Stereocheck Reviews:

Arcam AV40: A full-featured surround sound processor

Arcam AV40 is a surround sound processor. This means that it does not have built-in amplification stages and is designed to work with external amplifiers. The AV40 is not only a full-featured...

Arcam AV40
Arcam AV40

Arcam AV40 is a surround sound processor. This means that it does not have built-in amplification stages and is designed to work with external amplifiers. The AV40 is not only a full-featured processor, but also a device that offers any source for listening to music.

The design of the Arcam AV40 processor is consistent with the general style of the devices of the new HDA series – in a dark gray case with silver handles and buttons. In the center of the front panel there is a large display that normally shows active inputs and volume levels. When you enter setup mode, the display changes. Here we should praise the development team for a very user-friendly interface in the configuration mode. Usually on processors, it is better to use a TV or projector screen to configure the system, since the menu on the display of the device itself is extremely inconvenient to navigate. The Arcam AV40 makes adjustments easy from the front panel, which is great for those of us who always want to tweak things.

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The Arcam AV40 processor uses a very high quality digital-to-analog converter from ESS Technologies. ESS has a reputation for producing the best DACs. It is one of the most important components in the design of a digital audio device and converts a stream of digital data, represented as 0s and 1s, into an analog signal. The ESS ES9026PRO Saber is a 32-bit, 8-channel DAC designed for high-end audio equipment. The Arcam AV40 has two such DACs that serve 16 channels.

The device is equipped with seven HDMI inputs and three outputs. The outputs are for main zone and zone 2 and support ARCe. The ARCe function allows you to do without an additional cable for transmitting audio signals when connecting, for example, to a TV. The range of digital inputs is also very impressive: four coaxial, two Toslink inputs plus a Toslink output. But the choice of sound sources is not limited to this. The Arcam AV40 has a very good built-in AM/FM tuner with support for Apple Airplay2, Chromecast and aptX HD Bluetooth – features usually found in higher-priced devices.

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You probably chuckled skeptically at the mention of 16 channels. Indeed, this is much more than is needed for a conventional surround sound system. However, the AV40 offers 16 output channels – with standard RCA and XLR connectors. Very impressive. This allows you to bring the configuration of speaker systems to 9.1.6 format. On the other hand, these additional four outputs can be used to create interesting subwoofer channel combinations. For example, stereo music can be played without a subwoofer at all, and when watching movies, all subwoofers can be used. Or divide the subwoofers into front and rear, and calibrate them separately.

The device can also be used as a full-fledged network streamer and Roon player with support for the Roon or Arcam application, which works with Internet radio, podcasts, TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer, and Napster services. That is, Arcam AV40 is not only an excellent processor for home theater, but also a full-fledged component of a stereo system. Offering support for the latest audio and video formats, Arcam AV40 includes all the latest Dolby codecs – Dolby Atmos, as well as Dolby Volume with advanced dynamics control capabilities, Dolby Vision for enhanced picture quality, DTS:X and DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced, and finally, Auro 3D.

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Stereo Direct mode allows the signal to bypass the subwoofer processing circuitry, resulting in a full spectrum of frequencies being sent to the left and right speakers. This makes it possible to fine-tune the overall sound character and save different settings for different inputs.

Arcam AV40 uses the latest version – Dirac Live – with full 16-channel calibration, which significantly improves sound quality in any listening mode. Back then, on the Datasat processor, we especially liked the ability to load more than one Dirac setting. Imagine having one setting that focuses on your main listening position, and a second setting that focuses on the rest of the seats in your theater. Until now, Dirac Live devices only allowed one setting to be loaded. With the advent of AV40, everything has changed – now you can download as many as three.

The Arcam AV40 offers a rare combination of superior sound and virtually every technology feature you’d want in your home theater. The price is high, but if your home theater is built on the basis of separate components and you are thinking about upgrading it, then the AV40 is definitely worth your consideration!

Characteristics of Arcam AV40

Supports Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D, IMAX Enhanced and DTS:X 9.1.6 decoding
Supports 4K (UHD) HDMI2.0b with HDCP2.2
7 HDMI inputs, 3 HDMI outputs, eARC support
Digital signal correction system under room Dirac Live® for Arcam
Audiophile built-in DAC ESS 9026PRO
16 balanced XLR outputs
16 unbalanced RCA outputs
Recommended power amplifiers: PA240, PA720 and PA410
Wifi/Ethernet, RS232 and IR
control Audio streaming Google Cast/UPnP
Bluetooth support
MusicLife mobile app for iOS and Android
Dimensions W.G.H. 433mm x 425mm x 171mm
Weight 10.6 kg