Comparison of Arcam A85 & Primare A30.1 ??

I'm looking for an integrated amp for my new Totem Hawks (recommended 60-120W)and would be interested in feedback on the 2 mentioned models. I heard the Hawks thru a Moon I-5 and they sounded alive but bright on the highs.

Thanks !!
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.
Thimmy118 -
Thanks for the posting, it is very helpful. I'm hearing good things about the Primare (the closest dealer to Boston is Philadelphia, whew)and I certainly get the feeling that the Primare A30.1 and maybe the Moon I-5 are a good step up from the Arcam A85 and its comtemporaries like the Creek 5350SE. I have auditioned the Moon and if the Primare is in that league and about $400 less, throw in the great looks to keep the wife happy, I'm very impressed.
Hi Jimmi

Please let me know what your final choice is and why. The more I listen to the Primare, the more I think that it is a more refine amplifier than the Arcam. It has finese which IMHO translate to high level of musicality. I've also hear great things about the Moon but have not actually heard it myself. Spoke to the Sim Audio distributor in Australia (I'm from Perth, by the way)and asked his opinion on both the Primare and the Moon I-3 amp and he said that they both sound different. He said that it is a matter of taste and of course your other electronics. Good luck with your search. It is a bit of a headache sometimes but it is all good fun, I'm sure.

Kind regards

Yes Thim,
It is all good fun, with a bit of work thrown in.
The Moon I-5 sounded so nice that I went with it. I'm very impressed, it has the 1st 5 watts as class A, then the rest is class A/B. The 70w per channel is enough to power the Totems with no problem (sensitivity 86db). I heard a pair of Dynaudio at my dealer, I think the Confidence C2, they were 4-5 feet tall and were very impressive, really extended high-end.
The Moon is built like a tank and very attractive, as is the Primare. The sound is clean, alive and musical. Bass is solid and tight, mids and highs are smooth clear and detailed, with great imaging. A new unit will get you a 10 year warranty. I was able to get a great deal on Audiogon on this 2 year old unit, so no prolonged break-in for me. Sounds like the Primare & Moon share some qualities, such as being vivid & alive. Vocals are hauntingly real. I went from a 10 year old Hafler power amp & preamp straight to this and the difference was startling. The Moon brings out the full potential in my Totem Hawks.

Electronics & cables can show a difference, so the dealer was right about that. I feel a quality amp can show a weak spot in a system, so I got new interconnects and speaker cable (without getting crazy & spending a lot).

As my system moves up in class I see I can't cut corners anywhere. Part of the fun right ?

Did you ever listen to the Primare? I've listened to the Sim I-5 many times and feel it's the best integrated under $5000 that I've heard(I've listened to about 15-20). I'm going to hear the Primare at a dealer in New Jersey next week. It has all the functionality that I want but I think priced below the Sim(not sure though). The Ayre was close to the Sim and the dealer carries that also. That will be my comparison.
Bhfv -

I never heard the Primare because I would have to go to Phila from Boston to listen. I bought the Moon i-5 because it was too tempting. I love it, class all the way.

I believe the Primare a30.1 lists for about $2295, where the Moon is now $2600 or so.

I'd be curious for your opinion between the 2 once you hear the Primare.

Thanks !!
I've audited the Primare 30.1, the Arcam A85 and the 47Lab Shigaraki Ingrated Amplifier. While there is no doubt that the 47Lab is the best amplifier here, I found the sound too 'fast' and tiring for long periods on my Von Schweiker VR-1's. The Arcam was a bit too 'bright' for my taste and lacked the control of the Primare. That left the Primare, which is a bit 'over-controlling' with regard to following the music (not nearly as fast as the 47Lab with a piece like the Firebird Suite van Stravinsky) but left me with the feeling that I was listening to a tube amplifier with the bonus of a better overall control of a heavy (dual mono!) transistor amplifier.

So, the Primare is a fine choise, but if you've different speakers try to audit the 47 lab!

P.S. I've used the Meridian 507 as source