HiFi components bought as ‘bargain’

What pieces of equipment have you purchased that you thought “wow, I can’t believe it only cost me that?” Obviously, people have different opinions about what constitutes cheap/good value/bargains and as we all know, cheap does not always mean a good value!

I have just made a purchase that has inspired me to start this thread but, thanks to a well known auction site, I have purchased a few items recently that have made me think ‘bargain’. These are, in chronological order of the purchase.

A mint Arcam A18 amplifier for £150. Not the best for driving larger speakers in big rooms but a really nice clear amplifier for smaller rooms and stand mount speakers - lots of features too. I use it in the office.

A pair of near mint Piega TS3s (needed a good clean) for £63 boxed. Great little speakers for the bedroom - made in Switzerland and very solid aluminium cabinets. The latest version, now with an AMT Tweeter, retails circa £900.

Mint Arcam Solo Movie 2.1 for £250. No this doesn’t do streaming but £250 for a CD/SACD/DVD/DVD-A player, 50wpc (8ohm) stereo amp, external DAC inputs (stream from Fire-stick equipped TV via SPDIF) and internal bass management including sub/speaker crossover settings was a bit of a bargain - goes really well with the Piegas in the main bedroom. IIRC it was about £1500 new.

VGC Arcam (a bit of a theme here) DV135 CD/DVD/SACD player purchased for £38 as a stop gap for my boxed away Naim CD5si. My 2 year old daughter discovered the Naim’s swing out CD draw and I feared for its safety. Truth is, though not as capable overall as the Naim, the Arcam is not a million miles off and possibly better in terms of bass performance? Certainly not in a rush to sell it on.

My latest purchases, which I am using as I type and are intended for my son as a bedroom system. The first components are a pair of Denon by Mission speakers for £20 - great for a bedroom - I am going to wrap them in something suitable - carbon fibre vinyl perhaps?

They will be linked with an absolute bargain IMO - a brand new AVA Media Maestro 50 ‘true digital’ amplifier purchased for just £23 and still in its shrink wrap. It only has digital inputs and converts from digital to analogue ‘just before the speakers‘ - apparently no DAC as such. It’s not a powerhouse but it really is clear and open yet smooth, even through the little Denon (Mission) speakers. It was even made in Manchester and comes in a very solid aluminium case.

Now I am not claiming that any of these will outperform most of the equipment that people own on here but the sound/features/quality per pound ratio of all of the items makes them all bargains IMO.

Has anyone got similar purchases they would like to share?



1 Like

Seems like older Arcam gear goes for little money. A Nait-2, OTOH…

I used a NAD D3020 at work for many years with a set of Totem Kin Minis. A nice small office system.

1 Like

Because their reliability sucks.

1 Like

Think we might have to agree to disagree on this one😉. The newer, complex AV stuff yes, the older, UK made stuff? On anything we as a ‘family’ have owned (quite a lot actually) other than a CD draw cog on the CDP I am using now (fixed Naim style with a draw tab) nothing has given any issues, never mind actually needing a repair!

Yep, a friend has run an A18 in his main system for years now and it has been great. Pretty solid gear.

1 Like

Best Hifi bargain I’ve had was probably a Bryston 9BST 5 ch power amp at a knockdown price of under £1k a couple of years ago instead of normal £2.5k+: there were no other bids, I think because the name had been miss-spelt!

Secondhand IMF RSPM speakers in 1990 for £500, equivalent to maybe £12-£1500 today, for speakers that new today would probably cost £8k+. A lot of money to me at the time, but they then gave me 25 years of loudspeaker heaven!

Around the turn of the century I bought a Musical Fidelity P270 power amp at a very good price though i don’t recall how much: it seemed it was simply not commanding much on the secondhand market at the time, and it was a lovely amp, which I kept for about 17 years.

1 Like

Just about everything I’ve had from Arcam from 90s on either failed and got tossed in the trash, failed and repaired under warranty, or failed and was serviced by third party when Arcam wouldn’t touch it anymore. The only Arcam kit I bought that still works correctly is an rDAC. My dealer stopped carrying Arcam because they grew tired of all the service issues. I liked Arcam in that it performed and sounded great, but I’ll never touch it again. I finally got smart and gave up on the brand.

Most recently I threw an AVR300 in the trash. In fact, the AVR300 kept blowing out the board on my Dynaudio Sub500, like 3-4 times. No one figured it out until I replaced it with a NAD and it all started working without failure. It happened that the digital board failed after a few years, so I repurposed it as a two-channel integrated for my office. Of all things the volume control got too flakey to use. I recently threw it out and got a Atom. I still have a DV88 that was nothing but problematic, even after authorised service and upgrade.

It all sounded and performed great while it lasted (which wasn’t that long), but good riddance to that junk. My personal experience with Arcam (backed up by dealer experience): utter rubbish. Good riddance to it all. :slightly_smiling_face:

My dealer got rid of Arcam and Mark Levinson who they distribute in the UK last year. They were apparently a bit of a nightmare to deal with, they would throw huge discounts at the market devaluing dealer stock and the customer base.

That’s a shame as Arcam or A&R Cambridge as they were once known used to be considered very solid from a reliability point of view. All of my old A&R or Arcam kit from the late '70s and '80s is still working well - a handful of A60s and T21s of various ages, a Delta 60, Delta 80, Delta 90, Alpha 5 Plus amp and CD, and an original Alpha Plus CD player. Indeed, the old A60 is often held up as a paragon of reliability. The only issue I had was with a Delta 290 integrated amp that had to have the selector switch replaced as it got noisy quickly, and even the replacement again went noisy not that long after.

Ion Obelisk 1 which I bought in the late 80’s for not much money. I then sold it on for a little profit to a friend and it’s still going strong!



Both Arcam and Levinson are now part of Harman International - perhaps they both have a similar corporate-led strategy to generating sales/dumping stock? It is true that they are a very different company now from what they were in the 90s and have undergone many changes of ownership, product focus and location of manufacture, IMHO not all good, especially subcontracting manufacturing to the Far East and the resultant impact this has/had on QC, stock volumes and discounting to clear stock.

As for reliability I can only speak of personal experience but the ‘family‘ own:
1 x Alpha 1,
1 x Alpha 7,
2 x Alpha 7r,
Alpha 8 + 8p combo,
1 x A28,
Alpha 5 CDP x 2
1 x ir Doc
and items mentioned in the original post. A fairly equal balance of new/second hand. Except for draw cog failures on the Philips sourced CD mech on both players they have all, so far, been faultless. The only disappointing item performance wise was the ir Doc. With the exception of the Solo Movie mentioned above, all are straight stereo products - as with Naim and the N-VI, I am aware of issues with the AV products - perhaps something best left to the big boys? For what it’s worth, except the Ir-doc, all the other items, including the Solo Movie, were made in the UK.

They certainly don’t have the retained value of Naim equipment and I doubt the service support either - probably one reason Naim equipment has a high residual value. Anyway, this has gone rather off topic - the thread was supposed to be about HiFi bargains!

I’ve had an A60 and Arcam Alpha 7SE for over 35 years. I had one repair on the 7SE for an aged disc mechanism and replaced a broken fuse on the A60 when I plugged the 7SE into the phono stage…

My Arcam FMJ CD player stopped one day last year. Arcam no longer supply the parts to repair. I was annoyed as it was about £1,000 back in 1999, but then I thought that’s 20 years use at £1 a week. Not bad vfm in reality.

Kef MUO brand new for around 60% of the current discount price seen everywhere. Will only be used about twice a year on holiday, so didn’t want to invest too much.

When you hear, see and feel it it just doesn’t seem possible that it was only that kind of money.

I remember thinking that my one time SBLs were an incredible bargain at around £500. Nothing comes close at the price.

And the input selector switch on the delta 290

I had an Alpha 10. It sounded very nice, but failed while under warranty. Arcam’s US distributor replaced it. Some years later it had to be repaired again. The US distributor would no longer service it so I had to find third party to repair it. I ended up selling it for next to nothing.

I had the same problem with the drawer mechanism on my Arcam Alpha 8 CD Player

Here is an image of the component that inspired the thread.


I am using it now - once warmed up (about 20 minutes) the clarity really is excellent. I did think it bass-light - fixed that by connecting it to a BK Gemini 2 (another bargain at the full price) subwoofer through the sub output.

This is the rear panel:


25wpc into 8 ohms/50wpc into 4 and seemingly a very low noise floor. Very happy for £23 (25 Euro) +postage brand new/boxed! Think my son will love it :blush:.

Pictures are courtesy of Tone publications.


Wow. How do you control the volume?