Amplifier Dilemma

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psychotropic

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This is a follow on from stuff I posted in my thread about the Arcam Alpha 5 plus, but since the issue is different, I thought I'd post it here for more effective responses.

I have decided that I am getting an amp bought and brought from the UK. I am in the process of finding an unsuspecting victim who will do it for me, and prospects are looking bright-ish.

My first option is a "graded" Cambridge Audio 540A V2 from Richer Sounds. Graded = "mail order returns or ex-service products, thoroughly tested and re-sold with a 12 month guarantee." for 120 pounds. That's about Rs. 10,000 or a little under.

The other option is to pick up a used amp from ebay. I realise there are risks involved but here's how i plan to mitigate them:

  • Only buy from sellers with 100% feedback and over 40 feedbacks and after reading the feedback in detail
  • Getting it delivered to my uncle in the UK, who will open it, test it and check if it's as described, and return it if it's not
  • Getting it carefully repacked by my uncle who will then send it to the person who is coming down

For the same 120 pounds (i am keeping 125 pounds as my limit on ebay, so that it's around the same price as the 540A V2), there could be a number of options available in the used sphere, including a number of old Arcams (Alpha 7r, Alpha 9, Alpha 10, even a newer A65 or A75 here and there). From my observations I am predicting that these should close around or below a 100 pounds, except for the A75 types which should be within 120 pounds.

I've gone through over 500 listings and I am watching about 30-35. I am studying bidding patterns and closing prices. I am of course reading everything available on these amps including user reviews and service/parts concerns. There are of course some amps that seem a steal with a few days to go, but I am unlikely to be able to close it within my budget including ones from Cyrus and Naim, but at present they're within my budget.

Anyway, the broad choice is this, would a 8-10 year old Arcam such as the Alpha 9 or Alpha 10 for about a 100 pounds or possibly less, be a better idea than a virtually new Cambridge Audio 540A V2? The Arcam amps all have very good reviews and seem to be well loved for the finesse of their sound and the balance they provide.

My speaker shortlist I've already set out in another thread, but I am quite flexible, and at the top of the list I have two speakers of different characteristics, the slightly bright and super detailed Usher S520 and the more laidback PSB Alpha B1. These are again characteristics I have discerned from reading a lot of material including professional and user reviews, I've not heard these speakers as yet.

Any views? Should I go for the new CA 540A V2, or the one of the older deals? If an older Arcam (or a Rotel, or a Cyrus or Naim) develops a snag here, how difficult would I find it to get it fixed?
 

jai1611

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Given that the CA 540 V2 is easily available in India, I'd suggest listening to it before taking a call on this. Also listen to an Arcam. These things tend to be pretty much a matter of personal preference. Personally, I found the CA quite dull and lifeless in comparison to pretty much any other amp I heard (Marantz, Nad, Rotel, Yamaha, Denon etc).
 

jeevabobby26

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Hi psychotropic,

I think you should go for the current version of CA 540V2 rather than 10 year old Arcams or some other stuff.

cheers.
 

psychotropic

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the problem is that a) of the two dealers in chennai for cambridge, one seems to have shut shop (cressida), and the other (grand cinema) has given up the dealership, so i have no idea where to audition a 540A, and even if i do, it probably will not be with the speakers I am planning to buy.

but i do get your point, i should try and audition, but even then I won't be able to compare it to the arcams or any of the others. have you heard any of these older Arcam amps?

Essentially i am looking out for feedback on how good/bad/ugly the old-ish Arcam amps are, and how they would compare to the new 540A V2

Given that the CA 540 V2 is easily available in India, I'd suggest listening to it before taking a call on this. Also listen to an Arcam. These things tend to be pretty much a matter of personal preference. Personally, I found the CA quite dull and lifeless in comparison to pretty much any other amp I heard (Marantz, Nad, Rotel, Yamaha, Denon etc).
 

jeevabobby26

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Hi psychotropic,

There is a dealer for Cambridge Audio "HOME TAALKIES" in vadapalani near Laxman shruthi signal.

You can them for the auditioning CA AMPS.

HOME TAALKIES - Contact Person - Mr. Balajisundar.

#50A/51A, J N 100 Feet Road, Basement,
Near Laxman Shruthi Musicals,
Vadapalani,
Chennai-600026.

Ph.No.044-24729393
mob.no.9941879393, 9710209658.
 

anm

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actually I saw this last night only. Good for you :)

Anyone has any advice on how to buy used LPs? What to look at and what could be false alarms for a good condition LP?

regards
 

psychotropic

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hey jeeva and anm, thanks for the help. The TNT guys seems to be quite fond of the Arcam Alphas.

I spoke to Mr. Balaji, he doesn't have the 540A on demo but he said he can get one. I feel bad asking to get something to demo when i am thinking of buying it elsewhere. He indicated that cost would be about Rs. 23,000. So picking one up for 10k would definitely be value, whether or not i love it :)

Anyone on these forums who owns a 540A V2? What Hi Fi of course loves it like they love all CA products, but it was interesting to see Robert Harley of the Absolute Sound raving about it as well. Nothing conclusive there I know, but it's just that Mr. Harley is not a CA fanboy like the What Hi Fi guys seem to be.
 

murali_n

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Anyone has any advice on how to buy used LPs? What to look at and what could be false alarms for a good condition LP?

Hai Anm,

Pl look at any Physical damage like scratches across the grooves, Chipped edges etc. Tilt the record and see, they should look glossy. See that if any stain, dust or dirt is not removable. Once you bring it home, give a wash with a mixture isopropyl alcohol+ Distilled water, then wash with liquid soap and a fine nylon bristled brush, wash under running tap water. Avoid wetting the centre label. Dry under ceiling fan before playing.

By this method you should be able to get a good performance out of your LPs.

Thanks,

N Murali.
 

prem

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Hi

Have heard the Cairn amp. I think you are referring to the Cairns 4808. I do not think there was a 4807. Excellent amp. Great midrange. Definitely one of the better solid state amps. First few watts, if i am not mistaken is Class A. Not in production anymore. If in good condition, its a blind buy. The equivalent of the Cairn amps today is the Lavardin.
 

stevieboy

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actually I saw this last night only. Good for you :)

Anyone has any advice on how to buy used LPs? What to look at and what could be false alarms for a good condition LP?

regards

do start a new thread anm, will contribute there. you're hijacking psychotropic's thread! :)
 

psychotropic

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From Audiogon what i understand is that the Cairn 4807 was some sort of sibling of the 4808. THe 4807 is a 60W per channel integrated stereo amp released in 1998, it underwent some modifications along the way and a 4807.2 was released in 2005 with 75W per channel. THe 4808 was also, as per audiogon released in 98 with .2 version in 2005 with 100W.

I am not familiar with the Lavardin at all. This Cairn is cosmetically in excellent condition. And it's a 100% seller wth some 1000+ feedbacks. Shall I just go for it then?? (i am feeling recklessly inspired, like alex ferguson taking michael owen)

Hi

Have heard the Cairn amp. I think you are referring to the Cairns 4808. I do not think there was a 4807. Excellent amp. Great midrange. Definitely one of the better solid state amps. First few watts, if i am not mistaken is Class A. Not in production anymore. If in good condition, its a blind buy. The equivalent of the Cairn amps today is the Lavardin.
 

prem

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When i was changing from the Dehavilland 845s to the Red Wine Audio Sig 30.2, i had the Cairn 4810 in my system. It was being fed by the Esoteric and the speakers were Rethm Saadhanas. I had borrowed them from my friend. I was quite impressed with the sound.

Even if and when you upgrade later, the Cairn amp will never be out of place.
 

psychotropic

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While I am at it, I might as well ask, anyone heard/heard of the Rega Elex? Again seeing very positive feedback, but again circa 10 years old?

Both these amps seem to have been stalwarts of their time, being mentioned in the same breath as Creek, Classe, Naim and so on. Any thoughts?
 

prem

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Cairn does not sound like the Naim or Classe. Naim and Classe are classic solid state. The Cairn sound is more like tubes, especially in the midrange.
 

psychotropic

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hey prem thanks for that info, i didn't mean to suggest the Cairn sounded like these other brands, but more that Cairn was regarded in the same quality bracket as the others, the same....league....for lack of a better word.

Cairn does not sound like the Naim or Classe. Naim and Classe are classic solid state. The Cairn sound is more like tubes, especially in the midrange.
 
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