Arcam’s entry-level AVR5 offers 12-channel Dolby Atmos decoding, but HDMI 2.1 is an optional extra

Arcam AVR5
(Image credit: Arcam)

Arcam has officially unveiled the AVR5, positioning it as an AV amplifier that makes the company’s renowned home cinema performance available at a lower price point.

At £1999 / $2000, the AVR5 is now the HDA range’s entry-level receiver, with plenty of features for users to sink their teeth into. These include the ability to natively decode 12 channels of Dolby Atmos audio (with upmixing from Dolby Surround), along with DTS-X (with upmixing from DTS:Neural:X). There are only seven-channels of amplification, though, so taking advantage of those extra channels of processing will require the use of a separate power amplifier.

The ARV5’s HDMI sockets allow for 4K HDR passthrough (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision are all supported), with eARC support for lossless audio thrown in to boot. Somewhat surprisingly, the AVR5 doesn't ship with HDMI 2.1 support – it will instead require the same upgrade that's due to be offered to the rest of the HDA range by the end of 2021. This upgrade will need to be performed by an authorised Arcam service centre, and the price is yet to be announced. Arcam's reasoning for not building-in HDMI 2.1 is that not all buyers will want it but it would put the AVR5's retail price up for all.

Under the AVR5's hood, you’ll find a brace of ESS ES9026PRO DACs (also found in the pricier AVR30) alongside the seven channels of Class AB amplification, which are driven by a custom-designed linear supply capable of sustaining 1.5KW of total power consumption.

On the connectivity side of things you’ll find the ability to stream from all manner of devices thanks to Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth aptX HD, Google Chromecast, and Spotify Connect. The updated Harman MusicLife UPnP app also enables playback and control of the AVR5 via Android and iOS, along with providing access to internet radio, music streaming, and podcasts.

The new AR5 also supports MQA audio, allowing Tidal HiFi users to experience the highest available audio quality from Tidal Master recordings, while Roon members can use the system’s interface for browsing Qobuz, Tidal, and locally stored music libraries. The AVR5 can also form part of a Roon-driven multi-room system, slotting into existing multi-brand setups.

Lastly, the AVR5 also supports Dirac Live, the professional-grade room correction system. It’s an optional extra, mind, and you’ll need to download the Dirac tuning tool for Mac or PC and purchase a licence (AVR5 owners will be able to claim a 50 per cent discount for a limited time).

There’s no official release date beyond availability “towards the end of Q4 2021”.


See all the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021 winners!

These are the best 30 hi-fi speakers of What Hi-Fi?'s lifetime

Our pick of the best stereo speakers on the market

Esat Dedezade
Freelance contributor