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
An Amp I feel I should make some noise about!!!
Cambridge Audio A5
Member Name: valve90210
Cambridge Audio A5
Advantages: Good value, nice range of inputs, enough to run a nice set of speakers, nicely built
I always figured that when I get more rooms and more space (house deposit is being saved for like mad) They could replace my existing smaller surround speakers (Q85s for anyone that is interested) of maybe they could be the speakers for a nice second music system...
I figured I could get myself a cheapish but decent amplifier and make a nice sounding system. I hadn't done anything about it but the idea has been with me for a while.
Well, the other day I was asked if I would like an amp which was surplus to requirements, I thought about it for approximately half a second and said yes. It turned out to be a Cambridge Audio A5 amplifier.
The Amp is 43cm wide, 29cm deep and stands 9.5cm high, so all in all a fairly typical sized piece of hifi equipment.
The design of the front is much the same as pretty much any stereo amplifier, starting from the left, there is a power button with an LED above it which illuminates yellow when the amp is switched on. Next are the bass and treble controls for tweaking the output, next to these is a source direct button which switchs the output between going through the tone controls on the amp or playing out directly. In the centre is the volume control and next to this is a knob for changing the balance between left and right. The final knob is the input selector.
The model I have is the black version, the whole amp is a nice satin/matte black which looks and feels much more pleasing than the finish of most cheap all in one hifi systems though is not as nice as the slightly textured and very luxurious finish of my marantz AV amplifier.
All of the controls have a good and positive feel about them, no cheap and light feeling switches or dials, everything feels like it is good quality and well made.
The sides and top of the amp have nothing on them witht he exception of vents for air, so next attention goes to the back of the amp, where all the exciting plugs and sockets are.
There are pairs of phono sockets for each of the amps 5 inputs, as well as pair for an output to a tape/minidisc recorder. There is also a set of pre-out phono sockets for attaching to a power amp if you wish to just use the A5 as an input selector/volume control.
Next to the inputs are the speaker connectors, which I am pleased to say are proper binding post type connectors rather than the rather poorer clip connectors which tend to be found on cheaper hifi equipment, also I was pleased to see they have removeable plugs in the end allowing the use of speaker cables with banana plugs on the ends (as mine have - makes life so much easier when it comes to plugging things back in!).
There are four pairs of speaker connectors allowing simple connecting for bi amping speakers if you wish for such facility.
The final connector on the back is the nice and simple 3 pin mains socket, having got a lot of equipment with permanently attached power leads I was pleased to see this had a removeable power cable, much easier for moving and packing up!
Again, all the connectors have a feel of quality about them and don't feel cheap and nasty, but then with the amp having cost about £150 or so when first released I should hope it would be fairly well built!
Naturally as soon as I got the amp home I wanted to get it set up to try it out. I prised out the plugs in the ends of the speaker posts and hooked up my KEF Q35 floor standing speakers and my Marantz CD6000 CD player, knowing how this sounds through my Marantz amp I thought this would give me a good idea of the sound of the Cambridge Audio amp.
Listening to a few firm favourites, mixing all sorts of different styles of music I put the amp through it's paces and I have to say I was pretty impressed!
Rated at 60w per channel @ 4-8ohm, the amp drove my KEFs well and produced some lovely audio. The audio was nice and detailed and crisp, with plenty of bass. Certainly it was good enough to listen to, and streets above anything you'd hear from your average high street hifi system (ok the cracking speakers and cd player help). Newxt I hooked up my phone (HTC Desire Z) and played a few mp3s to see how the amp sounded with a poorer quality source, again I have to say it was pretty impressive, sound nice deep bass, detailed highs and nice full mid range.
Next I hooked it up to a small pair of Eltax surround speakers I have had kicking around for a few years. Naturally the bass was lacking as the speakers are only small but even so, the sound was still quite impressive. The addition of a small sub would turn this combination into a nice sounding budget hifi system!
Overall I am pretty impressed with the Cambridge Audio A5, it is a nicely built amplifier with plenty of inputs to suit most systems and enough power to drive even a big pair of floor standing speakers. If I absolutely had to make a criticism it would be that it's presentaion is a little on the bright side for my tastes. I guess I am spoilt by my Marantz amp which has a lovely rich and warm sound to it that the Cambridge Audio can't match but overall this is a decent amp and if you could pick one up cheap (they are going for about £40-£50 on ebay) it would make a lovely base to an entry level separates system that would wipre the floor with a high street all in one system!
Summary: A great budget amp to get you started on the slippery road of separates Hifi
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