Cambridge Audio’s Evo Streaming Amps Offer Great Design and All-in-One Convenience
Audiophilia can be a lonely pastime. I’m lucky to have a lot of wonderful friends, but none of them have ever bought a copy of Stereophile, or watched a. Some of them, however, are great music lovers. Justin is a professional guitarist with a huge collection of records. Hannah is a music analyst at Pandora and plays the violin in no less than three different groups. Sarah is a professional singer in a sold-out vocal ensemble the world over. But they’re just not interested in high performance audio. I preached and proselytized, but to no avail. I have sometimes convinced a friend to attend an audio show or come with me to check out Wilson’s or Magico’s latest megabuck speaker at a launch event at a retailer, but I’m still the only audiophile. cardholder in the group. The odd thing is that when I first heard about Cambridge Audio’s new Evo integrated amps, I immediately thought of several friends who would love them. These are people who have never heard of Cambridge Audio, and who don’t even know what an integrated amp is. But they would be the perfect clients for Cambridge, if the brand could reach them somehow. My friends are mostly in their 30s, with a little more disposable income than before. They love music, but they don’t want a messy mess of components and cables. These days they listen to laptops, Bluetooth speakers, or maybe the occasional Sonos speaker – in mono – but they’re old enough to remember their parents’ big stereos from the 1980s. made music more fun to listen to. Given a few nudges, they strength be prepared to invest in music playback equipment if and only if it meets the following important criteria:
1. It should have a simple and user-friendly interface which can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet.
2. It must work with Spotify, Apple Music, podcasts, etc.
3. It should be small and attractive.
Cambridge Audio’s new Evo amps satisfy all three. So what exactly has Cambridge concocted with its new line of audio electronics? So far, the lineup consists of two all-in-one streaming amps, the Evo 75 ($ 2,250) and the Evo 150 ($ 3,000). With these stylish devices, the company aimed to create “Hi-fi ready for today, able to adapt to your lifestyle and designed to look as good as it looks.“This ambitious goal was achieved by combining”timeless design, cutting edge technology, streaming intelligence and incredible audio performance in a streamlined and compact package. “Sharing the same design and dimensions (12.5” wide x 3.5 “high x 13.9” deep), the Evo amps – or “All-in-One Players” as Cambridge calls them – are built around the company’s own StreamMagic platform, which has been constantly evolving for over a decade. The platform currently supports just about any digital streaming source in the sun, including Roon, MQA, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Qobuz, Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, and more. According to Cambridge, the platform is also flexible enough to “adapt to whatever the future may bring. Even video sources are covered by the Evo – just connect the HDMI ARC output of your TV to the ARC input of the amp. These sources are fed to an ESS-based DAC (the Evo 75 uses the ‘ESS Saber ES9016K2M, while the Evo 150 upgrades to the ES9018K2M), and the resulting analog signal passes through a custom-designed preamp stage that would provide only enough special sauce for the units to integrate into the sound of the Cambridge House From there the Hypex NCore Class D power amp section takes over, delivering either 75 watts per channel, in the case of the Evo 75, or double (150wpc), in the case of the Evo 75. ‘Evo 150. The user simply adds whatever speakers best suit the room, and that’s it.
Of course, Cambridge isn’t the first audio company to create a product like the Evo. The Naim Uniti Atom ($ 3,290) comes to mind, with NAD’s M10 ($ 2,750) and its big brother, the M33 ($ 5,000). One thing that sets the Evo apart is its industrial design, which pays homage to Cambridge’s very first product of 1968, the iconic P40 amp. For my money, the Evo is the prettiest of the bunch, thanks in large part to the gorgeous walnut side panels (inspired by the P40), which lend a bit of warmth, color and class to an otherwise contemporary design. I think the black anodized aluminum casing and the high-res 6.8-inch glass-covered screen contrast well with these walnut panels, but if wood isn’t your thing a second set of side panels are included. in the box. The user can easily replace the walnut and install these alternative panels, which eschew the classic vibe of wood in favor of a more futuristic feel. Made from an innovative new material called Richlite (which is made mostly from recycled paper), these black panels have a textured 3D wave pattern that is undeniably cool. Evo lead designer Ged Martin focused on simplicity and strived for a timeless aesthetic that would last for many years to come. Hats off, Ged.
Underneath this attractive exterior, Cambridge has crammed a tremendous amount of functionality. In order to achieve a small form factor without compromising connectivity or functionality, Cambridge engineers turned to Class D amplification for the first time. Frankly, it’s hard to believe Cambridge hit 2021 without building a Class D amp, especially considering companies like NAD and Marantz have been on the Class D bandwagon for years now. Cambridge chose Hypex NCore power modules not only for their efficiency and versatility, but also for their audio performance, citing the “obvious advantages in terms of clarity, resolution and musicality,“And concluding that”that’s a big part of what makes Evo so enjoyable listening. “In an interview with What Hi-Fi ?, Cambridge Audio Managing Director Stuart George said this about the decision to adopt Class D:
The goal with Evo was to use a much smaller footprint, so we knew we had to go somewhere with the D-class. The technology has been around for a while, varying in quality, but over the last few years it has been around. reached a level where our engineers said we had to use it. And Evo was the perfect way for us to do that, with its small form factor and fuel efficiency. Hypex is a smart solution; it is a versatile solution. It is good at providing performance and output so that it can handle the varying resistance and impedance of different types of speakers.
– Stuart George, Managing Director of Cambridge Audio
For many users, Evo amps will likely be self-contained, connected only to a power outlet and a pair of speakers. But for those with a CD player, turntable or other audio source, Evo offers an impressive range of inputs. In addition to the aforementioned HDMI ARC input, digital inputs include optical and coaxial inputs on the Evo 75, as well as an asynchronous USB input on the Evo 150. Bluetooth fans can both send and receive signals. aptX HD, so that a visiting friend can stream songs to the Evo from a smartphone during the day and night, you can stream a signal from the Evo to your wireless headphones. A 3.5mm headphone jack lets you go old-fashioned, if you prefer. On the analog side, the Evo 75 includes an auxiliary input on RCA jacks, plus a 3.5mm analog input labeled CD. A set of preamp outputs and a mono subwoofer output are also on RCA. The Evo 150 includes all of this, plus an additional XLR line input for balanced gear and an MM phono input for a turntable.
At Cambridge Audio, we believe the evolution goes far beyond improving the quality of the sound you hear and enhancing your enjoyment of music. Evolution is also about transforming the convenience and usability of hi-fi without compromising its performance. Evo is the product that we have been developing for over 50 years.
– Stuart Georges
With which speakers to associate the Cambridge Evo?
Both Evo amps are available now. Later this year, Cambridge will add to the Evo lineup with a matching CD transport ($ 950) and a set of fairly pedestrian bookshelf speakers called Evo S ($ 750 / pair). It would have been nice to see Cambridge aim a little higher with the matching speakers – their physical design is clean, but nothing special, and at $ 750 they probably won’t show all the Evo amps can do. Someone who just lost $ 2-3,000 on an Evo amp would be better served by switching to a more ambitious speaker. I can imagine that many Evo buyers are drawn to compact 2-way designs, like the($ 1,500 / pair), but a slim tower speaker, like the Totem Tribe Tower ($ 5,500 / pair) or Elac’s Carina Columns ($ 2,600 / pair), might not be not out of the question. The retro-inspired wood on the Evo would also look at home alongside a pair of speakers ($ 4000 / pair). And while I’m cutting the hair into quarters, I would have liked Cambridge to include a patch correction solution (NAD’s M10 and M33 have Dirac built in), especially since many Evo buyers will likely stick their tops on. -speakers where they are best in the room, and not necessarily where they sound best. I doubt the Evo ends up in many dedicated listening rooms with room acoustic treatment. That said, setting up Dirac is pretty technical, and it’s not even something my non-audiophile friends would think of doing. The Evo is all about ease of use. In fact, I think many jaded audiophiles might quickly dismiss the Evo as just a “lifestyle” product. According to Stuart George, that would be a mistake. “I can accept the word “lifestyle”,” he said. “But it’s a good hi-fi product. “