The Good – A very impressive performer in all respects
The Bad – Remote control is useful to have but not very
The Verdict – If I were entering the hifi world afresh I would give this integrated amplifier full consideration.
The Arcam FMJ A19 is an excellent integrated amplifier with plenty of clout for a new entrant into the hifi scene. With all the inputs you’ll need and a phono stage included in the specification this is a must consider if you are entering the vinyl revival. The remote control is a useful addition as well.
Like all good hi fi separates you do need a mouthful of letters to name your product. The Arcam FMJ A-19 has plenty of those. FMJ means to Arcam ‘Faithful Musical Joy’ in the context of this range although its alternative, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ suits this high performing and well finished amplifier better. This is, all-round, a very
impressive performer indeed, particularly at this price level. Indeed, for those of a certain vintage the
A-19 draws comparison to the old NAD 3020e that has the same colour feel and was the definitive entry level hifi amplifier from those early 80s.
The amplifier itself is a multi-talented integrated box that features a class AB amplifier design for a low noise and distortion solution to your analogue needs. It drives 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms speaker impedance (most hi street speakers) or 90 watts into 4 ohms. This is plenty of clout for your average neighbour friendly set-up, I am driving B&W CM7 speakers which are more than happy with the drive delivered.
One of the more interesting features if you are embarking on the vinyl revival is the addition of a moving magnet phono stage that would be compatible with most good priced turntables like the Rega planar 3 with the Elys 2 cartridge or the Pro-ject Debut Carbon with the Ortonfon cartridges. This is an excellent addition to the package and the performance is good enough too.
There is a suite or other inputs, such as CD, tuner and other Blu-ray, satellite tv type options that are basically input labels but indicating that the amp will drive an AV (audio visual) solution. There is, however no separate sub-woofer out connection. There is still a tape record out solution that is surely defunct now (can you buy TDK D-90s these days?).
Another useful input that the amplifier has is an aux-in jack that allows for plugging in smartphones and iPods if that is your thing. The Aux-in is a nice to have at the front. It works reasonably. Having recently reviewed the Arcam irDAC, however, there is no other iPod solution you should consider if you are after high quality reproduction from your Apple player or other such device. Next to the Aux in on the front is a headphone stage that is specifically designed for headphones.
A lot of attention has been given to the prominent volume control that uses the same circuitry as the huge £4,500 ARCAM AV888. This circuit delivers a very low signal to noise ratio that is high precision and unfussy.
Finally, there is a power output socket at the back that outputs power to other Arcam products, such as the irDAC that reduces the wireworks around the back of these systems.
Overall the Arcam FMJ A19 is a strong all-round performer. I am using the excellent Arcam irDAC to present lossless FLAC files to the amplifier from a laptop. The presentation of the sound is strong and thumping and the soundstage is warm and wide, which I like. I think this is a very strong performer indeed. There is no lack of detail in reference tracks that I listen to for comparative purposes on the Bowers and Wilkins CM7s I am driving using Atlas Hyper 3.5 bi-wired cable.
I have found the phono stage, with my Rega Planar 3, to be a very adequate performer. Although I prefer my own separate phono stage, the in-built stage does a good job of presenting the signal to the amplifier.
Similarly, the headphone output is good and the Arcam FMJ A19 does an excellent job of driving my headphones. What comes through on all aspects of the amplifiers performance is the high level of consistency and presence from this warm and pleasant integrated amplifier.
At the back, the interconnect connectors are rigid and solid on the repeated pulling and pushing that is necessary when reviewing. The back feels well built. Overall the front facia is neat, tidy and well organised; the green display can be dimmed or turned off if preferred.
The remote control is aesthetically disappointing, though not to any fault. It enables volume control, including muting, if the phone rings, and swapping of input sources. You can also dim or turn off the green source/volume display from the remote.
Without wanting to use the sometimes derogatory ‘jack of all trades’ label, this integrated amplifier is, as its literature suggests, a solid, honestly engineered all-round performer. At the price point suggested this is an excellent integrated amplifier for most analogue needs. It demands a listen as part of any review of your existing system or as an entry into the separates hifi world.