Arcam A38 Amplifier

Not much has changed with Arcam's amps in recent years, at least. That's certainly fine by this observer, who thought they were thought-out when they initially appeared and hasn't found any reason to shift opinion since. For instance, it's entirely electronic switching and volume control: but you still get a distinctive push button for each input plus an adequate size volume knob that is, at least, usually fine to the touch and reasonably sound.

This stuff looks unimportant, but it strikes me that in case you're spending over a grand on an amp it is not unreasonable to anticipate a little cossetting around the user interface front. There is a phono stage not obligatory.

In the amp, the circuitry looks familiar from previous incarnations of Arcam upper -range integrated models, but you'll find many changes. One that's mentioned in the literature is the removal. There's significant use of mechanical damping, on the input relays, output inductors and other components that are microphonic in the shape, plus a ferrite hindrance absorber on the volume control chip. Perhaps it doesn't make much difference, but it is fine that the trouble has been taken by Arcam. Input signals are wholly buffered (using the venerable 5532 op-amp chip) and circuit board build is outstanding and also the large internal heatsink is nearly entirely non resonant while passive component quality is good.

Sound quality

Above all, it seems to be the most exciting, typically entailing amp that Arcam has created to date and our listeners agreed that it got their feet tapping, at least as any of the others as well and energetic.

In the exact same time, it has analytic properties and quite great resolution. Stereo separation is exceptional and quite stable, while each instrument's tone is consistently realistic. The tonal qualities were especially evident in our Miles Davis track, which one listener described as 'immediate, nevertheless still dreamy'.

Only in our choral track was a slight mental reservation expressed about a small measure of harshness. That is common in records but it did not detract from the 'liveness' of the recording and, significantly, didn't appear to change the larger vocal forces in our opera track.

Naturally, with its greater reserves of power on hand, this amp is really capable of slightly louder music replay than the others. It's interesting, though, that even when the actual playback level is quite closely matched to the remainder it ascertained and still sounds especially dynamic. It appears to don't have any special favourites and is as happy with all the slow movement of a string quartet as it is with rock'n'roll power chords. Dynamic pacing is terrific and, all things considered, this makes a few of the best sounds we've heard.

Arcam A38 Amplifier photo