Cambridge Audio AXA25-25 Watt Separate Integrated Stereo Amplifier HiFi System Featuring Tone and Balance Control with Front Aux Input - Lunar Grey

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Cambridge Audio AXA25-25 Watt Separate Integrated Stereo Amplifier HiFi System Featuring Tone and Balance Control with Front Aux Input - Lunar Grey

Cambridge Audio AXA25-25 Watt Separate Integrated Stereo Amplifier HiFi System Featuring Tone and Balance Control with Front Aux Input - Lunar Grey

RRP: £99
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Inside the AXA25 you’ll find quality components and short signal paths for the best sound quality in its class. Careful circuit design reduces the signal path, giving higher purity sound and less distortion. Other quality engineering components include a high-spec heat sink that is die-cast rather than pressed steel and a damped power supply – reducing the chance of annoying transformer hum and buzz. Not quite sure what happened with the deal between Cambridge Audio and Richer Sounds. Cambridge Audio certainly used to be a well respected independent Hi Fi manufacturer. Like many companies I suspect they started heading to the wall or were running into trouble and aroun that time there was a tie in with Richer Sounds. I don't know what those details are but it would appear that Cambridge Audio is very much the in house brand at Richer Sounds and consequently it feels like an almost exclusive outlet in the UK. I don't know if RS has any sort of controlling interest in Cambridge Audio but it wouldn't surprise me. It is also quite likely that the kit that k-spin's parents have are the original Cambridge Audio company.

How good is Cambridge Audio kit? | AVForums How good is Cambridge Audio kit? | AVForums

Cambridge is not simply the House Brand of Richer Sounds; Cambridge is sold all over the world, and is consistently highly rated for sound quality. There are four pairs of stereo RCA inputs on the rear panel, plus an additional 3.5mm input on the fascia. The rear panel also has stereo RCA outputs for connection to a recording device. And, just to prove that the old school and the new school can sometimes be the same thing, there’s a moving magnet phono stage for use with a turntable, accessible via RCA inputs on the rear panel. It might be the AXA35’s confident way with timing that’s the single most surprising/impressive aspect of its performance. Vinyl gives a system every chance to show off its facility (or otherwise) for the timing and unity of a recording, and the AXA35’s phono stage lets Felt’s The Splendour of Fear roll along in the most natural manner.I can’t help but feel it could have been better engineered in places too. A bigger power supply would vastly improve the performance of the amplifier, and a better preamp would give the amplifier a chance to show what it is really capable of. Neither are difficult to design, and neither should add significant component cost to the product. If you’re competent in electronics and DIY-minded though, the older AM10 and the AXA35 are perfect candidates to form the basis of a DIY Gainclone. There were complaints about the CAP5 protection circuits being overly aggressive. But new CX model are released now and we assume they have dealt with this. The latest manufacturer to highlight this advantage is Cambridge Audio. The company was arguably better known for making premium products in its formative years – such as the groundbreaking CD-1 compact disc player in 1985 – but has more recently become known for its excellent value two-channel audio components and multi-room speaker systems.

Cambridge Audio AXA25 Lunar Grey - Richer Sounds Cambridge Audio AXA25 Lunar Grey - Richer Sounds

Just like the partnering CD player, the AXA35 feels solid when you lift it. There’s no flex in its casework which is perfectly fitted and neatly presented with the side screws in deep recesses to obscure them from view. The top of the amp is vented with a grid of tiny holes to let the heat escape, though it doesn’t get above mildly warm in operation. The AXA35 has plenty of power to fill a mid-sized room providing you’re using efficient speakers. Most budget amps of the ‘70s and ‘80s were this way, and they survived many a party. The A1, the amplifier that revived the Cambridge brand after the Audio Partnership takeover, was only 25 watts per channel and it can make a lot of noise with the right speakers. The LM3886 does, however, have inbuilt protection against over and under-voltage, power supply and output short circuits, thermal runaway and instantaneous temperature peaks. They are durable and reliable chips and offer excellent performance comparable to a discrete output stage. Regardless of the amplifier you use you should always consider its limitations in partnering equipment and the environment. I’ve fixed a few AM10s over the years with blown output chips all as a result of driving too heavy a load at too high a volume. If your system is obviously distorting or if you’re running the amp at or near its maximum volume, upgrade to a model with more power. Cambridge are nicely designed and they do sound good, and I would expect that good sound from the New CX series. Cambridge makes great DACs for the money, and excellent Streaming devices.It just serves to tell you that mains power is coming to the amp. You have to work out for yourself whether the amp is actually on or off. Prices valid in stores (all including VAT) until close of business on 2nd November 2023. (Some of these web prices are cheaper than in-store, so please mention that you've seen these offers online.) After connecting it up to my nice but equally old JVC CD player, and Goodmans plastic covered chipboard 3-way passive Q70 speakers, I turned it all on. It’s true to say that the new casework is better, but examples of poorly damped biscuit-tin casework are more prevalent in boutique British equipment at several times the price of any Cambridge. Poorly built casework and preschool electronics design aside, some of that gear is ugly enough to offend a blind man’s sense of aestheticism.

Cambridge Audio AXA35 Review | Trusted Reviews Cambridge Audio AXA35 Review | Trusted Reviews

Otherwise the amps are functionally similar, broadly speaking. One reviewer referenced past Cambridge amps as having “something of the biscuit tin about them” with “casework that wasn’t what you’d call well-damped”. Neither comment I feel is justified based on my experience with multiple iterations of the A1, the A5, early CD players and the first models in the Azur range. I am sorry to hear that but if the parts are no longer available, there is no further action that can be taken to resurrect the unit. However, rumors of faulty products have reached my ears too. Cambridge sent the Flagship 851A to Stereophile for review, and they had problems with the device. Upon getting a new copy, things worked better. Covering the history of Cambridge Audio and the evolution of its budget offerings would serve only to prematurely wear the keys of my already battered keyboard. If you’re interested, I wrote on the subject at length in my AX series summary. If you’re not, the review herein is strictly dedicated to the AXA35 amplifier and will also detail the AXA25. On paper the two amplifiers are very similar with only a 10W jump in output power and specification improvements setting them apart, but in practice they are two very different amplifiers. The AXA25 is a very indirect successor to the A1 and to an extent my A5, whereas the AXA35 is cut from the same cloth as the proceeding Topaz AM10 and the Topaz receivers.Speaking of the tone controls. They are of the shelving type and cut and boost at 100Hz and 10kHz respectively. They’re not subtle as a result, but as this amp is likely to be paired with smaller bookshelf speakers or less capable floorstanders they will be more useful than controls that adjust the 20Hz and 20kHz frequency extremes.

Cambridge Audio AXA25 On the fence with Onkyo A-9110 and Cambridge Audio AXA25

Another peculiarity is that the USB port fitted to the rear only provides power to a connected USB item – it is not actually an audio input. Also at the rear are a set of good-quality loudspeaker binding posts and Cambridge continues its tradition of labelling all its available connections both upside down – so that you can see the input you’re grappling with on the rear panel when looking over the top of unit – as well as the right way up, which all helps to make interconnect and speaker cable connections a doddle. By the standards of budget-conscious stereo amplifiers, the Cambridge Audio AXA35 is a remarkably self-assured listen. No matter the sort of material you serve it up, there’s no suggestion it ever feels out of its depth. One of the key differentiators is the user interface. The AXA25 has old-fashioned analogue knobs for bass, treble, volume and balance. I presume that it is a fully analogue component design, though I don’t have one here so I can’t lift the lid to say for sure. The AXA35 has a digital interface as evidenced by the push-button input selection and digitally-controlled volume, complete with volume level display and tone and balance controls hidden behind a simple menu system. Assuming I’m right about the AXA25’s implementation of good old-fashioned potentiometers, the better AXA35 should be a significant jump in performance without the channel mismatch and noise issues associated with cheaper analogue pots. On the inside, the AXA35 is − hey! − a 35W-per-channel device. It’s not the most exciting number you ever saw written down, but in practice it’s more than enough to drive most price-appropriate speakers to quite significant volumes without alarm. Cambridge Audio AXA35 sound quality − Confident and remarkably self-assured performance

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It should be noted though that abusing the tone controls to get more bass out of a low-powered system is not always a good idea. It’s nothing to do with some snobbish view that “it’s not how hi-fi should be heard” blah blah, but because with a 35W amp excessive use of the tone controls at high volume will cause the amp to clip sooner. Clipping, a flattening of the peaks in the audio waveform, is more often than not the cause of blown speakers, not excessive power. Thus you’re more likely to damage your speakers with this amp if you turn the bass to max and crank up the volume than you will if you leave the tone controls flat. The preamp appears similar if not identical to the AM10. It is responsible for most of the noise in the amp’s output – 79.8dB signal to noise ratio (A-wtd, ref 0dBW). It’s a bit of a shame Cambridge didn’t spec up the preamp a bit to better match the performance of the output stage. Nevertheless it is well designed with NE5532s unsurprisingly making up the basis of its audio circuitry and input selection and volume control handled by digital logic. If anything, I suspect Chinese manufacturing, and poor quality control, and I blame poor quality control on a corporate desire to maximize profits at the expense of consumer satisfaction. Which also explains poor customer service. This is not limited to Cambridge, it can be found in may sectors of audio and non-audio products. The rest of this review focuses on the AXA35 exclusively as I don’t have an aXA25 for comparison. The AXA35 has plenty of useful facilities for a budget amplifier in the contexts of an aptly specified hi-fi system. When compared against a 2004 era Cambridge A5, years of inflation and cost prioritisation mean the omission of a preamplifier output and the second pair of speaker outputs for bi-wiring, not that bi-wiring offers any real-world advantage. There’s no true tape monitor in the newer amps either, nor an option to bypass the tone controls. You do get a remote though, which the A5 didn’t have.



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