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Arcam dvd v. ?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Stephen M, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

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    I am interested in the Arcam 88+ or possibly the FMJ 27A. I am unable to do an in-home trial due to the fact that I have no local dealer. Anyone have experience with these players? I am interested in comparative picture quality with each other and other brands under $3K. I am also very interested in sound quality through digital input and analog inputs. I have read all the reviews which are very positive but the expense involved makes me want to get opinions from sources other than magazines and web sites. Of course, I would also like to know if any competitors make machines for less money that favorably compare with the Arcam. I currently use a Pioneer Elite 47ai. Thanks for any feedback[​IMG] .
     
  2. Ken Smith

    Ken Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Stephan,
    Arcam hasn't gotten very good magazine reviews. They say these players have the chroma bug. I haven't seen one but what I've read says that for the money you could do better.Check out the January issue of Widescreen Review. They have an article (review) of the 27A. This article states what I've read in a couple of other mags.
     
  3. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

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    Ken: I am very skeptical of the chroma bug as a major issue concerning dvd player performance. I have the Elite 47 ai which the gurus at Secrets claim is infected with the bug. I have tried every disc they claim will show the bug on my 55" Mitsubishi and have yet to see a problem. BTW, I am not alone in this opinion as you can tell if you search the archives of this site. Regarding your statement about bad reviews, I assume you are referring to the Peter Moncrief review in the latest issue of Widescreen. This review strikes me as a rave review of both the dvd player and the AV 8 Processor. Where does the author criticize the 27A? Where does it say in this article that you could do better (for less?)? I appreciate your feedback, but I have yet to see a critical review of these dvd players or suggestions of better players for the same or less money. If there are critical reviews of these players, please give me a clue where they are so I can read them. Thanks again.
     
  4. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    As stated by Greg Rogers in WSR, Issue 80, January 2004, page 70:


    If your listed location is correct, the US importer for ARCam (Audiophile Systems (http://www.audiophilesystems.com ) is in Indianapolis and might be able to assist you in arranging a demo.

    Greg is one of the sharpest video guys out there, and I always learn something from him everytime I talk to him. Greg's Video Performance review is smack dab in the middle of the review, highlighted in tan.

    Cheers,
     
  5. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks guys. Thats what I get for reading part of the magazine instead of it all:b
    Any suggestions for other players to audition? I like the idea of the Denon 5900, but judging by responses here and on AVR, I wonder whether it is ready for prime time given its $2000 price tag.
     
  6. Dean Wette

    Dean Wette Stunt Coordinator

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    I for one like the Arcam. Right now I have a Marantz DV7100. A few months ago I auditioned the DV88 Plus at home for a weekend, and was so blown away by the improvement I decided I would get it when I could afford to. I'm picking it up tomorrow. :)

    Anyway, compared to the Marantz (which is a good progressive player that was $900 new), the DV88 improves on everything: color, detail, sound, and so on. When I auditioned it, HBO had SpiderMan on in HD, so I put in the DVD and compared. The DVD was nearly as good as the HD version on TV. On other DVDs I didn't like watching because of various quality issues, the improvements I saw with the Arcam made me realize the DVDs weren't at fault so much as the player. Stuff like dithering on solid colored walls or blue backgroun skies disappeared. And black levels improved a lot.

    Just because a DVD player doesn't have the chroma bug doesn't make it good. And just becuase another one has it doesn't make it bad. There are a lot more factors involved.

    If you get the chance audition the Arcam before you dismiss it. It's very impressive. The US importer is in Indy. Maybe they can help you out: http://www.aslgroup.com/

    Dean
     
  7. Logan G

    Logan G Agent

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    I'll add another vote for the Arcam. I've had mine since Christmas Eve. I ended up with the DV27A, which is built like a tank. I auditioned a lot of players including the Denon 5900 since it has DVI.

    I think the picture with the Arcam using component was better than the 5900 using DVI to my Sanyo Z2 projector. Blacks were better with the Arcam.

    What sold me was the sound - the CD and DVD Audio on this unit is fantastic.

    Every review I have seen on the Arcam DV27A has been excellent except the one mentioned above. In fact Peter Moncrief in the first review discussed above said..."the DV27A puts out one of the very finest pictures of any DVD player in the world at any price, and perhaps the finest, period"

    Check it out.
     
  8. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Logan,

    I'll take Greg's point of view... When it comes to video, he's one of the best on the planet, and lives, breathes, eats and sleeps video reproduction. He's designed video testing equipment for Tektronix, and now has his own company making front end signal generators for display testing. Peter isn't quite on the same level as Greg when it comes to assessing video performance.

    OTOH, if we're talking audio performance I'll reverse my pick [​IMG]

    Cheers,
     
  9. Dean Wette

    Dean Wette Stunt Coordinator

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    Say all you want about reviews, but you're missing out until you've seen how good the Arcam is up close and personal. These DVD players rock. The only thing I've seen better so far is the Krell at several times the cost.

    I think the WSR review must be the only one on the planet that isn't glowingly favorable towards the Arcams. And I trust the U.K. reviews more. When it comes to A/V the British reviewers tend to take more of a "how does it really look and sound" approach than to play less meaningful numbers games like US reviewers do.

    The former translates better to what I want -- what's the end result. I could care less about technical specifications. All to often I've seen/heard things that looked great on paper, and sucked in implementation.

    Don't knock the Arcam before you've actually auditioned it.

    Dean
     
  10. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Dean,

    To each their own.

    When you turn off the sound is when you start to truly evaluate the players video performance. That was Greg's job, and he wrote his conclusions. You can use some of the same material he did, as he clearly pointed out the deficiencies in playback of video material by pointing to specific discs and scenes.

    It's not that the DV-27A is a bad player by any stretch, but rather that for its price it should do better.

    I have auditioned the Arcam unit in question, but not in a review context. All of the Arcam gear sounds tremendous, and is very high on bang for the buck for audio performance even at their pricing.

    Cheers,
     
  11. Ken Smith

    Ken Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Since I'm the one with the 1st reply, all I can say now is that I totally agree with John Kotches.
     
  12. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

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    I appreciate the responses to this thread. I continue to be baffled by fact that one reviewer in a magazine describes the picture quality of the 27A as the best he has ever seen, while another reviewer in the same issue expresses disappointment in the number of picture anomalies he observed. I am further baffled by John's statement that he would accept Greg's point of view due to his experience in matters video. Shouldn't our eyes be the final arbitrator of picture quality or should we ignore what we see and rely solely on technical observations and tests? I realize this is leading to the dreaded objective v. subjective controversey which has no answer. I do appreciate Greg's inclusion of specific examples of video defects which will allow me to try the same discs to see if the problems noted exist on my display. Dean and Logan: I appreciate your first hand experience with the Arcams and good experience with same. Have you watched the movies referred to by Greg in his review to see if the problems he noted were visible and/or objectionable to you on your display?
     
  13. Logan G

    Logan G Agent

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    Stephen,

    I've just subscribed to Widescreen Review. I will review what John K has written and look at the DVD's he used in his review of the Arcam. I will report back on my findings.
     
  14. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

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    One of my pet peeves is the chroma bug. I do not doubt it exists, but according to Secrets, my Pioneer Elite 47ai has a bad case of the bug, but I have been unable to see it on my 55" tv, even by putting it on pause and looking for the defect. Consequently, I am skeptical about how much weight to give to measured defects of standard tests since no player is perfect. Therefore, I want a natural picture with excellent audio for movies and cd. I have hoped to get such a player with the help of standardized tests, but it appears that will not happen if the reviews of the Arcam are any indication.
     
  15. Logan G

    Logan G Agent

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    You said



    I think the Arcam gives you that. Everybody agrees about the excellent sound. One reviewer did not give glowing reviews about the video, all others are positive.

    I'm with you on the chroma bug, I haven't enjoyed Toy Story since I heard about the chroma bug. According to Secrets my Denon 2800 has the bug, yet on a 88" screen with a Sanyo Z2 projector I can't see it, nor can I see it on the Arcam!
     
  16. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Stephen,

    I'm trying not to be brusque, but you do appear to have a problem comprehending that all of Greg's critiques are based on observable flaws on specific discs. Toy Story, The Fifth Element and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me were cited as to the specific issues Greg noticed with the video reproduction.

    All you have to do is look at Greg's published body of work, at WSR or TPV to decide whether he knows what he's talking about. Without even going into his other professional credentials, it is quite impressive.

    Cheers,
     
  17. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

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    I have no problem regarding Greg's qualifications. YOU have a problem in accepting Greg's opinion regarding alleged video flaws without looking yourself. If Greg's experience and eyes are sufficient to make YOUR buying decision, thats up to you. As I posted earlier, I will look at the same discs (which I was quite aware of as part of the article) and make up my own mind if the alleged problem is bothersome to me. I won't take his word or yours as a final determination of what product to buy. I find your statement that I should find a video product flawed based on what someone else sees as bizzare. Do you belong to the camp that disqualifies a dvd player for purchase sight unseen on the basis that someone (expert?) finds it has the chroma bug? Each person needs to see the dvd player in question on his own display in order to if the alleged defects are sufficiently serious to detract from viewing pleasure.
     
  18. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Supporting Actor

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    The upshot of it is that the Arcam's video performance is not particularly exciting. Yes, it does suffer from the chroma bug. In my opinion, while the bug is often blown out of proportion, it does have an effect on overall picture quality, not just on the few discs people look for it. After all, it is mentioned in the Secrets shootouts that the error occurs across all chroma information, but is most readily visible with reds on certain discs. With that in mind, I think the capabilities of any machine with the chroma bug are somewhat hampered.

    Where the Arcam machines really shine is in their audio performance. At the price, you are going to be hard-pressed to find a better machine. For someone who is looking for a DVD player that can also do a great job on CDs, this is a machine to consider. The video may not be perfect...but find me any machine that IS perfect. [​IMG]
     
  19. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    I owned a DV88 for four months (I have also owned an Alpha 7 CD player and an Alpha 8 amp previously) but returned it. Sound quality was excellent and video quality was also very good, although the CUE was clearly visible. But with its sparsity of features and usability issues (the remote was a nightmare to use) its high cost was very hard to justify.

    In the end, the cause of the player's return was a seemingly endless list of disc incompatibilities, random freezes, pizellation and audio dropouts (all known faults at the time I was advised, and on the firmware's seventh revision). Others, however, have had no problems whatsoever. My experiences weren't isolated, though, as I found out when I returned the player.

    My experience isn't intended to drive you away from the Arcams, but to illustrate that some caution might be wise. Unless you can get an actual in-home trial I would be very leery of buying any Arcam DVD player sight-unseen.

    Adam
     
  20. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Stephen,

    I have seen the Arcam, and I did notice the ringing (slight) but didn't have any material that really makes the chroma bug stick out. On a 40" display, I need something that makes the chroma bug obvious to catch it.

    Having worked with Stacey and Don in the past, I've been fortunate enough to get some of these flaws pointed to on a screen to learn about them.

    I would still consider the Arcam unit, because audio is of higher priority for me than video at the moment. It's a question of where I'm willing to accept the compromise.

    However it is nowhere near the best PQ I've seen. The Camelot Roundtable and the Denon DV-5900 have the best PQ I've seen.

    Cheers,
     

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