The SA-30 should be improved for 2.1 og 2.2 setups


I am satisfied with a lot about the Arcam SA-30. The main reason I bought it is it’s implementation of Dirac Live. In my living room the Dirac makes a huge difference and I love the flexibility of being able to tweak the sound to my taste with parametric EQ. I will never again have a setup without room correction and EQ capabilities.

Furthermore, the variety of options for streaming, including an easy way to get hi-res audio via Chromecast or MusicLife, is very important to me.

Finally, I must say that I am satisfied with the sound from the SA-30.

One thing I am dissatisfied with, however, is that it does not work for me to use the HDMI input for TV sound. I have to use the optical one. But that is not the topic here.

The topic here is that I believe there still is room for significant improvements, which Arcam should really consider, especially for those of us music lovers that like to add a subwoofer or two. There is no doubt that for many, adding subwoofer(s) will be preferable and even neccessary to achieve nice full range sound.

My setup is as follows:

  • SA-30, to which I stream Spotify and Qobuz and to which I have a Sonos Connect connected (primarily to be able to stream my own ripped CD collection)
  • JBL L82 Classic bookshelf speakers (8 inch woofers, but rolls off from about 50-60 Hz)
  • 2 x SVS 3000 Micro subwoofers (dual 8 inch woofers and goes down to 23Hz +/-3dB)

I had a professional help me with integration between the speakers and subwoofers. Nevertheless, I believe that this should be unnecessary. It is also unmotivating, because I then have to order the professional again if I want to move the subwoofers/speakers or rearrange the furniture. That is not user friendly.

The subwoofers are connected to the SA-30’s respective right and left pre-outs, and placed next to each speaker. Connection via the pre-outs means that the entire frequency range is sent to the subwoofers. This is unproblematic, as anyone can easily adjust the subwoofer’s low pass filter.

What is unfortunate, however, is that the SA-30 lacks bass management, so that it’s unavoidable that the entire frequency range is also sent to the speakers. With bass management, you could have set a crossover between the speakers and the subwoofers, so that the SA-30 could use all it’s power to produce midrange and treble only. Probably this would have raised the sound quality another notch.

Furthermore, Dirac Live has launched Bass Control, a product that ensures automatic optimization of one or more subwoofers and seamless integration with the speakers. This is a major advance for user friendliness, as it gives “ordinary people” the ability to integrate subwoofers in a way that otherwise requiers extensive expertise .

However, Dirac Live Bass Control is only available in AV processors and receivers. Why? It is equally useful for stereo music. Are there technical reasons for this that I don’t understand, or is it simply an old-fashioned way of thinking that subwoofers are not relevant for stereo music?

I really think Arcam should realize that many people nowadays want 2.1 or 2.2 setups for music . It would give Arcam an advantage if, in a future version of the SA-30, they would implement the following:

  • Bass management that allows the user to set a crossover between the speakers and the subwoofers
  • Option to upgrade to Dirac Live Bass Control

These improvements would mean a lot for flexibility and ease of use. It would open up an opportunity for ordinary people to set up a high end stereo system on their own, without having to spend countless hours familiarizing themselves with different types of software intended for hardcore audiofiles, or alternatively hire a professional.

Finally, I also suggest some improvements that are less important, but which could still contribute significantly to raising the SA-30 from a good to a brilliant product.

  • Simple tone controls for bass and treble. This is convenient when you quickly want to make minor adjustments . You don’t always want to or have time to go into the Dirac software.

  • Ability to save more Dirac Live presets. 3 is not much. Give us 10, please.

Does anyone have thoughts on these proposed improvements?


Yes I agree having come from a Bluesound PowerNode with excellent Bass management into my Dali 2.1 setup (and a Sonos Amp before that which also had bass management integrated).

I ended up switching to my Rel T5 sub for the SA30 and moving my Dali to my HT setup.
The Rel has the high level connection cable that I run out of the speaker cables, but it is not as good as being able to cut the main speakers off below 70. Dirac did seem to help with this, but it would be great to have the bass management built-in or part of the amp or an easier to manage add on like you say.
Overall the SA30 is fantastic and this was one of the few things I felt was a step backwards from my previous setups.