Cambridge Audio Azur 540P Preamplifiers

5/5 (4 Reviews)


Product Description

  • Two phono pre-amplifiers
  • Entry-level 540P is a high quality
  • Common integrated circuits
  • Minimise signal path interference


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Reviews 1 - 4 (4 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by jonskitch a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 25, 2012

Bottom Line:   
OK this was bought to compare against Cyrus 1 phono stage. IMO its no better than Cyrus 1 phono-preamp. However this is ideal product if you do not have or have poor quality phono stage -a must buy.


Strengths:
Cheap, Good build, Detail and low noise.

Weakness:
No power switch and MM only.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2010



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Bill K Davis a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: July 30, 2009

Bottom Line:   
Shockingly good,a revelation. More detail,and high end cymbals ,than I ever heard on my system. Fried A2 speakers, Dual 1229 turntable,various classic solid state receivers, and my Jolida 202 tube amp,left me unprepared for this. I don't like buying British , made in China, but my God, it's good. I haven't even broken it in, fully. I am now on the lookout for any Cambridge Audio gear.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2009



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tubehed a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: November 17, 2006

Bottom Line:   
This is an update to my previous review of the 540P. While the 540P is an excellent sounding preamp and an amazing value as a stock unit, upgrading the stock output stage opamps significantly improves the sound in all areas. I replaced the stock NE5532 opamps with opamp sockets so that I could try out different chips. I auditioned the Burr Brown OPA2604, OPA2227, OPA627 and Analog Devices AD823. All of these models were clearly superior to the 5532’s in terms of detail, imaging, soundstaging, rhythm and texture. Overall, I found the 2604’s (a popular chip that is used in even very high-end cd players) to be smooth and relaxed but also somewhat slow and uninvolving. I found the 2227’s have a similar sound with slightly better detail, rhythmic drive and a tighter lower end. Both would be a good choice if your system is on the bright side of neutral. The AD823’s had noticably more detail and drive but sounded a little too forward and aggressive for my tastes. The 627’s (used with Brown Dog adapters) were the best balance between the detail and clarity of the 823’s and the warmth and ease of the other Burr Brown chips. The 627’s cost considerably more than the other chips mentioned here and you will need to buy four of them plus two Brown Dog adapter boards to replace two NE5532’s. If you find any 627’s on ebay in bulk of 4 or more units for a good price, then it’s well worth the investment. Regardless, any of these chips are sure to take the 540p to another level. By the way, I also upgraded the power supply caps to Nichicon low impedience types and this may also account for some of the improvement in sound quality.

My system:

NAD 533 turntable with RB300 and Shure V15VxMR
Cayin TA-30 35WPC tubed integrated amp
Legacy Classic loudspeakers

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2005



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tubehed a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: November 28, 2005

Bottom Line:   
It really is amazing that you can buy this little gem for less than $100. I don’t know how they do it. Building it in China helps keep the labor costs down, but I’m still blown away by the 540P’s sound and build quality. The casework is top notch and on par with units costing far more. The components are not in the same league as much more expensive stages but are certainly acceptable and, judging by the sound, closely matched. One reason for the great sonics may be the use of discrete transistors for the input stages (you will usually encounter cheap opamps in this price range). Another may be the circuit design and dual mono configuration.

As for the sound, this unit has a nice, open sonic quality that is detailed but never harsh or fatiguing. Low and high frequency extension is excellent. Rhythm and timing are very good. It is easy to follow complex bass lines. Imaging and sound staging are a bit one dimensional and constricted compared to much higher priced units but noticeably better than many in the 540P’s price range (and above).

I’ve had some experience with the Parasound PPH-100 (with upgraded Burr Brown opamps) and Creek OBH-8se (discrete transistors). Both are nice units and match the build quality of the Cambridge. However, in a direct comparison with the 540P, the Parasound is not as smooth and detailed and the bass is not as refined. The Creek, which cost about three times as much as the Cambridge when it was being produced, is detailed and extended but at the expense some hardness and glare (in this case, I am relying on memory, though).

I haven’t sampled, nor would I want to sample, every entry level phono stage. There are other units by NAD, Pro-ject, Music Hall, KAB, Creek, etc. All are good for the money, I am sure. But when you consider that the Cambridge can be had for less (in some cases, much less) than any of these other units, I don’t see any reason to pay more. The QED Discsaver costs about the same as the 540P, but I don’t see how a cheap plastic chassis with low grade parts can compete with the Cambridge.

The five-star rating for sound is in the context of entry level and intermediate phono stages. It isn’t going to put Pass Labs, EAR, or Manley Labs out of business, that’s for sure! But I feel the 540P is a definite overachiever. I’d give it ten stars for value if it were possible.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2005

Price Paid:    $89.00

Purchased At:   AVHiFi




Reviews 1 - 4 (4 Reviews Total)

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