Arcam FMJ AVR750 AV receiver review

Inside CI 5 Rating

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posted on Saturday, 14th September 2013 by Steve May

home cinema  Multi-room  Hi-fi 


The FMJ AVR750 is a hugely significant new flagship receiver for British audio specialist Arcam. The product of an entirely new manufacturing partnership, the company insists that this is the finest sounding AVR it's ever made. Indeed, Arcam told Inside CI that it's committed to making old-fashioned high fidelity a pre-requisite when it comes to premium installs. The AVR750, it suggested, should be considered an audiophile antidote to the mundane multi-channelism so prevalent on modern projects. As it turns out, this confidence is well founded.

Arcam FMJ AVR750: Specification
The AVR750 itself is a seven channel design. Arcam has resisted the urge to compete with rivals when it comes to additional height and width channels; consequently, the unit offers a conventional suite of codecs, including Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Pro-Logic  IIX, DTS HD MA, DTS-ES and Neo 6 96/24.

Installers can opt to use all its brawn in a home theatre environment, or deploy a 5.1 package in the main viewing room, with two channels serving a second zone (there's a tethered composite video output). Alternatively, music lovers can opt to have the front stereo pair bi-amped as part of a 5.1 package.

The rear panel of the AVR750 is cleanly laid out, and connectivity excellent. The model, which measures 433(w) x 425(d) x 171(h)mm, sports seven HDMI inputs and two outputs, both ARC (Audio Return Channel) compatible. The output resolution of these HDMIs is selectable up to 4K. There's also a trio of component inputs, four legacy phono AV inputs, plus two optical and four coaxial digital audio outputs. There are also preamp outs for all channels. Naturally, the AVR can be networked via the Ethernet port, and there's a rear mounted USB too, plus integrated FM/DAB radio. Control comes via RS232, plus 12v and IR triggers. Alternatively, users can wield the supplied CR450 backlit remote control, which comes pre-programmed for other Arcam devices.

Arcam FMJ AVR750: Design and Features
The build quality of this Cambridge beast is impressive. The trademark anti-vibration Full Metal Jacket construction is aesthetically clean, and it's smartly finished in dark grey. Fascia acne has been kept to an absolute minimum. Alongside the main display window is a small selection on on-body controls, should you need to finger input or volume selection. There's also a 3.5mm input for analogue and optical digital sources, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Installation is largely straightforward. While Arcam offers training to help dealers tickle the AVR750's performance, this isn't a difficult receiver to optimise. The guts of the AVR750 may have been completely reworked from its predecessor, but some things remain unchanged. The user interface is the same, unfussy affair we've seen before. Flashy it ain't, but at least it's quick to navigate.

Once networked, the AVR750 supports playback from uPnP enabled devices, and embraces all mainstream codecs and containers, including MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC and AAC. There's also an audio media reader for the USB slot, which also delivers digital audio from an iPod, iPhone or iPad. Interestingly, there's no screensaver mode though, which would have afforded some extra comfort to installs where plasma displays are used.

The AVR750 ships with a calibration microphone which promises a quick fix for speaker measurement and room EQ; not all content will suit the end result, but the balance for multichannel proves to be quite effective during our audition. It's possible to configure the receiver for both stereo and multichannel duties differently.

Arcam FMJ AVR750: Performance
There's no two ways about it: the AVR750 sounds gorgeous. The receiver's power output, rated at 120w into 8ohms with two channels driven, drops a tad when all channels are singing from the same hymn sheet, but this doesn't dent its incredible dynamism. Arcam's heavyweight is light on its feet and punches like a honey-coated pro. Beneath the lid there's 20w of low distortion Class A, but when you need more it switches in another supply using larger capacitors. There's never any sense that the receiver is struggling; it goes very loud very smoothly and doesn't appear to run out of steam. We auditioned the receiver with some high-end Definitive Technology Reference in-walls, but installers can be confident it'll drive much more exotic fare.

The AVR750's HDMI and video processing stage is provided by Analog Devices (Arcam no longer feels compelled to write the code itself). As a consequence, the receiver's video switching time appears to have benefitted. The AVR helpfully handshakes with every live connection as soon as it's powered up; this makes usability very slick. Should installers find it advantageous, there's provision to add picture processing to individual sources, via the set up menu.

As a two channel amp, the AVR750 is fabulous. Select Stereo Direct and all sonic processing is bypassed, including bass management. High resolution FLAC files are delivered with a depth and sweetness that's easy to appreciate. The musical DNA at the heart of this receiver is self evident.

The AVR750 packs a punch with multichannel movie soundtracks too though, it's crisp and articulate but able to unleash swathes of forceful mid-bass when required. Despite innate British refinement, it doesn't shirk when required to go all Michael Bay. Indeed, in full 7.1 flight, the 360 degree soundstage is wonderfully immersive. Once we started listening, we really didn't want to stop.

Arcam FMJ AVR750: Verdict
It's difficult to imagine that installers won't be thrilled with the performance of the FMJ AVR750. Arguably the best sounding AVR released this year, this receiver is equipped to make the best of whatever environment its serving. Ideally, we would imagine it providing the musical muscle for a dedicated home theatre, but equally it would seem suitable for music and lounge areas where a superior level of sonic performance is required. While there's no shortage of AV receivers able to walk the walk, very few talk the talk as convincingly as the AVR750. If this is the antidote to pedestrian custom install audio, we're happy to take the medicine.

Retail price: £4,000
Available: now.

For more on Arcam's hi-fi and home cinema products, visit the brand's partner page here. Arcam is distributed via AWE Europe. For more on AWE Europe's product portfolio and services, visit our partner page here.

Also read:
Arcam rblink Bluetooth DAC review

Arcam FMJ AVR750 AV receiver tuned for movies and music

Interview: Arcam and the art of high fidelity audio



Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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