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Arcam FMJ A18 vs Marantz PM6003 with Whatfedale Diamond 10.3s

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As some of you have probably read, I've recently added a Beresford speaker/amp switch box in order to use my Wharfedale Diamond 10.3s with both an AV amp and stereo amp - thus effectively having one system for music and another for movies.

I'm going to have a listen to the Marantz PM6003 on Tuesday, which I can get for £245. I did consider Rotel, but they weren't easy to get a demo of, plus their 'bright' sound does not really appeal. Whilst on the phone to Audio T, they mentioned the Arcam FMJ A18, which I originally discounted, due to cost - £469.

However, having had another think over the weekend, I can stretch my budget to the A18. The looks and build look absolutely superb and I admit to having a soft spot for Arcam, given what I've heard at shows. The question is, given my speakers (plus I'll be using the 10MX sub), is it worth considering the A18, or will it be a waste of money? I'm very very happy with my speakers and have no plans to change them.

Sound-wise, I like a warmer sound, with plenty of detail and decent amounts of bass (shouldn't be a problem, as I'm integrating my sub into the system).

Sources will be a Sony RCD-W100 used as a transport. DAC is a Sony MDS-JB980 Mini Disc deck - (which will be used for MD duties, as well as with the Sony CDP and Mac Mini), Denon TU-1800 tuner, Rega P1 and Marantz DV-6600 DVD-A/SACD player.

Any advice much appreciated! Cheers! :cool:

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I reckon the arcam and wharfed ale speaker combo will sound really nice and I don't think it's a waste of money at all.

Can you get into audioT and demo as they are bound to have your speaks and amp in situ?

Otherwise would they let you home dem?

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Thanks gsrai. Yep - Audio T have both the Wharfedales, plus the Arcam and the Marantz. Think I'll give them a call tomorrow to ask to demo tha Arcam too.

Forgot to add the Rega P1 as the other source I'll be using.

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Nice one Neil, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the A18 to see if they are similar to mine :)

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An Arcam and yer Diamonds will make some nice sounds together imo.:)

Not heard the latest FMJ ints but could have a meeting with the A38 if chances coincide. A Wam VIP just bought himself some Faithful Musical Joy and he's hypnotized me a little.mrsleaze.gif ("no, I still want Naim!"nyah.gif)

One thing that's outstanding about the Arcam amp sound is the tidiness. When I bought some Castle speakers yonks ago, they were demoed with a A85 using Sheryl Crow's Live in Central Park. I never forgot the presentation of the drumming; the complex textures of the sounds from the stick hitting the drum-kit were fully realized without any splashiness or smearing. Deft, textured and taut!:^ Since then I have not heard another brand achieve the same feat. If your tastes lean towards pop band music, a FMJ could rock your world. Having owned past budget Marantzes and Rotels, I'll venture that the FMJ trick with drumming is outside their areas of expertise, so the PM6003 is unlikely to match the A18's ability to capture textural complexities.

Good luck with the auditioning. Like good ol' Ggobind.gif I'mslick.gif interested to hear your findings.

cheerSS

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Thanks for your advice, guys. The PM6003 and A18 are both on my audition list for tomorrow! :^

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Sorry 'bout that. A few things to sort out - now for the write up!

Source: Marantz CD6003 CD Player

Speakers: Wharfedale Diamond 10.3s

Cables: Not sure

Music list - a wide range here:

Eric Clapton - Blue Eyes Blue

Yes - Changes

Mike & The Mechanics - My Kind of Passion

Roxy Music - More than this

Jean Michel-Jarre - Oxygene Part 2

Diana Krall - The Look of Love

Dire Straits - Ridg Across the River

Genesis - Abacab (Live - from Wembley '86)

Genesis - Second Home by the Sea

Steely Dan - Gaslighting Abbie

Chicago - Along comes a Woman

Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

First up - the Marantz. Whilst decent enough sounding, given it's price point, from the beginning. I never really could 'get into' the music and gel with it. It had a slightly 'harsh' and 'wooden' - i.e. shut in sound. Bass levels seemed to vary from track to track - and it seemed lacking in pats compared to my current Onkyo. It sounded pretty decent on 'Oxygene Part 2' and with 'Abacab' (live music is always a tough test). In terms of detail, it was if there was a 'veil' over the speakers. Overall, no spark and something missing or as if the music is being begged to be let out to its full potential. Build quality seemed OK for the price point. Decent enough for a starter system, but to be honest, I've preferred NAD integrateds at the same price point.

Next up was the Arcam - even on the first few seconds of 'Blue Eyes Blue', I was absolutely gob-smacked. Rich-sounding and detailed - this track has a tendency to sound a blt 'clanky' for want of a better word. Plenty of tight, punchy bass, good levels of detail and a focused soundstage, without sounding at all harsh. Separation between instruments was much more noticeable - for example in 'My Crime of Passion' it was much easier to pick out the musical scale on the piano parts. Even rock, such as 'Changes' by Yes, which can be a bit 'wooly' sounding due to all the guitars sounded much better. 'Oxygene 2' was aboslutely stunning - layers and layers of detail and a very clearly defined bass-line. On to some Diana Krall and she sounded absolutely stunning - no 'nasaly' voice - just a wonderfully sounding smooth voice - as if she was in the same room (if only :love:). Build quality on the Arcam is top drawer - the case work is solid, metal fascia and gorgeous looks to boot!

Decisision made, I went for the Arcam - in black! I could listen to it for hours and it's the sort of amp that I'll be keeping for a long time and that I could easily live with if I had to downsize my system. Very very impressed - a smooth, rich, detailed sounding piece of kit with top-notch build quality. This is the most expensive component I've ever bought - but it'll be worth it!

Deposit put down and I'll be paying the balance and collecting the amp on New Year's Eve!

arcam_fmj_a18_black.jpg

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Congrats fella that is a good looking amp :^

Cheers for the writeup it's made me more confident im going down the correct path.

Just a thought as I dont remember but does the 606 not have pre outs?

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Neil did you consider the Rega Mira 3 which is now reduced by £150 to about £450.

I bought this when I auditioned against the A18 and I paid £600 :doh:

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Just like to add I only listened to vinyl and already had Rega T/T and speakers so prehaps my ears had decided before I listened.

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I had really high hopes of the rega Mira but it must be a sound I don't get on with it as I found it very bass light but not shrill.

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Gsrai - unfortunately, the TX-SR606 doesn't have pre-outs. Glad you enjoyed the write-up! Thanks for the encouragement to give it a listen - very glad that I did, as that Marantz was rather dull and sleep-inducing. Can't wait to get the Arcam hooked up and playing tunes!

Barney - no, I didn't consider the Rega Mira, actually. Not sure how it would have gel'ed with the Wharfedales. I've always found Rega amps to be a bit bass light when I've heard them at audio shows,

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Gsrai - unfortunately, the TX-SR606 doesn't have pre-outs. Glad you enjoyed the write-up! Thanks for the encouragement to give it a listen - very glad that I did, as that Marantz was rather dull and sleep-inducing.

no worries fella, I always think it's worth demoing above what you think (!) you can afford as it answers the "what if" question that always nags me (yup I'm said know :)).

I'm 90% sure that I too will go Arcam but there is no chance of a demo in wolves so I've got to buy and try so will go 2nd hand unless I see a good deal on ex-dem (the audioT prices are tempting).

Ideal scenario for me would be an FMJ A32 from yesteryear turns up :nerves:

Shame about the 606, I would say that if you ever get the chance to go up to an 876 the improvement to movies is immense, I had the 606 and when you go up the food chain you realise that the 606 is very aggressive.

Enjoy fella :^

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Thames mate. Definitely agree about demoing one step above - I can't believe what I was missing out on, considering I'd originally planned to just go for the PM6003.

RE: the 606 - it's not bad at what it does, but it can get very aggressive with certain music. To be honest, AV is a secondary thing to music for me, so unless a stonking deal on an 876 comes along, I will be staying put for the time being, although I am sure the improvements are there. The Beresford amp and speaker switch solves the 'two amps, one pair of speakers' issue for me at the moment. What I would love is a nice lottery win, then I can go Arcam on the AV receiver side of things and buy a BDP-100 - which I saw today briefly and was very impressed with the picture quality.

An FMJ 32 in your case sounds like it would fit the bill - do they turn up second-hand often?

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