Arcam AVR750 AV Receiver Page 2

That Feel-Good Sound
So, how do the Arcam receiver’s sound? Smooth, warm, unetched, and unfailingly high-rez would characterize their sonic feel. The top end is notably less edgy than that of an average receiver, even a top-line model. If you’re used to more sizzle, you might find this polite approach foreign at first, but it comes with Arcam’s British pedigree. Bass is strong and well controlled, the best any receiver has mustered in my system.

Ultimately, though, it’s the dynamics that grab you by the throat. With the right movie, it’s like being on a roller coaster, as the rail-switching amp gracefully transitions from soft to loud and back again with the adeptness of a true master. Where many other receivers would clip—distorting, blurring, and inducing listener fatigue—the AVR750 just sails on through, maintaining an iron grip on imaging and soundfield integrity, even when all channels are pumping away furiously. Once you’ve lived with the Arcam for a while, you realize how dynamically constricted most other receivers are, even those well into the four-figure range.

Nothing less than an apocalypse would be worthy of this receiver’s first movie demo. Star Trek: Into Darkness (Dolby TrueHD) stepped up to the plate. Frankly, I’d have liked less noise: “Is this a military expedition?” asks Scotty. “I thought we were explorers.” But the barrage of full-spectrum effects gave the receiver a chance to dominate the room and my attention. Arcam’s room EQ isn’t bad. Repeatedly switching it in and out, using the remote’s dedicated button, I found that it sharpened dialogue, improved imaging in the front, and focused the movie’s aggressive subwoofer-borne effects. And unlike most room EQ systems, it did so without reducing comfort—though the quality of the amp must have helped. The receiver’s ability to erect a large soundfield plunged me into the story.

That soundfield continued to mesmerize in Taken 2 (DTS-HD Master Audio), with Liam Neeson reprising his role of a super-spy defending his family from kidnappers. Even by action-movie standards, this one has an exceptionally busy soundfield at every conceivable volume level. The result of this constant envelopment was constant suspense, and thanks to the Arcam’s effortless dynamics, the spell was never broken, even when all five of my Paradigms were roaring at once.

Not Fade Away (DTS-HD Master Audio) punctuates its coming-of-age story about aspiring 1960s rockers with music that’s tentative and fumbling, but with flashes of insight and excitement glittering through the faux-murky recording. The Arcam handled this ambiguous material skillfully, warming up the murk and letting the glittery elements shine through cleanly, reminding me that there’s nothing quite like the sound of a live electric guitar (even when it’s really just a lossless recording).

The Red and the Blue
King Crimson’s The Road to Red box set is loaded with live and studio recordings spread out over two Blu-rays, one DVD, and 21 CDs. The main attraction for my Arcam demo was Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp’s 2013 stereo mix of Crimson’s landmark album Red, in 24/96 LPCM via BD. The Arcam brought out its higher-rez transparency without overriding its tonal fidelity to the original vinyl—quite a balancing act. The receiver’s polite top end didn’t deprive cymbals of their subtle metallic sheen, but it did prevent them from burning my eardrums at high volumes. I re-auditioned the 2009 surround mix and once again found it compelling. But I spent more time exploring the live high-rez stereo material (sourced from analog multitrack reel-to-reel recordings) on the other BD as well as the adroitly touched-up soundboard cassettes on the CDs. Needless to say, the Arcam had no trouble reproducing the band’s extreme live dynamics, John Wetton’s bone-crushing bass, and Bill Bruford’s murderous kick drum. But it also brought out the more delicate instrumental voices, including Fripp’s fuzztone wah-wah guitar and David Cross’s delicate violin, at low to moderate listening levels.

The Blue Room by Madeleine Peyroux arrived as an HDtracks download in an odd combination of advanced bit depth (24) and CD-quality sampling rate (44.1). This may or may not have accounted for the reticent top end, which the Arcam could do little to burnish—but customarily, Peyroux’s producers have favored that kind of mellow sound. Smooth midrange reproduction always being an Arcam strength, her voice poured out of the speakers like honey. The addition of strings gave the arrangements a timeless elegance, aided by the receiver’s immersive soundstage, which was as riveting in 2.1 channels as it was in 5.1.

Westminster Legacy: Chamber Music Collection is a 59-CD box set I was playing through while the Arcam was in the rack. Initially, I didn’t intend to use these 1950s mono recordings as demo material—but the Westminster label’s famous “natural balance” did support a pleasing variety of textures in Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert string quartets by various Vienna ensembles. I was already familiar with the Haydn recordings by the Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet on both CD and ancient vinyl and was pleased to hear how fleshily the Arcam imaged the mono content between the speakers. The playing was firmly in the Romantic tradition of the late 19th century, with loads of now-unfashionable vibrato, and the receiver lovingly showcased the quartet players as if they were human voices. It became an unexpectedly moving and engrossing experience. When I proceeded to more modern stereo recordings—including, on CD, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic—the receiver delivered a refined string sound and scrupulous layering of orchestral sections.

Some readers will raise an eyebrow at the Arcam AVR750’s six-grand price tag, especially in conjunction with its five-star performance rating. It may not be for everyone—but if your speakers present a challenging load, and you want a receiver that behaves more like a muscle amp, you’ll get what you pay for with this one.

Audio editor Mark Fleischmann is also the author of the annually updated book Practical Home Theater (quietriverpress.com).

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COMMENTS
LordoftheRings's picture

The power figures for [U]2 channels driven @ 8 Ohms[/U] and for 1% THD is more like 114.0 watts. And for 1% THD is actually 132.0 watts.
{I'm not sure now that you got the 4 Ohm figures right?}

* I've seen other receiver's power measurements from your mag (using the same lab tools) with much more higher power, and which some cost six times less money than the Arcam AVR75; like the Onkyo TX-SR805 AV receiver for example.
Just check it out for a real shock!

And some other receivers in the $500 price range have similar power figures than this Arcam one.

Anyway, I'm just mentioning some observations on measurements, not on sound and not on real life performance.

For six grands not only I wand the best sounding AV receiver but I also want some of the very best measurements to correlate with real life results, plus I want the very best Auto Room Calibration and EQ system; like Audyseey MultEQ XT32 for example, or in that same caliber class.

Plus, having no preouts is a no-no in that price range; what where they thinking!
And, HDMI incompatibilty issues in the year 2014 is a total joke!
And, a component or two video outs is not asking much.
And, a digital or two outs would be swell.
And, if you're going to include the Video portion of the AV equation, for six grands I want a good one.

I don't care too much for that above graph and the two clipping starting spots from its curve, because it don't look great at all.
But, to the reviewer's own set of ears it is another completely different matter.

Arcam is well know as having quality sound, but is also known as having issues.
And $6,000 is a lot of dough to have issues and missing few important features.
Plus, that remote control is a total insult to it's potential purchasers!

Let's get this entirely straight here; the Arcam AVR750 is the best sounding AV receiver from the reviewer's viewpoint (I won't argue), but the full adio/video experience in someone's private home theater room requires more than just top-notch sound, no?

Just saying my opinion in that complex world we live in. :-)

Cheers & regards,
[I]Bob[/I]

LordoftheRings's picture

I said preouts, I should have said multichannel analog input (7.1) instead.

If this is truly a high-end AV receiver don't take away this very important connection for true multichannel music lovers. ...No?
Of course I'm right.

*** The previous Arcam AVR600 AV receiver had some pretty good reviews here and there, including your own mag, DVD Area from Germany, and WidesceenReview from the USA.
But goo deeper than all of what you guys offer to your readers and you'll be realizing that you're missing few regarding reliability, customer service, dealer support, HDMI issues, and others.

I understand that you're simply doing your job, but doing your job is not enough for people like me, and in today's world.
I think it's time to advance to the next level of true professionalism audio/video reviewing. ...Don't you also think?

Take everything you learned so far, and put it in the new mixer to get real life juicy reviews that are solid and healthy in the long run. ...For mainly your reader's benefit and intelligence, and not just for the audio manufacturer's satisfaction, and your own.

I think.

LordoftheRings's picture

If I want top-quality hi-end amplification; I'll get four Job 225 stereo power amplifiers. I can get them four (8 channels total) for roughly the same price as this receiver.

I'll just add an Emotiva UMC-200 to them.

...And Dirac Live program from the Net.

______________

Anyway, this Arcam AVR750 is not good enough to replace the AVR600 which was full of issues with many many customers.

And not only the AVR750 cost $1,000 more than the AVR600, but has less of everything. ...Power, features, and all that jazz.

If it would be an amplifier you are reviewing, perhaps 4 or 4.5 stars would seem reasonable for sound i n relation to price.
But this is an AV receiver; without analog multichannel input, without a phono input (does it have one?), with less than complete video 'virtuosity', did you check the tuner section (after all i t is still a receiver no?), and why those modern iThings, iInternet, IPod, iMP3, iTcetera, in a receiver which wants to be an audiophile sound and video reproducer of high pedigree?

Wow, I guess I did have few things to say today. :-)

LordoftheRings's picture

Does it have one? ;-)

moonchild's picture

For $6,000.00. Please! Any manufacture selling an expensive receiver should without a doubt deliver ALL the goods. You can buy separates that perform better than the pricey Arcam. Just stating the facts.

LordoftheRings's picture

Marantz and Yamaha and Onkyo/Integra have some. ...Separates, for roughly the same money, or less.

And Emotiva too! ...And for way way less money and way way more power.

It amuses me: NAD, Arcam, they are honest in their power figures, and they give you not only two channels but all seven channels driven together.
Just bs, because they hardly make it or they don't (check the NAD 787).

Before you give 5 stars for performance in a receiver, analyse the situation well. And if a receiver cost $80,000 it should include a reliable two years warranty.
And if another one that cost $1,000 and receives 5 stars for performance, that's not quite correct I believe. ...Makes this Arcam one even more outrageous.

Yes, your stars system should once more be recalibrated.
And that Arcam receiver was the perfect unit to get reviewed by Mikey Fremer. With Mikey we know that the latest toy he usually review is the best sounding one he ever heard.

With Mark, we feel restricted in our small room.

Tom is smart, he doesn't go where there is no escape.

Geez, I know you guy's writings since you very first started; and the routine is not beneficial. You need to adapt, accommodate your readers, respect their intelligence, be truly professionals, have the space, have the heart, and tell it exactly how you think it makes sense for a normal reader.

We all know that a receiver is nowhere near high-end Audio and Video Hollywood stars.
We measure true talent by integrity, respect, and common sense.
...Measurements, objectivity, intelligent subjectivity, and down-to-earth results, including writings, words, and all that jazz.

Be more than what you are, than what you know, be us all.

That's how I see it. :-)

LordoftheRings's picture

Mark, you live in an appt in New York city right?
...And you review audio electronics there right?

How truly loud did you listen to that Arcam AVR750 receiver?
Do you have a watt meter?

How long can you listen to say 20 watts (RMS) with all channels being driven together till your hearing give up, and that you get a notice of eviction from your appt?

Goyoishere's picture

Hi Mark. I am the proud owner of an AVR600. While I initially did have issues with the firmware, once ironed out i can say that it is, without question, the best receiver I have ever heard. And Ive heard quite a few. The gentlemen remarking on this article clearly have never had time with one or they would understand the sound Arcam delivers is just pure bliss. There is a reason most people put up with its issues and didn't seek refunds, at that time you were not going to get better sound out of a one box system. In my mind at the time it came out, the AVR 600 defined state of the art in a one box receiver.
But my question stems from the only caveat I have had with my AVR 600. In my mind its fan noise is a little pronounced, and I was wondering if you had any comments on any noticeable fan nose in your assessment of the new 750? Thank you for the review, I have been waiting for it for a while now.

rossgs's picture

I can't help but comment that the reviewer has fallen into the trap of attributing the "sound" he hears to amplifier topology. There is simply no evidence of, and much evidence to the contrary, that amplifiers provide a different sound when their distortion characteristics are the same. If you measure low THD and IM distortion and operate beneath the clipping level of the amp the sound will be just the same. Try a blind test yourself and be careful to balance the levels with a meter and see for yourself. Apparently this reviewer did not do this and has, sadly, recommended something absurdly overpriced to the readership.
Rgrds-Ross

GaryDay's picture

LordofTheRings, you're a muppet, you're clearly missing the statment that this first stage of this amp is Class A, this is something very unusual in an AV AMP... putting the AVR750 in the same sentence as Onkyo or Marantz is really laughable the SR805 is truly a POS by comparison (i can speak from experience).... Yeah lack of 5.1 MC inputs means i can't play the 4 SACD's and 2 DVD-Audio's I own (no biggie). MC Audio is pretty much dead in my opinion anyway, music (aside from live concerts) just isn't "supposed" to be >2 channels anyway, it just doesn't sound quite right...

I have to say I had the AVR600, I was kind of happy with it, I just switched to this and it's simply freaking amazing, 2CH audio is just so immersive and the rich deep bass driven through DTS-HD video tracks is really amazing...

Is it expensive, yet, but then again, where can you get an integrated Class A (upto 30-40W) with class G when needed that also does 4k Video switching, is it lacking things like bluetooth or airplay yeah.. but then anyone spending 6k on an amp isn't going to airplay songs to it from a iphone anyway.

To Goyoishere, the 600 had a known issue with some connectors going faulty that could cause its monster fans to kick in, Arcam fixed mine twice, the 750 is pure silent (as it should be)

Haters gonna hate as they say, but in all honesty, the AVR750 is simply amazing, the sound quality is simple epic, 2 CH is better than an old Musical Fidelity M3 that I used to love (and thats saying something), Multi-Ch is fantastic also and no HDMI issues whatsoever with the 5 devices I have in connected...

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