Arcam Delta 290 Amplifiers

Delta 290

Integrated Amp - 75 watts

User Reviews (13)

Showing 1-10 of 13  
Jarvis   AudioPhile [Sep 28, 2016]

The 290 was the top of the line integrated of Arcam's prestigious Delta product range (the next step from the entry Alpha range). It enjoyed a long production run until the end of the '90s, while its price significantly increased, from a little under 500GBP (without the phono) at the beginning to almost double that towards the end.
Bought mine used for 300 Euro + shipping without the phono 3 years ago in near mint condition. I was very impressed to say least. Clear, dynamic yet smooth, excellent projections, real 3D soundstage, superbly balanced sound.
It easy bettered by A-B comparison my holy trinity of integrated that consisted of my Audiolab 8000A mk2, Quad 77, and Naim Nait 5i. I somehow knew it was gonna be better than my Audiolab, and I expected it to be a close call with my Nait. But I most certainly did not expect the 290 to sound better than my beloved Quad 77. Well, it did sound better overall. So the 290 became a keeper and sold the Audiolab.
Arcam Delta 290 integrated amps are rarely offered for sale, because people that have them love them. So, be careful: Check thoroughly if one comes in your way, usual faults include transistor insulation melt that blows fuses, input selector, and balance pot.
This is an all time great integrated amplifier up there with the best of the best at any price, so yes buy it, you will enjoy it. A lot!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
nick200wrx   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 30, 2009]

Amazing for the money in the second hand market. Less than £100 gets you a lot of amp.
Sounds better than arcam alpha 8 and 9 to me.
Just look for dodgy input selector.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
ericburnley   Casual Listener [Jul 23, 2003]
Strength:

Wonderful natural sound: tight bass, realistic vocal presence, beautiful midrange/highs.

Weakness:

None at the price point.

Being a music lover on a budget is a difficult thing. As a college student, I never was able to purchase any sort of listening gear (too busy paying for musical instruments- guitars, keyboard, amps, etc.). So, after being out of college for 6 years, I found myself thoroughly tired of listening to the Realistic brand record player/amplifier that had sat in my parents' garage for the duration of my youth, and decided to take the plunge and purchase some real equipment. The amplifier was the first thing to go for. I did a lot of reading reviews on this site (great site btw!), and decided on a price range of about $200-300. For that price, a home theater system was pretty much out- plus, I figured I could hold off until the market (and the many coding formats) settled and pick something up used in a couple years. So, I learned about some quality integrated stereo amps and figured that's what I could afford. Some of the other amps I considered: Creek 4330, Rotel, NAD 350/3020, Cambridge A500, Denon DRA775. I knew I wanted a decent phono stage too, to jump into vinyl eventually. Ultimately, I decided on the Arcam based on the reviews here. The sound of this amp is amazing. Everything is tight and controlled- from tasteful bass, to midrange vocal presence, to crisp yet warm highs. Good recordings have such a presence I never expected- jazz vocal recordings (which I have a soft spot for) appear to be right in the room with me. There's a natural, neutral quality to everything. I've heard amazing things about soundstage, but have yet to upgrade other items in my system (cd player/cables) and have only experienced marginal amazement in that category. Still, this amp astounds me. I've paired it with Axiom M22ti speakers (amazing inexpensive quality speakers!) and an old Revolver turntable, and am very very happy with the results.

Similar Products Used: None- this is my first REAL amplifier.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
galvonised   Casual Listener [Feb 27, 2003]
Strength:

sounds stunning can drive almost any pair of speakers loads of grunt keeps cool even when running at high volumes for long periods of time.

Weakness:

needs to warm up THATS ABOUT IT

This amp is stunning eventhough it is a couple of years old now. Bass is very tight and treble is clear and warm. The arcam has shed loads of power on tap and 75wpc is plenty i have 2 pairs of jr149 speakers and it can power them easily. at 40% volume the speakers clip but at that volume your ears hurt!!!!! It does need to warm up and when it does the sound is truly incredible. I have recently purchased a denon 1803 av reciver and the arcam blows that away. when phono board fitted can make turntables sound thier best.

Similar Products Used: Denon Arcam Marantz
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
george   [Apr 23, 2000]
Strength:

versatile. reliable. conservative looks. clean, neutral, dynamic, engaging sound. good re-sale value. remote control.

Weakness:

only available in black

When I look at Arcam products sitting in a rack I always think they are a little overpriced based on their compact un-assuming appearance. Sort of the impression one gets looking at Adcom, Rotel, NAD, etc...except that these products seem the better value based on looks alone. That initial impression is quickly put to rest when you integrate them into a system with good components such as :
B&W or Proac small to mid size monitors with good stands
Arcam, Rotel, Rega, or Cal Audio cd players
Rega 2 or 3, MMF, or other reasonable turntable
Nordost, Kimber, Tara Labs, Straightwire, etc interconnects and speaker wires.
In this type system, given it's limitations, the Delta will produce very satisfying sound and dynamics that are rendered in a smooth, firm sound that is neither tubelike (warm) or solid statelike (analytical, detailed). I can't think of higher praise for mid line gear that to have it produce sound that is neutral and listenable at all volume levels with all types of music. Arcam has the formula, and you will probably find that this is the last component you upgrade to move to the next level. High praise indeed. One last observation...When auditioning this integrated amp, try to hear a Golden Tube Audio SE-50 MK2 in the same system ( most dealers of one brand have the other). Both integrateds produce remarkably different sound, and I have lived happily with both.

Similar Products Used: most quality integrateds in it's price range.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Josh Landess   [Apr 16, 2000]
Strength:

No reliability problems, good sound to a beginner's ear. Quite a bit of power.

Weakness:

Old, no capability for upgrading to five-channel world. No info at arcam site about my amp. No remote enclosed in used purchase... don't know if it came with the amp when new.

I am submitting a brief review of my Arcam Delta 90.2 Integrated Amp that I bought used from the classified adds here on consumerreview.com The purchase went well, and the price was somewhere around $330 I think including shipping.

I do not see how to create a new category for this product, which is not the "Delta 290" of which others speak. It is 70 watts per channel. I don't know if there are other significant differences. The manual seems to be copyright 1989, so I guess perhaps that is around when the amp was made and sold.

This seems to be a well-made amp for building my two-channel system. I am just a beginner and will not try to testify too much about sound quality except that I cannot say I've noticed any problems. I bought two PSB speakers for $500 and I'm pleased so far that they go ok with the amp. I think I bought the ARCAM partly because I was intruiged by the comments of someone here who felt it was a high-current amp which would perhaps serve me better than the adcoms which also have a reputation for being "affordable high-end" audiophile stuff.

In the end, I might do things differently, particularly focusing on a more modern approach. But for the price, I think things have worked out ok.

Similar Products Used: Onkyo receiver.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
C A Wilson   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 17, 2000]
Strength:

Warm sounding and versatile integrated amp

Weakness:

None at the price

Used the Arcam now for around two years and ran direct listening tests with the Audiolab 8000A before buying (second-hand). The Audiolab appeared harsh and very wearing on the ears after listening for a long time; the Arcam was warmer, more relaxing, but still equally detailed. Hence, Arcam won the vote and still very happy with it. Also proved very versatile, as Yamaha processor has been added for AV integration - the Arcam provides a designated processor switch on the back of the set, which will then bypass the 290's volume and allow master volume control from the processor. Also equipped with tone controls, mute, two sets of speaker inputs, input and record selectors. All in all, practical and very good performance for price. No hardware faults to date. (A £50 phono stage is required for turntable users).
System: used with Marantz CD52 / Arcam Delta BB3 DAC / Nakamichi BX150E Tape Deck / Ruark Templar speakers / Yamaha DSP-E580 Processor / Nicam VCR & TV / Jamo centre & surround speakers

Similar Products Used: Tested against Audiolab 8000A (its usual competitor at this price band); Camridge Audio p100/c100 pre/power; NAD 7040 receiver
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
jaap veenstra   Audiophile [Dec 14, 2000]
Strength:

Power, simplicity, good balance in sound.

Weakness:

Has to warm up, before it sounds round and full.

I bought this amp at the 8th of december this year. (2000). The first thing I noticed is its round sound. Its detail and the power; No destortion at high volumes. (I had that with my Nad 712 receiver).
One thing I also noticed is the warming up period. It takes about 3 hours! Maybe because it's winter, but nonetheless it takes time. So, if you want to listen with the full capable sound of the amp. (And it is beautifull!!!) turn it on before you want to listnen. (Or leave it on.)
The three dimensional field is magnificent. The placement of the instuments is clear and vast. Especially with live recordings. (try On the night: Dire Straits.) It's like you are in the audience yourself.
A good amp with I will be using for a long period. Maybe I'll biamp it soon, because I'll be investing in bigger speakers soon.

Similar Products Used: Nad 340, 317, 712 receiver, Philips 920.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Adam Davies   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 23, 2002]
Strength:

Build Quality, Flexibility, Power, Runs Cool when driven hard.

Weakness:

Source selector switch can become dirty, Rear phono sockets can pull out if you're not very careful.

This is a very versatile amp. Full remote control and a facilty to override the volume control when used in a home cinema setup. There's also the option of a phono stage. I agree with comments that this amp needs to warm up to perform at it's best. It's well worth the wait, you get a wonderfully rounded rich sound with bags of detail and superb imaging. If thats not enough, try adding a Delta 290P power amp, then you're into a whole new ballgame. Improved separation greater dynamics and also there is noticeably more bass at the subsonic end of the spectrum. Originally I used these amps with an Arcam Delta 270 CD player and was more than happy with the results. I have now upgraded?? to a cheaper Marantz CD6000 KI. The sound is now stunning. Taut rythmic and very fast, with a real 3 dimentional soundstage. Speakers are Acoustic Energy AE1 Series II. A brilliant amp. To hear it at it's best it needs to be partnered with a high quality clean sounding source and speakers. A tip I picked up from a Hi fi dealer: if you are biamping with a D290P, try using the power amp to drive the tweeters and the integrated to drive the bass. This is the opposite to what Arcam recommend, but it tightens up the bass and improves imaging. Try it you may be pleasantly surprised.

Similar Products Used: Denon, Arcam Alpha, Marantz,
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Lefebvre Fabien   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 03, 2001]
Strength:

Very stable with a sound that is never agressive even at high volume. Compact size compared to japanese rivals.

Weakness:

Really needs to warm up

Very fine integrated amplifier, complete with its remote control. Can drive loudspeakers with low impedance: it replaced my Marantz PM53 that could not drive my JM LAB 713. This was night and day ! Now I changed my loudspeaker for more compact models and recently replaced the amplifier with an Atoll AM100 (french make). The differences are noticeable but the Arcam is not as overpassed as the Marantz was. It never goes hot, which is quite impressive. One drawback: the source selector requires some cleaning after several years. Same for the remote control. But this takes 5 minutes every 5 years. Really deserves 5 stars: far better than what I expected.
Buy with confidence.

Similar Products Used: Marantz PM53, Atoll AM100
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 13  

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