Arcam AVR280: great cinema sound on a budget

You can pick up a home cinema receiver for as little as £80 these days, but that doesn't mean it will be any good. You'd be far better off spending a more decent amount - £1,200 say - and bagging yourself a 'best ever' product from an AV powerhouse. Arcam 's DiVA AVR280 fits the bill perfectly.

This £1,200 home cinema receiver ticks all the usual boxes with 7.1-channel surround sound, Dolby Digital EX , Dolby Pro Logic IIx and DTS decoders, plus an 80W per channel surround sound output.

What makes the AVR280 different from cheaper rivals is that Arcam lavishes as much attention on the music side of the AV equation as it does on home cinema. Result? Truly excellent performance no matter what you choose to watch or listen to.

To add credence to this claim, Arcam points out that the AVR280 borrows heavily from its beefier FMJ AV9 sibling - an AV receiver that weighs in at a wallet-whupping £3,750.

Key features for the DiVA AVR280 are:

  • Built-in Dolby Digital EX, DTS ES, DTS24/96 and Dolby Pro Logic IIx decoders
  • Built-in RDS FM/AM stereo tuner with 30 FM and 16 AM radio station presets
  • 80W per channel continuous power output into 4 ohms / 8 ohms (all channels driven at 1KHz)
  • 100W per channel stereo output into 4 ohms / 8ohms (20Hz-20KHz)
  • 2x HDMI inputs, 1x HDMI output; 2-way HDMI switching
  • HDTV-compatible component / RGB video switching
  • 7x 80W per channel power output into 4 or 8ohms (1KHz continuous)
  • 2x 100W per channel power output into 4 or 8 ohms (20Hz to 20KHz)
  • Second room / zone output with audio and video, plus RS232 port for system control and integration
  • 7x stereo analogue audio inputs (plus tuner); 3x tape outputs (one a tape loop)
  • 3x digital optical audio inputs; 3x digital coaxial outputs
  • 1x digital optical audio output; 1x digital coaxial audio output
  • Multi-channel analogue input for SACD / DVD-Audio sources
  • 24-bit/96KHz Wolfson D/A converters
  • Separate subwoofer level setting for film and stereo listening

The Arcam AVR280 is available now.