Arcam SA30 integrated home theater amplifier testing
The Arcam integrated amplifier has an output power of 220 watts. It is also equipped with 3 RCA, 2 optical, 2 coaxial, MC and MM phone inputs, a USB socket and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
This amplifier is class “G”, which means it doubles the output stage to eliminate transverse distortions in the output switching. In practice, the “G” class combines the advantages of the “A” class. Arcam uses “G” class amplification on its more expensive, premium devices.
SA30 model features
The amplifier does not have HDMI inputs, but instead offers eARC, HDMI connectivity, which simplifies connection to a TV. Google Chromecast, Airplay2, UPNP, Roon endpoint, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, (the latter with MQA support) and Tuneln radio features are also available on the amplifier. Of course, there are also Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections on the device. Thanks to UPNP streaming, high-definition network music is also available through Arcam’s dedicated MusicLife app, or with the UPNP control app (mConnect Bubble UPNP) or with subscription Roon apps. These applications have proven to be more stable than Arcam’s own software. The RS232 connection enables integration into an intelligent home automation system.
Dirac Live corrects reflection and acoustic problems via Windows or Mac. A microphone is included, the software measures, calculates and then corrects the errors, converting the analog signals into digital signals. 7 digital filters are available for fine adjustment (Minimum Phase Fast Roll off, Linear Phase Slow Roll off). Of these, the default Apodizing mode worked best for us during the trial. The Arcam Control application can also be controlled via iOs.
5 pieces ,4 mm speaker cables are also included with the device. The exterior of the Arcam amplifier is characterized by a modern, simple, functional design. The gray housing has a compact black and white display, as well as circular volume and power buttons on the front panel. The relatively small LED screen could make the captions more readable and the letters appear a little slow. Below the screen are the menu, input selector, mute, and balance buttons. For many, the amplifier may look a bit dull and monotonous, but for those who prefer clean and simple, practical audio and hi-fi equipment, the Arcam SA30 may be an ideal choice.
It is not very large in size, a total of 12 kg, so it is quite easy to move and easy to place. The touch-sensitive remote control has a backlight and a simple and practical layout to match the look of the amplifier.
We tested the amplifier
Testing was performed in a home theater room paired with a Focal Chora 816 home theater speaker set. The acoustics of the cinema were ideal based on our measurements. Sound-absorbing panels and diffuser panels have been placed on the walls and ceiling to ensure proper acoustics. In front of the relatively large window areas and the patio door, thick darkening, acoustic curtains have been placed, which not only guarantee the excellent sound of the room, but can also solve the complete blackout, which is an essential aspect of a cinema room. A floor mat has been laid on the floor, which also helps to cushion unwanted sounds.
For starters, we watched the action movie Transformers- The Last Knight, which hit theaters in 2017. The Arcam amp produced very intense, definite bass. We experience a surprisingly wide stage picture and ideal mid and high ranges. We continued to test the amp with the musical comedy Rock of Ages, and we were already curious about the musicality in this film. Working together with the high quality speaker set and amplifier, we heard a very detailed, balanced sound.
For the musical test, we chose his hit Sting: Desert Rose. The stereo sound was flawless, the bass sounded clear and muscular even at higher volumes. It produced clear, soft sound, powerful, tight bass, and the amp produced no intrusive, pleasant treble and a pronounced mid-range at all. However, the rhythm and momentum seemed little to us, there was still room for the amp to improve.
The Dirac program is more complex and complex compared to other amplifier software, but it allows you to make better, more reliable and more accurate settings. But not perfect. Some updates are still missing, it took a while for the device to start up after installation, and a Bluetooth connection was missing, but that’s not necessarily a big problem.
We found the base software unstable at times, so it is better to choose UPNP streaming modes instead. Dirac room acoustic correction software, unlike other similar software, is able to make much more accurate and better settings, but it still has its flaws. This program is quite complicated and complex, but if we don’t give up and do the necessary measurements and adjustments, we will get surprisingly precise results. Obviously, room correction software alone will not solve room acoustic problems such as echo or unfavorable reverberation time. For these defects, only acoustic treatment can provide a truly effective solution.
The SA30 amplifier does not bring any innovation in its exterior, clearly the functionality and practicality was the goal of the designers when this amplifier was manufactured. The amplifier is not in the cheapest price range, but if it is not the exterior that matters, but the premium sound, you may want to choose this unit for your home theater system, although you can buy other brands of amplifiers with similar features and functions at a better price, and even have more. it is also a competitor to Arcam that has even more features.
Written by Róbert Polgár