OK, we've spent some quality time now
. I got her hooked up in 2 channel mode this morning. I am sending a PCM signal via a Denon DVD-2900 for now. The setup was very easy as well. That's one of the positives IMO. This processor is very clean front panelwise, especially compared to an Anthem. Basic setup took me about 2 minutes. Finding my Redbook CD's took around an hour and a half
! Moving is a bitch, but if it facilitates an upgrade...
I was able to demo a CD that I am VERY familiar with in 2 channel, Erykah Badu's "Baduizm". This is one of my favorites for seeing what a processor as well as a full range tower can do in 2 channel. Well, the news is OH SO GOOD. This Arcam is DEAD quiet. I was able to detect zero hiss no matter what I did, most impressive.
I am lucky to have had my speakers (B&W CDM-9NT's) for a couple of years, and my Amp (Parasound HCA-2205AT) for a few months. Break in is over, except for the processor (maybe). I'm not really convinced a processor really needs to break in, but that's another debate for another thread.
Lets get to the good part, the sound. Many processors I have looked at have all the bells & whisles that one could EVER want (except I-Link, Integra owners be queit
). When I have listened to many of them, so many seem to suffer in straight 2 channel. I could describe the sound of some as clean. Compared to this Arcam, some sound downright antiseptic. This processor sounds better in 2 channel mode than any processor I've ever heard. I feel like I'm listening to a high end analog preamp. There is not a hint of brightness at all. As a matter of fact, it just sounds so sugary sweet I'm not believing it!
I had a very difficult time debating the Arcam over the AVM30 (post rumored upgrade). Several factors came into play for my situation.
Time - The Arcam hit at a time when I needed one NOW, and the person who had preordered it fell out. I need the HDMI switching NOW as well. I am running a FP setup through my processor. The waiting game with the Anthem is getting ridiculous.
Price - I paid MSRP for the Arcam, $2,200. With the feature set of this processor, a bargain. Factor in how freaking MUSICAL it is, it's HIGHWAY ROBBERY compared to it's competition. The Anthem is $3000, pre upgrade. The upgrade will certainly add a chunk to that MSRP, maybe $4-500? Who knows?
Support - Probably a push. Anthem is legendary for offering top notch service, and user upgradeable firmware. Arcam is known for the same, but the dealer flashes the firmware (no charge). In house service & a loaner is an added benefit in my situation. The fact that John Dawson, the Founder & CEO of Arcam is a member of AVS forum is a plus. He has been taking the time to patiently answer our questions (even on Holiday). NICE. Arcam listens to customers regarding features they like or dislike, and can implement them via firmware (like Rotel), excellent.
Warranty - 2 years on the Arcam, 5 years on the Anthem. Advantage Anthem. The Anthem warranty is only to the original owner, the Arcam warranty doesn't say it's non-transferrable, or only for the original owner. Advantage Arcam. Overall, PUSH.
The future - WHEN and IF the AVM30 gets HDMI scaling, it will be a HT monster if it's done right. It will be an amazing HT machine, no question. The Arcam is not going to compete in that range. It is what it it now. Exactly what that is videowise remains to be seen in my setup, as I'm a couple weeks away.
Sound - I have heard the Anthem many times at a few different dealers, but never with B&W. I heard it with Paradigm 100's and also with Energy Veritas towers. It sounded good with the Veritas, OK with the 100's. I'm not a fan of the 100's, so to each his own. The Anthem sounded AMAZING in DD, DTS, & PLII. With music, not mind blowing IMO. I could easily live with it in a heartbeat.
The Arcam is a different beast. I have never even heard it in multi-channel, so who the heck knows? The initial reports on the AVR300 border on ridiculous! I have NEVER seen copy like this machine has gotten. More to come. I can say this, the hype on the musicality is NO LIE. It is simply breathtaking. Period.
post edidted for pricing.