Interview: Arcam on fidelity, 4K and margins

posted on Friday, 25th July 2014 by David Slater

home cinema  Hi-fi  Arcam  4K 

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Legendary British audio specialist Arcam says that while control and automation add a considerable amount of wow factor in CI, audio fidelity ultimately determines a quality home theatre install. The brand, gearing up for new announcements at the upcoming CEDIA Expo, was widely praised for the class-leading performance of its AVR750 AV receiver, and recently announced its sibling AV950 processor. Alan Davidson, CI Sales Manager (pictured above), told Inside CI "Sound isn't just important, I'd say it is the most important element in the mix when creating a home cinema." However that doesn't mean the brand undervalues system integration….

Alan Davidson: Not at all, it's an important ingredient in the mix. Control companies are amazing! What they can do with sliding panels, seating, lighting installations and apps is very clever stuff, but when the client presses play, the magic still has to happen. There is a concern that if corners in audio quality are cut, then the client will sit through an underwhelming two-hour film experience.

How important is 4K Ultra HD going to be to CI, and is it difficult for an audio specialist like Arcam to compete with display manufacturers when it comes to UHD?

Davidson: Any resolution upgrade is great for us as it brings focus back to the building blocks of CI, which is Audio Visual. Optimum picture quality is extremely important to the cinematic experience and most definitely an issue that is not only on the client's radar, but hugely desirable. As progress is made in this area it pushes the boundaries of our own kit, too, as we now need to be 4K compatible. In short, resolution upgrades are great. We're film fans at our core so if something improves the cinematic experience, we're all for it.

There's a growing feeling that hardware is rapidly losing value and with the increase of good AV kit in retail, and companies like Apple entering the smart home sector, are CI brands on the cusp of an attack?

Davidson: Between Tesco selling cut-price TVs and with half-decent audio kit available on the high-street, education becomes more important; we must show the client a better experience than they can find in retail. With a long and proud heritage in hi-fi, our team has a great handle on how to engineer audio gear for home cinema. We don't draw a line between the sonic goals of hi-fi and CI. We have a responsibility to uphold the value of our kit, and to protect the interests of the installer channel.

Margins are good for installers working with audiophile-grade kit and the reliability you get, and pass on to the client, means you'll most certainly see the value in our hardware. As long as we keep producing fantastic sounding, reliable hardware and protecting the margins for the installer, I'm confident that any high-street 'attacks' can be muted.

So, audiophile hardware isn't just for stereo enthusiasts?

Davidson: No way, the world deserves good sound. The foundation of accurate sound reproduction is, for Arcam, built on good old fashioned British engineering and thanks to it we have a loyal following based on a totally accurate sound. The goal of the home cinema should be to provide the client with better sound than at the local picture-house, and with our AVRs and pre-amps you get to watch the film and hear the soundtrack as the sound engineer on set and in the editing suite intended...

AV950

For more on Arcam's AV receiver and processor line-up, visit our partner page here.

Also read:
Arcam introduces audiophile AV950 AV pre-processor

Interview: Arcam and the art of high fidelity audio

Arcam FMJ-AVR750AV receiver review

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a
popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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