Cambridge Audio Azur 550C CD-player

The English Cambridge Audio began the update of Azur CD players with the most popular devices of the 500th and 600th series. Externally, Azur 550C is an almost exact copy of the previous version, but the case is made of a more rigid metal profile and the front aluminum panel has become even more massive. Also, a number of measures were introduced for additional vibration isolation - in particular, special damping legs-supports are used for the two-layer structure.

Changes have also affected the transport mechanism: it is borrowed from older models and is equipped with a servo system of the latest generation, which minimizes read errors. The heart of the player is the advanced WM8740 chip from Wolfson Microelectronics, which combines a converter with 24/192 parameters and a digital filter with a variable mode. The digital and analog parts of the device are powered from different windings of the toroidal transformer with small scattered fields. As is right and proper for a solid source, the sound path contains quality components, selected with minimal variation.

The display is now able to show CD-Text and is distinguished by increased contrast. As in the previous Azur models, it's liquid crystal, so it does not interfere with low-current audio circuits. Output connectors are presented in a full range: in addition to analog, there are both digital types and control interface (Control Bus). If the unit is installed in a blind-end rack, a socket for an external IR receiver is useful. The remote control is made in the best traditions of Cambridge Audio in recent years. It is easy to use and can manage all components of the Azur series.

The player sounds smooth and neutral enough; there is no hint of any significant coloring.

Now it is understandable why previous models of CD-players of this brand received numerous awards and were recognized by many experts as reference sources in their price category. The sound stage is formed clearly and with a good scale. The device has excellent dynamics and, importantly, focuses on audio contrasts when it is necessary. It seems that Cambridge Audio Azur 550C knows at which point it is necessary to "turn up the heat".

I would rank the player's bass capabilities at five with minus. Why with a minus? The fact is that the main kick is very distinct and carefully worked out, but the lowest components (especially noticeable on the organ records) as if separate away from the rest of the spectrum.

The midrange is very transparent and at the same time not tiring, it is very rich in nuances and has a high resolution that does not translate into protrusion of minor details. Vocal is alive and well-trained - it is full of accuracy. String and wind instruments appear in all their glory and are legible even against the background of powerful bass sounds. The upper part of the working band is light and natural. It has a bit not enough transparency, but for our price range this can be also considered as an outstanding result.

Cambridge Audio Azur 550C CD-player photo