Arcam SR250 Tested by HiFi+ Magazine

The SR250 stereo receiver is a unique offering from Arcam. Imagine the power, performance, and grace of a Class G Hi-Fi integrated amplifier paired with the connectivity and processing of a high-end audio video receiver. Quite literally the best of both worlds.

So, how does it sound? In a word, superb. These are not your average off-the-shelf parts being conjoined into some "HiFi" Frankenstein. Arcam has spent decades perfecting its audio video receiver with the best available digital processing and distortion reducing technologies, and now the addition of revolutionary Dirac room correction software. And with its deep roots in traditional 2-channel audio, you can rest assured that Arcam spent the time to refine the basics, with a true analog high-performance volume control, ultra-quiet line stage, toroidal transformer, and critically dampened casework. And its heart beat is provided by Class G amplification, an Arcam hallmark. $3600 US Retail Price. Find an Arcam retailer near you.

Keep reading for excerpts from the HiFi+ review or download in its entirety. 

Class G might be a new amplifier design to many... The idea is to retain the properties of a Class A design in sonic terms, but with good, solid Class AB design power when needed, without the inherent heat issues of higher-power Class A designs or the crossover distortion of Class AB. This works by having multiple power supplies feeding the output stage; one set for those subtle “first watt” moments, and a more muscular supply set the heavy lifting duties... the result is the clarity and finesse of Class with the dynamic power and scale of Class AB, all in a package that runs efficiently.
The big feather in the SR250’s cap is Dirac Live. This is a suite of room correction programs designed to measure, analyse, and compensate for your room’s idiosyncrasies... You take a series of measurements in preset locations... the program then sends the result to Dirac, which analyses [instantly, over the net- SoundOrg.] the resulting test tones to create a config file for the SR250
This creates both a degree of compensation for the sub-200Hz region [it does correct full-band, but is most noticeable in the bass/mid-bass area- SoundOrg.], carefully worked phase linearity across the frequency range, and a gentle tailoring of the frequency response to bring the speaker to the nominal perfect model...Yes, of course, you can use the SR250 without implementing Dirac Live, but why would you? It’s like buying an airline ticket and then taking the train.
 Arcam of Cambridge: SR250 A unique Stereo AV receiver. The power and performance of a High-end Class G Hi-Fi amplifier. The connectivity of a world-class AV amp. Literally the best of both worlds for people who want great Hi-Fi and a new breed of Movie and TV sound. pr@robfollis.com
Coming to terms with the sound of the SR250 is a slightly odd experience, especially when it is fully configured. It’s absolutely unlike what you might expect, especially if you are unable to quite switch off the “it’s a home cinema amp” mode in your head. Because, if you think home cinema and equate that to booming bass and splashy highs, the SR250 does precisely none of that. It’s clean, but not bright, incredibly detailed, and possessed of that kind of erudite refinement that normally comes with valve amplification. But it also has the control and dynamic drive that is normally associated with Class AB powerhouses. The Dirac’d phase correction and frequency curve do work wonders... The Wilson [Duette] speaker retained the energy and drive it does so well, but it also came with more of a “well mannered” frequency extension rather than any kind of edginess or brashness... This doesn’t sound artificial, like there has been a “toob-filter” applied to the sound, more that the SR250 makes the loudspeakers sound a bit more like they should be sounding.
The bass isn’t overt, and the treble isn’t overemphasized; these aspects of the frequency response are just honest. And that at first can make it seem almost dull sounding and quiet sounding. And it stays sounding quiet until you try to talk over the system and you realise just how much it holds in reserve. This is a remarkably honest, extraordinarily powerful amplifier (far more than the 90W might imply), which is quietly ticking over when other amplifiers are fully revved up.
The Arcam SR250 is a really good stereo amplifier, and not just at the price. If you can get past the inherent fear of home theater intrinsic to many audiophiles, and are prepared to delve into Dirac, this is perhaps £25,000 amp you can get for £2,500. Recommended!