Cambridge audio AXR100 is one of the finest amps in the market in its price range. In fact, it is one of the most powerful amps in the company profile. They are making amps for very very long period now. They started their operation during 1968. There is no turning back ever since. Without further ado, lets dive into the review of Cambridge audio AXR100.
Cambridge Audio has launched four mid-range audio amplifiers recently. They are super value for the money. The amplifiers are AXA25, AXA35, AXR85, and AXR100. The first two, AXA 25 and AXA 35, are integrated amplifiers, and the other two are stereo receivers. This lineup is the replacement of Topaz series or amplifier. Being a successor, they are certainly better than the Topaz series.
Stereo integrated amplifier vs stereo receiver.
We have mentioned that Cambridge audio AXA35 is an integrated amplifier, but AXR85 and AXR100 are stereo receivers. Why?
A stereo receiver is a bit different from a stereo amplifier. The presence of an FM receiver makes the AXR100 / AXR85 a stereo receiver, and AXA35 is not. If the FM module had not been there, all three would be considered stereo amplifiers.
The stereo receiver looks just beautiful. It has a small wedge-shaped stand underneath that makes the whole receiver looks like floating on the table. A very unique design. It is a pure analogue amplifier with digital controls. The receiver is made of brushed aluminium and has the same finish there in the front panel.
There is a beautiful digital display upfront. This is a digital dot matrix display. It displays the source by default. It shows the volume increment, tone controls, FM Channels, and connected Bluetooth devices.
There is a power button on the front panel of the device. Next to the power button, there is a 1/4-inch headphone jack. The headphone output has a separate amp, and it is really good. Followed by the headphone jack, there are next/previous buttons for FM radio. A mode/store button follows it.
Below the digital display is an array of buttons in two rows. The first row has six buttons, and they are the source toggle buttons and a speaker A B button. Below these buttons, there are five tiny buttons. Those are for FM Presets.
On the right end of the amp, there is a menu button for tone controls, an IR receiver for the remote, and a big volume jog wheel. Volume jog is made of plastic. But, it has satisfying steps or clicks to it. Every button has a nice feel to it. On the extreme left, there exists an audio aux input. You can hook up your phone to the receiver with an aux cable.
The rear side has well-laid out connectors.
On the rear, there is an ICE power connector on the right end. The power cable comes in the box. There is a toggle for 220/115 volts.
The binding posts are solid and well-built. It has two pairs of speaker outputs. It can power two sets of stereo speakers simultaneously, giving four pairs of binding posts. Bluetooth adapter is also included in the package
Since it is a receiver, it comes with the place to attach a 75 Ohm FM antenna and a 300-ohm AM antenna. Below the antenna sockets, there are three digital inputs. Two optical and coaxial digital inputs. Both the optical inputs and the coaxial input connect to the Wolfson DAC inside. If you don’t have an external DAC, the digital inputs in this integrated amp help a lot.
A USB type B input connector is on the right side of the coaxial port. This is just a service port, and You can connect things like chrome cast audio as it can give out a power of 5V 400 mA.
Apart from Digital inputs, you will get three analogue inputs, Moving Magnet phono input or mm phono input and its ground. The phono stage is pretty good. Unless you hook in a high-end turntable, You won’t really need an external phono preamp. With and analog input, you can connect a host of devices like CD player, tape/ cassette player etc..There are a rec out and subwoofer output. In this subwoofer output, you can connect any active subwoofers. The sub-out crossover is set at 200 Hz
The system has a fan too as the power output is a higher100 watts which demands a lot of electricity and therefore more heat is liberated. While overheating, the fan kicks in. At such high volumes, you cannot hear the fan. But you can hear the fan at low volumes if you’re close to the stereo receiver.
Build Quality – a real good one
As mentioned already, the front panel is made up of aluminium. The whole chassis is well-made and put together. The binding posts are really good quality, and so are the switches and buttons. Overall, the build quality is very, very good. Cambridge audio AXR 100 is a well-made integrated amp, like any Cambridge amplifier.
This amp weighs around 17.8 lbs. This alone can speak about the build quality of this sound system.
Remote – is it cheap?
AXR 100 comes with a remote. The remote has numerous buttons, and it shares the functionality with a CD player AXC 25/ AXC 35. A power button, mute button, volume controls, FM control buttons, and tone control buttons are available on the remote. The only area I felt Cambridge audio has cut cost is on its remote. Not only does the amp not have a separate remote, but it is also made of plastic, and the quality is average. That doesn’t mean the quality is terrible. Just that it is not on par with metal builds.
Audio performance – Cambridge audio AXR100 review
Audio performance is why you should consider getting this integrated amp. The sound quality is beautiful and has a warm British sound with a touch of neutrality. It doesn’t have a harsh treble, and for that matter, it doesn’t even have strong bass.
The MM or moving magnet Phono stage too has decent sound quality as the DAC in this amplifier.
It is a relatively great-sounding audio system. If you’re buying this amplifier, it is for its sound quality. Music lovers will love it.
The treble performance is excellent. It is not that the treble is recessed in any way. There are plenty of high frequencies from this amplifier, but they are not harsher by any means. The treble is on the warm side of the neutral, and you can listen to AXR 100 for a longer period without any ear fatigue if paired with a correct speaker setup. Overall, the sound quality in the treble department is very good for the price.
The midrange in Cambridge audio AXR100 is beautiful and neutral in nature. The sound is expressive and full of emotions. It is easily among the best-sounding mid-range amps in the same price range. The sound has an oomph that many other amps miss. The lush, warm vocals from this amplifier are more suited for genres like jazz, blues, etc. but throw in any genre; it plays well, and this is one of the best characteristics of the amp, and you need to pay twice the money to get a better midrange from an amp.
The amplifier is reasonably bassy, but I am not sure it will satisfy bass heads. Like other Cambridge audio products, its bass is punchy and fast. I have a floor stander with 8-inch woofers. It can go low, but the characteristic of the bass is fast and articulate. It doesn’t have much weight to it but packs a punch.
If you like the fast bass kind of sound, you will appreciate it. It is pretty astonishing to see it punches the bass hard in one moment, and in the next moment, it stops like it hits the wall. The amplifier has enough damping factor for fast yet accurate bass. If the bass is low to your liking, there is a tone controller, and you can always crank it up for that extra bass.
My system has 8-inch woofers, and the amp has no issues playing it. The amplifier has a huge toroidal transformer that can supply more power as the music demands and stops on a dime. A power output of 100 Watts is a lot, and it can power even speakers that are hard to drive, like Elacs pioneers.
The sound is transparent, and the clarity of the instruments is excellent. The midrange is one of the best I have heard in this price range. The sound is very, very expressive and conveys plenty of emotion. As said earlier, the sound quality and plenty of power is why you should buy this stereo receiver.
Tone controls – tailor-made sound
Tone controls are yet another feature of the Cambridge audio AXR100 stereo receiver. You can manually increase or decrease the BASS and TREBLE value. You can tailor-make the sound you wish for with tone controls. The only gripe is that the reading increments or decrements only by a step of 2.
This integrated amp also has balance control.
I played ‘TIme was’ by Wishbone Ash (1972). It majestically starts with a guitar note. The guitar is full of Clarity. Later in the song, there is a piece with an electric guitar solo, and it sounded absolutely brilliant. The drums felt real, and the cymbals are full of texture. The vocals are smooth and very, very engaging.
Then I played ‘He’ll have to go’ by Jim Reeves. That is one phenomenal song. The centre image from which the voice emanates is one of a kind. The harmonics from various instruments and voices blend in with the music perfectly, while the piano sounded confident and assuring. The soothing voice of JIM Reeves was beautifully painted by AXR100.
Next, I listened to ‘Plastic heart’ by Tyler Bates from John wick 2. The song has a great sense of scale and depth to the music. Our AXR100 has no issues in conveying those incredible scales and depth. The dynamics were spot on. The bass notes have authority even at chest-hitting levels.
I then listened to ‘Prologue: The blackboard’ from the album the theory of everything done by Areyon. Right from the start till the end, tracks from this album were very, very enjoyable. The bass notes at the beginning were impactful. It is great to see the amp can move the big woofer of my system easily and stops in a fraction of a second. When the music demands, the amp delivers the needed power. This power gives the bass the required quickness. The guitar notes will tell you the ultimate clarity and transparency of the track.
At last, I listened to ‘Nine feet underground medley’ by caravan from the album in the land of grey and pink. It has a funky keyboard sound and a great drum sound. The receiver did justice to all the instruments in the song. Drums are brought to the attention immediately by the amp, while the guitar sounded the smoothest.
Pros and cons
Conclusion – Cambridge audio AXR100 review
If you want an amp with a power output of 100 watts per channel without breaking the bank, Cambridge audio AXR100 is for you. This audio equipment possesses a quality many other amps in the price range just don’t have. The midrange is to die for, and the transparency is excellent. For under $500, you cannot go wrong with it. Thanks for reading.
You can check the price and buy the Cambridge audio AXR100 by clicking the links below.
Aju Vignesh Sathiaraj Padma is a mechanical and audio engineer. He is a person who loves technology and things. He is also an audiophile and loves to listen to music on quality audio gear. He is an avid writer and loves to blog.
He is the founder and author of www.digitfield.com, and he is an expert in copywriting. You can find him either lurking in various forums or listening to classical music.