...but I really liked the sound

Hello to everyone. I am a new member having joined up to ask one question [or two].

I have ordered a new pair of speakers, Monitor Audio Gold 300 5G’s. When I auditioned them they were being driven by an Arcam SA20. I was totally blown away by the sound of that combination. With the amp being on a very nice sale price I was thinking I might grab one at the same time.
After a bit of research I thought, why not go for the SA30? More power is always a good thing right? Being a bit of a dinosaur I don’t know if I really need the streaming features but as it’s there I may give it a go.
THEN…more research. I start finding all sorts of issues with Arcam. And this site comes up on my screen. Now I don’t know.

So my question is, is it really that bad??

As I would be getting in at the end of the model’s life is there a chance that its had enough updates that most of the issues have been sorted? I am really impressed with the sound of it paired with the speakers, and the price is right. But I don’ want to be stuck with a dog.

I know all of you have had your share of crap with it but if there are no more updates, as that seems to be the case, would I be “safe”? If I stick to mostly CD’s, a turntable, and a FM receiver, would I be past the issues? I don’t really want to get into paid subscriptions for streaming anyway. I would buy the SA20 but I want the extra watts in the 30.

I know you all feel burned by your troubles but would anyone be willing to suggest that the otherwise great sound might be worth the chance of some issues. Issues which may have a work around or MAY have been sorted out at this point?

As an aside, if I google other amps in this price range there are also many reports of issues. Is it just a case of the justified complaints being on line and the many other people who have them are seeing no issues?

I am trying to sort this out as the sale prices are only on until the end of the month. My plan is to hopefully get the speakers with a week or so of listening time with my NAD C275bee amp and NAD C165 preamp. If that sounds great I may stick with the NAD. If I am missing some of the wonderful sound I heard during the audition I would like to buy the SA30.

Opinions please?


Welcome to the forum!

I’m a little bit recluctant in advising to buy an SA30, reason: 2k+ EUR is a lot of money for an amp that has its issues and probably doesn’t receive updates anymore. The sound may be wonderful and it doesn’t seem you’ll be using digital streaming features. But what about more basic convenience features like a remote control? It is a no brainer: of cause you expect a working remote control but the current practice is the remote control doesn’t work all of the time (and it is certainly not always related to ‘press the AMP button first please’-usability peculiarity), mime doesn’t work and I’m tired of having to look into it, so I don’t use it anymore. If the power save feature kicks then I cannot wake up the amp with the remote control, a power cycle is the work around. Sorry for the remote control rant, I’ll move on to another basic feature: listen to your music stored on your local NAS. It isn’t flawless: if the MusicLife app cannot find your SA30 then you’ll have to troubleshoot, after some time I found out I’ll have to toggle my VPN on my phone, restart app and try again. Furthermore I scheduled a task on my nas to restart Plex every night (this application serves my music collection). I noticed restarting plex every night will improve connection problems from MusicLife app to my NAS. But I guess this is my problem because I use an too old and under powered NAS appliance.

So my question is, is it really that bad??

From one point of view yes it is that bad. One may expect basic functionality works or at least possible bugs will be addressed in future updates. This isn’t current practice. From another point of view, if you’re willing to take the risk, spend a lot of money and you and it works in you case then it’s no problem. In the latter case I would ask your dealer to try SA30 at your home with your setup, in this way you can see upfront how good (of bad) it works.

If I stick to mostly CD’s, a turntable, and a FM receiver, would I be past the issues?

I don’t think a FM receiver is included in the SA30. Digital radio streaming services are included in the SA30, this is (nowadays) a free service. This is not related to other paid services like Spotify, etc.

I know the end of year sales are near, I would be very recluctant in buying a SA30 again. I think if I would have known all I know now I would not have bought the SA30 again.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,

I believe most / the biggest issues were when they were new and problems related to upgrading the firmware and them bricking and most of these were resolved.

I don’t know what price you’re seeing them on sale but if it’s right it could be a lot of amp for the money and if there is a problem it’ll likely be on the initial firmware upgrade … if it happens take it back to the shop.

The only thing I get with mine now, once every few weeks it doesn’t recognise digital inputs and rather than putting it into standby I had to power cycle it with teh button on the front of the amp and it’s immediately fine again.

In essence I think it all comes down to what you’ll pay for it against what you could buy for the same money.

It still seems like the majority of issues are related to the streaming features. I am almost sure I will never use them. It’s bad enough paying for all the tv streaming services these days.
Nope, as I said, my CD transport, TT, and good old fashioned radio will do it for me.
It is difficult to even find an integrated without all the extra bells and whistles these days. At least at a sensible price point for my budget.
The SA30 is $1000.00 CDN off right now. For the sound quality I heard that’s a very attractive price.

I actually came across a site this morning much like this one but most of the people were saying pretty positive things. Yes, they mentioned the same issues as are mentioned here but the majority of the people were saying they were past that stage. If I look back in my history I’ll try to post a link…just for reference.

If I do go ahead with it I will ask my dealer to check for the current update and hopefully they will do it at their peril. If that’s the end of updates then I won’t have to worry about that issue.

I felt like that for years and hate subscription services … I eventually thought I’d try a 3 month free Amazon trial and of financial hardship set in and I had to make coices it’d be one of the last things to go.

It’s made available every single track at your fingertips I’ve ever owned or borrowed from a friend and then a whole heap more including a plethera of new music.

Even oif you can put up with some adverts at least give Spotify a try and seeif after a while it’s worth paying to get rid of the adverts.

I would say it’s mostly matter of price.
It seems, that at the moment SA30 is priced really good, with all the discounts. It’s actually not that much more expensive than pure amps of the same class, so in a way all the streaming features are almost free.
Considering your use case (no streaming) software updates should not be that important, and otherwise amp seems more or less ok. Some are still experiencing some problems (i.e. jvs1’s problems with remote, which i have never experienced), but overall is rather stable.
One nice feature you get with SA30 is Dirac Live. You might not use streaming, but can still use DL with other sources and it can really improve the sound.
So my opinion (not advice): if the price is right/good and you’re not planning on using the streaming, it’s really worth considering. Lack of updates should not bother you, as it’s now mostly related to streaming.

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I am still leaning towards the SA30. I guess I was really impressed by what I heard during the speaker audition and I’m not going to deny that the current $1000.00 reduction in price isn’t part of that attraction.
I have been ramping up my research on other integrated amps since reading about the weak points of the Arcam. One which piqued my interest is the Rotel RA-1592 MKII. On paper it looks good. I will need to have a listen with the same speakers next time I am at the store. The one thing is that the MSRP is actually much lower than the Arcam. It being cheaper, does that mean it’s “cheaper”? The plus side, it’s Japanese. I generally have a great respect for things made in Japan. In a land with the highest amount of vending machines per capita, and they all work, I tend to trust them.
Hopefully my MA’s are in this week. I will check out the Rotel and perhaps some others. Who know, maybe I like what I hear with my NAD kit and I won’t buy anything.

Well, big advantage of Arcam is Dirac Live. If that is not needed, there’s plenty of really good integrated amps to choose from.
If you liked the sound, you could even go with new Arcam Radia A25. It’s supposed to be improved SA20. As it doesn’t have any streaming or Dirac or anything like that, it’s firmware is very simple, so they haven’t really messed it up (how can you mess up remote control firmware? :rofl:).
I’m not evein thinking now of getting anything without DL, so have much more limited choice…

So Dirac Live huh? Is that really that good? Does it not end up taking away, or artificial altering, the original “pure” sound as intended by the artist? Or am I over simplifying things?
Most amps (like my NAD) have even provided a means to completely bypass tone control circuits so as to not alter the native sound.

Knock on wood: I haven’t got much to complain about. The sound is superb. No problems with streaming. I don’t use the MusicLife app. I bought a different app for something like €8. Had a Roon subscription for a year but after they raised their fees I cancelled it. It became more expensive than Qobuz which I use for streaming HRES-audio. I love it.
Once in a while I do have to do a kind of reboot, that’s all. Where are the days when amps didn’t use any software and all was simple?

Well, it depends. For me it IS that good, but i know people who think it isn’t. As always it’s a matter of personal taste.
You could try to find it somewhere to test. Of course test in the shop will not tell you everything, as most probably it will sound different in your room, but might give you some idea on how it works. Thing is, that it has to be calibrated by someone who knows what he is doing, as clicking next, next, next will result in a terrible sound :slight_smile:

Which App did you buy please?

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Cheers to that! The good old days!

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Those days are long gone, since we got lazy and want remote controls :rofl:
Even most simple amps have had some kind of firmware for many years now.

I just wish there were more options for relatively affordable basic 2 channel audio reproduction, of decent quality. We don’t all want streaming. Sadly it is the way of the future.
What can I say, I’m a dinosaur.

Personally I have always been a analog snob. I have always considered digital a bit filtered vs the pure analog signal path. I can still hear a slight difference but the new chips are so good the difference is not that big a deal anymore. But I never thought I would digitize my analog sources like reel to reel or vinyl. But Dirac Live in my room is just amazing. I used to switch back to analog direct , then back to Dirac Live to see if I still thought the pure analog signal path advantages were worth it. After a year of switching I found that only listening at very low volume was Direct better. As soon as the volume came up enough that bass room nodes and midrange reflections started to be heard, switching to Dirac Live was just amazing. I never turn it off anymore. If I owned a large, well treated room for my stereo I might feel different. But even then I bet Dirac Live would be hard to beat. Amazing technology when properly implemented. Thats my opinion.



Hi RDT, and welcome!

I started a post yesterday but didn’t come around to finishing it, so most of what I had to say have already been said. So, just to reiterate briefly:

  • The SA30 is a great amp and it competes even in its original price, and even if you never use the streamer. HDMI-ARC, a very good DAC, a great MM phono stage (the MC is not that good apparently), lots of power, smooth and punchy sound, great synergy with the MA’s (I have the Silver 10’s and can only imagine what a delight it must be with the Golds)… What more is there to ask?

  • Well, Dirac Live! I agree with Felix, I would never look at an amp without room correction ever again. In fact I think Dirac Live alone is worth the upgrade from SA20, and what sets the SA30 apart from any competitor that lacks such a feature.

  • There won’t be any degradation of sound when using Dirac Live as long as the original signal is digital. You should not confuse digital room correction with analog tone controls because the latter put whole circuits in the way of the music signal (hence the need to switch them off entirely). The only instance you may feel that Dirac takes something away is when you listen to vinyl, because then the signal has to be digitized before it gets processed. I myself sometimes prefer vinyl playback purely analogue (you can do that with a simple press of a button), as it admittedly sounds a bit livelier - especially at low volumes, like Ken said.

  • Dirac Live in its latest incarnation is much simpler to calibrate than in the past. It is almost as user-friendly as Room Perfect now, and much closer to it in philosophy as it now proposes a curve that won’t fundamentally alter the sound profile of your system.

  • I’ve had no problems with the remote either, and what’s more, I only just recently turned it into a universal one replacing my Musical Fidelity CD player’s remote entirely. It’s genius!

  • I bought the SA30 with the latest important firmware update installed and never had any problems with it, but streaming is indeed a mixed bag. The MusicLife app kind of sucks, and Spotify and Tidal Connect are prone to dropping out. On the other hand, Arcam has Chromecast built in (which is missing from Bluesound, for example) and this is hugely important because it means you can use an array of great apps: Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, and - most vitally - Plexamp, a free alternative to Roon.

  • To sum up: based on my experience thus far, I would wholeheartedly recommend the SA30 to anyone. Hi

Actually there are still many options. Streaming amps are stil relatively rare compared to regular integrated amps, or even purely analog amps.
If you like sound of Arcam you can always get much cheaper SA20. Apart from little less power (which isn’t really that relevant in this case) and lack of streaming and DL, it’s basically the same and sounds the same.
Or you can get New Arcam Radia A25 - successor to SA20.
If it doesn’t have to be Arcam and class G you have plenty of good amps to choose from. Recently there has even been class G amps from competitors, but i can’t remember who it was.
But majority of forum members are here, cause we wanted all-in-one, preferably with room correction, so we might be biased.

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I was going to say pretty much the same, Music Fidelity and Rega are a couple that instantly spring to mind but there are a host of others out there.

mconnect Player HD. Not perfect but cheap and way better than MusicLife.

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