Cambridge Audio Azur 540R AV-receiver
Cambridge audio, along with the traditional components for stereo, produces a full set of electronics for building a home cinema. Today Cambridge Audio Azur 540R is the older receiver in the branded line. I must say that the English company has joined the race for the development of equipment for home cinema recently, and due to the production of all equipment in Asia it offers the competitive models to a buyer, especially from the point of such parameter as price/quality.
Cambridge Audio Azur 540R provides the support of almost all modern formats of surround sound and has six channels of amplification. But in general the digital part of the receiver is much less serious than competition have. It is felt that the developers paid the main attention to analog path as evidenced by the use of massive power transformer in the power supply unit (by the way, it is toroidal that should berecognized as a unique phenomenon for this price category). Unfortunately, terminals for acoustic cables are traditional for most of multichannel devices of this class, i.e. the use of clean-scrapped wire will be the best variant. The connectors are marked with different colors, but all the inscriptions on the back panel are made in white and as the body is silver, many of them are not seen at a glance. The receiver's display, like in DVD players, is from Azur series and made of mirror - looks very stylish. The remote control is the same as in other components of the series, i.e. half of it is made of aluminum with the same size round keys. But if it is quite acceptable for stereo devices, it will be difficult to cope with such remote control in the darkness and even without backlight.
Apparently, at the development of the receiver the company focused on the progress, being achieved at the creating of integral amplifiers. At least a certain similarity in sound is felt, albeit in a bit reduced scale. The control over LF-range is quite good, "Whiskey in the Jar" sounds clear and well-groomed - Cambridge Audio Azur 540R doesn't allow any "laxity". However, bass is not elaborated as well as in two-channel model, but the localization of virtual images is on the top.
The situation with classical music is less impressive - wholeness and softness, typical for good stereo amplifiers, weren't felt. Strings are played more simplistically than desired - they need a bit more subtle overtone components. However, the receiver shows the structure of orchestra quite correctly, groups of instruments are divided clearly and do not merge at fortissimo. Solo violins lost for a little that measure of realism, which makes the difference between an outstanding device and just good one.
Apparently the company has managed to combine the incompatible - inexpensive receiver not only sounds six channels, but provides a remarkable for its price performance of music. We can see a real "universal soldier".
Despite of its "lightweight" appearance, Cambridge Audio Azur 540R is able to give many points forward in the field of playing two-channel recordings. Being the most inexpensive multichannel device, it proved that, if desired, you can achieve the good quality of sound in not the highest price category.