Arcam SA10 – 900 Euro
Arcam has- in our opinion – a bit of a golden oldie with the SA10. This class A/B amplifier offers exceptional value for money. With about 900 euros it is favorably priced. Especially considering the number of connections and performance.
The specs state 50 watts into 8 Ohms and 85 watts into 4 Ohms. We measure 42 watts into 8 Ohms at 0.08% and 64 watts into 4 Ohms at 0.2%. In both cases, this is the point at which the distortion curve shoots up; the point at which the amplifier runs out of breath. The problem with specs from manufacturers is that they don’t say how they measured those watts. So it’s hard to compare. However, we measure all amplifiers equally, making these numbers comparable.
That each amplifier has its own signature, everyone can check out for themselves. In this case we switch from the Audiolab 6000A to the Arcam SA10 and immediately hear that the Arcam plays more up-beat with a touch more freshness. The Audiolab is more “relaxed” than the Arcam. You could call it slower, although we do not want to say directly that the 6000A is slow. Rather, it is a bit warmer and more focused on calmness.
This character is also partly visible in the response curve: the Arcam drops from 30 Hz by more than 3dB towards 5 Hz and the Audiolab remains flat towards 5 Hz.
The Arcam SA10 is clearly in the mood. As mentioned, the character of the Arcam is nicely up-beat and energetic. The bass is admittedly a bit less warm and round: it is, however, tight and detailed. This amplifier gives us the idea that it has the Focals well under control. Nothing gets out of the Arcam-grip… The imaging is also a bit higher and a bit more in depth than with the Audiolab. We don’t lose any space in the forward image, giving us the feeling that the Arcam realizes a bit more ambience than its competitor.
Arcam applies – we think – a fair amount of feedback if we look at the graph. The noise-floor is quite low and the spectrum is quiet. This provides calmness and control (which we also hear). The distortion + noise (THD + N) is pretty average. There are better ones and there are some that are higher. The power measurement shows that Arcam is a bit optimistic … at least we think so. The response curve is a kind of spherical shape: it slopes down towards the bass and from 20 kHz it also goes down towards 90 kHz. The rounding off from 20 kHz is not strange. In the bass we find it a bit audible. All in all not very strange for an amplifier in this class.