Arcam AVR-850 & Arcam AVR-550 - Page 115 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #3421 of 3442 Old 11-28-2019, 12:37 PM
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Is the Arcam AVR850 still competitive?

I don't do many posts but really value this site for all the input, so thanks in advance to you all.
I've got an Onkyo TX-NR809 that still does what it does, but I'd like to improve music quality which is the main use for my AV system. No movies, no cd, no vinyl...just stream jazz, blues, rock. 7.1 system using B&W + Seaton sub with separate 3-channel Emotiva amp for LCR. I'll not go past 7.1.2 due to room layout.

Listened to options at Magnolia and was really impressed with the Arcam 850. But in reading about this unit, it seems to have been plagued over its years with problems. Are there important DSP formats missing from the 850 compared with competition. OTOH, I don't need lots of bells/whistles if the Arcam's software delivers great detail and channel differentiation from 2-channel audio streams. I like DTS better than Dolby, btw.

So to anyone who's owned this unit for awhile, and anyone who's just starting out with it, are you having hardware problems with the Arcam 850? I can do without sending a unit back or to the repair shop. And to anyone with an opinion on the market overall, given the new units coming out (Arcam included) at this price point is there a better solution for my objective? Anthem 1120? Many thanks.
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post #3422 of 3442 Old 11-28-2019, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaboe Crimm View Post
I don't do many posts but really value this site for all the input, so thanks in advance to you all.
I've got an Onkyo TX-NR809 that still does what it does, but I'd like to improve music quality which is the main use for my AV system. No movies, no cd, no vinyl...just stream jazz, blues, rock. 7.1 system using B&W + Seaton sub with separate 3-channel Emotiva amp for LCR. I'll not go past 7.1.2 due to room layout.

Listened to options at Magnolia and was really impressed with the Arcam 850. But in reading about this unit, it seems to have been plagued over its years with problems. Are there important DSP formats missing from the 850 compared with competition. OTOH, I don't need lots of bells/whistles if the Arcam's software delivers great detail and channel differentiation from 2-channel audio streams. I like DTS better than Dolby, btw.

So to anyone who's owned this unit for awhile, and anyone who's just starting out with it, are you having hardware problems with the Arcam 850? I can do without sending a unit back or to the repair shop. And to anyone with an opinion on the market overall, given the new units coming out (Arcam included) at this price point is there a better solution for my objective? Anthem 1120? Many thanks.
I guess I’m in a minority where I really didn’t have any problems with it. I’ve had my unit for about 3 years and haven’t had a single issue. The AVR 600 was a lot more problematic.

Dirac Live is a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, makes a massive difference in sound. The sound is so much tighter in my space at least.

I think the only format missing for the Arcam is the Auro 3D. Another consideration is that it has HDMI 2.0, so no eARC.

At that price point, receiver options are limited - Anthem 1120, NAD T777 v3, or separates.

Since you have a Magnolia close by, definitely demo it in your own space with the room correction. You can return it if you don’t like it. I think the MSRP has also come down to $5k, so better deal than when I got it.

Theater/Living Room 5.2.2 : JVC RS600 | Oppo UDP-203 | Apple TV 4K | Nvidia Shield TV | SI Black Diamond 2.4:1 120" | Arcam AVR 850 | Sonus Faber Olympica I(LR), Sonus Faber Center Domus, Monitor Audio C165 (Surr + Height) | Dual PSA S1500 | Panamax M5300 Power Conditioner | Logitech Harmony Smart Control
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post #3423 of 3442 Old 11-29-2019, 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Jaboe Crimm View Post
I don't do many posts but really value this site for all the input, so thanks in advance to you all.
I've got an Onkyo TX-NR809 that still does what it does, but I'd like to improve music quality which is the main use for my AV system. No movies, no cd, no vinyl...just stream jazz, blues, rock. 7.1 system using B&W + Seaton sub with separate 3-channel Emotiva amp for LCR. I'll not go past 7.1.2 due to room layout.

Listened to options at Magnolia and was really impressed with the Arcam 850. But in reading about this unit, it seems to have been plagued over its years with problems. Are there important DSP formats missing from the 850 compared with competition. OTOH, I don't need lots of bells/whistles if the Arcam's software delivers great detail and channel differentiation from 2-channel audio streams. I like DTS better than Dolby, btw.

So to anyone who's owned this unit for awhile, and anyone who's just starting out with it, are you having hardware problems with the Arcam 850? I can do without sending a unit back or to the repair shop. And to anyone with an opinion on the market overall, given the new units coming out (Arcam included) at this price point is there a better solution for my objective? Anthem 1120? Many thanks.
I would pretty much mirror what akka83 has said but I have experienced some software issues. Firstly my unit would forget how to play Atmos when put into standby when, upon resumption, it would play Dolby Digital instead. This was fixed by Arcam but I was without the unit for a while. Secondly, following the last firmware update, the crossover for my height speakers will revert to 50Hz (which is too low for my speakers) when the unit is totally powered off. A workaround is to just put the unit into standby when the set value is retained. I await a promised firmware fix for this but it doesn't seem to be a priority for Arcam as it has been months in the coming.

Despite these issues I am very happy with the sound that this unit produces and plan to keep it for some time yet. It all depends on what new innovations come along to improve things. One feature I would like is eArc which this unit doesn't support.

One word about Dirac is that different people will see differing amounts of improvement depending on how good the starting point of their room is. If you have an acoustically very good room then you may not see as much improvement as someone who has a room that is not so acoustically good. I have found in my room the stereo performance is slightly better whereas the 7.2.4 performance is quite a lot better with Dirac engaged and as compared to my previous Marantz 7010 which uses the top line Audyssey room equalisation. I put this down to the room being an attic room with sloping ceilings meeting overhead and running front to back. I have my ceiling speakers mounted on these ceilings with two each side of the apex and Audyssey really struggled to give me a coherent Atmos soundstage. Dirac does much better and was well worth the investment for me.

I did consider the Anthem 1120 but went with the Arcam because of Dirac and also the power output. Once you start to drive more than two channels then the Arcam is more robust and I always like to have a bit of power in reserve. I bought a good , clean Arcam P7 second hand to power my rears and uppers.

So I would say, if you don't need eArc, go with the 850 but if you do want eArc then look at the spec of the new Arcams.

Good luck.

LG 77C8 (UK) - Arcam AVR 850 - Arcam FMJ P7 - 7.2.4 Atmos setup.

Last edited by alexbarbel; 11-30-2019 at 01:51 AM.
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post #3424 of 3442 Old 11-29-2019, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Jaboe Crimm View Post
I don't do many posts but really value this site for all the input, so thanks in advance to you all.
I've got an Onkyo TX-NR809 that still does what it does, but I'd like to improve music quality which is the main use for my AV system. No movies, no cd, no vinyl...just stream jazz, blues, rock. 7.1 system using B&W + Seaton sub with separate 3-channel Emotiva amp for LCR. I'll not go past 7.1.2 due to room layout.

Listened to options at Magnolia and was really impressed with the Arcam 850. But in reading about this unit, it seems to have been plagued over its years with problems. Are there important DSP formats missing from the 850 compared with competition. OTOH, I don't need lots of bells/whistles if the Arcam's software delivers great detail and channel differentiation from 2-channel audio streams. I like DTS better than Dolby, btw.

So to anyone who's owned this unit for awhile, and anyone who's just starting out with it, are you having hardware problems with the Arcam 850? I can do without sending a unit back or to the repair shop. And to anyone with an opinion on the market overall, given the new units coming out (Arcam included) at this price point is there a better solution for my objective? Anthem 1120? Many thanks.
1) I've had zero hardware issues since purchasing the 850 in April. I had problems in the past with the 660 and the 750 but customer service took care everything for me.
2) You asked if any important DSP formats are missing. There's nothing missing other than Auro 3D, but what you need to know is that the 850 handles legacy formats differently. Whereas before with the 750 there was DTS Neo:6 Cinema and DTS Neo:6 Music for example, now with the 850, one DTS format, DTS:X, plays back legacy formats such as the Neo:6 flavors, in addition to of course the DTS equivalent to Atmos. If my memory serves me, the front panel doesn't specifically say Neo:6 any more, but it plays nonetheless. Same concept with Dolby. In Dolby, legacy formats are played under "Dolby Surround" which yes, they actually took the original name from the late-70s and 80s and are just repurposing it, but it kinda makes sense because it plays legacy formats. Long story short, you're not missing any major DSP formats other than Auro 3D, the 850 and DTS and Dolby are just playing legacy formats under one all-purpose format.
3) I see you have a 3-channel Emotiva LCR amp. I haven't listened to this amp, but I can say I have listened to other amps and the Class-G Arcam sound sold me on the 660, the 750 and the 850. If you purchased the 850, you would have the luxury of comparing the Emotiva with "just" the 850 to see which amp you like better.
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post #3425 of 3442 Old 11-29-2019, 09:57 AM
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The Direct mode seems to completely rob my turntable of any bass, even with bass-heavy vinyl. Has anyone else noticed this too, or is it just my setup? I have the Acoustic Signature Wow. Shutting off Direct brings the bass back of course, but I'd still love to experience a purely straight, satisfying analog connection and sound!
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post #3426 of 3442 Old 11-29-2019, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by surroundsound99 View Post
The Direct mode seems to completely rob my turntable of any bass, even with bass-heavy vinyl. Has anyone else noticed this too, or is it just my setup? I have the Acoustic Signature Wow. Shutting off Direct brings the bass back of course, but I'd still love to experience a purely straight, satisfying analog connection and sound!
Maybe you are used to sitting in a position in the room, where there is a bass peak?
Dirac will bring that peak down, and that can be a dramatic difference!

Edit: oops .. I read Dirac instead of Direct .. so the inverse may apply .. you might sit in a bass "null".
However, Dirac normally don't raise as much as it brings down!
You need to have a look at your curves for R and L.

Also .. if you use subwoofers, they are not used in Direct mode!

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post #3427 of 3442 Old 11-29-2019, 12:59 PM
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1) I've had zero hardware issues since purchasing the 850 in April. I had problems in the past with the 660 and the 750 but customer service took care everything for me.
2) You asked if any important DSP formats are missing. There's nothing missing other than Auro 3D, but what you need to know is that the 850 handles legacy formats differently. Whereas before with the 750 there was DTS Neo:6 Cinema and DTS Neo:6 Music for example, now with the 850, one DTS format, DTS:X, plays back legacy formats such as the Neo:6 flavors, in addition to of course the DTS equivalent to Atmos. If my memory serves me, the front panel doesn't specifically say Neo:6 any more, but it plays nonetheless. Same concept with Dolby. In Dolby, legacy formats are played under "Dolby Surround" which yes, they actually took the original name from the late-70s and 80s and are just repurposing it, but it kinda makes sense because it plays legacy formats. Long story short, you're not missing any major DSP formats other than Auro 3D, the 850 and DTS and Dolby are just playing legacy formats under one all-purpose format.
3) I see you have a 3-channel Emotiva LCR amp. I haven't listened to this amp, but I can say I have listened to other amps and the Class-G Arcam sound sold me on the 660, the 750 and the 850. If you purchased the 850, you would have the luxury of comparing the Emotiva with "just" the 850 to see which amp you like better.
So far so good. Many thanx to akka, alex and surroundsound for your experience. I'm hoping to hear some negatives otherwise I'll have to buy one of these on Crutchfield. If you go back to the early posts on this 850 string there were lots of complaints. Where are you guys anyway? Moved on or happy? My main observation on hearing the Arcam was in comparison to Denon, Marantz and Yamahau using an internet music source. No comparison when the Arcam came on through the same system. I'm making a tradeoff in saving on trouble factor and cost to use streaming audio, so whatever electronics can best optimize this compressed source is what I want. Arcam had detail and soundstage differences that nobody needed to tell me to notice. So somebody out there must have had some problems??? Or is this the advantage of a buying a good unit that has been in service for several years now and the bugs are worked out? The new Arcams don't do much for me, plastic housing and all, I don't need 13 channels, and the Auro thing is just one more bell/whistle.

Surroundsound did a great job of explaining the dts / dolby legacy issue. Does this tell me that the unit can still take a 2-channel signal and work its dsp magic to create a roomful of sound? Perhaps better yet than my old Onkyo with its standard issue dolby-dts/music/movie? As for the Emotiva amp it's got lots of power but I'll likely use it for sides to take some load off the Arcam amp hoping to optimize the sound quality of LCR and atmos.
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post #3428 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 11:34 AM
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Arcam AVR-850 & Arcam AVR-550

Is there any benefit in running two subwoofers using the Sub1 and Sub2 outputs, despite the fact that the outputs are mirrored and hence subwoofers cannot be calibrated separately? I mean except for someone with a very large room where one subwoofer might not be enough.

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post #3429 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 12:38 PM
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Yes.

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Yes.


Sweet. Thanks.
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post #3431 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaboe Crimm View Post
I don't do many posts but really value this site for all the input, so thanks in advance to you all.
I've got an Onkyo TX-NR809 that still does what it does, but I'd like to improve music quality which is the main use for my AV system. No movies, no cd, no vinyl...just stream jazz, blues, rock. 7.1 system using B&W + Seaton sub with separate 3-channel Emotiva amp for LCR. I'll not go past 7.1.2 due to room layout.

Listened to options at Magnolia and was really impressed with the Arcam 850. But in reading about this unit, it seems to have been plagued over its years with problems. Are there important DSP formats missing from the 850 compared with competition. OTOH, I don't need lots of bells/whistles if the Arcam's software delivers great detail and channel differentiation from 2-channel audio streams. I like DTS better than Dolby, btw.

So to anyone who's owned this unit for awhile, and anyone who's just starting out with it, are you having hardware problems with the Arcam 850? I can do without sending a unit back or to the repair shop. And to anyone with an opinion on the market overall, given the new units coming out (Arcam included) at this price point is there a better solution for my objective? Anthem 1120? Many thanks.
I have been using a Arcam AVR-850 since mid 2018 with no problems. I initially was using a Denon 4311 in pre-amp mode with two external amps (Wyred 4 Sound ST-1000MKII and Emotiva XPA-3). While movie playback was good, listening to music sounded tinny and not good. My front main speakers are Mirage OMD-28's. So I initially went looking for new speakers. I went to a Magnolia Design Center and they had the Arcam AVR-550 on display. After listening to the 550 compared to Denon, Marantz, Onkyo Integra, and Pioneer. The Arcam came out on top and even my frugal wife agreed. Best Buy had an open box Arcam 550 but was only discounting it $100. I purchased it and there was an improvement over the Denon AVR it was replacing. I am sold on Dirac. I decided to take back the open box since it had a scratch on the front on the AVR and pay the $100 difference for a new unit. Best Buy had none in stock and it was going to over a month until they received more 550's.

This gave me time to research additional AVR's. I purchased a Anthem AVM60 since I already had amps and returned it . Long story short while it sounded better then the Denon we preferred the sound of the Arcam. I came across a used AVR-850 for 3k and I purchased it. It has performed without issue. I am using it in a 5.1 system in my man cave. I mostly use it for music listening in two channel mode. The rest of my speakers are Mirage OMD series (center channel and rears), and I am using a single Monoprice Monolith 15" sub. I am using a OPPO-205 for streaming (Tidal) and CD playback. I purchased a MiniDSP UMIK-1 since I was having problems with the stock mic that came with the Arcam when trying to use the Dirac software. Once the3 UMIK-1 was in place the implementation of the Dirac software has worked without issue.

The only issue I had was when I was playing the AVR-850 too loud (volume over 75 indicated on the front panel of the 850). I was listening to Phil Collins In the Air Tonight and once the drum portion of the song played the 850 shut down. According to Arcam via email the unit went into protection mode. They said do not listen to music at those levels. I have not found the need to turn up the volume that loud since it has happened. I have thought about connecting the Wyred 4 Sound ST-1000MKII to the 850 to power the front channels if the need arises to crank it up. I am very happy with the stereo sound the 850 provides my Mirage OMD-28's.

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Maybe you are used to sitting in a position in the room, where there is a bass peak?
Dirac will bring that peak down, and that can be a dramatic difference!

Edit: oops .. I read Dirac instead of Direct .. so the inverse may apply .. you might sit in a bass "null".
However, Dirac normally don't raise as much as it brings down!
You need to have a look at your curves for R and L.

Also .. if you use subwoofers, they are not used in Direct mode!
Oh I see... no sub in Direct mode... I must have missed that in the manual... I do use a sub. That would explain alot then, thanks.

Yes, you are correct, I sit in a bass null zone unfortunately, so that doesn't help either. Still though, my fronts hit about 40 so I was hoping for more bass.

The good news is that I had an electrician install several 20 amp outlets throughout the room so that I could experiment with moving the sub around so I will try that.
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post #3433 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 03:18 PM
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So far so good. Many thanx to akka, alex and surroundsound for your experience. I'm hoping to hear some negatives otherwise I'll have to buy one of these on Crutchfield. If you go back to the early posts on this 850 string there were lots of complaints. Where are you guys anyway? Moved on or happy? My main observation on hearing the Arcam was in comparison to Denon, Marantz and Yamahau using an internet music source. No comparison when the Arcam came on through the same system. I'm making a tradeoff in saving on trouble factor and cost to use streaming audio, so whatever electronics can best optimize this compressed source is what I want. Arcam had detail and soundstage differences that nobody needed to tell me to notice. So somebody out there must have had some problems??? Or is this the advantage of a buying a good unit that has been in service for several years now and the bugs are worked out? The new Arcams don't do much for me, plastic housing and all, I don't need 13 channels, and the Auro thing is just one more bell/whistle.

Surroundsound did a great job of explaining the dts / dolby legacy issue. Does this tell me that the unit can still take a 2-channel signal and work its dsp magic to create a roomful of sound? Perhaps better yet than my old Onkyo with its standard issue dolby-dts/music/movie? As for the Emotiva amp it's got lots of power but I'll likely use it for sides to take some load off the Arcam amp hoping to optimize the sound quality of LCR and atmos.
Yes, you can definitely take a 2-channel signal and the 850 will work its DSP magic to play all 7.1.2 of your channels in all its glory! See page 32 of the manual for a full explanation. There's several choices and they behave differently from each other. Of course Sound & Vision and the professionals say that you shouldn't really artificially expand 2-channels, the front channels are supposed to be for soundstage and the rest of the speakers for ambiance, but who cares! I play all 7.1.4 all the time and it's great. Love it.

You should also know if you don't already that Arcam was bought out by the Harman group in the summer of 2018 I believe. Considering it's been over a year now I would guess that they've worked out some of the quality bugs, or i would hope at least. Truth be told, I actually bought the big boy Denon instead of the Arcam but then 4 days later I changed my mind and paid the difference for the Arcam. I just couldn't live without that Class G sound I had so gotten used to. It's a risk, but you do have the 5-year FMJ warranty.
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post #3434 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 03:20 PM
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Oh I see... no sub in Direct mode... I must have missed that in the manual... I do use a sub. That would explain alot then, thanks.

Yes, you are correct, I sit in a bass null zone unfortunately, so that doesn't help either. Still though, my fronts hit about 40 so I was hoping for more bass.

The good news is that I had an electrician install several 20 amp outlets throughout the room so that I could experiment with moving the sub around so I will try that.
You can always use more subwoofers!
When properly placed in the room, and playing the same content (mono), they do wonders!
You might need something like a MiniDSP to time align the subwoofers, if they cannot be placed at equal distance.
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post #3435 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 05:00 PM
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...The only issue I had was when I was playing the AVR-850 too loud (volume over 75 indicated on the front panel of the 850). I was listening to Phil Collins In the Air Tonight and once the drum portion of the song played the 850 shut down. According to Arcam via email the unit went into protection mode. They said do not listen to music at those levels. I have not found the need to turn up the volume that loud since it has happened...
The loudest I every went was 74! Playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with my brother-in-law. Literally, our ears hurt afterwards! Low to mid 60s is about the highest I normally go though.

The only time the protection circuit shut the system down was back when I owned either the 660 or the 750, playing Tron.
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post #3436 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 05:03 PM
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You can always use more subwoofers!
When properly placed in the room, and playing the same content (mono), they do wonders!
You might need something like a MiniDSP to time align the subwoofers, if they cannot be placed at equal distance.
Yes, you're right, more subs would probably help to even out the room. That was another reason I had the electrician install several 20 amp outlets around the room, for more subs. I am aware of the MiniDSP but thank you for the reminder.
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post #3437 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 05:45 PM
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I might have missed it but can you share what are the benefits from using both the sub pre out? Is it due to the voltage output? I have been using only 1 output to the minidsp.

Last edited by storm028; 11-30-2019 at 05:49 PM.
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post #3438 of 3442 Old 11-30-2019, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by surroundsound99 View Post
The loudest I every went was 74! Playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with my brother-in-law. Literally, our ears hurt afterwards! Low to mid 60s is about the highest I normally go though.

The only time the protection circuit shut the system down was back when I owned either the 660 or the 750, playing Tron.
hmmm. well appears i'm not alone in having less refined taste in music...good. so does 74 mean it can still go to 11? my onkyo was anemic at 130 w/c (2 driven of course) which is why i added emotiva's 200 w/c (each). hate to use that for the fronts though since that's where i want the full arcam effect to happen. i can crack the paint now with some of my favorites (details not necessary) and it's in a pretty large room which is why 2 channel stereo just doesn't cut it for me. hey it's my money i'll play the damn thing how i want. is this protection aspect maybe less a problem if i have that additional emotiva amp behind the 850? for the most part i don't go over 80 in the current system, although wife does go to sleep early.
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post #3439 of 3442 Old 12-01-2019, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by hasta666 View Post
Is there any benefit in running two subwoofers using the Sub1 and Sub2 outputs, despite the fact that the outputs are mirrored and hence subwoofers cannot be calibrated separately? I mean except for someone with a very large room where one subwoofer might not be enough.
For me the main benefit in using two subs is to fill in the nulls that can happen if you use just one sub. Doing this will result in a smoother frequency response at the listening positions. The trick is positioning the two subs in the best possible way to achieve this goal and that can prove challenging.

Of course Dirac will attempt to smooth everything out but finds it more difficult to fill in nulls than it does to reduce peaks. I find a noticeable improvement using two well positioned SVS SB 2000 subs as opposed to just one although one on it's own is capable of giving me all the volume that I want.

LG 77C8 (UK) - Arcam AVR 850 - Arcam FMJ P7 - 7.2.4 Atmos setup.
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post #3440 of 3442 Old 12-02-2019, 05:47 PM
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... so does 74 mean it can still go to 11? ... is this protection aspect maybe less a problem if i have that additional emotiva amp behind the 850?
I don't know if the protection circuit will kick in if you use the emotive amp or not. I've never used external amps, only receivers.

Can it go to 11? It depends on alot of factors, the room for one. Personally I think a good sub is the secret to hitting Spinal Tap's "11".
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post #3441 of 3442 Old 12-03-2019, 10:48 PM
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I don't know if the protection circuit will kick in if you use the emotive amp or not. I've never used external amps, only receivers.

Can it go to 11? It depends on alot of factors, the room for one. Personally I think a good sub is the secret to hitting Spinal Tap's "11".
Yeah, I've got a Seaton submersive which is all the big bottom i need. But this protection issue makes me wonder, does this circuit somehow include protection of the preamp as well. Might mean a separate amp won't keep the unit from shutting down.
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post #3442 of 3442 Old 12-05-2019, 06:21 PM
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Dumb question: Is it possible to transmit one of the HDMI outputs wirelessly to my laptop and if so how?
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