Cambridge Audio A1 Integrated Amplifier
When you think of true budget hi-fi, you think of Cambridge Audio. For years now Cambridge Audio have been manufacturing and selling pieces of hi-fi such as the A1 integrated amplifier by the lorry load. The A1 Intregrated Amplifier is a true a budget classic, well made and with a sound quality that puts many amplifiers at more than twice the price to shame.
Available almost exclusively through Richer Sounds in the UK, the A1 originally sold for just under £100, fifteen years in and you can still pick one of these gems up for under £80. For an extra £20 pounds, you can be the proud owner of an A1 Special Edition, purposely designed for the UK audiophile with improved circuitry and torroidial transformer for a cleaner power supply.
The A1 comes with four line inputs, a moving magnet phono pre-amp can purchased for an extra £20. A tape monitor is also included and there are treble, bass and balance controls but that is it.
Sound quality of the A1 mk3 SE is quite detailed and warm but never harsh and bass is quite tight and rythmic. Only when you compare it against superior integrated amplifiers such as the Audiolab 8000A can the imaging and soundstage start to sound a little muddy and confused but this a sub £100 amplifier. I used about 6 years with a couple of TDL Nucleus 1 Loudspeakers to amplify a computer soundcard with great success. I now use it to drive the surround speakers in a 5.1 surround sound system using a pair of Eltax Silverstone 110 bookshelf speakers..
At 30 watts per channel into 8 oms, the Cambridge Audio A1 may not be the most powerful amplifier in the world but ideal for a starter budget system or for use in a secondary system in a small room. The Cambridge Audio A1 is probably best matched with a speakers who have a sensitivity in the region of 86-90db due to the power output.
In short a true classic budget design that should impress even the most demanding of ears.
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