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Arcam Alpha 3 Amplifier......normal..or is this a problem?


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Old 24-10-2012, 02:26
Gary Brenton
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I have just brought an Arcam Alpha 3 amplifier... for just 30....but the only reason why the owner is selling it is because he has just upgraded to 'Cyrus' separates.

The Arcam had one careful owner from new and came with it's original box and instructions and the owner even threw in an 'Ixos' phono lead.

The amplifier is in immaculate condition and the quality is absolutely phenomenal and I am very happy with it.

The ONE thing I really admire (apart from it's audio quality) is that the actual top cover has NO ventilation holes of which will not gather dust - like most amplifiers. (one less worry as most amps get caked with internal dust)

Listening to CD and switching to 'Tuner' 'Tape' 'Phono' or 'Auxilary' inputs...there is virtually NO circuit leaks on FULL volume...which is another bonus...

Now... my query here is that when adjusting the 'bass' control there is only 'slight' difference from -10 to +10 ....albeit you CAN tell...but not very much - if that makes sense.

With the setting to minus 10 on most amps... the bass is virtually non existent.... but with this amp...the 'bass' is still perfectly audible....and with the 'bass' setting to + 10 (on full) the amp just sounds more 'punchy'

The same is with the 'treble'... there is little difference on -10 to + 10 of which the + 10 giving slightly more treble.

Infact... I could quite happily listen to this amp with BOTH the bass and treble set to -10 (ie... both bass and treble set fully to the LEFT)

Is this amp's internal settings made to give quality listening regardless of how the bass and treble controls are positioned.... or has this amp lost it's 'bias' with the bass and treble controls?

Whatever the settings... this amplifier sounds damn fantastic...but I am wondering if this is normal as this is the very first 'Arcam' amp I have ever had....and i have heard nothing but great reviews about this specific make.

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Old 24-10-2012, 08:51
Nigel Goodwin
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I have just brought an Arcam Alpha 3 amplifier... for just 30....but the only reason why the owner is selling it is because he has just upgraded to 'Cyrus' separates.

The Arcam had one careful owner from new and came with it's original box and instructions and the owner even threw in an 'Ixos' phono lead.

The amplifier is in immaculate condition and the quality is absolutely phenomenal and I am very happy with it.

The ONE thing I really admire (apart from it's audio quality) is that the actual top cover has NO ventilation holes of which will not gather dust - like most amplifiers. (one less worry as most amps get caked with internal dust)
I don't quite see why a bit of dust inside would bother you in any way?.


Listening to CD and switching to 'Tuner' 'Tape' 'Phono' or 'Auxilary' inputs...there is virtually NO circuit leaks on FULL volume...which is another bonus...

Now... my query here is that when adjusting the 'bass' control there is only 'slight' difference from -10 to +10 ....albeit you CAN tell...but not very much - if that makes sense.

With the setting to minus 10 on most amps... the bass is virtually non existent.... but with this amp...the 'bass' is still perfectly audible....and with the 'bass' setting to + 10 (on full) the amp just sounds more 'punchy'

The same is with the 'treble'... there is little difference on -10 to + 10 of which the + 10 giving slightly more treble.

Infact... I could quite happily listen to this amp with BOTH the bass and treble set to -10 (ie... both bass and treble set fully to the LEFT)

Is this amp's internal settings made to give quality listening regardless of how the bass and treble controls are positioned.... or has this amp lost it's 'bias' with the bass and treble controls?

Whatever the settings... this amplifier sounds damn fantastic...but I am wondering if this is normal as this is the very first 'Arcam' amp I have ever had....and i have heard nothing but great reviews about this specific make.
I've never seen that specific amp, but it's common for amps to have a button to disable the tone controls, so make sure they aren't switched out.

I would also imagine it's pretty rare for amps of that type to have tone controls at all, and if they did it's likely they would only provide a very limited range of adjustment.

Do you perhaps need some better speakers?, and leave the tone controls flat anyway.
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Old 24-10-2012, 09:14
gomezz
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I've never seen that specific amp, but it's common for amps to have a button to disable the tone controls, so make sure they aren't switched out.
This. Which raises the interesting point that any difference the OP is hearing is imaginary (there is a word for that which escapes me for the moment).
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Old 24-10-2012, 10:21
Inkblot
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I've never seen that specific amp, but it's common for amps to have a button to disable the tone controls, so make sure they aren't switched out.
You can find the manual online here and it says that the amp has a "direct" switch which bypasses the bass, treble and balance control circuits in order to provide a "clearer and more dynamic sound".
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Old 24-10-2012, 13:19
Nigel Goodwin
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You can find the manual online here and it says that the amp has a "direct" switch which bypasses the bass, treble and balance control circuits in order to provide a "clearer and more dynamic sound".
Like I said, it's quite common - my Kenwood/Trio amp has such a switch, which has always been pressed
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Old 24-10-2012, 13:31
Sid Law
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Have a look at this article. Although it is for the Alpha 5 which is the bigger more powerful version of the Alpha 3, it is likely that the pre-amp architecture is very similar.

It specifically mentions that the bass and treble only boost or cut by +/- 3db. It's not unusual for amps to offer +/- 10, 12 or 15db. +/-3db is equivalent of doubling or halving the audio level at the given frequency but it is a lot less than you will be used to with other (less good) amps.

I've had various Arcam amps over the past 20 years - Alpha 5, Delta 290 and they are without doubt extremely good sounding.

You will find that as you enter the realms of quality hi-fi that tone controls become redundant (unless you have bad hearing or less than good CD player/speakers).

My current amp is a Quad 99 pre/power which has limited tone control but it doesn't matter 'coz it sounds bloody brilliant anyway.

You do realise that unless you are of strong character you will soon succumb to upgradeitis, a condition which can only ultimately be cured by spending the kind of money on a hi-fi system that would buy you a pretty good second hand car!

http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page.../Arcam+Alpha+5
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Old 24-10-2012, 13:37
soulboy77
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This. Which raises the interesting point that any difference the OP is hearing is imaginary (there is a word for that which escapes me for the moment).
A 'placebo' effect maybe?
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Old 24-10-2012, 20:11
gomezz
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Not placebo although that is sort of in the right area. There is another word.
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Old 25-10-2012, 23:09
evil c
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Misperception or illusion or auditory illusion.
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Old 25-10-2012, 23:49
Gary Brenton
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Thanks for all the replies.... and 'yes' I always leave the controls set to 'centre' (zero) position and if I can bypass the controls with using the 'direct' button.... I always do.

It seems that this amp only has limited adjustment of the bass and treble controls....which is no bad thing whatsoever.

This Arcam amp is as good as my JVC AX-222.... albeit the JVC has much more 'punch' and slightly less treble than the Arcam.

I have found one minor fault though.... when the amp is turned down very low... only the one channel is listenable...which is the right channel... it's not until it is turned up slightly that the left channel kicks in and is balanced...

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Old 26-10-2012, 12:10
Sid Law
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I have found one minor fault though.... when the amp is turned down very low... only the one channel is listenable...which is the right channel... it's not until it is turned up slightly that the left channel kicks in and is balanced...

Now that you mention it, the Arcam 5 that I had had did that as well.
Only one solution - play it LOUD !
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Old 27-10-2012, 23:39
Gary Brenton
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Now that you mention it, the Arcam 5 that I had had did that as well.
Only one solution - play it LOUD !
The 'Cambridge Audio A1' amps have the same problem... I have had two so far. They are great decent budget amps....but they all suffer from the same problem worse than the Arcam amps.

I just buy them really cheap and sell them on and I think that is the reason why people are getting rid of them, and doing my research this is an actual 'manufacturing' fault which is apparently on-going.

I could play this amp 'LOUD'.... definitely.... but I don't think my neighbours would appreciate 'Rammstein' at 1.00am in the morning...
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Old 27-10-2012, 23:42
alan1302
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I could play this amp 'LOUD'.... definitely.... but I don't think my neighbours would appreciate 'Rammstein' at 1.00am in the morning...
If you were my neighbour at least I would think you had good taste in music!

Du Hast!
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Old 28-10-2012, 10:24
Nigel Goodwin
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I just buy them really cheap and sell them on and I think that is the reason why people are getting rid of them, and doing my research this is an actual 'manufacturing' fault which is apparently on-going.
It's simply because of the impossibility of manufacturing stereo logarithmic pots that track accurately at the low end.

Easy solution would be to have a simple switched attenuator before the pot, so you have a loud/quiet switch, and can keep the volume control around the middle.
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