Having spent extra high quality time with the Cambridge Audio Evo 75 in current weeks than our colleagues up to now yr, one factor sticks in our minds: this just-add-speakers streaming system is excellent firm. It doesn’t discuss to us like many merchandise do today, and it doesn’t make us chuckle (except we’re taking part in “Bizarre Al” Yankovich by it). However it’s nice to be round, and that’s as a result of its design has been so effectively thought out.
The primary proof of this lies in its title. ‘Evo’ is a becoming one for a product that sits inside a hi-fi class as progressive as this one, whereas the ‘75’ denotes its wattage-per-channel output. The Evo 75 is one half of Cambridge’s new two-strong Evo system providing, which features a extra extensively featured, 150W-per-channel mannequin known as – you guessed it – Evo 150.
Collectively, they mark Cambridge’s entrance right into a burgeoning market of premium amplified streaming bins that solely require a set of audio system to kind an entire system. It isn’t precisely a late debut, nevertheless it does come after these already made by the likes of Arcam, Linn, NAD and Naim.
In fact, Cambridge has a wealthy historical past in stereo amplification, in addition to a longtime streaming platform on which its profitable line of music streamers are based mostly, so do the celebs align when the 2 come collectively in a single machine?
As we speak’s streamers are anticipated to be as extensively furnished as an IKEA showroom, and the Evo 75 is decided to not be out-featured at this degree. Cambridge’s StreamMagic platform is an inviting gateway into streaming from Tidal, Qobuz and, by way of DLNA, any network-stored music drives.
Cambridge Audio Evo 75 tech specs
Outputs 3.5mm, preamp, sub
Inputs Coaxial, optical, RCA, USB, HDMI ARC, ethernet
Max energy 75W per channel
AirPlay 2 Sure
Google Chromecast Sure
Dimensions (hwd) 9 x 32 x 35cm
Spotify Connect and the brand new Tidal Join (full with MQA help for streaming hi-res Tidal Masters) are onboard to permit subscribers to play and management these companies’ libraries from the native apps, whereas Google Chromecast affords native app playback for the likes of Deezer, YouTube Music, Apple Music and TuneIn Radio, too. AirPlay 2 permits one-touch casting from Apple units, aptX HD Bluetooth affords an ‘offline’ streaming methodology, whereas help for Roon Prepared completes a complete streaming connectivity listing.
The quite a few methods in which you’ll be able to stream music out of your cellphone or pill today could seem daunting, however whichever route you resolve to go down, the Cambridge gained’t discriminate. There may be additionally the chance so as to add exterior sources to the set-up, whether or not that’s a TV, CD participant (Cambridge plans to launch an Evo CD transport later within the yr) or storage drive, by way of the Evo 75’s RCA, USB, coaxial, optical and HDMI ARC sockets.
Turntable house owners will discover no point out of a built-in phono stage – sadly, that’s not an oversight on our half. In addition to delivering double the ability output and that includes a distinct ESS Sabre DAC chip, the step-up Evo 150’s promoting level is the inclusion of phono, asynchronous USB and balanced XLR inputs, a second optical enter, plus two units of speaker terminals for working two pairs of audio system concurrently. Vinyl-loving Evo 75 house owners must join a deck with a phono stage to the RCA enter, or purchase a separate phono stage.
The one-box comfort of programs equivalent to this has inspired a extra modern ‘way of life’ design ethos, and Cambridge has made the Evo 75 (and its aesthetically comparable sibling) a magnificence to behold.
In fact, magnificence lies within the eye of the beholder, so Cambridge has discovered a method to attraction to multiple style and front room decor. The black anodised aluminium chassis – someplace between half and full-width chassis, measuring 31.7cm broad and about as deep – options magnetically hooked up aspect panels that may be swapped out on the proprietor’s discretion. The included panels are walnut picket (a nod to Cambridge’s first product, the P40 amplifier launched in 1968) and an attractively corrugated materials made primarily from a recycled paper known as Richlite.
Whether or not your style veers in the direction of traditional traditionalism or glossy modernity, the Evo deserves to be seen and never simply heard. We’re significantly keen on the 6.8in LCD panel and dual-concentric rotary dial on the facade – these design parts are harking back to the corporate’s flagship Edge merchandise.
The colorful panel prioritises album art work and, offering you might be near the field, it’s simple to learn the accompanying playback information (which incorporates file dimension and sort) and menu settings. The dial contains two elements: an outer wheel for searching and navigating menus, which has a mechanical click on, making it simple so that you can be precise along with your choices, and a extra fluid interior quantity wheel that’s clean and responsive.
We’d just like the dial to have a ‘choose’ operate when pressed, thoughts – it will really feel extra intuitive than reaching for the play/pause button or just leaving it to robotically choose.
These playback buttons on the right-hand aspect of the display (for energy, play/pause, observe skip, altering the show format and switching between speaker and headphone output) are skinny ‘strip’ keys that, whereas discreet, aren’t significantly good to make use of. That’s not a lot of a difficulty, contemplating our on a regular basis use of on-unit controls is proscribed, however observe that they do additionally function on the distant management.
That distant is a considerable device – not the tiny credit-card fashion we generally see boxed with trendy elements – with a finger ridge on the rear that exhibits Cambridge values the small issues. Its buttons mirrors the on-unit ones, additionally including additional for show brightness adjustment and presets, nonetheless its angle of operation is kind of slim, so it doesn’t function reliably if we’re too far off-centre from the Evo 75’s entrance panel.
Presets supply a straightforward method to entry a few of your favorite music sources, equivalent to a specific web radio station, and these may be allotted and chosen both by the distant and inside Cambridge’s StreamMagic app. Nonetheless, observe that not all music may be allotted; we couldn’t ‘preset’ an album from Tidal, for instance.
In addition to being helpful throughout set-up and for accessing settings, the devoted app can be available to navigate your native, USB or NAS libraries (it proves dependable and speedy for searching multi-thousand-track libraries, albeit simply in listing format) and Tidal and Qobuz. You too can select which sources to point out and conceal, and that might be helpfully mirrored on the Evo 75’s show menu to avoid wasting you scrolling by those you don’t want.
If you’re largely streaming from native music streaming apps (by way of Chromecast, Spotify Join, Tidal Join or AirPlay 2) or a Roon consumer, chances are you’ll not want the StreamMagic app – nevertheless it’s there, and dependable to make use of, when you do.
Cambridge’s efforts to tick bins and create a satisfying consumer expertise haven’t gone to waste. The Evo 75 is the sonic success its spec sheet deserves. It’s powered by third-party Hypex NCore Class D amplifiers, versus the structure Cambridge develops for its standalone amps, however, little doubt resulting from exhaustive tuning, it sounds no much less ‘Cambridge’ for it – insightful, open and musical.
The readability and breadth of the Evo’s soundstage are immediately obvious. We ease our approach in with Penguin Cafe’s At The High Of The Hill, They Stood instrumental, and the Evo’s rendition is swish at each flip. It is right here we get our first trace of the Cambridge’s midrange articulacy, with a stunning fluidity and heat to the melodious piano and melancholic strings.
There’s no scarcity of room or attentiveness stopping both instrument from expressing itself dynamically – key in conserving you and concerned within the piece – and because the hovering melodica is available in, no limitations in scale on the Evo’s half get in its approach.
There is a rousing drive to Anderson .Paak’s Come House (feat André 3000) that’s complemented by a strong sense of rhythm, the Evo punctual and dynamic in its dealing with of the observe’s buoyantly bluesy instrumental. And element decision is beneficiant and unfold evenly throughout the frequency vary, too. André 3000’s rap cuts by tuneful bass notes and chopping cymbals with the fluidity the tempo calls for, his cadence effectively communicated. Whereas the Evo’s vocal supply isn’t the final phrase in naturalness, it has a lush and strong character that’s exhausting to not like.
Equally with Kate Bush’s Babooshka, the Evo 75’s rendition has the punch and dynamic scrutiny to speak the manufacturing’s jauntiness, in addition to the transparency to get beneath each the fragile and dramatic moments of her eclectic supply.
We plug the Grado SR325e and Meze Audio 99 Classics into the Evo’s front-panel 3.5mm output, which prompts the amount to robotically scale back (it returns to the earlier audio system’ output degree once they’re unplugged), and whereas it’s a cruder pay attention – there’s a slight lack of readability and refinement – it’s nonetheless informative and entertainingly forthcoming.
Having began our listening with our reference ATC SCM50 audio system, we flip to the extra value comparable, Award-winning KEF LS50 Meta and discover they too play to the Evo’s strengths. Collectively their outlay isn’t insignificant – we’re speaking round £2800 ($3750, AU$5500) – however for a system of this value, footprint and comfort, the extent of efficiency they ship is spectacular. Even a partnership with the extra reasonably priced Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 pleases: the presentation is extra confined and bereft of the decision and dynamic perception the KEFs can muster, nevertheless it’s nonetheless snappy, upbeat and finally likeable.
The multi-Award-winning Naim Uniti Atom calls for a reasonably sizeable premium over the Evo 75, and that value hole is certainly justified by its additional punch and rhythmic precision, in addition to its means to dig up just a little extra element and current it in a soundstage that’s a contact clearer.
There at the moment are many streaming hi-fi merchandise that sound nice, look very good or are nice to make use of, however not many handle to nail all three as convincingly because the Cambridge Audio Evo 75. Within the premium one-box streaming system market, nothing has earlier than come this near Naim’s Uniti vary in providing the entire package deal.
Should you’re on the lookout for the last word comfort in a superb-sounding, well-featured parcel, and may’t stretch your price range to the Uniti Atom, the Evo 75 is just the most effective system of its variety to spend high quality time with.
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