Cambridge Audio A1 Integrated Amplifier

Cambridge Audio A1 Integrated Amplifier
Cambridge Audio

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.

This entry was posted on Tuesday November 1st, 2005 at 5:42 PM and is filed under Amplifiers, Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response.

22 Responses to Cambridge Audio A1 Integrated Amplifier

Alex Says:
April 23rd, 2009 at 2:33 PM

This amp is a classic. Lovely sound, simple design and my one is still going strong after the best part of 10 years. It's only let me down a couple of times, through overheating at house parties, but it's not really meant to be on full volume for six hours with poor ventilation.

What a beaut.

Austin coll Says:
May 16th, 2009 at 11:02 AM

I have an A1mk3 & need a moving magnet pre-amp to engage the turntable. Where can I get one? I am in The Netherlands & can only order online/mail-order.

Rich Says:
May 19th, 2009 at 8:37 PM

i have this amplifier, its running 2 squire xl 120 pa speakers (massive disco speakers), is this a good idea? it seams fine at the moment.

Dave Says:
September 25th, 2009 at 6:45 AM

I bought my CA A1 Mk3 about 3 years ago as my first proper hi fi gear. Love the sound, and had it hooked up to a Denon DCD 695 CD with B&W DM 601s. A lovely warm sound and brilliant value. I have since replaced the CA with a Rega Mira 3 amp (though not got rid of the CA A1 amp.).

I am now thinking of getting a CA 340 C or perhaps even a 640C to hook up to the A1 and B&W speakers. While upgrade the speakers for the Rega Amp.

Luca Says:
November 13th, 2009 at 10:24 PM

This amp has a nice crisp and warm sound compered with other solid state amplifiers. I think cambridge audio A1 MK3 SE is far better than the Nad C320 and considering it's price, this amp is a real bargain. Hook it with two second hand vintage Kef speaker (coda) and the sound is brilliant! Strongly suggested for budget oriented customers.

Joel Says:
April 16th, 2010 at 12:08 AM

I have my cambridge audio a1 amp working on a vintage pair of (1985) wharfedale 306 amp speakers.

Alistair Says:
May 14th, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Cambridge Audio A1 Mk3 - driving a pair of Tannoy Cheviots with NAD C545BEE Cd player. With sensitive speakers you don't need a lot of power. Sounds good to me 10 years on.

Sickaudio Says:
May 27th, 2010 at 7:23 PM

I'm going to get A1 Mk3 in few days from now :) preaty exited i suppose :)

Ste Says:
October 12th, 2010 at 6:16 PM

Is this amplifier a reference amplifier?

Matt Says:
October 17th, 2010 at 9:18 PM

really daft question I know but why when I'm trying to hook up my Dual turntable to the A1 amp, I get hardly no sound at all? CD & radio fine. Have hooked same turntable up to a Marantz amp & its fine.....confused. Any help much appreciated

Hi-fi insight Says:
October 18th, 2010 at 9:34 AM


By default, the phone input is just a line level input, you need the MM module that is an optional extra. Best bet is to keep an eye out on Ebay, as Richer Sounds stopped selling them a while back.

Matt Says:
October 18th, 2010 at 12:51 PM

thanks very much. What exactly is an MM module and does it work with the amp & turntable? Also, how much should I expect to pay? Sorry for all the Q's and thanks again!

Ryan Says:
December 9th, 2010 at 6:12 PM

I've had the A1 amp for 9 years now, and i use it daily. never broken down or had any troubles bar a slightly dim power indicator and a fuzzy volume pot at high levels.

Sounds fab powering my Tannoy Reveal 6 reference monitors :D

Luca Says:
December 11th, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Cambridge Audio A1 MK3 SE is a real hi fi bargain! rich and detailed sound with a wide soundstage. Far better than its competitor Nad 320, this amplifier will give you hours of real music pleasure!

Antony Says:
March 5th, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Got my A1 in 2003 .Used it to play CD's and cassettes , no problems. Decided to buy a second hand record player, and learnt the amps were blown. Dont know how this happened ?

Dom Says:
March 8th, 2011 at 1:16 PM


Like some above I have a query re preamps - just want to make the correct purchase. Hooked everything up last night and cd sound great - playing tdl2 speakers through the cambridge BUT hardly hear the turntable - is this cos its not a phono but line input?

If so I need a pre amp - what kind woudl you recommend?

Arnaud riaca Says:
July 21st, 2011 at 11:32 PM


Just got my Cambrdge Audio A1 in a pawn shop nearby home for only 10 Canadian Dollars. Before plugging my vintage speakers in (sansui S-917c acoustic suspension) I checked the output and the the left channel was indicating around 28 volts DC. This was a fault and Ichecked out the power transistors but these were correct and then the pre-drivers and there it was... the BC 639 was open. Just replaced it and discovered the lovely and warm sound coming through my speakers. I think it's a top amp and for those looking for a good amp I recommend to take a serious look to it because it is a serious amp...

For those having trouble shooting with their Cambridge Audio A1 just check the pre-drivers BC 639, may be it is a common fault or weak spot in these amps.

Rafael Says:
September 30th, 2011 at 9:15 PM


What about to use a pair of Boston Acoustic A26 with my Cambridge Audio A1? Should they match well? Thank you

Mick Says:
April 5th, 2013 at 5:57 PM

I have an A1 v3 driving a pair of Tannoy Venus MKII's. I was only intending on using the A1 as a temporary measure but 1 year in and its still in the rack. Says it all really. re pre-amps I use a Project - The Phono Box. Its sounds great and will do MM and MC.

Ayejay Says:
August 11th, 2013 at 9:14 PM

I want to connect aDual 505 turntable to my Cambridge A1 mk 3. What do I need to buy and what cartridge? Currently there is Audio tecnica 122? [green casing]...

Stephan Says:
August 12th, 2013 at 1:45 AM

Hi I have the a1 mk3 with wharfdale vardus vr-300 sound brilliant sound also good speakers also have the Cambridge audio dab300

Stewart Says:
January 14th, 2016 at 11:53 PM

I've owned two of these amps first one was stolen only cost me 40 notes secondhand, which I ran with a pair of kef cresta 1 which were sweet as, ten years on I was that taken with this amp I bought a second for 90 which I now run with wharfedale valdus 400. Which are even sweeter I actually fear for the speakers anywhere passed half volume. Awesome amp 👍

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