ARC: audio interruptions are noticeable, ref#92

Yes, I can confirm these audio interruptions were introduced in build 705 as far as ARC is involved. I do not use TOSLINK. I can imagine there is some common ground between all input sources in the digital domain.

Regarding your second remark. Yes, we all know there are quite some issues and quite some forum users have abandoned the SA30. Although this is very personal, I can imaging why they left (we all paid the hefty price tag for an amp with issues). I’m still convinced the issues will be resolved. I believe Arcam does release every now and then a news update, refer to here. Check out other sections of that site, e.g. tech talk. Some of these updates are related to the SA30, e.g. the volume jump issue here. There are some SA30 articles, you have to look for them on the afore mentioned site.

I agree with your view “no one seems to know the roadmap or timelines for fixing any of these issues”, at least from a general public point of view. I assume Arcam has a internal schedule / roadmap of what issues will be addressed in what time frame. I also think it would be a good idea to share some part of it with (potential SA30) customers. In the end I think it will increase customer satisfaction and align expectations before releasing a firmware update.

During the time I was looking for the link above I came across an Harman article asking for: “we want to know what topics you want to read more about in future newsletters”, refer to here. The link also contains a questionary. There is also another questionary here. Maybe the targeted population is different I don’t know for sure but I think this may be an entry point for sending feedback to the top level Harman brand. I guess Harman will forward SA30 requests to the proper subsidiary brand Arcam. Since they are actively looking for feedback it may be a good idea to fill in the questionary?

Started to read a bit more on this topic.
So seems there are in fact some issues with ESS Sabre DACs and some sources. It’s not only Arcam.
A mentioned before, never had any issues with my Panasonic TV, so seems it’s just a bit better source than samsung TV.
Here’s some interesting thread:

OP is talking about some “noise” when playing hi res music using Audiolab 6000A built in dac fed by Node 2i. Wonder if this noise sounds anything like what we call distortion?
The issue here seems to be related to jitter and how ESS DACs handle it.
Now, I’m not expert here, and I’m not sure how Radio waves can affect jitter (I know noise from PSU can), but just realized something. I used to have distortion quite often, and now I haven’t had it for weeks. What changed? Used to have mesh wifi system with main router sitting right next to SA30. Now I did some changes and recabling at home, and I only have one router, located in the middle of the house, so the signal around amp is much weaker.
That’s a Longshot, but wonder if it’s related? It could explain why our experiences are so much different, as each house and layout is different.
It doesn’t have to be wireless, it might some other source of noise nearby amp.
If that would be the source of distortion and TV cracks and pops, that would mean changing PLL settings via firmware should fix the issue, as it did for SA20. But seemingly there is a downside, which is a bit worse sound of the DAC.

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Tx.

I reported the point of Sabre DAC sensibility to Arcam back in Augustus, I hope that since they finally acknowledged it, they will now be able to act quickly to solve it :slight_smile:

@David When watching television and listening to my SA30 through the optical output of my Sony television, I still hear those audio dropouts you refer to. Although one day it’s quite frequent, while the other day I can only hear it once or twice during the evening. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. However, it’s less frequent compared to the previous firmware.

Reading the posts related to the ESS timing, I’m quite confident they provide a solution to this.

Why am I keeping the amp?

Because I have zero issues with streaming radio, listing to my NAS, CD’s (coax) and vinyl (rPhono) and the SA30 just sounds so nice. I’ve had a CXA80 before and it’s quite a step up from that amp. The sound of the SA30 is rhythmic, composed, authoritative, detailed, warm and full. This amp can drag me into the music and that’s what it’s all about for me.

I’m quite confident they will solve these issues, but meanwhile Arcam got them quite a bit of frustrated customers…

Yep, what you said… agree

Hello everyone,

Here you are the answer of the Arcam support regarding the possibility to adapt the PLL width, most probably at the origin of the audio cuts via HDMI:

“> The reply from the R+D team is that there is no way to adjust the PLL in the SA30. While the root cause is the same basic idea (the clock is drifting too far) it looks as though the module the handles it is responding at a hardware level. We are investigating options with the manufacturer of the module.”

So if the rootcause is identified, its resolution may be more problematic than foreseen.

I keep you posted if / when I have more news.

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So are they saying it’s the ESS DAC chip where the problem lies? And is this all connected with complaints of distortion?

Most probably linked to the ESS DAC indeed.
Their feedback is regarding the audio cuts on hdmi and not distortion so I could not tell sorry…

That’s odd and disturbing answer.
I think, that by module they mean DSP is this case. Basically it seems, that ALL digital signals are sent to dac via DSP.
It is possible to set PLL width with a firmware for ess DACs, and Arcam already did it with SA20. One of the audiolabs I think has similar issue, and they also implemented possibility to change pll width from menu.
So this might mean, that what is drifting is actually clock of the dsp module output.
If the drift is so “big”, that even setting highest pll width for the DAC doesn’t help, that means we are screwed. There is a chance than, that it really cannot be fixed easily. This might call for a recall, to replace DSP modules with new ones. Question is, if Arcam will be up to the task?
But still it’s weird, that seemingly distortion was not an issue pre v705 firmware, and this is in a way contradictory to what they say now.
Makes you wonder if support even knows what the issue is in reality, and if they are telling us the truth.
I’ve already seen different answers to the same questions several times, so…

Yes possibly by “module” they are referring to software rather than the hardware, since we know it’s not all proprietary code. Of course we are also assuming that the support people spoken to fully understand the issue and are capable of explaining it in a non-technical way to the user, and that as users we actually do understand that fully and then ourselves are capable of passing that on in forums without any ambiguity, watering down or otherwise colouring in, No offence to anyone intended, I include myself in all that! just saying I’m not convinced by anything until Arcam make some sort of official statement about it or otherwise fix it for us. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Just to add to the evidence that the issue is related to the DAC, it seems there are many other amps with ESS Sabre DACs having the same issue:

In particular, from the links above, all of the following exhibit this issue:

  • Cambridge Audio CXA61 - ESS Sabre ES9010K2M
  • Cambridge Audio CXA81 - ESS Sabre ES9016K2M
  • NAD Amp1 - ESS Sabre 32Bit DAC
  • Arcam SA10 - ESS Sabre ESS9016K2M
  • Arcam SA20 - ESS Sabre ESS9038K2M

It looks like there are firmware updates already available to fix the issue for the Cambridge Audio amps and the Arcam SA10 and SA20.

David

I’m not sure it’s only the DAC. If it was only that, Arcam would fix it right away, like they did for sa10 and SA20.
It’s probably somewhere between dac and DSP.
Actually what I noticed, in all amps where it was fixed with a FW upgrade, it says it’s always fixed on one particular digital input. If that’s a DAC limitation, that pll can be changed on one input, and in SA30 dsp is connected to different input, might be that they really cannot change the pll setting.
Would have to carefully study datasheet for the DAC, but haven’t seen one for 9038. And to be honest don’t have time for that.
I guess it’s time to let it go, and just wait patiently on any news from Arcam. Let’s see what they come up with…

I’ve said a number of times that ever since installing a mains conditioner to my hi fi I hardly ever get distortion.

Hello,

Sorry but what do you mean by main conditionner ?

I purchased the device in the link below.

I recommend using a hair conditioner. It’s much cheaper but still reduces static electricity. :man_curly_haired:

I’m not going down this route. It’s the same route a discussion on AV forums went down last year. All I know is it works and I’m more than happy.:grinning:

it is not cheap solution on the other hand

It isn’t I agree. I have all my stuff plugged into it though. TV and AV processor and OPPO player.

Not wanting to divert this thread however, I have mentioned my purchase because I have seen it almost stop the distortion issue with the SA30. I have proved it by several times plugging the SA30 into a wall socket only for the distortion to re appear.

I didn’t buy it to solve that. It was just an aside observation. The reason I bought it was because during lockdown I’ve been listening to a lot more music during the day when the mains is a lot more polluted than later at night and it was ruining the experience. Now I get that sound you get when playing late at night anytime.

Finally Arcam was able to smash this bug. I cannot hear any audio interruptions with firmware build SA30 build V1206 version 1.7

Thank you, nice work :slight_smile: