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Arcam FMJ A32 vs Creek Classic 5350SE

 

New member
Username: Subbotin_r

Post Number: 1
Registered: Apr-10
Hi guys

I'm looking to buy an amp for my first proper hifi system, and I have basically narrowed it down to Creek Classic 5350SE or Arcam FMJ A32. I have not been able to listen to either one yet but I've listened to other Arcam and Creek products.

The amp will be used with DALI Ikon 6 speakers, Rega P3-24 turntable and CDP will be matched to amp.

I listen to progressive rock / metal / classical / fusion / jazz.

I listened to Arcam A38 with my speakers but I didn't like it as thought it was too "safe" and didn't bring out enough detail. I really liked Creek Destiny, but that was through different speakers, and Destiny is more different to the Classic 5350SE than the A38 is to the A32. Based on features, I'm leaning towards the Arcam as I need the amp to take CDP, turntable, DVD player, etc, but based on what I've heard, I see to prefer the Creek sound more as it seems to be more energetic. However, everyone keeps talking about the A32 and it's supposed to have wonderful synergy with the Dali's.

What would you suggest? To work well with the DALI sound, I need an amp with pronounced and warm bass, clear and open mid-range and sweet but detailed treble. I want the setup to open up the sound but be relaxing and enjoyable to listen to...

Money isn't an issue as creek & phono will be the same price as the arcam.

Please let me know your thoughts!!

Many thanks
Roman
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3785
Registered: May-05
Roman,

Both amps are great amps IMO. Its really a matter of preference. The Destiny is an appreciable bit better than the Classic, but its more of the same as far as sound charecteristics are concerned.

As you observed, Arcam is a bit more polite sounding than Creek.

The Dali's are far more responsible for the politeness IMO. They're not a snappy and energetic speaker, at least not to my ears. They're very good speakers in a lot of regards, but they're not my cup of tea.

If you want more energy and emotion, look at different speakers too. If you have to stay with the Dalis, I'd go the Creek route to give them a spark. Maybe look into Naim as well? No idea how they'd sound together, but if you want to add a shot of adrenaline, Naim is pretty hard to beat.
 

New member
Username: Subbotin_r

Post Number: 2
Registered: Apr-10
Stu,

Thanks for your response! I am really tempted by the Destiny amp, but I'm not sure I can justify the additional expenditure... So probably Classic 5350SE is much more realistic.

I have just bought the DALI's, so, I'll be intending to use them. I bought them having directly compared them to MA RX6, MA GS20, Spendor A5, Quads, Epos and B&W and I actually think they sound very clear, open and raw - kind of like a "wall of sound", given their size! I personally wouldn't use the word "polite" to describe them, though I do agree that they don't "push" music as much as others...

The consensus on other forums seems to be that Naim pairing with Dali's would sound too bright (due to Dali's super-tweeter), however I'll look into it. Would you recommend the Nait 5i-2 and CD5i-2 pairing or should I consider something else?

The other point I'd make is that music that I listen to (metal/rock etc) already has a lot of energy, so I need a system that will realistically convey what's on the album as opposed to enhance it or change it somehow, if that makes sense! DALI's tightness and clarity is the reason that i chose them over so many other speakers...

Thanks
Roman
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 623
Registered: Dec-06
Don't know if you've bought anything yet. I used an Arcam source for a bit and found it to be much too laid back. A Marantz was significantly better, and my next two players (Rega, Exposure) much better than that. In fairness, the Arcam and Marantz were universal players. But that experience, along with reading the impressions of others about Arcam, makes me kind of wary. Arcam makes great gear I'm sure, but perhaps not for all types of music or partnered with certain other components.

I listen to the same kind of music that you do. I would say if you aren't fond of the sound you are hearing from Arcam then you should probably look elsewhere. If Creek doesn't have the features you want then look at other options. I've gone through lots of gear this past year and am still learning what kind of sound I really want, but suffice to say that if you don't really love the sound you have you'll be making changes before you know it.

I auditioned some Naim gear and found the sound to be much too lean. It was as far from full bodied as I'd ever heard, and IMO it just doesn't work with rock music. Maybe it times well, as they say Naim does, but when a system sounds so thin IMO it makes rock sound lifeless. My Exposure amp is better, pretty enjoyable, but it's got a similar leanness to it's sound. I guess that's why a lot of Naim fans also like Exposure.

Nevertheless, all of this has convinced me I need an amp that really propels sound forward and can create a huge sense of scale. There's a lot going on in rock music and to sound it's best it needs to sound full bodied and be good at separating the various instruments in a song. When a kick drum is hit, I want to feel like I'm inside it. I've had that feeling before and it's great!

The brands that are known for having lots of PRaT, IMO seem to have trade offs in other areas that don't necessarily work for me. This is all just my opinion, and I'm sure a lot of people will disagree. So take it for what it's worth. But I think it may not hurt for you to try some other amps. The more you listen the more you'll learn. I'd say Audiolab on the low end, and Sim Audio or Bryston on the higher end.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 12585
Registered: Feb-05
Naim not good for rock music....?

Sounds like a bad demo or something. The XS and DeVore's are a match made in heaven for rock music. I understand that there are a number of folks using Dali and Naim with good results.

Time to get out and do some listening. Best you'll get here is our preferences which may or may not match yours.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 625
Registered: Dec-06
JMO that Naim isn't great for rock. I know many would disagree with that. I don't think it was a bad demo, it's just the Naim sound that I don't like. But it might be interesting to hear Naim gear in another room with another set of speakers, just in case there was some sort of mismatch. The leaner sound seems to be a Naim hallmark though, and I just don't dig it. Different priorities I guess. It's definitely worth an audition though, because clearly many people love the Naim sound.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 14950
Registered: Dec-04
Check out the Supernait with Arriva's attached, and the Faces on the player. It rocks very nicely, tyvm!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 626
Registered: Dec-06
The demo was Bryston B100SST and BCD-1 feeding Monitor Audio Platinum towers in a nice listening room at my local dealer. Sounded great, no complaints! Then they hooked up a Naim Supernait with the CD5i (perhaps not the ideal source to use). Did someone turn the treble way up and the bass way down? Yikes! In all fairness, I did hear the CD5i and Nait 5i with a pair of Neat speakers once, and recall it sounded pretty nice. So I don't know, the lean sound is widely reported as being a Naim trait, but perhaps something in my last audition exacerbated that.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 12587
Registered: Feb-05
What else did they change when they changed out the amp and source? Did they change to Naim cabling, did they adjust speaker placement to a more ideal setting for the Naim gear? Lots of variables and unless they optimized the setup for both sets of gear one can only believe that it was more ideally setup for one combination than the other...possibly not intentionally but probably the way it was. Obviously preference will play a big role in it as well. I believe that it is fair to say that Naim is legendary relative to their ability to rock...also legendary about being fussy.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 628
Registered: Dec-06
I can't remember all the cables used. XLO cables for sure as speaker cable in both tests. I don't remember if it was XLO or Naim interconnects. Placement didn't change. Fair point - perhaps I didn't get to hear Naim at it's best, and I know they heavily encourage the use of their own cables. Lot's of stuff to keep in mind - it's not just about listening, it's just as much about proper set up.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 629
Registered: Dec-06
I read on another site that Naim typically rolls off the highs and lows, which first leads to less stress on the speaker driver due to lower excursion, and second to the illusion of greater pace to the music.
 

Gold Member
Username: Soundgame

Toronto, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 1142
Registered: Jun-08
I can see how rolling off the lows may help to increase the sense of pace but I don't see how the same effect would apply for the high freq. High freq. generally aid the sense of pace - unless you had a horrible tweeter in place, which is not something I believe Naim would turn their amplification for.
With respect to the lean sound, I have to agree that I heard the SuperNait on Sttafs at downtown T.O. store and found it lacking low end fullness and believe me, I don't need a lot. Until I get a better audtion though, I'd chalk that up to auditioning in a large open space with no near back or side walls to contain the sound; however, the ambient noise was low.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 12609
Registered: Feb-05
The XS and the Supernait both have plenty of low end grunt you just have to hear them properly set up. I would still take a Sonneteer Alabaster and/or Orton over the them...and did.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 632
Registered: Dec-06
Yes, but a common complaint against Naim is the lean sound. So I wonder just how much of that is from not hearing them in a proper setup, or is it just the way Naim sounds? Maybe it's like you said Art, Naim is very finicky and it takes a lot of effort to ensure you get the best from it.

George, I agree, I think it's the rolling off of lows and not highs that contribute to the sense of pace. The rolling off of highs probably contributes to something else. Maybe an emphasis on the midrange, or a sense of warmth. I can imagine, if you are rolling off the lows, if you don't do the same with the highs then that might call even more attention to the fact that some low end grunt is missing. It's already a system that might feel a little lean, to have a prevalent treble will not help matters.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 12611
Registered: Feb-05
I don't think that Naim rolls off anything. Again, set up correctly and as Naim advises the gear gives up nothing at the frequency extremes. Naim tends to have less bloated bass but not rolled off.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 14965
Registered: Dec-04
Art is spot on!
Try the Naim cables, of course.
Then Naim speakers, these things are designed as a kit.
And Naim does not care if you use other speakers, just don't judge until you hear what the engineers had in mind.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 633
Registered: Dec-06
As I mentioned, I did hear them with Neat speakers once, probably using all Naim cabling as this dealer prominently featured Naim systems. It wasn't just one of their brands, it seemed like their main product. I definitely didn't come away from it feeling as bad as I did the other demo, but I wasn't blown away either. I guess we all have our own individual taste.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 634
Registered: Dec-06
By the way, by blown away I simply mean the music didn't move me. I know people suggest that you shouldn't be wowed by an audition, as often that may mean a system that is on first listen impressive due to some coloration, but can become irritating after time. During an audition I try to focus on whether the musical message comes across.

Having said that, I have to admit I also want my jaw to hit the ground, not just on that initial listen but on repeated listens. There are often at least a few parts in each song that I want to be able to hear to and have chills go up my spine. If a system cannot do that then it's lacking something for me. It's not just about the musical message coming across, it's also about that visceral feeling you get from the right drum beat or thrash of the guitar, deep piano note, what have you. And yes, also the tone, ambiance, and the soundstage a system casts. It all adds to the illusion.
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