The Azur 540C CD player (Version 2) and the Azur 540A integrated amplifier (Version 2) present an affordable option to audio enthusiasts looking to build an entry-level two channel music component system. Each component is attractively priced at $499.
When unpacking the Cambridge Audio components, I was pleasantly surprised with how well they were packaged. Instead of finding the components in clear plastic bags, the Cambridge Audio gear came wrapped in soft cloth bags displaying the company’s logo in the middle. It’s a nice touch that emphasizes the company’s attention to even the smallest details.
Both the CD player and the integrated amp came supplied with the same remote control. The remote is capable of controlling all Cambridge Audio components from amps to CD/DVD players to tuners. A silver aluminium faceplate gives the remote a substantial weight and high-end feel. The remote’s soft rubber buttons and a plastic multi-directional pad are exceptionally comfortable to use and perfectly responsive. The buttons are also logically arranged which makes the remote easy to use. This is simply an amazing remote.
The chassis of each component consists of an all-metal body and a thick aluminium front panel. Both components are available in silver and black finishes, our evaluation units were silver. The front panel of the Azur 540A amp has four dials: a large one for volume and three smaller ones for bass, treble and balance. Located to the left of the dials are buttons for: power, speakers B and direct sound (which turns off all tone circuitry for the purest sound possible). To the right, are buttons for source selection which include aux/phono, CD, tuner/DAB, DVD, AV/MD and tape. Small blue indicators light up on the dials and above some of the buttons when the power is turned on. The Azur 540C CD player’s most prominent feature is an attractive white backlit display. A row of five buttons to the right of the display allow basic CD operation.
The Azur 540A is a two channel integrated amp capable of delivering 60 watts at 8 Ohms and 80 watts at 4 Ohms. It offers six line-level inputs, two tape loops and a preamp output. Cambridge Audio offers two phono stage (pre-amplifier) models that can be connected to one of the tape loops, if you want to connect a turntable to the Azur 540A. Two pairs of stereo speakers can be connected to this amplifier, which is a very welcome feature in this entry-level price range. The rear panel also incorporates a Cambridge Audio Incognito multi-room section which allows it to easily connect to other Cambridge Audio components in other rooms. The Incognito multi-room capability is explained in good detail with images on the Cambridge Audio website. The 540A has a frequency response rated from 5 Hz to 50 kHz (+/- 1 dB), a THD of 0.008 % (no weighing) at 1 KHz and a signal-to-noise ratio of 92 dB. The Azur 540C CD player incorporates a Wolfson WM8740 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analogue converter. It has a frequency response rated from 10 Hz to 20 kHz (+/- 1 dB), a THD of 0.003 %, a dynamic range of 95 dB and a correlated jitter of less than 260 ps. Aside from a set of analogue RCA outputs, the CD player also has digital coaxial and digital outputs. Both components have IEC (power) sockets with removable power cords which means that you can experiment with upgraded power cords.
While connecting cables at the back of the components, I was greeted with another pleasant surprise – the rear panels of both components were labeled incredibly clearly. Each connector had a label below and an upside down label above. The upside down label is meant to make life easier when connecting cables while leaning over the top or the side of the component. So simple, yet so brilliant. All manufacturers should label their components like this!
After listening to only a couple of songs, it was clear that this amplifier and CD player had a natural presentation. During longer listening sessions, the sound performance was consistent throughout the entire frequency range with a good tonal balance and great dynamics. The amplifier provided crisp highs and a clean mid-range. It drove our Axiom Audio M80 towers to great depths effortlessly. The bass was powerful when required but always controlled, even at high volume levels. The system provided a good-sized soundstage and plenty of musical details. Jazz and classical recordings were delivered with subtle details and complex recordings contained all their layers.
While listening to the Cambridge Audio system, I appreciated the little LED lights on each of the control dials, especially the volume control. This proved to be a great feature on an amplifier that does not have a display. Both components not only have a sophisticated look, they also have a top notch build quality. All the buttons feel solid and all the dials have a firm feel but allow for accurate adjustments. The remote control is very impressive in this price range. It has a good weight to it because of its aluminium face and its rubber buttons are comfortable to touch and appropriately responsive. The multi-directional pad works great for navigating CDs. Direct input buttons on the remote allow for quick access to each of the amplfier’s inputs. This is certainly one of the nicest remotes that I have played with in a long time. The CD player’s display showed the number of tracks on the inserted CD in small square boxes – you have to be close enough to the display in order to read them.
The Cambridge Audio Azur 540A amplifier and 540C CD player system provided an enjoyable listening experience. This two-channel system managed to capture my interest and hold it during extended listening sessions. Each component included features not found in similarly priced separates such as a second speaker output, multi-room connection capability, lighted control dials and thick aluminium front panels. Given their sound and build quality as well as attractive price tags, these Cambridge Audio components are ideal for building a respectable two-channel music system on a small budget.
Distributed in Canada by Plurison 1-866-271-5689
$499 (Azur 540C Ver. 2 CD player)
$499 (Azur 540A Ver. 2 Int. amp )
Azur 540C Ver. 2 CD player
• Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 1dB
• THD: 0.003%
• D/A Conversion:24-bit/192 kHz
• Correlated Jitter:< 260ps
Azur 540A Ver. 2 Integrated Amp
• Power Output: 60 Watts into 8 Ohms or 80 Watts into 4 Ohms
• Total Harmonic Distortion (into 8 Ohms 80% rated power): 0.008% THD (No weighting) @ 1kHz
• Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 50 KHz +/- 1dB
• Signal to Noise Ratio (No weighting): >92dB
• Slew rate (into 8 ohms): >30V/uS