At first glance, Arcam’s flagship AV receiver seems well off the pace: no HDMI video upconversion, no networking abilities and it can’t charge your iPod. Another one of those hairshirt British designs aimed at a select few beardy types and with little to offer to real-world consumers? Hardly: this seven-channel design does have HDMI switching, video upconversion, independent second-room ability, plus biamping possibilities – oh, and possibly the best sub-£2000 home cinema performance you can get.
Give it a good weekend’s run-in, and spin a blockbuster – perhaps, say, something involving a giant monkey fighting a giant lizard – and the Arcam slaps down a muscular sonic performance, keeping a vice-like grip on the lower stuff and painting a fast, solid, and attention-grabbing sonic canvas that is full-to-bursting with detail.
Crash, bang, wallop
Bangs, crashes and skids flash seamlessly around the surround field, while the rattle of firearms avoids the nasty hard treble of inferior kit. The whole presentation is powerful and dynamic.
But the Arcam is no sonic brute: it’s realistic-sounding, voices balance wonderfully well within the overall tonal presentation, even the most ardent of two-channel devotees couldn’t fail to applaud its ability in stereo. Add the Arcam’s attractively stylish design and a sophisticated learning remote, and you’ve got yourself a package that has more than initial impressions might suggest.
But will you miss those extra features? Compared to rivals, the Arcam loses a modicum of convenience by not being capable of upscaling to full HDMI resolution. But ultimately, this small failing can’t detract from the sheer quality of the sonic performance. In short, it’s a great receiver.