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Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble II
63 Reviews
rating  3.68 of 5
MSRP  500.00
Description: 2 Satalites and 1 Subwoofer


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Reviews 1 - 5 (63 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by gongli a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 30, 2010

Bottom Line:   
I think the reason for a low rating by some reviewers is due to bad system matching, with other gears. If it is setuped with anentry level CD player and a redceiver, it will sound shrill and annoying.

With the right high quality gears, it can sing in a dynamic clear way like an upscale piece !

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   Pre 1995



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Joong-In Rhee a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 30, 2010

Bottom Line:   
I think the bad reviews were given because it is hard to system match this speaker. With the wrong setup, it can sound annoying, but with the right setup, it can really sound like a much more expensive speakers ! It is a little metallic sounding, so it needs a good CD player to warm it up a bit - one with wide and deep sound - not an entry level one, but an audiophile one.

It also needs good powerful amp to sound good.

I am listening to them with a Parasound CD player, and an old Sansui G3000 receiver, and it sings ! Sounds dynamic and clear - like a much more hi quality speakers... I simply adore it.

When it was matched with a lower power amp with an entry level CD player, it sounded awful - down right annoying. It was sharp and shrill sounding.

With the right setup, this can sound really good ! When it first came out, it was named the best sounding speaker for the money by audiophile magazines. If you got a good CD player, and an amp, you won't be disappointed with this, but if you have just entry level gears, there are other speakers that are more forgiving, and will sound better, like PSB atom for instance.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   Pre 1995



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

Date Reviewed: July 24, 2007

Bottom Line:   
Bought these speaker system when I lived in the US while ago, based on my former roommate's recommendation (he was doing his PhD in acoustic at that time, so I thought that was a credible recommendation). To my disappointment, this system didn't live to its hype; the high was ok I guess, the bass was on the weaker side, but the most noticeable was the mid which was very weak, although I still preferred its balance over Bose's. I tried it with various amplification, Kenwood AVR 105, NAD 710, Denon AVR1600, and even the humongous Adcom 5500, didn't pacify the problem. So, for the last 7 years, it was relegated to rear speaker in my HT setup, which I rarely used.

However, the story suddenly changed when a friend of mine built me a (fully) tube integrated amp, rather smallish 2 x 15 wpc. I paired the Ensemble with the amp in a set up which is rather blasphemous to an audiophile: the satellites on the left-right ends of computer desk, about 3 ft apart; in between sit the monitor and cd changer-printer stacked; the sub, CPU and amp side by side under the desk. Far exceeding my every expectation, the sound was fabulous. Gone is the weak mid. The bass is tight, the high is airy; with the volume set at 9 o'clock I still can hear the detail of the music balanced across the frequency spectrum. At 10 o'clock it rocks. Ravel's La Valse sounds glorious and spacious, the explosive sound of its tympani surely isn't for a faint heart; Yoyo Ma's cello in Bach Cello Suites suddenly comes into being, detailed and subtle. I can hear and feel the presence of an old and seasoned person in Doc Cheatham rendition of How deep is the ocean; he recorded it with Nicholas Payton, when he was 93; the noise from the tenor sax's valves of Joe Henderson as he blew in Strayhorn's Lush Life, can be heard clearly.

It might not work for every kind of music though, I listened to Genesis, detailed and crisp, but it's lacking in soul. However, for classical or jazz music, this is a near perfect pairing. I really can appreciate CSW's Ensemble now, this is a superb Kloss' design, if you can find a matching amp to drive it. It is a rather demanding speaker system.

Here's my setup:
Denon DCM460 changer
P-Mini integrated tube amp 15 wpc
CSW Ensemble II
Nordost Cinemaflex interconnect, Nordost Spellbinder amp to satellites, and a double run of Venom to the sub, Soundcare feet for amp and cd changer.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $350.00

Purchased At:   Best Buy



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by lloyd502 a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 30, 2003

Bottom Line:   
These speakers sound very good for the money. I paired it with an Onkyo TX-8511 stereo receiver and an old Realistic 12-band EQ and it sounds awesome at at all volumes. The EQ is necessary because the bass output is really weak. The overall sound, however, is pretty well balanced. From Joe Pass to Linkin Park, these speakers present a very satisfying listening experience. The tone controls on my receiver are all flat and the loudness switch (aka Selective Tone Control) is off. The upper 10 bands on my EQ are also flat. I only touched the 36 kHz (+12db) and the 63 kHz (+6db) controls. With these settings, I get a really good full range sound, even at low volumes. At high volumes, my pant legs start to shake but the sound is still very crisp and clear and the bass is especially deep and tight. However, if I bypass the EQ the bass goes away, even if I turn on the loudness and crank up the bass knob to full. Also, keep in mind that these speakers are not magnetically shielded so don't place them near your TV or computer monitor.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $199.00

Purchased At:   hifi.com



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by audiorange a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 27, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I had seen these speakers in ads and catalogues for years, and I have some other items from Cambridge Soundworks (model 88cd radio and the soundworks powered sub/sat). The Ensemble II once carried a higher price, so when they went on sale, I grabbed them.
The fit and finish are excellent, and the styling, if unexciting, is not trendy or irritating. The gold plated binding posts are nicer than I expected. And of course, the system is very compact.
These speakers sound bigger than they look. I bought an Audiosource Amp Two at the same time, and they seem to get along very well. The Ensemble can take a lot of power, and the subwoofer, which some would call "picky," offers lots of adjustment options. I do not use any eq (cd player straight into the amp), and these speakers sound very good. The bass is tight, and it's really there (no mid bass boom pretending to be bass). Unfortunately, not much midbass that's really midbass, either. Not much upper treble, and you don't get the spaciousness of good dome tweeters, but these are an absolute steal.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2003

Price Paid:    $200.00

Purchased At:   hifi.com




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