Originally Posted by corival
Did you already compared the AV888 against the Primare SP32?
Hello, sorry I haven't gotten back ... I've been so busy lately. I did compare the Primare SP32 and Arcam AV888. I used a Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grands, Maestro Grand, Waltz Grand for rears, and a REL B1 subwoofer. I used a Primare A30.5 5-channel amplifier, which puts out 200WPC at 8ohms, with unbalanced cables. A Pioneer BDP09FD and Arcam CD37 were my sources (note: the Primare does not decode lossless audio, so I set the Pioneer to PCM via HDMI. I did let the Pioneer decode the audio for the Arcam at first but it wasn't as good as letting the Arcam decode it).
I think both pieces sounded great; overall the Arcam had the edge, especially at louder volumes. The system through the Primare sounded like it had a little bit of "glare" to the sound, whereas the Arcam sounded very refined, even when cranking the volume. It was a natural sound that sounded to me more like film and real music.
I did notice to that to get the volume cranking on the Arcam, volume is set to 65 versus 50 on the Primare, which may or may not say much. The primare seemed to have a little more going on at lower volumes, but once the volume is turned up on the Arcam, the sound really opens up. 2-channel analog was about dead even at moderate level; both offer an analog bypass mode for CD players.
While the Primare SP32 is $5K versus $6900 for Arcam, the Arcam does have it smoked on features. Two HDMI outputs and five inputs, versus one out, three in on the Primare. The Arcam can decode the lossless formats, the Primare cannot. Plus the Arcam has auto calibration and a decent built-in scalar; the Primare does not even transcode through HDMI. Also to get the on-screen menu on Primare, you have to run Component video! If you could get past the features and use an SPL meter to calibrate your audio, you'd get a heck of a processor from Primare. I do like how you can specifiy different crossovers for each speaker in the system on the Primare.
The built quality is very nice on both, but the Primare does look and feel more upscale. Both achieve a simple yet spartan approach, but the text is larger on Primare's display and I prefer the turn knob versus the push buttons on the Arcam. I have to say that the Primare has been very solid too albeit because of the lack of feature, though so far the latest firmware for AV888 has been good. Supposedly the Primare will have an A/V board soon adding lossless decoding and a video scalar which will put it about the same price as the AV888 but personally, if you have a good blu-ray player like a Pioneer or Oppo, you could let the player decode it. Plus, I personally could care less about a scalar since my sources are good (AT&T U-Verse, Vudu, XBOX360, blu-ray) but if you have a DVD or legacy sources, you may fair better with the Arcam.
All in all both are nice, but in the end the Arcam was the more "refined" sounding piece for home theater and kills the Primare on features making it our go to piece. Get past the features and the Primare holds its own. With good sources, it sounds nice and it doesn't murder analog sources with bad audio. Some of our customers don't care about the gadgets per se but want good sound and the Primare fits the bill. For a bit more, you can have even better sound and get all the bells and whistles to boot from Arcam.
By the way, I did go back and compare the Primare SP32 w/ A30.5 and Arcam AV888 w/ P777 ... the Arcam amplifier really outpaced the Primare A30.5. It had so much more control, especially at louder volumes than the Primare. It sounded much more powerful. The driver control was so good in fact, while watching Live Free Die Hard during the apartment shootout scene, I could feel wisps of air from all the speakers! The center speaker grill even flew off! The Arcam was just great; on the Viennas the Arcam simply was the better sounding stack.
I hope this helps ... if you have any more questions, please feel free to PM me.