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Arcam SA30 - Help required


CnoEvil
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I am in the market for a new Amp, as my trusty old Arcam AVR600 is finally giving up the ghost and is too costly to fix. Since I love the way Arcam's Class G sounds, the SA30 has obviously crossed my radar. 

I am looking for feedback, especially from owners - so @dave6v, my Friend, I am once again looking to you, as I believe you are such a person....but all comments most welcome. @ChemMan is this an Amp that you have heard? If so, how did it compare with your A39?

My concerns are not over the sound - but the problems that have been documented around the software - which is very reminiscent of what happened to the AVR600 - where a great sounding product was undermined with poor software...which unfortunately Arcam seems to be somewhat known for.

There have been numerous problems reported around distortion when playing Tidal, handshake issues with the HDMI, problems changing between audio formats and a clunky App. As time has marched on, these issues may have been fixed.....but it's not a journey I want to take again, if these problems persists. Been there and got the T Shirt.

So, what I want to know is:

1. Is this product now stable? If not, what are the current problems?

2. What is the App like?

3. Given I have a Node 2i, how does the SQ of the SA30 Streamer compare? From what I've read, I would be well advised to hang onto the Bluesound.

4. Has anyone compared the SQ of the SA30 with any of the Arcam Class G AVRs? I would expect it to be better, due to having a dedicated 2 Channel Pre.

5. Are there any other niggles that you would highlight?

Thanks for any and all help

Edited by CnoEvil
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I had an SA20 briefly. Sound quality was very good. A notch below the Cambridge CXA81 in terms of dynamics and resolution, but if you are a fan of the Arcam sound you'd like it. I believe that the SA30 is very similar.

The problem I had with it was very poor jitter rejection on the SPDIF input.  Arcam recommended a firmware update, but the update bricked the box.  Even though I volunteered to get handy with a JTAG header, Arcam said the only solution was to return it. Luckily, Richer Sounds agreed a refund.

I do find it odd that a company with the programming might of Samsung behind it can't get the basics right.

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58 minutes ago, jamster said:

I had an SA20 briefly. Sound quality was very good. A notch below the Cambridge CXA81 in terms of dynamics and resolution, but if you are a fan of the Arcam sound you'd like it. I believe that the SA30 is very similar.

The problem I had with it was very poor jitter rejection on the SPDIF input.  Arcam recommended a firmware update, but the update bricked the box.  Even though I volunteered to get handy with a JTAG header, Arcam said the only solution was to return it. Luckily, Richer Sounds agreed a refund.

I do find it odd that a company with the programming might of Samsung behind it can't get the basics right.

Thanks for the reply.

This is exactly my worry. I went through it once with the Arcam AVR600 - bought in 2009, was returned 3 times - and didn't get it stable until 2014, when I had the 3D board fitted, which cost me £500. I persevered because a) It sounded so good b) It had a 5 Year Warranty c) Arcam were very helpful.

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Sorry to hear of your AVR600 giving up the ghost! 

I really rate the SA30, certainly from a sound quality perspective. Lots of power, great detailing, wide soundstage and smooth without being too warm. 

As for software, I must admit that I only really use it for Tidal so far, streaming via Chromecast (from phone), rather than the arcam app. To date, I've had no real issues, bar the WiFi connection dropping off occasionally. But no issues with distortion or anything else. 

How much that lack of issues is down to luck, or down to firmware updates fixing previous issues, it's difficult for me to say. 

I had a bluesoundNode 2i briefly during a previous setup, and it was certainly slick from an app perspective; certainly more so than the Arcam. 

But taken as an overall product (predominantly used as a great sounding integrated), the Arcam has been great. 

Are you able to demo one - including the latest firmware updates - at home, to see if it's slick enough? 

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2 hours ago, dave6v said:

Sorry to hear of your AVR600 giving up the ghost! 

I really rate the SA30, certainly from a sound quality perspective. Lots of power, great detailing, wide soundstage and smooth without being too warm. 

As for software, I must admit that I only really use it for Tidal so far, streaming via Chromecast (from phone), rather than the arcam app. To date, I've had no real issues, bar the WiFi connection dropping off occasionally. But no issues with distortion or anything else. 

How much that lack of issues is down to luck, or down to firmware updates fixing previous issues, it's difficult for me to say. 

I had a bluesoundNode 2i briefly during a previous setup, and it was certainly slick from an app perspective; certainly more so than the Arcam. 

But taken as an overall product (predominantly used as a great sounding integrated), the Arcam has been great. 

Are you able to demo one - including the latest firmware updates - at home, to see if it's slick enough? 

That is good to hear.

1) How long have you had it - as there presumably has been firmware updates to improve matters?

2) Can you confirm that it has a 5 Year Warranty.

3) I'm very old school, so find all the digital gubbins confusing - So if I used my Node 2i via RCA, would that bypass the problem areas which are affected by the software?

4) Do you by any chance have it connected to a Sky Box? If so, do you have lip sync issues?

Re Demo: From a sound perspective, I can't see a problem, as I have never heard an Arcam I didn't like, including the Class G A39 and A49. From what I've read, it outperforms the AVR850 (which outperformed my 600). My Dealer would be ordering one in for me and doesn't have a demo - so I would just take the plunge (based on research) and hope for the best. I suspect using it with the Node, would be the way to go. At least it would be easier to send back than the AVR!

My other option would be to go for the LS50 Wireless 2 - but that only has a 2 year warranty and I am uncomfortable having everything in the one box - both from an obsolete pov and if something goes wrong, the whole system is shot.

Edited by CnoEvil
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2 minutes ago, CnoEvil said:

That is good to hear.

1) How long have you had it - as there presumably has been firmware updates to improve matters?

2) Can you confirm that it has a 5 Year Warranty.

3) I'm very old school, so find all the digital gubbins confusing - So if I used my Node 2i via RCA, would that bypass the problem areas which are affected by the software?

4) Do you by any chance have it connected to a Sky Box? If so, do you have lip sync issues?

Re Demo: From a sound perspective, I can't see a problem, as I have never heard a Arcam I didn't like including the Class G A39 and A49. From what I've read, it outperforms the AVR850 (which outperformed my 600). My Dealer would be ordering one in for me and doesn't have a demo - so I would just take the plunge (based on research) and hope for the best. I suspect using it with the Node, would be the way to go. At least it would be easier to send back than the AVR!

My other option would be to go for the LS50 Wireless 2 - but that only has a 2 year warranty and I am uncomfortable having everything in the one box - both from an obsolete pov and if something goes wrong, the whole system is shot.

If you had passive speakers and the amp went wrong your whole system ‘would be shot’; it’s the same difference. You must really love the Arcam sound to persist with it. Why not take the opportunity to try a different amp to use with your Node?

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Just now, DomT said:

If you had passive speakers and the amp went wrong your whole system ‘would be shot’; it’s the same difference. You must really love the Arcam sound to persist with it. Why not take the opportunity to try a different amp to use with your Node?

If the system consists of separate elements, they can be replaced individually. As the Active LS50s have everything built in, then you lose Streamer, Amp and Speakers, if a fault develops anywhere.

I am limited to the brands that the Dealer stocks, as I am trading in stuff to put against the cost - and of those, the Arcam is my standout favourite. I also appreciate the backup and support I get from them, when things go wrong - and with me, things always go wrong.

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I have two Arcam amps and a Node 2i but not the SA30.  I do have the same streaming app though.

Unless you’re using Spotify or Tidal direct, I don’t think you would want to use the native streaming app vs the Node.  The node is in a completely different league.  The Arcam app is functional and does the job but that’s all.

I probably will buy a SA30 but only when it’s discounted in a few years. DIRAC is a big factor for me. Having experienced it on my current Arcam, I couldn’t go back. 

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Super Wammer
3 hours ago, CnoEvil said:

My other option would be to go for the LS50 Wireless 2 - but that only has a 2 year warranty. 

If you buy from SSAV you'll get a 5 year warranty. I found this out by accident when my Node2 went down after 18 months, rang them up about getting it fixed and the cost and was told as it cost over X pounds it was covered by their company warranty policy for 5 years. 

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39 minutes ago, Lurch said:

If you buy from SSAV you'll get a 5 year warranty. I found this out by accident when my Node2 went down after 18 months, rang them up about getting it fixed and the cost and was told as it cost over X pounds it was covered by their company warranty policy for 5 years. 

That is worth knowing, so thank you for the info - but I will be staying loyal to my local dealer. There also isn't a SSAV dealer in NI.

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CNO pretty sure all Arcams have the 5 year warranty. My A29 and A39 certainly did. Used it twice on the A29 as recurring rail issue. 5 year no quibble and they pay postage both ways. Great service.

The number for them is 01707 668012 if you wanted to check this one does.

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If you look at the manual the warranty is confirmed as 5 years to original purchaser if bought from an authorised dealer

http://www.arcam.co.uk/ugc/tor/SA30/User Manual/SH304_EN-FR-DE-NL-ES-RU-IT-CN-KO__Web_Issue_G.pdf

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2 minutes ago, simon g said:

If you look at the manual the warranty is confirmed as 5 years to original purchaser if bought from an authorised dealer

http://www.arcam.co.uk/ugc/tor/SA30/User Manual/SH304_EN-FR-DE-NL-ES-RU-IT-CN-KO__Web_Issue_G.pdf

Thank you. I did check - but I always double check these things, as I have come across incidences where the info in the Manual was either wrong, or had been updated.

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9 hours ago, CnoEvil said:

That is good to hear.

1) How long have you had it - as there presumably has been firmware updates to improve matters?

2) Can you confirm that it has a 5 Year Warranty.

3) I'm very old school, so find all the digital gubbins confusing - So if I used my Node 2i via RCA, would that bypass the problem areas which are affected by the software?

4) Do you by any chance have it connected to a Sky Box? If so, do you have lip sync issues?

Re Demo: From a sound perspective, I can't see a problem, as I have never heard an Arcam I didn't like, including the Class G A39 and A49. From what I've read, it outperforms the AVR850 (which outperformed my 600). My Dealer would be ordering one in for me and doesn't have a demo - so I would just take the plunge (based on research) and hope for the best. I suspect using it with the Node, would be the way to go. At least it would be easier to send back than the AVR!

My other option would be to go for the LS50 Wireless 2 - but that only has a 2 year warranty and I am uncomfortable having everything in the one box - both from an obsolete pov and if something goes wrong, the whole system is shot.

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10 minutes ago, dave6v said:
10 hours ago, CnoEvil said:

That is good to hear.

1) How long have you had it - as there presumably has been firmware updates to improve matters?

2) Can you confirm that it has a 5 Year Warranty.

3) I'm very old school, so find all the digital gubbins confusing - So if I used my Node 2i via RCA, would that bypass the problem areas which are affected by the software?

4) Do you by any chance have it connected to a Sky Box? If so, do you have lip sync issues?

Re Demo: From a sound perspective, I can't see a problem, as I have never heard an Arcam I didn't like, including the Class G A39 and A49. From what I've read, it outperforms the AVR850 (which outperformed my 600). My Dealer would be ordering one in for me and doesn't have a demo - so I would just take the plunge (based on research) and hope for the best. I suspect using it with the Node, would be the way to go. At least it would be easier to send back than the AVR!

My other option would be to go for the LS50 Wireless 2 - but that only has a 2 year warranty and I am uncomfortable having everything in the one box - both from an obsolete pov and if something goes wrong, the whole system is shot.

Not sure whats going on with my incompetence quoting, but;

Owned it since November last year. 

Yep, there's a year warranty. 

I can't answer your questions 3 and 4, sorry. 

I'd like to think (probably naively), it'll probably all be fine in this day and age what with companies wanting to iron out any issues within a reasonable timescale. And with the product having been out for a couple of years, one would hope they wouldn't be any glaring issues. Compared to say the Kef LSX I owned a while back, it's far less clunky. 

I'm not particularly tech-savvy though, so take what I say with a pinch of salt. Let me know if you want me to test anything specific, if that helps. 

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