Cambridge Audio - The Home of the British Sound

For over 50 years Cambridge Audio has been refining their technologies in their quest to truly reproduce "The British Sound".The first question that comes to mind is what is "The British Sound"?Cambridge Audio believe it is audio in its purest form.....not "mucking about" with the sound at all.Their aim is to reproduce the sound as it was intended when the artists laid the tracks down in the recording studio.

The 1960's was an important era of experimentation by artists in the recording studio as much as it was also of young engineers,tired of not hearing the sound as it was recorded started designing hi-fi equipment that went closer to giving the music listener more of the detail and depth of the original recording.In the studio artists such as The Beatles and their legendary producer,Sir George Martin,were experimenting with exploring the limits of sound recording with different effects.The British made recording consoles also helped establish"The British Sound".The Americans loved adding chunky bass to their sound whilst the Far East loved to boost the midrange to enhance the vocals."The British Sound" tried to minimise adding anything to the original recording.

The follow-on through the 1970's and 1980's was the use by famous artists such as The Rolling Stones,Pink Floyd,The Who and David Bowie of the British recording engineers and equipment to produce what was at the time exceptionally accurate and dynamic recordings.

Cambridge Audio was born amongst the British design and manufacturing growth in the 1960's that took up the mantle of reproducing the quality of these recordings through affordable hi-fi equipment.Their first ever product ,the P40 amplifier went down in history as being the first amplifier to use a toroidal transformer as the power supply or "engine" of the amplifier.The toroidal transformer went on to become a standard component inside almost every hi-end amplifier since then because it is exceptionally effective at providing the current that delivers the dynamics of the music to the listener.

The P40 was the first of many innovative designs that Cambridge Audio brought out over the following 50 years.Prestigious Awards are presented to this day to Cambridge Audio for not only amplifier design but also high performance streaming components that not only embrace the digital world but set new standards in their price categories.

All of this brings us around to the value of the passion of those music recording pioneers and audio component designers in the 1960's and 1970's that pursued a truly balanced and accurate sound.That sound conveys not only the dynamics of the music but a piece of the emotion that the artists wanted us to feel when we enjoyed listening to their exploration of the limits of sonic experimentation in an effort to control exactly what was recorded and how it sounded.To this day even the entry level Cambridge Audio amplifiers deliver a piece of this experience.

Alva Turntable

Every so often we feature a product that is so different that it deseves special attention.The Cambridge Audio Alva is such a different solution. The fact it’s able to stream wirelessly to a 24bit/48kHz aptX HD standard makes it number one in a field of one.No other record player is as friendly or adaptable, and no other record player will fit in with your wider lifestyle so seamlessly. From its MDF and aluminium plinth to its POM plattter and Rega supplied arm and Moving Coil cartridge this turntable exudes design class. The Alva TT is nothing short of a great turntable, distinguishing itself as a consistently warm and smooth performer with good detail and resolution.

Cambridge Audio is celebrating its 50th anniversary in style. The British company, known for delivering high value in high-end audio, has released a slate of new products promising that “great British sound.” Perhaps none is more appealing than Cambridge Audio’s new Alva TT turntable.The Alva TT offers features and functionality that are rare at the price, including a built-in phono stage, direct drive and Bluetooth connectivity.It’s the only deck at the time of writing to offer aptX HD Bluetooth support. That means you can stream your vinyl to compatible wireless products in hi-res 24-bit/48kHz.Named after Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the phonograph (the first turntable), the deck has a solid piece of aluminium as its top plate.

Bluetooth turntables have become decidedly fashionable of late, picking up popularity on the back of the vinyl revival. It sounds like an awkward marriage of old and new technology, but it’s undeniably convenient. Rather than investing in a full hi-fi system, all you need is a turntable and a Bluetooth speaker or wireless headphones. You can then submerge yourself in the warm fuzzy glow of vinyl.

The Alva TT is a direct drive design. That’s unusual at this price point, but it promises a number of improvements over belt-driven designs, including speed stability and accuracy. Unlike direct-drive DJ decks, which have high-torque motors to get a low-mass platter spinning at the correct speed as quickly as possible, Cambridge has deployed a medium-torque arrangement to move its high-mass platter. The company insists this results in better pitch stability than any belt-drive alternative - and it’s mated the drive system to a chunky plinth, all the better to absorb unwanted vibrational energy. The Polyoxymethylene platter (a material chosen for its rigidity and density) is spun using a medium torque motor to aid smoothness of motion.The deck comes with a Rega-sourced tonearm and high output moving coil cartridge. The arm is fixed, while the phono stage (based on the Cambridge Audio highly acclaimed Duo) is built-in.

The Alva TT’s base is machined from a solid block of MDF (medium density fiberboard). MDF is often used in speaker cabinets because of its density, sturdiness, and ability to deaden vibrations. The top of the turntable’s base sports a 6mm sheet of painted machined aluminum.

The platter is the platform that vinyl records spin on, and its composition has a significant sonic impact on vinyl playback. Stiffer and more uniform materials improve bass, sound stage, and dynamics. Cambridge Audio says that POM is a high-tech engineering thermoplastic used in precision parts that require high stiffness and dimensional stability.The cartridge itself is an exposed cantilever design, which cuts down on unwanted resonance and vibration that can be the downside of enclosed designs.To isolate the Alva TT’s platter from motor vibration, Cambridge Audio added foam dampening pads to the underside of the base. The heavy platter also helps in that effort.

The Alva TT presents recordings as a coherent and convincing whole rather than as a disparate collection of individual sounds.The way the Cambridge Alva handles the midrange is particularly impressive.The Alva serves up a weighty helping of bass, but also plenty of texture and definition here, too - it's a grown up, mature sound.It is particularly impressive that the Alva TT manages to muster.the well-judged levels of attack and drive it delivers.

The fact it’s able to stream wirelessly to a 24bit/48kHz aptX HD standard makes it number one in a field of one. No other record player is as friendly or adaptable, and no other record player will fit in with your wider lifestyle so seamlessly.Not everyone has space for lots of boxes in their audio system, and achieving the same sort of set-up from a traditional deck could mean a lot more hassle.

The Alva TT is nothing short of a great turntable, distinguishing itself as a consistently warm and smooth performer with good detail and resolution.

CXN V2

The Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) has kept all of the great sonic characteristics of the original which received awards and highest accolades for best music streamer in its price category.Its wireless playback capabilities include Internet Radio, Spotify Connect, Airplay, NAS drives and UPnP servers, and aptX Bluetooth.The powerful digital engine inside the CXN upsamples your favourite songs to 24-bit/384kHz hi-res quality. They're then passed via twin Wolfson WM8740 DACs in Dual Differential configuration; the result is tonal clarity, detail and an involvement with your music that will astound you.That same vibrancy and enthusiasm that greeted you with the original hasn’t changed much in the time since. It takes something more talented to dig into the emotional core of the music and deliver it and that’s what this Cambridge does.The timing is tight and gets your foot tapping almost immediately. 

CXA80

Just a single listen will tell you how entertaining this Cambridge Audio CXA80 amplifier is.Rated at 80 Watts per channel, its class A/B amplifier design will reveal spectacular detail in your music. Separate dual mono windings on a low-flux toroidal transformer further enhance performance and together these design details deliver incredible control over your speakers on a wide, enveloping, captivating sound stage.The CXA80 is also ready for the modern digital world with an onboard 24 Bit/192Khz DAC which supports Hi-Res playback across its 2 optical and single coaxial inputs. Fluid, snappy and packed with enthusiasm, it puts musical enjoyment high on its list of priorities.The Cambridge is disciplined enough to exercise plenty of control when it comes to dynamics and rhythms.The amplifier skillfully handles complex arrangements and is capable of delivering subtle, accurate detail.

AXA35

Cambridge Audio's new AX Series includes the AXA35 amplifier.The AXA35 boasts a toroidal transformer and offers extra versatility through its integrated moving magnet phono stage input for vinyl enthusiasts.The sound without any EQ applied is meaty and carries plenty of bass. Even with the volume turned up, the AXA35 never loses control of the music like some other budget amplifiers can.The AXA35’s dynamic skills come to the forefront when conveying the drama of a track.Although it doesn't have digital circuitry, the AXA35 arguably sounds clearer than some amps at nearly twice the price and has a more neutral tonal balance, doing more than enough to justify the highest accolades at this price point.

The new AX Series is a complete examle of Cambridge Audios approach to bringing quality audio to the music lover.Each piece is designed to encompass the individual users needs with a quality performance ensured.

AXC35

The Cambridge Audio AXC-35 is the new release CD Player that is turning heads in the affordable CD player market. With many music lovers having a CD collection it is great to see audio designers still paying attention to their needs to either replace a tired and worn out player or upgrade to more detail through modern technology. With a Wolfson WM8524, a tried and tested Digital to Analogue Converter design that produces a smooth signal that’s both musical and rhythmic the AXC-35 is going to entertain with a refreshing performance of your CD collection. With lots of format playback options the Cambridge Audio ticks a lot of boxes.

AXR100

Following up on the extremely successful SR20 Receiver the AXR 100 boasts a healthy 100 watts per channel. It is a receiver amplifier meaning it has an inbuilt AM/FM Tuner. Along with the inbuilt phono preamplifier for easy turntable connection, there is an inbuilt DAC for direct TV connection and the AXR100 now features quality Bluetooth wireless connectivity for music streaming from your Smartphone.

You will be amazed at its build quality. First of all, the unit has a toroidal power transformer, an amazing feat for its price. When we compare them to similar products from other brands, the Cambridge units just seem to have a higher level of fit and finish. The connectors are more solid, the knobs and buttons seem to be better put together, and the construction of the chassis is perfect.

The tech in this amp is all about sound. The massive toroidal transformer has very heavy duty wiring going to the circuits. When you look inside, you will see two rows of large heat sinks for the serious amp section. The AXR100 is perfect for the person who is serious about great stereo sound, but on somewhat of a budget. 

ALVA SOLO AND DUO PHONO PREAMPLIFIERS

Cambridge Audio have always been highly respected for their phono pre amplifiers.Their Solo for MM and Duo for MM and MC cartridges models are no exception.Every LP you send through these preamps sounds velvety smooth. There’s a complimentary warmth to the sound that works wonders with your vinyl library. Their presentation is spacious but cohesive, offering three-dimensionality while hanging its image front and centre. Healthy dynamics help the music drive rhythmically and remind of the importance of the phono preamp's job in playing vinyl.

Rarely does Cambridge fire too wide of the mark, but the Duo and Solo hit right at the centre of the target. They are well-specified, full-bodied, dynamic performers. You really can’t go wrong. Indeed, there’s a great deal of transparency and fidelity to this sound – revealing a rich and rewarding listening experience you won't be able to tear yourself away from.

Every LP you send through these preamps sounds velvety smooth. There’s a complimentary warmth to the sound that works wonders with your vinyl library. Its presentation is spacious but cohesive, offering three-dimensionality while hanging its image front and centre. Healthy dynamics help the music drive rhythmically, supporting the Duo’s confident timing with beats of varying intensity. Thanks to a capable sound and fantastic build, these machines deliver the goods…and then some. Few other options out there can match this kind of listening experience, which to put it mildly, is pretty amazing.

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