cambridge audio axr 85
Amplifier / AV Receiver | Cambridge Audio

Cambridge Audio AXR 100 Review

The British brand Cambridge Audio is eligible to be included in the list of manufacturers with a long history in the British audio brand. The unique and innovative style is famous worldwide, and the design style of the product does not lose the demeanor of a traditional gentleman. The music experience is even more breathtaking. In 1968, Cambridge Audio released the iconic P40 amplifier, which demonstrated the goal Cambridge Audio pursued: producing audio equipment and faithfully creating pure and natural sound performance, becoming an essential part of the “Voice of Great Britain”.

Product Overview

Although the AX series is positioned as an introductory series, the entire AX series brings together the design and innovative technologies of Cambridge Audio’s award-winning CX and EDGE audio series. It uses Cambridge Audio’s 50 years of professional engineering knowledge in Hi-Fi audio production to provide the “Great British Sound” that Cambridge Audio is dedicated to promoting. This is a pure and unfiltered original sound experience that fully reflects the intentions of the producer. And more accurately reflect the recordings made in the original studio.

cambridge_audio_AXR100 product line

The entire AX series includes two CD players, two integrated amplifiers, and two stereo post-amplifiers. This time I want to evaluate the AXR100. AXR100 is the highest model in the AX series. It uses the AXR85 template and adds digital inputs (two optical fibers and one coaxial) while increasing the power output to 100W. With a dedicated subwoofer output port to improve the bass effect, it is convenient for users to connect to a small living room theater.

The AXR100 stereo amplifier has powerful power and flexibility and is ideal for music lovers who require it. It can easily drive two stereo speakers and is equipped with a very rich input interface, including three sets of analog RCA input, a set of PHONO input, recording and subwoofer output, and 3.5mm stereo input and front 6.3mm headphone output. It is equipped with an FM/AM tuner and a built-in Bluetooth receiver for wireless streaming.

Cambridge Audio also provides users with multiple switching buttons very intimately. Press the relevant audio source button to select the desired input source, and you can easily switch to the audio source you need. In addition, when using the AM/FM mode, use the radio preset button to select the radio station stored by the user preset. These presets are stored separately for each band. That is, FM has ten frequency bands, and you can cycle through all frequency bands by using the skip button. And each audio source operated by the user can be seen on the display screen, and the information of volume, tone, balance level, and the name of the station is clear at a glance.

cambridge audio axr 100 inside

Sound Quality

I think that AXR 100 is a fantastic unit for the money. It’s something that I’m going to begin recommending to a lot of people from this point onward. There are two primary reasons. The first being it has good power. It’s not a muscular beast, but at the same time, I feel like it’s going to drive most average speakers well in most listening rooms with fair volumes. Something that I think most people will enjoy.

The second thing is going to be sound quality. I like how this unit sounds because it’s not in-your-face; instead, it’s just the opposite of that. This is a smooth, laid-back sounding unit. It has this warm and rich sound, and it just makes listening to music enjoyable, which is the whole point of this thing, to begin with.

Most of us don’t listen to just audiophile approved recordings, like jazz, classical, or vocals. Often it can sound not very pleasant on some audio system. But the AXR100 forgives enough to where I can kick back and listen and have a good time. Because it has good power, it has that dynamic power to it. There’s still life to the sound, and I think that combination is extraordinary for this kind of money, and I absolutely love it.

If you’re somebody who likes that V curve presentation with boosted treble and boosted bass because you find it exciting and engaging to listen to. There’s a good chance you may not like The general character of the AXR 100 because that’s not what it’s about. Instead, it has more of a richer, warmer presentation, something that’s a little bit more laid-back. For people like me who listen to a wide variety of music, I think it’s essential to have something where you can listen to your music whenever you’re in the mood to do so without worrying about if it’s going to be too bright and too edgy sounding. If that’s you, then there’s a good chance they’re going to like this unit.

Treble Performance

Let’s go into more detail, starting with the treble. You would think that that smooth sound means that the treble is rolled off and while I think it is a little polite sounding. I feel like it’s still mostly neutral. Thanks to the low noise floor, the dark and black background on this unit allows for information to come out with ease. Is it going to be in your face like other budget components? Well, no, it’s not going to be. It’s not going to be the most airy and spacious and refined sounding top end in the world. All the excellent detail is there, and most importantly, it’s smooth enough to where you can listen to less than perfect recordings and not feel like your ears are going to be assaulted. I think that’s very important.

cambridge_audio_AXR100 image

Mid-range Performance

The mid-range for something at this price is very natural sounding. I do think there’s a little coloration there. This is where you’re going to hear just a little bit of that warmth. But again, it rides this fine line between neutrality and warmth. It’s not overly saturated in tonal color. It’s just it has a little bit of it. Overall though, I think it’s enjoyable to listen to.

Bass Performance

For the bass, you would think it is just a little bit exaggerated. But that’s not the case here. This has a tremendous power supply that allows the unit to control the woofers very well. So actually, the bass is pretty clean sounding. One could argue that maybe there’s a little bit of warmth to it, but it’s more about speed than about power.

Dynamic and Imaging Performance

The dynamic is going to be what I think distinguishes the AXR 100 from other options like Denon. This unit sounds similar to Denon, but it is smoother sounding on top than Denon, which can get a little bit gritty. However, the Denon units don’t precisely have excellent dynamic output, whereas this one does. I mean its ability to transfer a lot of energy at once and then stop on a dime. The Cambridge Audio AXR 100 does a great job with that.

Imaging is more function of speakers than electronics. It allows your speaker’s to lay down the soundstage that they’re naturally capable of. It doesn’t seem to influence it too much. It’s a powerful dynamic yet somewhat warm, laid-back, and comfortable to listen to an amplifier.

Performance

In the album “The London Violin Sound,” the cello sound’s texture is well displayed. The high-frequency extension is natural and sweet, full of artistic temperament. It shows a soft and beautiful texture, flexibility, and delicate. The instrument’s positioning is accurate and true, and the music is full of details and with appropriate smoothness. In the fast and slow rhythm and gentle to exciting transition, maintain excellent acoustics and music. Under the restoration of AXR100, you can enjoy the musical and artistic side.

“Songbird” is a piece by the famous saxophone player Kenny G. The sound of AXR100 is elegant. The sound quality is delicate and beautiful, the lines are slender and flexible, the music is gorgeous and leisurely, and the extremely high-frequency extension is smooth. The balance of the whole frequency range is excellent, the sound is detailed and flexible, and the overall coherence is extraordinarily harmonious and natural. The saxophone’s sound has a vivid sense of air, the string sound is delicate and transparent, and the texture is long and dense. It will not bring the listeners the slightest sharpness and rigidity but can reveal a kind of vivid richness. I feel that its analytical power and graininess are very strong. It has enough analytical power and exudes an excellent musical texture. This is indeed something that many bookshelf speakers cannot have both.

For vocals, choose “Light Years Away”. The vocals restored from AXR100 are incredibly thick, and the density and thickness of the singer’s voice in the music have been further improved. The entire audio and video outline and the various subtle sounds during singing, such as breathing, are all depicted. It sounds natural and convex, and the sense of space is looser than before, and the sound texture sounds very comfortable.

cambridge audio axr 100 volume knob

Features needed to be Improved

There’s not much to pick apart in terms of sound quality, but I think the features are a little bit old-school. The AXR 100 is missing some critical features like a USB input. The ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network would be excellent. Having a variable pre-out so you can add an amplifier would only make sense both for the consumer and, quite frankly, for Cambridge. And I would expect to see companies like Cambridge to include features like the unit’s ability to connect to a network via Wi-Fi. But again, it is going to be more of an affordable piece. You can’t expect everything, but that’s going to be my general thought on the unit.

Conclusion

Overall I like it. It has the kind of sound that, as I mentioned earlier, not only lends itself well to a wide variety of speakers but I genuinely believe that it can make people happy for a very long period of time, making it very easy for me to recommend to you all. Is it perfect? No, absolutely not. Is it going to be for everybody? Absolutely not. The same thing can be said for literally every hi-fi component ever made regardless of the price. In the future, Cambridge will have to step up their game and start offering features that are more reflective of today’s modern age. It would also be nice in the future if they rate the power output into something like 4 ohms.

But beyond that, I think if you’re in the market for something that has good power, the Cambridge Audio AXR100 is your perfect choice. It has an easygoing sound that you can listen to for hours on.

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