I've just switched over from an Arcam A85 to the Primare A30.1. I had the Arcam CD92T which has since been upgraded to the FMJ CD23T recently, as my source. Therefore, I had the CD92T in both the A85 and the A30.1 system. IMHO, the Primare is a much better amp but the A85 is actually not far behind. For one, the A30.1 is tonally more accurate, therefore making instrument sound real, slightly more detail overall, more weight to instruments, fuller and stronger bass, voices sounded more accurate and have excellent diction (can clearly hear phrases and words) and a deeper sound stage. It is also a more powerful amp - Arcam rated by HiFi choice - 100w @ 8 ohms and 160 at 4 ohms and Primare 120w @ 8ohms and 180w @ 4 ohms but even taking this into consideration, it can deliver bass, transient, highs, dynamic range and anything that is associated with power with ease even at 80% of its volume level. Arcam, on the other hand, starts to run out of power at about 70% of its volume - dynamics are lost and kick drums began to sound underwhelm. Don't get me wrong. I liked the Arcam. It stayed with me for nearly three years and is one fine amplifier for the money. It is clear, clean, and a resonably musical souding amplifier. It could control my Dynaudio Audience70 well (rated 4 ohms and 86 db)providing clear highs but could not control the woofer or produce enough bass when the going gets tough. With the Primare, the bass was extended, fuller and tuneful. The highs are excellent and the sound is warmer. Both amps are quite smooth sounding but dynamics are better with the Primare. I find the sound vivid. Arcam A85 is a good amp, but the Primare is better. The opinion expressed here was based on the fact that the Primare had only been under my ownership for 6 weeks. It went through a dramatic sound transformation since the first day I wired it up. It went from 'yeah it is slightly better than the Arcam' to 'wow, feel like you are there' sound. It also has high WAF. She just loves it. The addition of the Arcam FMJ CD23 improved the sound quality by another three notches IMHO. My music selections and tested through the system include music by fourplay, Hiroshima, Diana Krall, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Ella and Louise, Dave True Story, Larry Carlton, Sting, Coleman hawkins, Eva Cassidy, Dave Gruisin etc. Hope what I wrote helps.
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