Posted on Tue, 30 May, 2017
Posted by Bob


The Arcam A49 Integrated Amplifier is an integrated powerhouse, delivering a brutal 400watts per channel of Arcam’s Class-G Technology with a fully balanced preamplifier topology.

Yes, you read that opening sentence correctly – 400 watts per channel into 4ohms – from an integrated amplifier! With the Arcam A49, the Cambridge-based audio stalwarts are taking no prisoners. In today’s Audio Affair Blog we’re turning it up to ’11’  with the Arcam A49 integrated amplifier.

Arcam FMJ A49

Arcam A49 – Powered by Arcam Class-G

The Arcam A49 represents Arcam’s flagship integrated amplifier, sitting at the very top of the Arcam tree, above the Arcam A39. It is, effectively, the company’s monster P49 power amplifier, with an excellent, added pre-amplifier. Whilst Arcam are a UK company, the A49 is in fact manufactured in Rochester, USA, a sign of the unit’s quality aspirations.

Let us focus, for a while, on that incredible power amplifier; the power amplifier of the Arcam A49 utilises Arcam’s Class-G technology. For an in-depth description on Class-G, take a look at our recent blog on Arcam Class-G technology.

In short, Arcam’s Class-G technology allows the amplifier to dynamically shift between a pure, Class-A amplifier at low volumes, to an ultra efficient, Class AB type amplifier when serious ‘oomph’ is required.

With that said, the Arcam A49 has such terrific power reserves, that it is able to run in pure Class-A up to 50watts output. Unless you have your ornaments rattling off the mantlepiece, the chances are that any user will find themselves listening to Pure Class-A audio, most of the time, as a result.

Power is Nothing without Control

Arcam has equipped the A49 with a preamplifier section of outstanding quality and design; a fully balanced circuit topography ensures excellent noise cancellation and interference rejection. This also provides the benefit of offering balanced preamplifier inputs and outputs.

Conventional, unbalanced inputs are also provided, and in good quantity: the Arcam A49 offers seven pairs of unbalanced line inputs, one of which can be configured as either a Moving Magnet Phono input or line level input. Record outputs are provided for those fond of stand-alone two-channel recorders, and finally, an unbalanced pre-out.

The Arcam A49 uses a ‘fly by wire’ type ‘volume control’, which is controlled, like the other amplifier functions (including overload protection) via a microprocessor.  Volume attention itself is handled via a Burr-Brown control chip, which offers extremely fine and high-quality volume adjustments, without any unwanted sonic aberrations.

Arcam A49 Rear

Toroidally Terrific – Massive PSU’s for Massive Power.

Many manufacturers and designers of consumer electronics have moved towards switched mode power supplies in their designs. Switched mode PSU’s offer a number of advantages, principally weight and cost, yet a traditional, linear, transformer based PSU is still prized by audio enthusiasts.

Whilst switched mode PSU’s have improved dramatically, the very high frequencies at which they operate can give rise to RF interference and noise, both highly unwelcome in the design of any piece of audio equipment.

The Arcam A49 utilises a pair of toroidal transformers which supply the pre and power amplifiers, independently and in isolation, reducing the possibility of cross-induced noise further. Toroidal transformers, by design, radiate much less electromagnetic interference than even conventional transformers; ideal for audio critical applications such as the Arcam A49.

Arcam A49 Chassis

So there you have it. If you’re looking for an integrated amplifier with enough grunt to make most pre-power combinations wither in comparison, yet with the composure, class and enduring quality of one of Britain’s most famous audio companies, the Arcam A49 might just be the integrated amplifier for you.