Who has returned their AMP for a refund?

I have since returned my amp for a full refund. I spent an hour with the retailer and he could reproduce the distortion. My unit had the skipping audio problem too.


I have a deal with my retailer so I can do it anytime.
It will mainly depend on the next firmware for me.

I face the following issues:

  • no sound when amplifier wakes from sleep (since I have the amplifier last summer - whatever the firmware)

  • sound cuts on hdmi (since I have the amplifier last summer - whatever the firmware)

  • hdmi cec does not wake the amplifier anymore (since last firmware)

If no progress with the next firmware, I’ll return the unit.


My Arcam SA30 is heavily affected by the distortion issue. It pops up any moment, even more frequently after the v.867 firmware upgrade, whatever track I play and in whatever order.

My dealer has good direct connections with the Arcam guys and spoke to some engineer. It seems they know the problem is in the DSP and are working on a new firmware to solve it, but my feeling based on the discussion we had is that they have little clue how to do it, as its presentation is quite random and not systematic. So, the deal with the dealer is clear, if after the next firmware update the problem is not gone, I’ll give the amp back and get a new one, most likely an Atoll IN200+streamer or an Hegel H120.

The dealer promised he will let me know as soon as he has fresh and direct info from Arcam. I’ll share here as I know more.


Tx for the precious feedback Jatrus :slight_smile:

My SA30 was returned and swapped out for a Nad C298 power amp last weekend.

I also purchased separately a MiniDSP SHD to carry out streaming/Dirac/DAC/Preamp duties.

I have swapped my sa30 for a NAD C 658 Streamer and a NAD C 298 power amplifier. Fantastic combination and no issues at all.

Welcome to the forum - so you’re a big Nad fan?

The C298 is my first Nad product - I’ve owned mainly Arcam for the last 15 years or so - Arcam DV137, CD36, AVR600, AVR350 (SA30 purchased to replace), AVR850 (current).

Previously went through Technics, Marantz, Denon, Naim, before I settled on Arcam.

I feel for Arcam but now was the right time to move on.

Is your Nad C298 on v1.08?

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I wouldn’t know what firmware it is on, as it is my first NAD amplifier I have owned so far. I got it just last week… the difference with the Arcam (at least from what I can hear) is that NAD sounds more detailed. But the Arcam had a good sound too, I returned for the firmware issues. If possible I would like to use the amplifier for many years to come :slight_smile:

Haven’t heard Hegel, but it lacks DL or any sort of room correction. For me it’s enough to not consider it. Besides from previous experiences I think Hegels are overrated.
Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 could be a way to go.

I have sent back my SA30 and am waiting for information if I get my money back. I have replaced this with:

Preamplifier Karan KA L - MK2
Amplifier Karan KAS 180
Streamer Naim ND5 XS2

This complements my other equipment:

Speakers: Audiovector R3 Avantgard
Turntable: Rega Planar 3 with RIAA Rega Fono MM MK3
Surround amplifier: Arcam AVR 390
Subwoofer: Audiovector QR Sub
Surround speakers: Audiovector KXX
Center speaker: QR Center

Dirac is a must, but to date, the only item that has been objectively endorsed on audio science review that has Dirac is the MiniDSP SHD.

For AV amplifiers, the best Dirac objective measurements are from the latest Nad Receivers, followed by the previous model Arcam AVRs - 390, 850 (the latest are terrible, AV10, AV40). The Lyngdorf TDAI-3400 was measured on audio science review and was shockingly poor, so I would avoid them too.

So for a new AV amplifier, you are limited to Nad - I can’t believe I’m saying this, as I would never have thought that Nad would overtake Arcam, as I always saw them as a good but cheaper brand - how things change.

There’s only very basic set of measurements there, not too mention that they are not always properly done, and for power amps only using dummy load, which I guess is resistive, so doesn’t really show how amp is acting with real life load.
We’ve been through this already, and I’m still waiting for answer to my question :slight_smile:
As for new Arcam AVR’s, visit AVFORUMS and check if people think they sound worse than FMJ series or NADs. Despite worse ASR measurements. Spoiler: no :slight_smile:
Or better audition then yourself.

What I write next is written for no other reason than to help…

In my teens, I thought similar to yourself (started on the hifi trail at 10).

Moving onto 21 graduating in Electronics and then working in both Radar and Audio based Digital Electronics, I realised that most of what is said isn’t real in the hifi press/forums - audio is a very emotive subject but regardless, everything that makes a difference can be measured.

It is true that a dummy impedance only gives an approximation to a speaker as a speakers load (impedance) varies with frequency - however, the dummy impedance provides a reference to allow comparison and thus is a very good indication of real performance.

The measurements used on audio science review are what are used in electronics, SINAD, SNR dynamic range, distortion, jitter, frequency response etc, so nothing untoward and allows comparison, whether it be a phased array radar or CD player.

You need to know what you are looking for an audio science review though, as it is easy to write off something like the Arcam AVR-850 for example but in its typical setting 5.1 setup (sat + sub), it is one of the best performing AVRs on audio science review but some of the measurements aren’t great and atypical of AVRs in general.

The magic ingredient in my humble opinion is the loudspeaker and in particular, the transient response (how a speaker starts and stops). Materials Engineering is the key here and materials such as Beryllium as used by Focal, Revel and Meridian are key - very light materials, that are rigid and don’t break up easily with frequency.

By far and away, the speakers are the weak link and there is a lot of work needed here to bring a speaker anywhere near that of the best sources and amplifier for objective measurement.

One thing is clear, we are in an era whereby the source and amplifier are going beyond the ears capability to hear a difference and in particular the amplifier is making new strides with class D.

We should stand together on a united front and demand that these audio manufacturers put more effort into the design/testing and base our purchasing decisions on engineering excellence.

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So, after another month of silence I asked my dealer to check again with Arcam and they told him again they have no clue when the distortion bug fix is going to be released. I do not like this lack of care for customers and my patience is over, so my SA30 has a seat booked for its trip back to Arcam. I am keeping it still for few days to compare it with some different gear that my very serious and passionate dealer was so kind to put at my disposal for me to find the best alternative. I am pretty sure I will end up with a higher level amp even though this will cost me some extra money, but I do not want any other bad surprise.

If you’re looking for something with room correction, than there’s very limited choice. Software-wise Lyngdorf is safest bet, as they usually have pretty good and stable software. NAD M10 I rather stable now, but M33 seems to have some serious bugs reported by users.
Micromega is good, but I don’t know how effective is their room correction, as they are using own solution. Same as Linn, but here I know it’s not very good and painful to setup properly.

Thanks Felix, but I am now rather oriented for a more flexible, upgradable, non all-in-one solution. I’ll probably go with a good integrated with upgradable DAC and for the moment I will stream via a bluesound node 2i. Will let you know my final choice.
As for Dirac, I see how useful it can be, but in my case the effect was limited. The room acoustics is not perfect, but fortunately the only macroscopic problem I had with the Arcam was a peak around 60-80 Hz. Dirac corrected it quite well, which cleaned the presentation but also made it kind of flatter and a bit lifeless. So many times I found myself switching Dirac repeatedly on and off, incapable of deciding what I actually preferred. One of the amps I am testing now is a Simaudio Moon that has no room correction, but sounds like it does not need it. I think this is due to its different sound signature. It is more transparent and neutral, less warm, and has a better bass control. I have to admit that I like it significantly better than the Arcam… but it is also true that it’s a few notches higher in overall quality and the difference does not come for free…

I actually had similar experience, before I started to modify the response. Standard curves in fact can produce “lifeless”, dull sound. But modify it a bit, and it’s a different story. Lyngdorf for example has so called “voicings”, which do exactly same thing. It’s really nice solution.
But if you don’t need room correction, than good for you - you have much, much wider choice of devices :slight_smile:
Which Moon are you testing? I remember testing Neo Ace, and was not really impressed. What additionally put me off was the fact, that it’s based on LM3886 chips. As much as I like those chips (used the myself in couple of amps I built), I don’t like seeing them in 3k€ amp.
But never heard higher/ more expensive models.

The moon I am testing is the 340ix. The dealer too said he was not impressed by the ACE, so we put it out of the list. The 240i was excluded too due to its 50W/ch, probably a bit borderline for my speakers. Apparently the 340i is on a different league, but now I am testing it hooked up to the pre-outs of the Arcam because the available unit had no DAC card inside. So the Arcam is still acting as streamer and DAC. So far I am impressed with the results, but I will need to confirm my feelings when I get a complete unit and a separate streamer next week. I do not expect inferior results, as the optional Moon DAC card has an ESS ES9018K2M Sabre32 Reference, that should perform at least as good as the ESS9038 of the Arcam (except for the lack of MQA).
I’ll probably have the chance to listen to some Hegel models too next week, but on paper the Moon could still have an edge.

240i is actually cut- down Ace (or Ace is 240i with addition of streamer and Dac), so they have same power amp section, still LM3886. So you’re not really losing anything by not auditioning it :slight_smile:
As for DACs, I actually think 9038 in Arcam is better and newer chip than in Moon. It’s not only MQA. In case of those chips implementation doesn’t matter that much, as K2M has analogue buffer built in.
I wouldn’t bother with Hegels. For me they are overrated.

I tried but they refuse to take my SA30 back. Apparently my issues don’t exist (German ARCAM representation). :exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head:

I much rather have a fixed unit than go hunting for a new amp, but at this point I am not sure if there is hope left…