I found out that Arcam are the only British company to do AV. Did you know that? I didn’t. But now I do, and so do you.

LOGO

It would seem that Arcam are – quite literally – full of surprises. This we discovered today when we sat down with one of their charming reps for a little introduction to their new range. By the end of October we will be supplying some of Arcam’s incredible new range – and we can confirm there are a few things that we haven’t seen before. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For those who don’t know them, here’s a little introduction to Arcam. Who are they? What are they? What can you get now… and what will you be getting?

Who are Arcam?

It all began in a much simpler time on the hi-fi timeline. In 1972 a young Cambridge student by the name of John Dawson was undergoing his PHD. He set up a small workshop where he started experimenting with and eventually constructing his own solid-state amplifiers, selling to his peers. They went down well enough that by 1975 Dawson set up A & R Cambridge Ltd. (Amplifier & Recording). As Dawson was polishing off his PHD, his company released the somewhat legendary A60 Integrated Amplifier; an amp we have been told is still in use to this very day. Selling over 30,000 units in its retail-lifetime, it set an unprecedented benchmark for the new Dr. Dawson who – with the success of the A60 – was able to focus on what he was good at – audio engineering, pure and simple.

Now known collectively as Arcam, Dawson and his team’s penchant for innovation was never more obvious than in 1988 when they released the world’s very first offboard digital-to-analogue converter. Yes, that’s right – the very first DAC; A staple of the modern hi-fi set up, pioneered by Arcam. And they still remain top of their class when it comes to creating the truly new.

A company of music-lovers and obsessive engineers, Arcam carry a simple yet effective philosophy: seeking the ‘truth’. A window into the performance is their ultimate goal – how the music is supposed to sound, as opposed to an implementation of a signature sound. This is achieved in a number of innovative, creative and frankly ground-breaking new technologies and techniques… and they have plenty more tricks up their sleeve.

What are Arcam?

In a nutshell, Arcam are audio engineers at the core, hell-bent on delivering the aforementioned ‘truth’ with ranges of critically acclaimed amplifiers, DACs and players. There are very few opportunities to upgrade your separates, no time is wasted in improving the individual components a piece at a time.

Arcam’s focus is on the product as a ‘whole’ and improving each individual component within the box. With each endeavour their aim is to produce spectacularly effortless and emotionally engaging products that sound… right. No brightness, no confusion, no distortion and no ‘signature’, which so many of their competitors still cling to. Their aim is a pure, clean, natural sound.

A Whole New Class…

Before we delve into their units – let me first talk to you very briefly about amplification. For those who aren’t in the know – I was one of you until this day – there are a number of different classes of amplification. Valve amplification speaks for itself, but the others are CLASS A, CLASS B, CLASS AB and CLASS D. Arcam are about to release the newest, and most advanced, class of amplification into the world: CLASS G.

I’m going to let the experts at Arcam take it from here… (read the whole thing!)

CLASS A

“The simplest audio amplifiers are single-ended and Class A; that is they make use of just one output transistor which is always conducting, irrespective of the output signal waveform. Class A has good to excellent linearity (and thus high fidelity / low distortion) but very low efficiency. It is almost never used in a power amplifier’s output stages but is ideal for the input and high level driverstages of a power amplifier.” – Arcam

CLASS B

“Class B amplifiers are much more efficient than Class A amplifiers but they
have high distortion due to gross non-linearities at the crossover point, which
is where the two transistors transition from on to off. This form of distortion
– called crossover distortion – is extremely unpleasant to the ear and thus no
commercial amplifier designs use pure Class B.” – Arcam

CLASS A/B

“A combination of Class A and Class B, the Class AB amplifier has a much higher
efficiency than Class A but much less distortion than Class B. This is done by biasing  both transistors to conduct a little at and near to zero signal output – the point where Class B amplifiers introduce gross non-linearities. They then transition to  Class B for larger signal currents […] Most commercial power amplifiers are Class AB designs.” – Arcam

CLASS D

“Class D amplifiers use a different technique in which the output transistors (usually MOSFETs) are rapidly switched on and off at a far higher frequency than the highestaudio signal that needs to be reproduced […] The advantage of Class D is its high efficiency (80-90%) because the output transistors are either turned fully on or fully off during operation. Its quiescent power consumption is comparable with a Class AB amplifier […] In general its sound quality is not as good as a decent class AB amplifier, although the gap is narrowing ”

 

And finally…

CLASS G

“…we use the term Class G to refer to amplifiers that have two (or more) pairs of supply rails available to the output transistors. These can be either switched hard at a given signal level or softly, whereby the higher rails as presented to the output stage are modulated according to the output signal level. This follows the output waveform up and down to keep a small constant voltage of about 5V across the output transistors at high signal levels. The latter technique is used in Arcam’s Class G designs (AVR600/750) because it has significantly increases the maximum current delivery available to drive the loudspeakers when compared with other methods.” – Arcam

What this means in layman’s terms, is Arcam have basically solved the problems posed by the CLASS A amps (poor efficiency, overheating) and the CLASS AB (a lack of power, reduced sound quality, poorer overall performance than CLASS AB) by combining the positive attributes (and dispelling the negative ones) of the two classes. CLASS G switches (soundlessly, may I add) between the two classes when the extra power is needed, meaning a CLASS G amp is every bit as powerful and lush sounding as a CLASS A, but with the efficiency and stamina of a CLASS AB. Who says you can’t have your amp and … er… play it too?

A few of the latest Arcam products carry this very technology. But we’ll get into that a bit later. And now, without further ado… the products! 

What’s in Arcam Music? (And what do we stock?)

C49 Pre Amplifier

arcam-c49

The C49 pre-amplifier features dual mono volume controls and a balanced signal path all the way though the product together with distortion nulling input multiplexers and as been designed with system building flexibility in mind, allowing for the “ultimate” system of a C49 with six bridged P49s tri-amping the speakers. 

P49 Power Amplifier

 arcam-p49

The first amp to pioneer a CLASS G amplifier the P49 has a toroidal based power supply, acoustically damped chassis, paralleled transistor output stages and exceptionally low levels of distortion and noise the P49 is capable of reproducing music with all its original authority and detail. With 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 400 into 4 ohms, it delivers 50 watts in pure CLASS A while allowing for huge extra power reserves from our latest generation CLASS G topology

A19 Integrated Amplifier – IN STOCK! 

 arcam-A19

The A19 uses components and techniques normally found in Arcam’s top of the range products. The power section of the A19 is design to be able to supply two of Arcam’s class-leading r-Series products in addition to its main duties, allowing the A19 to become a digital hub for a whole range of digital connection upgrades, including both wireless Bluetooth® devices and USB sources.

 

D33 DAC– IN STOCK! 

arcam-D33

The D33 features an asynchronous USB input offering the convenience of computer-based music (PC or MAC) and the ability to enjoy the very latest 192kHz ultra high-resolution recordings with stunning quality. Two coaxial and two optical inputs plus a professional grade AES/EBU connection complete the line-up. The D33 also benefits from critically damped, low resonance casework, massive power regulation plus extensive low-noise sub-regulation.

Muso Loudspeaker IN STOCK! 

arcam-muso

The Muso complements your Arcam set up beautifully with discreet looks and stunning performance. Its construction uses the very latest techniques including combined aluminium/steel enclosures and the very latest driver technology. Offered in fully flexible combinations, the Muso two-way speaker offers a bass performance far beyond that of a typical “satellite” speaker, meaning it can be used as a simple stereo pair when placed close to a wall. 

irDAC IN STOCK! 

 arcam-irDAC

So called because it features infra-red remote control, the irDAV owes much to the development programme behind the reference D33 DAC. The irDAC comes packed with cutting edge technology.  Areas such as isolation of digital and analogue stages, ultra-low noise power supplies and direct-coupled signal paths make a big difference to its outright performance. The irDAC uses the outstanding Burr Brown 1796 DAC and 8 separately regulated power supplies to ensure class leading performance that are unmatched in the irDACs price category.

airDAC  

arcam-airDAC

The airDAC benefits from the finest quality parts in a layout optimised for low noise and distortion. A dejittering design that Arcam have used in many of the reference class FMJ products is applied to all inputs. The use of multiple low noise separately regulated power supplies ensures that we get the cleanest signal to the audiophile quality output stage It comes in an elegant cast aluminium enclosure that reduces microphony effects and has a non-slip rubber base.

rBlink Bluetooth DAC IN STOCK! 

arcam-rblink

The rBlink uses a high-end PCM 5102 DAC to convert music to a line level output ready for connection to a whole host of audio systems. Installation is easy with a simple pairing system for new devices. The rBlink comes housed in a stylish yet rugged cast aluminium case and is small and discreet enough to slip effortlessly into your system.

miniBlink Bluetooth Receiver IN STOCK! 

arcam-miniblink


Using the aptX™ transmission system, the miniBlink allows any Bluetooth equipped music device to quickly and easily send music straight to a Hi-Fi system with stunning quality. The miniBlink uses a high-end PCM 5102 DAC to convert music to a line level output ready for connection to a whole host of audio systems. Installation is easy with a simple pairing system for new devices.

SonLink DAC for Sonos Zone Players IN STOCK! 

arcam-sonos

SonLink combines the ease of use of this platform with Arcam’s legendary sound quality in a discrete add-on unit. The result is a simple and easy to use, upgraded music source that offers a massive boost in performance at a price that offers excellent value for money.

What’s in Arcam Home Cinema? (And what do we stock?)

AVR 380

arcam-AVR 380

The AVR380 delivers an impressive and yet musical sound with a wide range of material and is equally at home with music as it is with movies. The AVR380 already has an eye to the future with 4K “Ultra HD” and 3D video capability on board. “Ultra HD” video scaling means both standard and high definition sources can be scaled to any resolution. For cinema or media room installations the AVR380 can be easily controlled via Ethernet, RS232, 12V triggers and standard IR while audio can be streamed from Network servers, Internet radio or USB drives.

AVR 450 – IN STOCK! 

arcam-AVR450

Conceived to offer premium performance with a wide range of loudspeakers and connectivity to suit the most demanding of installations the AVR450 follows the Arcam tradition of sublime sound and picture quality from all genres of entertainment. 4K “Ultra HD” and 3D video capability are built in, while both standard and high definition sources can be scaled to any resolution where required. Control of the AVR450 is possible via Ethernet, enabling it to be fully integrated with whole house control systems. RS232, 12V triggers and standard IR control are also included. But the AVR450’s secret weapon is the amazing insight and clarity it brings to complex soundtracks. Both pre-amp and power amp stages are crafted using more than 30 years of audiophile design heritage and it shows!

AVR 750 – IN STOCK! 

ARCAM-AVR-750

the AVR750 is an audiophile product by any measure. Equally at home with high resolution surround sound or two-channel music, the AVR750 delivers stunning realism with everything from heavy-weight blockbusters to your favourite concert video. The power amplifiers within the AVR750 were perhaps the finest ever seen within any AV receiver at when it was debuted.  The AVR750’s natural habitat is within high performance cinema installations.

AVR 950 Pre Amp Processor

arcam-avr-950

The highest performing AV pre-processor Arcam has ever made and offering a level of sound quality that is far above competing pre-processors, the AV950 is an audiophile product by any measure. Both video and audio stages are designed to embrace both current and upcoming technologies. 4K “Ultra HD” and 3D video capability are built in, while both standard and high definition sources can be scaled to any resolution where required.

BDP 300 Blu Ray Player

arcam-bdp-300

 

The BDP300 uses a very simple, almost direct video path from the disc to its ultra-high precision outputs. This short path approach allows pictures to be presented without unintentional artefacts and delivers the kind of pristine picture quality that will truly captivate any viewer. Using broadcast quality digital video clocks during processing means the resulting picture quality is simply stunning. To ensure the BDP300’s music performance meets the same “reference” standards the class leading Wolfson Audio 8741 digital to analogue converter (DAC) is used. This device, coupled with a linear phase Bessel output filter and high precision re-clocking system results in audio quality comparable to a dedicated audiophile CD player.

So… what’s coming?

We are very pleased to announce that, by the end of October, we will be stocking the latest line of Arcam FMJ products. Some of which feature that Class G I was so excited about earlier!

A39 Integrated Amplifier – COMING SOON! 

ARCAM-A39

A39 uses the best quality components and engineering practice to produce a product that will give many years of musical pleasure and reliable service. With a CLASS G amplifier, toroidal based power supply, acoustically damped chassis, paralleled transistor output stages and exceptionally low levels of distortion and noise the A39 is capable of reproducing music with all its original authority and detail. It has been designed to leapfrog the competition with a massive 120 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 240 into 4 ohms, delivering 20 watts in CLASS A mode while allowing for huge extra power reserves from CLASS G topology,

A49 Integrated Amplifier – COMING SOON! 

arcam-A49

With a CLASS G amplifier, toroidal based power supply, acoustically damped chassis, paralleled transistor output stages and exceptionally low levels of distortion and noise the A49 is capable of reproducing music with all its original authority and detail.  The A49 features dual mono volume controls and a balanced signal path all the way though the product together with distortion nulling input multiplexers. The A49 has been designed to leapfrog the competition with a massive 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 400 into 4 ohms. It delivers an amazing 50 watts in CLASS A mode while allowing for huge extra power reserves from CLASS G topology. Powerful and efficient!

CD-S27 SACD/CD/Network Streaming Player – COMING SOON!

arcam-cds27

Among the first of its kind – and certainly the first of its kind for the price – the CDS27 is a combined SACD, CD and network streaming player, allowing for a whole new level audio enjoyment. To ensure the CDS27’s music performance meets “reference” standards the class leading TI/Burr Brown PCM1794 digital to analogue converter (DAC) is used. This device, coupled with a linear phase Bessel output filter and high precision re-clocking system results in a level of audio quality required in a dedicated audiophile CD player. Even the CDS27’s power supply has been specially designed for outright performance. Discreet sub-regulated power supplies on the drive, audio and DAC boards deliver significant benefits to the overall performance of each element and thus allow each section to work truly independently and without interference. This is not an all-in-one player, this is a separate CD/SACD player with a built-in wireless network streamer, a dedicated audiophile grade player with two separate levels

So, naturally, we’re pretty excited. Upon finding out about the products from the people behind them we have been given an eye-opening incite into the sheer levels of effort required in providing… well… effortless audio delivery. And the new range carries every speck of detail, clarity and natural sound that you’d expect – without any colouring. And now we know it all – we can teach you all! We’re fully trained and raring to go, so why not come to our showroom and experience this incredible feat of combined technology and CLASS G topology for yourself? It’s an amplification revolution, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

Give us a call if you’d like to be a part of it too!