Arcam AVR750 AV Receiver

Audio Performance
Video Performance
PRICE $6,000

Rail-switching amplifiers
Muscular dynamics
Smooth, not sizzly
Extra-cost wireless
Vertigo-inducing price

This British audiophile receiver is steeply priced but worth every ha’penny, and its rail-switching amplifier is among the best there is.

The Arcam AVR600 blew my socks off when I reviewed it in 2009. I’ll discuss how it sounded later&mdashbut for the moment, I want to tell you how it made me feel:: pleased, then surprised, then amazed, grateful, stimulated, intrigued, and determined to play as much of my music library as time would permit before the review sample was pried out of my covetous hands. Only the price kept me from adopting it as my new reference receiver. But just because I have to live within fiscal limits doesn’t mean you should. I want you to have as much fun as you can afford.

Anyway, it’s no exaggeration to say that the AVR600’s replacement by the AVR750 is a special occasion. One of the greatest-ever surround receivers is passing the torch. So how does the new guy measure up? And what makes these receivers so special? It’s more than just the British accent.

Cutting to the Chase
Amplifier topology: That’s what it comes down to. The 600 and the 750 both use Class G rail-switching amplification that employs two sets of output devices operating at different rail voltages. When the signal becomes demanding enough, the amp briefly switches to the higher-voltage rails. That enables it to pump out more power when the going gets tough without overheating. But it also lets the receiver conserve power when the going is easy because most program content only requires that the lower voltage rails be active. The end results are wide dynamics and an evenness of tone that will make movie and music lovers swoon.

The AVR750 is rated to deliver 100 watts into seven channels simultaneously. Lots of receivers are rated at 100 watts but virtually none into seven channels all driven, a much more ambitious task than the typically quoted two-channel spec. See the Test Bench for our independent assessment. Arcam says the receiver can handle impedances down to 4 ohms with ease and even 2 ohms under the right circumstances.

Beneath the distinctive green display is an austere row of buttons handling the basic functions. The two at far right are the volume up/down keys, in lieu of the knob you’d expect, and I continue to regard their lack of prominence as a design flaw. Arcam has improved the remote, however, with buttons slightly differentiated by shape and color, though once again the volume keys are too well camouflaged.

An ArcamRemote app is available for iPad, and an Android version is being mulled over; Arcam’s high-end clientele are probably more likely to use AMX, Control4, or Crestron, anyway. There’s also a separate Songbook app that accesses music from networked computers, USB-connected iOS devices and drives, and Internet radio.

On the back panel, the old column layout has given way to a more conventional one. Component video is down from five inputs to three, and there’s no longer a component output. Composite video, digital audio, and analog audio are similarly reduced (not likely a problem) and S-video eliminated (good riddance). The phono input is gone, and the number of subwoofer outputs has shrunk from three to one. The 7.1-channel preamp outputs are no longer joined by multichannel inputs, so you can’t use the receiver’s estimable amp section with a separate pre/pro. Why the draconian housecleaning? The company says it has adapted to current consumer habits.

Bluetooth and AirPlay aren’t built in; Arcam gets what I call the Audiophile Exemption on that. But a 6-volt port on the back panel does accommodate the Arcam rBlink Bluetooth/DAC adapter (as well as the company’s rLink wired DAC), and Arcam offers the standalone airDAC for AirPlay (which powers up with its own 12-volt supply). For everyday streaming, there’s an Ethernet jack that enables integrated vTuner Internet radio and the DLNA protocol to access media from network-connected computers and app-equipped phones. (Other Arcam add-ons include the irDAC for USB, rLink for SPDIF, and drDock for iOS docking devices.)

Arcam’s Auto Speaker Setup is proprietary. The manual suggests that you experiment before deciding to use it. The default position for room correction is off, so you must switch it on for each input, a process made easier by a dedicated remote button. Also onboard is Dolby Volume, which provides volume leveling among different source components and can also adjust the dynamic range to make movie soundtracks more palatable.

Associated equipment for this review included five Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v.4 speakers and a Seismic 110 subwoofer. A Lenovo Win 7 PC fed high-rez files through a Meridian Direct USB DAC. All movie demos were on Blu-ray Disc.

Arcam sent along one of its BDP300 Blu-ray players with the receiver, which I used to supplement my reference Blu-ray player, an Oppo BDP-83SE. Oddly, whenever I inserted a new disc, the combination of Arcam receiver and Oppo player resulted in blank screen flashing (black, white, black, white) before the studio logo and promos. This occurred with all Blu-rays and some DVDs. The Arcam receiver had no such problem with either the Arcam player or my alternate player, a Panasonic DMP-BD87.

I’m guessing this was probably an HDMI handshake problem. The Oppo, dating from 2009, uses the older HDMI 1.3, whereas the newer products all use variations of 1.4 (1.4b for the Arcam receiver, 1.4a for the Arcam player, and 1.4 for the Panasonic player). In no case did a disc fail to load altogether, and all the main audio/video content played glitch-free. If you’re a stickler for presentation, pair this receiver with a recent Blu-ray model with HDMI 1.4 or a later version.

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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,

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.