Arcam C31 Preamplifiers

Arcam C31 Preamplifiers 


  • Performance and flexibility
  • Demanding music enthusiast


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[Jan 04, 2014]
Audio Enthusiast

Great preamp. Tons of inputs, great sound, ht bypass, mm input.

I've been on a preamp merry go round, giving up this for that, features for sound, dynamics for transparency. The Arcam c31 seems the most balanced of them all.

First, the sound. It's pretty relaxed, with good transparency, good dynamics, and a generally civilized sound that has good energy. What it lacks in wall crushing bass, it makes up for with making music enjoyable. Rhythm is solid, it definitely gets the toe tapping thumbs up, music plays together, and all kinds of music, too. Highs to lows are there, without being bosomy or glassy. And mids are great...not colored or tubey great...just great.

It's not quite the soundstage champ my old McCormack RLD1 was, but it sounds more natural, with better tempo, and without the sharp highs the McCormack had. It's not quite as transparent as my Wyred4Sound STP-SE was, but it beats it in overall musical cohesion and long term listenability.

I can list off more preamps I've compared it to that Ive owned, but suffice it to say, they're all gone now, and the Arcam remains.

Some final notes...

The mm input is usable, but not up to the sound of the preamp. They definitely cut some corners here. Get a better one.

The preamp is not the last word in dynamics. No bombastic attack, soul crushing bass, or explosive moments. It's no Krell, but it can do voice and tonal shading like nobody's business. And, the dynamics it has, are very accurate and appropriate.

The preamp is power cable picky. I tried a trio of different power cables on it, and it didn't seem to like any of them. I finally just put the stock cable on it, which sounds best to me.

In conclusion...

If a krell like performance is what you want, this is not it. If long term musical enjoyment is the goal wthat serves a wide range of musical taste, the Arcam is the best I've heard, tube or solid state, for under 2k. There might be better out there, and I've certainly not heard everything, but having owned about 10 preamps in this price range, new and used, tube and solid state, the Arcam is my choice for music. Get a good phono preamp, loop your receiver through it, hook up your music server, and enjoy!

[May 13, 2007]


Ease of use, Features, Incredibly good sound with line-level sources


Headphone output

This preamplifier has a lot of features: it has everything I wish, except a mono/stereo selector. The remote control is great to use.
The build quality is high, if not the highest.
The headphone output is not good: level too low, 'flat' sounding;
The optional MM phono input is pretty good;
All the 'line-level' input are excellent: the sound is practically perfect, I cannot imagine a preamp that would sound better.
A minor problem, more and more common these days: the 'on/off' switch is electronic, and consequently, if you turn on the power form a power center, it doesn'y turn on the Arcam C31.

Similar Products Used:

Many NAD, Adcom, Quad, Rotel preamps

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