Cambridge A500 Integrated Amplifier - Classic Series
Originally Posted by Walker
Do you like it, could you describe it a little bit?
Well, Walker, where to begin? I also have a Quad 33/303S combo but to compare with this wouldn't help very much. The Cambridge Audio A500 has a character of it's own.
On the rear panel, there are a couple of useful features. One is a Pre-Out for biamping. There are also two sets of loudspeaker connecters. These deliver 65W rms which is more than ample for 99% of listening rooms. At most, I use it at about 25% volume which means that I'm only using about 16.2W (per channel.) There is also a built in possibility of substituting one of the Aux inputs for a Phono input, which is what I have done. The RIAA board is very cheap. I paid about 300 SEK (40 USD) for it and, being a qualified audio engineer, I installed it myself. Very simple installation. You just cut away a pair of jumpers and plug the board in. It has a very impressive torroid transformer inside and everything is very neat and easily accessable.
On the front panel, the controls are adequate. I don't use Bass and Treble but I have tested the controls. I use the tone control bypass. The large volume control can either be used manually or via the remote control which comes with the amplifier.
There are five inputs plus an input and output for a tape recorder.
If I have any complaints about it, it would be that I have difficulty reading the text on the front panel but that's just my eyes. I chose the silver version (it also comes in black.)
My first impression of the amplifier was that I'd made a big mistake and that it would be better to reinstall the Quad. I was just deciding whether to shoot myself, hang myself or take an overdose of tablets. Whilst standing on the chair with the rope around my neck, gun in hand and hand full of tablets, I noticed a few interesting details on the CD which was playing so I decided to burn it in and give it another chance. This integrated amplifier does require a burn in period. There's a sticker on the chassis which recommends at least 32 hours of burn in. My own experience is that it takes about 3 months for it to show it's real colours.
This amplifier is not to be sniffed at. It has a simplistic design philosophy behind it (one of the main reasons why I decided to buy it) and is constructed with a view to possible, future, upgrades. I like that - the promise of continuity.
You'll notice that many Cambridge Audio components have the same chassis. The idea behind this is to produce cheaper equipment (through large volume purchases.) This is very good news for the consumer.
As I said, earlier, it's not really fair to compare the A500 to the Quad. The Quad has a frequency response from 20 Hz (-3dB) to 20kHz (-3dB) and the A500 has a frequency response from 10Hz (-3dB) to 60kHz (-3dB) As you see, there's no contest.
This is a great and inexpensive integrated amplifier which should suit most people. Everything comes at a price, though and with the A500 that price is the burn in time. If you have the patience and faith to wait that long, you'll find that it's an extremely good investment and should provide you with many years of enjoyable music.
FYI all the A500's are technically RC ones (it only means they have a remote on them). Until the advent of the Azur gear it was the best selling CA amplifier. There is also a UK only A5 which is almost identical but without the remote volume pot.
Technical support for Cambridge Audio and Mordaunt Short.