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  1. #1
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Jun 2003

    Integrated Amp for office, follow-up.

    Thanks to all for their invaluable input about a month ago. While looking for a budget integrated for my office rig, I ended up choosing a Cambridge Audio Azur 540a integrated matched to a Azur 540c cd player. Now that they are broken-in, I thought I'd post some first impressions.

    So far, the CA's are everything I need and then some for this application. As both the CD and integrated are new to my ears, I'm only able to give impessions on the two together as I have no idea which is providing the greater difference. My office isn't huge at 15'x19' and with the floorstanding Mission 780 Argonauts rated at 95dB's/1w/1m and 4ohms, I barely turn the attenuator at all. The 540a is rated at 80wpc @ 4 ohms and has way more oomph than I'll ever use. Build quality is impressive with a solid aluminum faceplate and chassis highlighted by very cool corrugated side panel playing off the ocean theme. The cd player is straight forward w/ a matching, seriously heavy remote of aluminum that also controls the amp (cool, only one remote lying around ). The amp is dominated by a large, aluminum volume attenuator of decent, if not excellent, actuation. You have to be pretty careful with the thing as the slightest movements result in rather large volume swings. It appears that the volume contol on the remote is in 1db increments which is also kind of a hassel. 1/2db would be better imo. Both unfortunately utilize white lettering, which combined with the silver faceplates make every switch virtually undecipherable. Thankfully the integrated automatically recognizes the source so a minimum of button pushing is required.

    The sound synergy is a very good match for the 780's as it is warm, smooth, and musical. It's not as euphonic as my Marantz 2230 and more neutral than a B&K ST140. The semi-horn loaded tweeters can be abrasive when matched incorrectly and so far the Azur seems to be the right choice. No etched highs or overbearing treble, just music. I'm listening to Jet "Get Born" (very reminescent(sp?) of AC/DC) as I type this and voices are natural yet the raging guitars still have a nice bite to them. The detail retrieval isn't like my main rig but that could also be due to room acoustics. Sound staging is very good and very stable. The bass isn't as energetic as the C320bee, but more than adequate. Perhaps its greatest asset is that it sounds as balanced at low levels as it does at louder levels, an important attribute for an office. Overall, as long as it keeps running I'm very satisfied. The cd player has done some weird things but plays fine. We'll see...

    For $530 bones you can't expect a life altering experience but I can say I doubt spending twice as much will net twice the sound quality.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Integrated Amp for office, follow-up.-640a-amp%5B1%5D.jpg   Integrated Amp for office, follow-up.-640c-cd-player%5B1%5D.jpg  

  2. #2
    RGA is offline
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    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    You get a good bit of build quality for the money with cambridge - my CD 6 was reasonably inexpensive and while it's about 8 years old still features stuff not all that common amongst cd players today. It retailed for around $850.00Cdn ~$650US

    "This is an ambitiously specified player, constructed internally as separate analogue and digital sections with extensive mutual screening and a jitter lock between them. The sophisticated power-supply section consists in total of three transformers and no fewer than 14 regulated supplies. The D/A convertor is a dual differential design built around the Philips TDA1305, with good quality internal wiring. Around the back you may be surprised to find AES/EBU balanced outputs in addition to the standard unbalanced analogue outputs. The digital S/PDIF output takes a BNC connector, but BNC/phono adaptors are readily available."

    Cambridge Audio is an underrated little company - It's about as good as it gets for the money probably on par with NAD. NAd offers more muscle and selection though. Entry level high End for mid-fi prices.

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