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Tech Talk

Tech Talk

Arcam Next-Gen AVRs Establish A New Benchmark In Innovation

By Nicholas Clarke – Senior Director, Global Engineering,
Harman Luxury Audio Group

Nick Clarke headoshot

Despite the massive rise of soundbars, which have effectively eliminated the entry level AVR market, it has never been a more exciting time to be in the premium AVR market. With increasing channel counts, eARC and growing DSP horsepower allowing for the enhancement of 3D immersive audio formats, the feature count found on these products are steadily growing, giving end-users amazing flexibility. This is very well summarised in this Residential Systems article, which features two Harman Luxury Audio AVRs in their Tech Showcase (Arcam AVR30 and JBL Synthesis SDR35.

Arcam AVR30

As the article shows, the Arcam AVR30 is at the very leading edge of features, which required the use of the very latest in advanced technologies. This includes the introduction of a brand new DSP, which is one of the most powerful available in the audio space. Added to that is an equally complex network streaming solution that also provides the link for the system to the outside world for Over-The Air (OTA) updates. Even the full colour front panel TFT requires its own computer to run it, so for example the text scrolling is smooth when showing a longer track name. In short, these units contain not just one computer with millions of lines of code, but six computers, each with millions of lines of code, that all need to talk to each other perfectly. Add to that the infinite complexity that comes with the AVR being the heart of a complex system, with no two systems every being exactly identical and the scope of the task of making these leading-edge devices starts to become clear.

From conception to launch it has taken nearly two years to release our newest platform of AVRs. During that two years we faced new product requirements. There were new CODECs from Dolby and Dirac Live Bass Management was announced to the market. Neither of these features were part of the original specification. We also decided that we needed to make it easy for our products to be enhanced through OTA. This will allow the products the addition of Dirac EQ, as well as support for IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D.

Arcam AVR10

Transparency is Key
In the first ever issue of this newsletter, we made the promise of transparency with our customers. With many millions of lines of software code being written and technology innovation occurring during the manufacturing of our new platform, we recognise that some of the initial AVR production reached some of you with software bugs. We apologise for the additional steps required by some of our dealers to update the software manually to allow for future OTA. 

We are working non-stop to repair any software glitches. We have made a number of software releases already to address the most serious shortcomings and will continue to do so. Our newest software release, 0v95, can be found at www.arcam.co.uk/ on the specific product page for your model (e.g. www.arcam.co.uk/products,av-receiver,AV-Receiver,AVR30.htm ). With this release we repaired many of the issues reported to us from the field; full details are in the release notes in the download package.

We will continue to develop leading edge products and technologies and will continue to improve our support for our customers – with a product as advanced as an AVR, it really is no less complex (in some ways more so) than the computing device that you are no doubt reading this on. As a Harman Dealer or Distributor, we ask that you inform your customers on the importance of updating the software/firmware before they set-up their product for the first time. That very important piece of information is called out in our user manuals, but we also realise that many customers do not fully read the manual. Please help us educate customers on the importance to have the product connected to the network for OTA updates, or update via USB. We also encourage you to provide detailed information of any concerns you may have with these new products. The fastest route to a solution is to describe accurately the issue – if it is possible to be reproduced, it can be fixed.