Product Type: Cambridge Audio Amplifiers
Newest Review: ... on the television. The phrase that comes to mind when talking about the A5 is it does exactly what it says on the tin, no more, no l... more
Cambridge Audio - Capable Amplifier!
Cambridge Audio A5
Member Name: Idiophreak
Cambridge Audio A5
Advantages: Great value, attractive, briliant sound.
Disadvantages: No headphone socket, no remote.
A few years back I was putting together a small hifi system for my fiancée to use in her bedroom at the time. Not wanting to spend too much money, I looked at numerous reviews for budget amplifiers and, in the end, plumped for the Cambridge Audio A5. I teamed this with a pair of Cambridge Audio S30 bookshelf speakers and some good quality QED interconnects to her MP3 player and DVD.
Strangely, I think I'll start with the limitations of the A5 - firstly, there's no remote. I guess it's down to individuals as to whether this is a negative or not, personally, I'd rather it had one. Secondly, there's no headphone socket. Yes, you can work around this in a variety of ways, but I'd rather there was one provided.
The downsides out of the way, on to the positives:
The A5 is attractive and really well built - it feels reassuringly weighty and solid in the hand and the finish of the silver paint is really smooth. The design is simple, but classically so - there's a large volume control in the centre, a mode selector and balance control to the right, bass/treble to the left and a couple of small buttons for "source direct" and monitor in between.
To the rear, there are ample connections for a basic home audio system - 5 inputs, a couple of tape loops and some nice quality speaker connectors.
Most importantly, the sound that the A5 outputs is really impressive. The detail and balance rival that of much more expensive kit I've tried out. I'm quite fussy about sound quality, but love to listen through the A5. The volume doesn't "go as loud" as some people may wish - this isn't a PA system - but for casual listening in smaller rooms it's quite adequate. So good is the A5 that it beat off competition from my own amp (costing 3x as much) when my fiancée and I moved in together and had to assemble a system for our lounge. Despite the lack of remote or headphone socket (both of which would have been useful), we decided that the sound quality, along with the attractive appearance of the A5, made it the worthy victor.
In summary, I can't recommend the A5 highly enough as a first amp, or the basis of a basic hi-fi system. It sounds great, looks great and seems built to last (ours is going strong some 5 years later). The trade-off for the low price is the loss of a couple of features - but if you can live without these, you'll not do any better for the same money.
Summary: Brilliant basic amplifier.
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