Arcam A85 Integrated Amplifiers

A85

85 wpc integrated

User Reviews (40)

Showing 1-10 of 40  
Paul Norton   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 06, 2015]

I bought a second hand A85 on the strength of the reviews (couldn't afford new at the time) and regretted ever after.
Where was the "crystal clear/razor sharp/dynamic powerhouse" that the hifi magazines raved about? The thing clearly had no hope of controlling my B&W 602 S2 as the bass was soft and 1/2 a mile slow! I have serious doubts about the claimed output too as it's a bit quiet for 85 watts RMS
Now adding a P85 in a bi-amp configuration really does help control and low frequency speed and extension, thumping out a some electro pop bass lines in respectable style.
Sadly for the core of my taste in music the A85 does not cope well with hard rock and HATES Metal. Overdriven guitar tones are incredibly grainy and drums just don't have the desired slam. Playing some Children of Bodom shows the highs are somewhat smoothed off too as the keyboards extreme treble frequencies sparkle is lost.
The A85 is a flexible modern amplifier with the ability to slot into a home cinema system and upgradable with a power amplifier but if you crave the exciting performer this amp was touted as you're better off looking at offerings from Naim or Cyrus.

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
3
mosfetaus   AudioPhile [Oct 23, 2010]

First of all, let me say that as I write this it is October 2010 and I have just purchased an Arcam A85 second hand (of course). This amp dates back to the ancient times of 2001 I believe. Here in Australia it retailed new for AU$2500 and I picked this one up for AU$650 in excellent cosmetic condition, obviously well looked after. Ok so that's the background.
I'm slowly working my way up the audiophile ladder, I've had and still have a lot of systems in different living areas in my home. Brands of electronics I've had and some I still own are NAD, Musical Fidelity, Rotel, Cambridge Audio, Denon.... and now.....ARCAM! What can I say, words that come to mind when listening through this amp... Musicality, Truth, Control, Revelation. Many of you may have heard the cliches before like 'OMG this amp is amazing, I am hearing things in my old CD's that I never heard before". Well the truth is, I AM hearing things I've never heard before... sublime clarity, total control of 'the recording', nothing is overdone, subtle little nuances in the music that just aren't there in my other amps (is this my first taste of true audiophilia?) Currently my DIVA A85 is re-birthing a pair of Acoustic Energy AE109 floorstanders and a pair of ELAC BS203.2 bookshelves (speaker switching via remote control, oh the luxury of it) and I too have been re-born.
The legend of ARCAM is real, believe me. They are masters of sound. If you have any chance to buy one of these amps, DO IT!!
Points To Note:
* This 9yo amp works perfectly, all the electronic controls still work as new.
* It's a true audiophile amp, you WILL notice the difference.
* The remote control is beautiful to hold and use, offers complete control (I really don't know what other people writing these reviews are talking about when they say the remote is not good).

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Hicabi Beton   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 03, 2010]

I loved how my Arcam A75+ sounded with Audience 80's. It is sounded significantly better than the midrange stuff (NAD, Rotel, etc.) and even better than similarly priced items (Creek, etc.) at an affordable price. When I upgraded, I got the Arcam A85 with Contour 3.3's. I really never noticed much difference between the two amps.

After around two years, the Arcam A85 went dead. I sent it to an authorized service center. After three phone calls, 6 months, and three main board changes, they returned it back saying they simply could not fix it... $1500 gone. This is expensive. I have used a 30 year old Sansui with no issues, and sold it in perfect working condition.

I like the Arcam sound, and will probably try simpler Arcams (no displays, no complicated software based stuff) in future. But I will never buy anything else from them.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
2
nadman   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 29, 2008]
Strength:

Detail in the highs, nice tight bass, midrange is clean and articulate. Very powerful yet doesn't get too hot under extreme loads.

Weakness:

Honestly, I can't think of anything. If I were to be really nitpicky, I guess the overall sound could be a tad warmer.

This an amazing integrated! I auditioned other integrated amps in this price range and the difference was night and day. The bass was cleaner, less "boomy" and vocals were very life-like. Very clean and precise. Soundstage is nice and wide with Paradigm studio 20's. Build quality is exceptional along with some of the other perks including variable input trims. Considering this amp can be had under $1000 now is an absolute steal.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Yasvanth   Casual Listener [Jan 30, 2007]
Strength:


THE STRENGTHS OF THIS COMBINED PAIR TOGETHER ARE FANTASTIC DETAIL , SPEED AND EXCITEMENT.

Weakness:

THIS AMP IS DEFINETLY UNDERPOWERED. YOU EXPECT IT TO BE A 85 WATT AMP BUT NO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE LISTENING TO MORE LIKE A 45 WATT ONE.

THE BUILD QUALITY COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER WITH A METAL VOLUME KNOB , INSTEAD OF A CHEAP PLASTIC ONE. BUTTONS ON THE FRONT PANEL ALSO FEEL A BIT CHEAP WHEN PRESSED.



Most of the reviews that I have read in Audio Review about the Arcam A85 have been a bit over the top.
Here my own opinion of this amp. I first heard the Arcam A85 at my local hifi dealer but and was amazed about the amount of detail and speed that it produced from my small collection of CD's that I took along to listen to.
But for some reason I just felt that there was something missing from this amp and that a big powerful sound. So my dealer advised me to also try the Arcam P85 as they are a perfect match, well the outcome was far superior with a much faster and tighter midrange. In the end I did purchase the pair including the Arcam CD 72T and Kef Ref 1:2 Floorstanding speakers.

Now the bad news, after owning this award winning amp and it's brother the P85 for 5 years I still felt that the sound just did not live up to my expectations of a £800 amp and a £500 pwr amp. I just felt that it lacked that big muscular powerful sound that I have always craved for and in the end I sold the pair.
Do I think that it was worth What Hifi giving it an award well the answer is no as most magazines to overhype particular brands anyway.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Yas   Casual Listener [Jan 29, 2007]
Strength:

Great detail , speed and excitement.

Weakness:

Slightly thin or lean sounding, and lacks that muscular beefy sound.
The build quality could have been better.

A few years ago I purchased the Arcam A85 and P85 amplifiers after listening to them at my local hifi dealers. They were used with a Arcam CD72T and Kef Ref 1:2 Floorstanding spks. Well the good points are that the two amps combined together to produce fantastic speed , detail and excitement from ones recordings which is a good thing.

Now the bad points, the more I got used to the sound at home for some reason it just did not sound like an 85 watt amp even with the P85 , truth is it just lacked that big muscular enveloping sound that I crave for. In the end after owning them for 4 years I decided to sell . Maybe owners of the Arcam A85 may have different opinions but to me I think the amp is just under powered and doesn't have enough oomph!

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
yas   Casual Listener [Jan 21, 2007]
Strength:



ONE THING IS I DO AGREE WITH OTHER REVIEWERS THE AMP DOES HAVE GREAT DETAIL SPEED AND EXCITEMENT.

Weakness:


IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT SOUND LIKE AN 85 WATT AMP EVEN WITH THE ARCAM P85, MORE LIKE AN 40 WATT ONE.



I PURCHASED THE ARCAM A85 , P85 CD72T AND KEF REF 1:2 FLOORSTANDING SPKS AFTER DEMOING AT MY LOCAL DEALER.

UNFORTUNATELY IT JUST WASN'T MY TYPE, YES IT GOT FANTASTIC REVIEWS IN WHAT HIFI? BUT TO ME IT JUST LACKED THAT BIG POWERFUL SOUND THAT I ALWAYS CRAVE FOR.

IN THE END AFTER OWNING THE AMPS FOR 4 YEARS, I SOLD THEM AND BOUGHT THE MF A5CR PRE AND PWR AMPLIFIERS, SO I NOW HAVE THAT BIG ENGULFING SOUND THAT I ALWAYS WANTED.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
gcouture   AudioPhile [May 16, 2004]
Strength:

Crystal clear imaging, powerful and detailed bass, versatile and complete. Best bargain in this price range.

Weakness:

Bizarre remote control, needs a good power cord.

I have been looking to upgrade from my ageing Arcam Alpha-3 for a while. After listening to rafts of various amplifiers ranging from Exposure 2010/3010, HIT Audio tube marvels, Creeks, used C.-J.'s and Tandberg, I finally decided to stay with Arcam. I got a substancial rebate because the A85 is being replaced by the new A90, and this probably helped my decision. I also liked the remote control and the headphone socket, a commodity often missing on amplifiers above a certain threshold. When I first plugged it in my rig, it was clearly better than the old Alpha-3, but I was not overwhelmed. I was forewarned though that this amplifier needs a solid 100-150 hours of burn-in before reaching its full potential. After just a few hours though, I really started to enjoy much better clarity, detail, channel separation. I didn't know my small Linn Index II could deliver so much punch in the bass. The improvements being slow, I just plugged my headphones on, switched speakers off and set the tuner to play 24 hours for days on. After less than a week, the A85 was truly shining. I now find myself listening to FM radio more often than I ever had. Still, was it really that much better? Revelation came when I bought BTP's excellent L-12 power-cord. After wrestling this anaconda into place, and firing up my amp again, I just couldn't believe how clear and precise it was. This may be a bad cliché, but I rediscovered my CD collection. If I turn the volume to max (with CD stopped...) I hear nothing, no hum, no buzz, no schmutz! This may not be the best amp in the world, but it is certainly a good contender in this price range. Even without the end-of-line discount I got, it outshines more expansive competitors such as the Exposure 3010, Creek 5350SE or Myryad's MI-120.

Similar Products Used: Arcam Alpha-3, Audiolabs 8000 integrated
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
bsc   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 24, 2004]
Strength:

- Fantastic sound. Very articulate bass and great midrange. - Attractive looking. - Well built. - Very quiet operating amp (i.e. no audible speaker hum, no fan noise -> no fan, no noisy volume control -> digital volume control and not a motorized vol. potentiometer).

Weakness:

- Limited volume output may restrict it's use to small to medium sized room and/or relatively efficient speakers. I would of prefered it if Arcam eliminated some of the amp's numerous features (eg. balance control, tone control, tape loop, headphone jack, 12V trigger, 2nd set of speaker outputs, etc.) for a larger transformer.

I was just casually looking around for an amp. but when I heard the Arcam DiVA A85 at a local dealer, I couldn't believe the sound that was being produced. To ensure that it wasn't the rest of the system contributing mainly to the sound, I listened to the NAD C370 and the Bryston B60R connected to the same equipment. There was a significant sound difference between the A85 and the C370 (yes, the A85 sounded better but at about 2 1/2 times the cost of the C370), but what surprised me was that the A85 was better than the B60R and yet the A85 was $200 cheaper. My next sound test was when I took my Carver M-200t power amp. and the Carver C-1 pre-amp. to the dealer for a comparison with the A85. The sound of the A85 was superior to the Carver in every way. The bass of the A85 is extremely articulate. I was in the process of putting bass traps in my room but found this to be unnecessary once the A85 was hooked up in my listening room. The midrange is 2nd to none. Very spacious sounding. I found the high frequencies a bit laid back but this was never disturbing to any great extent. I do admit that I was a bit shocked at the lack of power produced by the A85. To obtain a decent amount of volume the A85 had to be cranked up to about 80% of it's max. setting. Any settings above 90% and the sound started to deteriorate. To offset this problem, one has to set the input trim to max. This seems to add about 8db of loudness to the amp. This may seem to defeat the purpose of the input trim but is a must to get adequate volume from the amp.

Similar Products Used: - Owned Carver M-200t amp. and C-1 Pre-amp. and other unmentionables (eg Sony, etc.) - Auditioned NAD C370 and Bryston B60R.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
andycrowther   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 24, 2003]
Strength:

extremely flexable great sound

Weakness:

not overly powerful

the best amp at this price range with all the features anyone could ask for

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 40  

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