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The Cambridge Audio A1 amplifier is there entry level unit, offering great value for money and great quality to boot. Sharing much of the same technology and components as its bigger siblings this amplifier has helped me take my first step towards quality Hi-Fi separates.
Perfect for cranking up the volume at parties my neighbours know just how good it makes my speakers sound too, also hooked up to a turntable and digital tuner I have subsequently bought has given me hours of pleasure from this product and may that continue.
Obviously it doesn't have the same sound quality or definition as a high end amplifier but amongst its rivals and those twice its price it is a strong contender and continues to deliver as my speakers also mature with time.
As for features they are few and far between giving the matt black unit a distinct yet clean and simple look. The button arrangement is pleasing and easy to use whilst the volume control is smooth and satisfying.
It is a perfect entry level amplifier for someone who enjoys music at a reasonable price and I personally only have good things to say about it.
Anyone who has a Cambridge A1, or has experience of using one, will know exactly what I am talking about when I say that it is the perfect amp, it was for me anyway. What I was looking for when I wanted to purchase an amplifier was great quality, but at the same time, I didnt have the money to spend on an expensive one. The Cambridge A1 filled the gap between the two.
Now I am not saying that this is the best amp on the market, far from it, it doesnt deliver the sound quality you would expect for an amp that costs over £1000, but costing a couple of hundred, this amp does the job greatly. The Cambridge was a perfect addition to my stereo system, and when I bought, I was always planning on buying a more advanced amp once I could afford it, but it did the job, and I kept and used it a lot longer than orginally planned, I did upgrade eventually though.
The functionality of the Cambridge is easy enough for anyone. I explained to my dad for example that the input sockets on the amp were for things like CD players stereo's and the likes, and I personally even just with my laptop to give that added sound quality when watching films. It was great, and for the cost definitely recommendable. It didnt take long for me to figure out how to use it, seen as it was pretty self-explanatory, all you had to do was press the power button, and once you had connected itto your chosen device, adjust the volume, which took a little longer to figure out, as the buttons for bass, treble ect was a new concept to me.
You could do far worse than the Cambridge A1, and although I dont have mine anymore, I would still recommend it. Thanks for reading.
I've had this amplifier for over ten years, and it's still going strong. Mine looks just like the one in the Dooyoo photo, but if you google the model it looks a little different now, it's just been updated cosmetically over the years. It's the same basic amplifier and has the same features, making it a great starting point for anyone building a hi-fi system.
I bought this amplifier when my dad donated his old "separates" to me - he was replacing his hi-fi system so he gave me his old amplifier, tuner, cassette player, and record deck. The amplifier he gave me was on its last legs so he suggested I bought a new one to get the best out of the music I was playing. I also bought a CD player as CD's were all the rage back then.
My dad is one of these people who likes to research a lot about a product before going ahead and buying, the kind of person this website was created for I guess! This is probably where I get this trait from. But anyway, I remember him doing a lot of research, he also has good knowledge of music equipment, and he recommended that as a starting point on my limited budget, the Cambridge Audio A1 was the best buy for me.
The amplifier cost me around £100 at the time, and I can remember making the trip to Richer Sounds with my dad as though it was yesterday. Looking around online you can still pick these up for around the same price. Looking on the Richer Sounds website, I believe that Cambridge Audio have been market leaders with their range of budget amplifiers for the past 15 years. I can't say I'm surprised by this, as anyone who knows their stuff knows they are a good make.
This amplifier is exactly the kind of equipment I like - it does the job, but it's not overly complicated or difficult to set up. Even though I am a bit of a technophobe, I can still manage to set this up as part of a hi-fi system. At the back of the amplifier it is very obvious what wires get plugged into which socket. It looks very elegant and classy, and I like the fact it looks simple and isn't cluttered with lots of control buttons and flashing lights.
This amplifier offers the most basic of features, but I have never felt like it is missing anything for my basic needs. It has a volume control which is a simple knob, it has bass and treble controls so you can adjust the balance of the music, and it has a knob to set it to different inputs, depending on what you're listening to. It can be used for producing sound from a CD player, tuner, tape deck, record deck (if anyone still has one of those, sadly I had to get rid of mine), and I have also used it for my TV and DVD player.
The amplifier produces perfectly clear, high quality sound. I used to use it as part of my hi-fi separates, and then when I moved in with my partner and we had two of everything, we set this amplifier up in the bedroom and connected it to the DVD player for watching films in bed. It has many uses, and is very hard wearing. I know this because I have had it over ten years, and it's still working as well now as it ever has. This includes a few scrapes I've had with it, including dropping it on the lawn once during a house move when my dad and I were having a bit of a "chuckle brothers" moment and it fell out of our grip.
The only downside I guess, is that it doesn't have a remote, so if you need to adjust the volume this will involve getting up and walking over to it. This isn't a huge issue, and is probably true of most amplifiers, but it's a bit annoying when you're watching a film in bed and the sound fluctuates making you have to jump across the room to turn it down!
I would highly recommend this amplifier as a good budget buy to start a hi-fi system, it is one of the cheapest out there and provides brilliant quality which will last you for years.
The Cambridge A1 has developed a reputation for itself and rightly so. It is the perfect amplifier for those who want to venture into the world of audiophile quality Hi-Fi separates but don't have the cash to splash out over £1000 on a mid-range setup.
Yes, there are better amps available capable of far superior sound but they come at a price. If you want to put together a budget system that you can later upgrade one piece at a time this is an ideal starting point and once you complete your system it will definitely sound far better than any equivalently priced all in one stereo package.
There are enough inputs for a CD, Tuner and Record deck while still having a spare input for something else like an MP3 player, computer or TV which should keep most home users more than happy. There is also the option to output to a recording device should you need it.
Usage is straight forward with only a power button and five dials on the front for treble, bass, volume and balance adjustment plus an input selector.
If you are in the market for a new Hi-Fi system and are considering seperates but put off by the price you could do far worse than consider the A1 amp as a base for your setup. I've since upgraded my main system to an Cambridge Azure 340 but the A1 will always hold a place in my heart as where my adventure into Hi-Fi seperates all started and I'm sure it will do as well for anyone else who follows a similar path.
As a beginner in the world of Hi-Fi separates, the most recurring recommendation for an amplifier on my budget was the Cambridge Audio A1. Having now owned this amp for several months, I can wholeheartedly see why it is so popular for beginners or those on a budget. For this is an amp that performs admirably even with its entry-level price tag. Yes, you can buy bigger and better, but at this price range, it is easily the best Hi-Fi amp available.
The amp is well constructed, and the sockets on the back are sturdy and well-made. The dials on the front are solid enough and don't feel like they'll break any time soon. The sound is subjective, dependent on the speakers and cable as much as the amp itself; but in my set-up it sounds lovely, with a real warm sound even with mp3.
The only significant downside I can think of is the lack of a headphone socket, but this is a minor quibble as I didn't purchase it to listen via headphones. Overall, it is a supurb entry-level device that any audio enthusiast can appreciate.
Cambridge A1 Amplifier Unit Specifications:
Size of Unit in mm: W x D x H: 430 x 340 x 80
Weight of Unit in Kg: 5.1
Cambridge over the last 15 years has become market leaders in the design and production of budget amplifiers, and the Cambridge A1 Amplifier is their best selling one.
Cambridge A1 Amp is a basic amp and has been carefully designed to produce the best quality sound with the best basics.
What you get is what you need with this product:
* 4 line level inputs
* Balance control and volume knob
*Run 1 pair of speakers
*Maximum output per channel: 8 ohms
Cambridge have cut back on the extras and retained an excellent base product with high quality components. I have connected my iPod Classic, MP3 as well as my Marantz 5400 CD player, and my Teac DAB Radio (TR6500). I have chosen this amplifier, because of the quality of the sound, as there are fewer echoes from the sound that is emitted, and there is richness to what you hear. I chose this amplifier after listening to other various models in the Richer Sounds store in Birmingham, and I was able to plug my separates mentioned above into this model.
The other reason for choosing this model is the build quality of the Cambridge A1 Amp. The case is all metal including the front panel which is unusual for an amplifier of this cost. As well as this the amplifier knobs are easy to use, and you can alter the bass and treble according to your taste or what you are listening to. I have had this amp for over two years and never had any issues as part of my separates set up. I use this as my main amp in my set up, even though in What HiFi review stated that, it may only be powerful enough for a secondary amp, but it's an excellent amp in the budget price range or for one you wanted to start out with. Obviously, if you begin to compare this budget amp with more expensive ones there will be faults in the sound, but this unfair on this Cambridge A1 Amp. To help the sound quality I have teamed this amp up with some floor standing speakers which are Eltax, and this helps when playing music through iPod or TV.
Overall the Cambridge A1 Amp design has stood the test of time, as its reputation for a budget amplifier; sales figures for last 15 years have backed this up.
I had an old Akia (90`s) separate until i spilt juice (beer) in it, it sounded really really good, very bassy and crisp, when i killed it since i already had the Cambridge Azure 540 r (which is a good system) in the living room i thought the A1 must be ok. Well personally it aint, it just sounds crap, i thought it would be great cos it weighs a ton. Then i couldnt believe it had no headphone socket which made my purchase even worse.Live and learn.
The greatest budget amplifier out there.
For under £100 this is the perfect amplifier to start your life in the world of separates for those of the musically minded. The amp front comes with a volume control for . . . controlling the volume. It's a smooth volume wheel and in the five years of owning the product it hasn't worn or become sticky with grime as do some volume nobs - guitars especially.
There's Bass and Treble to fiddle with the warmth and crispness of your sound - depending on the music. A left to right speaker control. I only ever use this if I'm trying to locate a part in the music - to see where it's coming from - usually when working out how some producers level their drum patterns etcetera.
Then there's the selector switch to see what input is going through. These have been labeled: Tuner, CD, AV/DVD, AUX/Phono. Obviously all inputs are the same so their just labeled as guidance rather than a necessity. The back panel has the Tuner, CD etc labeled above each phono input, but written upside down so when looking at the back you can easily read what cables you're unplugging.
There's also a tape monitor switch for when recording out, something I've never used but pressed many times by accident leaving me in despair thinking my amp's broken (no sound comes out the when this is pressed), then I realise I've been the fool.
For you lazy kids their isn't a remote that comes with it, but who needs a remote - physically interact with your music. Could possibly make you groove to the tune as you're walking over to turn it down. Burn some calories.
In the five years I have had zero problems with my amplifier. All problems have been my own stupidity, such as a phono cable popping out. I didn't realise so I took the thing apart looking for a faulty wire.
There's no EQ settings or any other such excess - extra bass etc - but there's no need. The sign of a good amp is where you have to mess around with the music you're listening to by using the EQ settings. An amplifier is there to amplify the sound of the music, not turn you into the mastering suite after recording.
This amp amplifies. Just listen to the music.
Would like one extra input though - but that's just me.
For a budget amplifier you get oodles of clarity! its punchy, and delivers the most delicate of high frequencies too....
i have paired it up with an old pair of Kef Cresta 3's and have used several diffent speakers and different cables....
the first lot of cable i tried was specially handmade gold in, silver out @ £600 per meter! and the current cable is cheapy £2 bell type wire, and to be honest, it made very little difference in the quality... maybe a tad clearer, but nothing vastly notable).. so as another plus, it will make a very low budget system sound very good!
so positives are
amazing sound quality, from bassy club music to delicate classical, it delivers all with a convincing realism, and thats using a standard cd player on my pc! its bass is very punchy if need be and is quite apparent even at low volumes!!!
clarity is top notch for a budget amp, i have had people put cd's of their favourite music, and after one song be thoroughly disapponted and never listen to them again! it does reveal some hidden sounds... but bear in mind im using Kef Cresta 3 speakers, which are superb budget speaker in itself!
so in reality, this amp will cater for budding audiophiles and hardcore ravers alike...
the negatives are
very few actually, it doesnt really have alot of eardrum bleeding volume! but for a single room, who needs more! i would recommend using banana plugs for the speaker cables as i never trust screwing a clamp onto bare wires!
ok some specs....
on the back it has enough inputs for 5-6 devices (tv, pc, dvd, another amp, cd, tuner etc), all in phono (red and white) and all the terminals will accept cheap and expensive phono plugs and the terminal posts for the speakers will accept loose cable and banana plugs and will hold them pretty well... it is a single amp, but would pair nicely with two of them! also, i have my speakers bi-wired, and the terminal posts would take a bi-wireable configuration in bare wires with no problems!
at the end of the day, the money in production has gone into quality of components, so in terms of features it is basic, it has treble, bass, volume, balance, and device knobs, it also has an in/out button for tape/ md monitor, and on the back there is an earthing terminal for a turntable/tone arm.... just to add, all my tonal adjustments are set to 0.... for line direct listening... and it delivers everything as it should be without fail!
in summery, it is a top notch budget amp, you can get them new for very little and paired up with a cheap cd player/tuner, and a set of floorstanders you have a decent entry level hi-fi... but in the same breath, paired up with a cd/tuner with bookshelf speakers, you have a decent mini hi-fi! and would cost you half the price in quality of sound than buying a "single" unit seperate system! it is always worth buying componants individualy.. as companies like sony, wouldnt suit each seperate up to its self, and you can get so much more from brand swapping, or model changing..... and usually for 50% of the price!
try the "Richer Sounds" website! absolutely fantastic!
The A1 series of amplifiers by Cambridge Audio make a fantastic benchmark for budget amps.
I own an A1mk3 and have done for several years now. I dont remember how much it cost me but the fact that i was able to afford it at all back then means it must have been pretty cheap.
It has spent the vast majority of its life hooked up to my various PCs and blasting out music and the sound of countless virtual battles through various tower speaker sets.
The sound quality is great and it can crank out a fair few dB when you need it to (provided it doesnt overheat at high volumes due to the vent on top being blocked by a stack of paper and a secondary monitor, but thats my fault).
It has all the connectability I need and given the fact I dont opertate a PA system or DJ Booth probably all the power i will ever need too.
Just for the record this amp has been overheated through my own stupidity, dropped several times (the corners are mostly either rounded off of razor sharp from being droped onto tarmac), doused in water and beer and has suffered generally instensive use and it sounds every bit as good as it did when I first purchased it.
Oh, and the volume knob is satisfyingly 'heavy' which is a deciding factor for me when purchacing such equipment.
Cambridge have always been a great make for amplifiers and the A1 and A1 mk3 are no exception. For the price you get a superb build quality, great clarity with jazz, classical and light pop, along with a sleek design. They are built to last as this is the company behind many others, as they build components for use by other manufacturers. You get a lot of amplifier for the cash here and they make a great match for Marantz CD seperates too.