Electrical equipment goes Phut, oh yes my old integrated stereo system went phut and then there was no music. Oh no, I hear you cry, what will a young man do without his stereo. Well simple, use it as an excuse to start buying separates. To the girls out there these are separate hi-fi components, rather than just an integrated unit that performs everything. (Sorry if that was sexist to the girls in the know, the author is just going on his own experience.) So I needed an amplifier and speakers, I already had a separate CD player. Now your amplifier or amp as most males know it, is the component that amplifies the sound from the CD player and drives the speakers. Thus a good amp “is hard to find”. Ahh Fergal Sharkey flash back. Sorry back in the 21st century, a good amp is important in achieving a good sound there that is better! So I choose the Cambridge A300, as it was good value, had a fairly good specification and was ideal at 50 watts per channel. (Girls that is its output, which signifies how loud it can get.) 50 watts is average, but is still loud. But, alas, poor King never got to hear the A300 in his own house. How sad! Yes, the shop version worked, but the unit King got home was kaput, yes it had already gone Phut, in fact it never had the chance to go phut. (Which let me tell you for a stereo unit is devastating as they live for the day when they go phut.) What was wrong, well it did not switch on, so no power equals no music. **** **** ******** ****. (No prizes for guessing the language involved.) King got another unit, having had to traipse all the way back to the shop (with unimpressed girlfriend). He got this one home and yes, “I have the power”. Ahhhh, He-man flash back, oh 1980’s stop infecting this review. So, we had power, did we have music? No, because the volume knob (ohhh missis) was faulty and the CD input plugs, non-functioning. They were there, but were simply refus
ing to have any musical signals transferred through them. So, still no music. By this stage it had been a week and a half and so King had the shakes and severe withdrawal symptoms and needed music bad. So the second unit was returned and I simply refused to have another Amp made by Cambridge Audio, I did not trust the make any more, I did get an amp, but that is a story for another review. On a more serious note, I was shocked that a company could let two units out with such obvious faults in, what this says for quality control is shocking. Cambridge Audio are well respected and so this type of event is devastating for their reputation. Now, if you have been put off from this amp read no further, but for those that want to know what it sounds like and other little facts, read on Macbeth. Price Right the cost is £140.00, which for a 50 watt amp is good value, or is that cheap and you eventually get what you pay for. Specification It has 6 input channels, 1 out channel (for recording or sending to a power amp) and is bi-wireable. Now this does not mean that it fancies CD players and tape decks, but that it can be wired to two sets of speakers or if using one set, you can use large flat wires which split the base and treble signal going to the speakers, thus giving better sound quality. (If you get sound that is.) Now it has no remote control, I know, that means that you have to walk across a room to turn it on and off (unless the CD player has already turned it on!) and the volume up and down. But the amp, has no phono stage, thus you cannot hook up a record player to it, yes, some of us still have lots of Vinyl and so need this. (How else could I play my Prince albums!) It also does not have a digital channel, which will be a problem if you want to use a mini-disc. Now from what I heard (not much) the amp seems to sound very good for the price, although it is not good at loud volumes,
so if you want to run a mobile disco, do not use this. So, what do I think? Hmmm, I cannot believe that a company could let two units out of their factory in the condition I got mine, and yes I used a very reputable dealer for the purchase, Richer Sounds (again that will be another story). So, my feeling is the amp is unlikely to be reliable. The experience just re-inforces my original thought that you get what you pay for and if you want a 50 watt amp, then pay over £200 and you will get something with better quality components. So things that go Phut after 8 years are Ok, things that cannot go phut, because they never worked. Oh dear. In fact the whole experience nearly made me go Phut.
I've had this amp for a little under a year, before that I had smaller somewhat underpowered Ariston job I picked up quite cheaply. The Cambridge A300 has never let me down yet, except for a little scare with the input jacks, but that turned out to be the Interconnects I had. The amp itself has 6 input channels, 1 out (for recording or sending to a power amp). It is bi-wireable, depending if you want 1 or 2 pairs of speakers. I had previously been looking to get a Technics or Denon amp, but was recommended the Cambridge. My set-up has changed over the last year or so, but the one thing that has remained the same. I have upgraded my speakers from Eltax Liberty 5+ to B&W DM601 S2 and my CD player to a Phillips CDR, although I now use my Technics SPLG590 CD player for playback over the Phillips. The speaker output is excellent relatively clear and noise free, which is great from my low(ish) budget set-up. Now for the downside - The stereo needs a Phono stage added internally, if you need to power a Record player, mine set me back £40. The amp doesn’t have a digital channel, not a problem unless you only use your minidisc or CD through it, I found phono cables perfectly adequate. The sound is excellent overall, although it seems to flatten out at high volumes. If you learn any thing from this review I would suggest you invest in you system with good quality interconnects and speaker cable.