Cambridge Audio Azur 540R A/V Receivers

Cambridge Audio Azur 540R A/V Receivers 

DESCRIPTION

100w/channel into two channels, 80W/channel in 6.1 mode, six channel on-board discrete amplification, Crystal CS493263 DSP and CS42518 24-bit/192kHz multi DAC, decoder capable of processing Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS 5.1; Dolby Digital EX 6.1; DTS ES 6.1; Dolby Pro Logic; Dolby Pro Logic II, component/S-Video/composite connections, electrical and optical digital inputs and outputs, 6.1 inputs and outputs, six line level inputs with a tape monitor, FM/MW RDS tuner with 40 presets, low-resonance and acoustically damped chassis, all-metal casework with a solid aluminium front panel, slim-line Azur remote control with aluminium top panel

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 18  
[May 30, 2009]
Wazza123
Audio Enthusiast

Excellent value for money, agree with most reviews here. I'm running my 540R with JM Lab Chorus 715's & a Sony SA-WM500 Sub which sounds excellent if lacking a bit of mid-range. My biggest gripe is the remote, it barely works! I have to point it directly at the unit to get i to work & it only picks up 3m max.
I have heard this unit with other speakers & for the price i have to say it's comparible to more expensive amps. I had some issues with my first 540R (i'm on my 2nd now) & it needed replacing after continuously cutting out on me. The customer service (i'm in Australia) from the place of purchase as well as response direct from Cambridge Audio was EXCELLENT. Not used to such fantastic after sales support, looking forward to upgrading my system with more Cambridge Audio products.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 23, 2008]
jartwo59
AudioPhile

Strength:

Warm, open, punchy sound with fair amount of detail. Nice looks, excellent build quality, small, doesn't run hot, not too complicated to operate and will drive 4-ohm speakers. Price. Plays loud without compression.

Weakness:

Lack of dedicated analog inputs. The liinearly-increasing hardness when turned up is not fatal. Not that much treble extension, but, worst of all is the ultimately uninvolving combination of the somewhat opaque midrange and the bass that will clearly thrust, but not perry all that well. Still, better than most anything in it's price range though, I think.

I will confine my remarks to comparison to my Luxman RV-371 receiver whose sonic signature is permenantly wired into my brain having bought it in the early '90's, that recently passed away due to a mysterious illness. (...a moment of silence, please...) I bought the 540 v2 as a stop-gap until I can afford separates again, then it will either be used as a pre/pro or be relegated to the back seat of the system and used in HT pass-thru or something for movies. Bear in mind that the Lux originally cost $1,600 - so quality comparisons are bound to be a bit unfair. I use the only-availible paiir of analog inputs for CD playback. The speakers are Magnat MSP 120's - 3-way, 4-ohm, nearly-full range, sealed towers.
The sound is warm, full and with excellent soundstaging. The soundstage is every bit as wide as the Lux, maybe even wider, but, a tad flatter. The bass has a lot of heft, but is not super tight - not too loose, either, just so so. Still, mid-bass slam is better than the Lux - itself not nessecarily a standout in this area. But, bass muscle, good - but, not perfect - bass extension, and the ability to play loud without the bass running out of steam makes for surprisingly punchy bass. For example I"m already well aware, listening to Intrada's soundtrack CD for Jerry Goldsmith's Alien, that the fiercely-plucked strings are designed to catch you off guard. Although I knew what was coming, on the 540 at moderate volume, I still flinched - repeatedly! ...talk about jump factor... So, this little machine did find an area to in which to cleary beat a receiver that cost more than twice its price...I was impressed. But, if the bass was more dynamic it was also, compared to the Lux, more rythmically challenged. The more full-fledged the rythm, the more problems with timing it seemed to have - the out-right sense of pace being obscured the most. The ability of the amp to engage returned as musical interludes that did not invole a perponderance of rythm were encountered. Furthermore, the midrange throughout was somewhat opaque after the Lux. This combo of 2 left feet in the rythm department and the opaqueness in the mids is ultimately the Achilles' heel of this machine for me. That makes it, in the long run, perhaps too uninvolving (the punchy, dynamic bass notwithstanding) to be relied on as the center-piece in a discerning system. Of course, for anyone, me included, to expect to find such an object for the going rate of 400 bucks is a bit of a pipe dream, I have to admit. But, this gets me up and running until I can try something better - perhaps Emotiva gear, or something. OBTW, in doing my homework on this device, I came across a British website that listened to both the v2 and v3 and they claimed an increase in the hardness after the volume was turned up for the v3 that they didn't hear claim to notice in the v2. Althgough I have no way to confirm, nor have I seen any corobberating info before or since, I still considered it significant. Cambridge redesigned the amp section of the v3 to be fully discrete and rerouted signal paths to fix undisclosed "problems".

Customer Service

Not needed. I bought this as a factory-refurbished unit from Audio Advisor for $400. The unit worked perfectly. I have no problem recommending AA.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 21, 2008]
John Robinson
AudioPhile

Strength:

Warm, punchy, not without subtlty, good bass muscle and heft, excellent soundstaging, good ariness, powerful amp, drives my near-full range, true 4-ohm (moderately-reactive) speakers with aplomb. Small footprint Perhaps will make a good pre/pro.

Weakness:

Not that much treble extension, some timbral smearing, just a touch of abrasiveness or shrillness in the upper mids when turned up but most problematic of all is the bass that will thrust, but not perry.

I will compare to my Luxman receiver whose sonic signature has been permanently wired into my head having bought it in the early 90's, but which recently passed away due to a mysterious illnesses....(a moment of silence, please). Mind you the Lux originally listed at $1,600 - more than twice the 540r v2. I bought the 540 as a stop-gap remedy for music and movies till I could afford separates again - possibly end up using it as a pre/pro, or relegate it to the back seat of my system for movies only in a HT pass-thru or something if that doesn't work out. I bought the factory-refurbished 540 from Audio Advisor for $400. It worked perfectly and I can recommend AA.
The sound is warm, reasonably detailed and punchy, but there is a combination of a slight timbral veiling through the mids, and the bass, which, while dynamic and with plenty of heft, only offers below-average pacing, which is, in the long run, a bit too uninvolving to make this the center-piece of a discerning system - (though, to be fair, expecting to find the anchor for such a system for the going rate of $400 is pretty much a pipe dream, I have to admit). That's the one Achilles' heel of this unit's sound. Punchy and dynamic, yes - in fact when I heard Intrada's new release of Jerry Goldsmith's score to Alien, I know well that the fiercely-plucked strings are designed to catch you off-guard. I knew what was coming - and I still flinched - repeatedly! Definitely superior to the Lux, here. But, full-fledged rthyms challenge it - ask it to cha-cha-cha and it's more likely to chug-chug-chug. This is a strong amp that will play loud without significant compression or solid-state glare or grain. Though a touch of shrillness could be heard when turned up, satisfying levels could be reached without any intrusion, but I mostly preferr the volume down.
Obtw, one British website says the v3 exhibited a bit of hardness with the volume turned up that the v2 didn't have. I have not seen any corroberrating info before or since, and although I can't confirm it myself, I considered it significant. The amp for the v3 was redesigned by Cambridge.

Customer Service

Not needed.

Similar Products Used:

Luxman RV-371 Receiver (70 watts p/ch)
Magnat MSP 120 (3-way, 4-ohm, sealed towers - 2 8" woofers/box)

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
[May 14, 2007]
Tom
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

I love the OSD set-up menu, brilliant feature for an amp of this price.
plenty of current, never have problems powering high volumes when needed/wanted.
build quality A+
looks more expensive than it is

Weakness:

remote function is sometimes a tad trivial. sometimes takes several presses of a buttion with the remote pointed directly at the amp for it to recieve the command.

This is a brilliant amp for the money. i have been slowly upgrading every component in my system and decided on this amp. when i first purchased it, it was running through incredibly cheap speakers but i thought i still sounded great. I have since purchased KEF 2way floorstanding speakers and run them bi wired. The clarity is amazing! it is like nothing I have ever owned. i know this is far from hi-end audio but to me it sound brilliant. I have found that letting the amp warm up for say 20mins before listening yields a much better sound. i try to leave it swirched on now when i can as to keep it warmed up so it always sounds its best.

Customer Service

shop was excellent in letting me hear it in different modes/sources/speakers.

Similar Products Used:

Technics SA-GX390 AV Control Stereo Reciever
Yamaha AX-330e Stereo Integrated Amp

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Feb 10, 2007]
mysticfred
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Opens up a whole new dimension in sound! Each individual channel can be easily adjusted.

More than excellent sound quality.

Weakness:

Very fiddly to set up initially, watch out for SACD/DVD-A's with only 4 channels!

Awesome sound experience - bit overwhelming listening to for too long.

Cambridge Audio Azur 540C Version 2 (£269)

an old adage - what's better than one cake? answer two cakes!
and what's better than two channels? - 5.1 channels! which is what the hifi industry would have us believe, and some are trying really hard to convince us!

Having used SACD's in a stereo player up till recently, hoping to gain some 24bit quality on a budget, I was still not convinced, so decided to try for the full monty - ok if i don't like it everything could be returned within x amount of days as is Richer sounds consumer- friendly policy for the adventurous audiophile not wishing/worrying about dropping a clanger and be stuck with something they hate - it works, I am a loyal customer!

The 540C v2 is certainly a big step in the right direction, using a DVD 89 player (£199- handles SACD/DVD-Audio/CD), once you have connected it all up it the playback mode (stereo, 5.1 whatever) needs to be configured on a TV screen, so connection to the TV is essential for setting up. Once done, you need to make sure you feed it with a genuine 5.1 channel disc, as some recordings play only 4 channels with no centre speaker or sub channel (spent half a day working that out! - every wiring configuration you can imagine). I had 4 redundant Heybrook HB2 speakers to hand and now each connected together with Kimber 4TC cable are an integral part of my hifi/surround system, plus a Monitor Audio Bronze centre speaker, the closest match I could find, now I may get a sub, but the bass produced is more than adequate so maybe not.

The sound from this system is absolutely amazing, each channel clearly defined, it brings the music into a new dimension - "Brothers in Arms" like you've never heard it before. The 540C has amazing quality, not quite as good as my Cyrus 2 but it passes with flying colours, I can highly recommend the surround sound as an extension to my hifi system, and another string to its bow is that with aforementioned telly live concerts are an experience - I swear I was sitting on stage with Led Zeppelin during their acoustic set, instead of the back of the auditorium. I still have more films and sounds to experience, so far well impressed!



Customer Service

Richer Sounds - the best!

Similar Products Used:

Cambridge Audio DVD 89 multi-player.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jul 23, 2006]
jlw2000
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Looks hi-end. Those with tin-ears will think they've bought something special.
Decent mid-forward sound.

Weakness:

Lack of detail in lower ranges.
Overpriced.

I don't understand the positive reviews. It's a nice-looking, high-end appearing, very average multi-channel receiver. It might actually sound OK with cheap speakers or a low-end sub. But for those looking for a little detail with their low-end, keep searching. Though you won't find a "loudness" button here, it's presence is felt in spirit. Bass is fat, slow, lazy, and sluggish. Sometimes it's not even there at all, incompletely, lacking any sense of rhythm, the worst pacing I've ever heard.

As far as British "mid-forward" sound goes, I guess this is it... mids are pleasant enough and highs avoid being shrill. But then the fat sluggish bass is so over-emphasised... which I could deal with if it were detailed.

And at $699... there are so many far far far better options. This is low-end dressed for the high-end. Weak, not a condender.

Similar Products Used:

NAD T743/T753, Arcam AVR100/AVR200, Marantz SR7400

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
[Jul 16, 2006]
Oxenford
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Sounds very well. WARM and with DETAIL and the same time Highs are good.
The OSD is OK
its cheep!

Weakness:

The remote control seems to be nice at first, nice to touch. aluminium finish. and heavy. But when used it has a bad reception from the unit. you have to point very well into the amp to get communication. other than this, I love this amp.

I love music. and I love movies. I had a 2.1 stereo system made of a pioneer 30w integrated amp. made 10 years ago. and a pair of B&W 603 s3 speakers + 1 B&W ASW sub. It was Ok buy I wanted surround sound to get out of my mobies, no just stereo. I had the oportunity to listen to NADs, Rotels, Sonys, Yamahas, Pioneers and other pro stuff at studio recordigs. Ths cambridge Audio 450R V2 is great. my B&W sound VERY different from before the azur amp. I can listen detail, smooth mediums and deep bass. It can handle a big room, mine is 8 meters long (26 feets). As both B&W and Cambridge ar known to be both warm, I was worred about my system to be too much warm. But its not, it has detail.
I've been listening to classical and Jazz music and it sound nice, the strings are smooth but have detail at the same time. Jazz sounds good too.
Hardware department is ok with this unit. very solid. It's very cheep to buy.

Customer Service

As I live in Argentina (south america for those of you who dont know), I went to the CA web page and found the CA reps here in Buenos Aires. I mailed them and got a reply very fast. They send me to a dealer near home so I cound play and listen the amp. and so I did. hey where very kind. Custom service is great.

Similar Products Used:

NAD
Pioneer
Yamaha
Sony
Bang & Olufsen
SAMSON
Makie
M-audio
etc

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 23, 2006]
Tmankiller72
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Great sound quality
Power (80 watts x 6 seems very underated)
Good dynamics , Great build quality for price.

Weakness:

Only 6.1 not 7.1 ...not a big deal to me .
Will only run 8ohms
No 12v trigger .
No HDMI upconversion ... (HDCP will pass thru component anyway according to Sony)

I purchased this soley based on written reviews size (only 4 inches tall) and color(silver),not having actually listened to it at all. So when I received it I was impressed with the box and overall build quality for only $699 retail. It really has an overall better sound quality than my previous Denon 2805 ,more dynamics , better capacitors? toroidal transformer? I believe it must be something extra to give something so small a noticable difference in sound. I will be adding an amp or two to this and using it primarily as a pre/pro , but don't let that stop you from just using it as an receiver it has the ability to drive most speakers to high levels in an average size room. For about $500 this is one to audition if you can . Solid remote too, but not programable. Highly recommended.

Similar Products Used:

Denon avr 2805
Denon avr 3802
Yamaha 5990 ?

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 13, 2006]
Steve Hobbs
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Lovely Sound Quality. Build Quality Unassuming looks Remote Control

Weakness:

Manual, it is useless.

I had been looking for an AV amp that could also deliver the sound quality that I required. I'm using a pair of Linn Katan's as my primary stereo speakers with a REL subwoofer. I have to say that the two cahnnel sound is fantastic. Sound stage is spot on with lovely musical quality that I had yet to hear from a A/V amp. Hard to believe at this price. I didn't find setting up to be too much of an issue and I agree with the other reviewers, the manual is a waste of paper. Don't understand how they can skip on such an important item. Half the pleasure of owning these products is having the text to read. Maybe I'm different but heh I like reading the technical stuff. My DVD player is an Onkyo SP501. Suits the sound well. I no longer have a seperate CD player as I have found the DVD provides excellent sound quality. I also have a Record deck linked through a NAD phono pre-amp. Again the sound stage is superb. The lack of a dedicated two channel input maybe an issue to some but try it you'll be surprised at just how good the amp handles two channel sound.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 09, 2005]
gd0
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Sound quality Build quality Torroidal Looks nice

Weakness:

Worthless manual No way to access information Difficult to set up, esp for music No 2-ch direct-in No OSD (I don't need it, but many might)

Not for newbies, but a solid value for those seeking sound quality and are willing to work a little for it... I bought this as a budget band-aid (my refurb Marantz died) until I could go back to a high-end receiver or separates... but I've become very attached to it based solely on its music performance. But getting there wasn't easy. The manual has exactly ZERO information in it... furthermore, CA has recently disabled their online feedback / forum / email... so you are really on your own to figure out setup, via trial and error... it is very bare-bones (that's good), and yet there are too many DSPs arranged in a confusing manner (that's bad)... also, there is no 2-ch 'Analog Direct In' (a deal-breaker for some), so any 2-channel input necessarily goes thru DSP and engages the sub... the workaround would be to use the fronts of the 5.1 inputs, but that's only if you don't need multi-ch DVDA / SACD... not a problem for me, as I listen to 2-ch sources in DPL2 Music with the center off... otherwise I need the multi-in's for a universal player. Suffice to say if you're willing to experiment, it will deliver quality. It should also be noted that clicks and other issues mentioned in the first couple reviews here have been resolved some time ago... however, there is the lingering issue of digital synch delay at the very beginning of discs -- but apparently this will never go away with the Cirrus chips (widely used by many mfr's)... not a concern to me, all my music inputs are analog. It has never taken me so long to set up an AVR (I do em all the time for friends), but I'm glad I hung in there with this piece... the above might sound like a lot of complaints, but the effort was worth it... it sounds that good!... music is smooth and detailed, somewhat like the Marantz but a little more laid back (I giive Marantz the edge here)... movies have never sounded better... no way to know, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that better than average Op-Amps reside in the 540. Build quality at this price point is ridiculously good (though it is mfr'd in Malaysia, unlike their 2-ch gear)... torroidal transformer, gold connectors, solid speaker terminals, supplied connector caps, handsome solid remote. I can't comment on video switching, as I hook all sources directly to the TV. I'll likely go back to a Marantz someday, if only for more connections and greater processing power... but -- If you a have modest system, few sources... If you are obsessed with sound quality... If you don't mind rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty... If you have only $650 to spend... You can't do better than this little 540R. This is their first AVR, it's been out a couple years... its successor may be a little more expansive, may offer a little more power... but if that's so, then it will probably cost more too.

Similar Products Used:

Marantz Sony ES Carver

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 18  

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