Cambridge Audio Makes New-Media Connections


Champlain, N.Y. - Playing back new and old media is a focus of multiple new audio components from Cambridge Audio, which is launching its second network music player and a DAC that connects to computers via USB.

Other new products include a flagship DAC/preamp/CD player, a flagship integrated amplifier and a trio of 7.1-channel A/V receivers (AVRs), which will update and expands the company's AVR selection.

Magic 6

All products but one AVR will ship in April from Champlain, N.Y.-based Audio Plus Services, which imports and markets the U.K.-based brand and multiple other home audio brands.

The network music player is the $1,149-suggested Stream Magic 6, which will complement the existing $649-suggested NP30 network music player and add multiple new features, including 24-bit/384kHz up-sampling, digital audio/USB input for connection to a PC, balanced as well as unbalanced inputs, and 24/96 streaming resolution.

The Stream Magic 6 incorporates Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n/ to stream 24-bit/96kHz music from a networked PC or network-attached storage (NAS) device and, through a networked broadband modem, access more than 20,000 Internet radio stations and streaming services. It also features 24-bit/96kHz USB input to connect to a PC to enhance PC sound quality, and it will play back 24-bit/192kHz files from a USB-connected Windows PC loaded with a free Cambridge driver. Apple computers support native 24/192 USB transfers, the company said.

The streamer also features twin 24-bit digital inputs to act as a DAC to improve the sound quality of such products as TVs, Blu-ray players and Cambridge's iPod/iPhone/iPad dock. Balanced XLR outputs and RCA phono outputs are available for connection to an outboard amplifier.

Up-sampling to 24-bit/384kHz, audio buffering, and re-clocking eliminate jitter and enhance playback of low-bit-rate compressed music files, the company said. A linear phase filter time aligns all frequencies to deliver time-coherent output.

Music formats played back include MP3, AAC, AAC+, 24-bit WAV, WMA, OGG Vorbis and uncompressed FLAC.

For streaming files with more than 16 bits of resolution from a PC, the company recommends a wired Ethernet connection.

Like the current networked player, the new model can be controlled from a Cambridge app for iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads. The app will turn the streamer on and off, control volume, and deliver full control over PC-stored songs and Internet radio stations and streaming services.

In February, Cambridge will ship the $399-suggested DacMagic 100, an entry-level DAC that will join the $599 DacMagic Plus.

The 24-bit DAC connects to a PC's USB port to play back 24-bit/96kHz music files and, when a free driver is installed on a Windows PC, play back uncompressed 24-bit/192kHz music files. Asynchronous transfer reduces jitter in USB transfers.

The DAC also features one optical digital Toslink and two digital S/PDIF coaxial inputs to improve the sound quality of connected media players, Cambridge's iPad/iPhone dock, and RCA phono outputs available for connection to an amplifier.

In its $1,999-suggested Azur 851C, the company combines DAC, CD player, and preamplifier, which incorporates 24-bit/96kHz USB connection to a PC, 24-bit/192kHz USB connection when a free driver is installed on a USB-connected Windows PC, 24-bit/384kHz up-sampling, and a linear phase filter that time-aligns all frequencies to deliver time-coherent output. USB asynchronous transfer mode reduces jitter when playing back PC-stored music.

The 851C, which replaces a model but adds higher specs, also features two unbalanced digital inputs (optical or coaxial for each input), one AES-EBU balanced digital input and output, and an XLR balanced output and unbalanced RCA phono output to connect to amplifiers.

Because the 851C has a digital volume control and digital balance control, it can be used as a digital preamp to drive an amp or active speakers.

An amp to drive the 851C could be the new, cosmetically matching Azur 851A integrated amp, due at a suggested $1,999. It also replaces a current model.

The 851C and 851A were designed as a complete system but adds higher specs.

The 851A's proprietary Class XD amplification technology delivers 2x120 watts RMS into 8 ohms and 2x200 watts into 4 ohms. The integrated amp also features two sets of balanced XLR inputs, seven RCA inputs, and RS232 control for integration into custom-installed systems.

The company said it improved its Class XD technology to deliver lower distortion at the highest frequencies without affecting efficiency.

In AVRs, Cambridge plans to update its line with February shipments of the $1,299 551R and April shipments of the $2,199 651R and $2,899 751R. The company currently offers one AVR, which is being retired.

The 551R is a compact 4.3-inch-tall 551R AVR that features Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD Master decoders, four 3D-compatible HDMI 1.4 inputs, one HDMI 1.4 output with audio return channel, ability to biamplify the front left-right speakers in a 5.1-channel setup, Faroudja 1080p up-scaling, transcoding of analog video to HDMI, video-scaling bypass mode to avoid scaling of Blu-ray discs, 7.1-channel preamp outputs, 7.1-channel analog inputs and lip-sync adjustment.

Amplification is rated at 6x80-watt amplification into 8 ohms with all channels driven simultaneously.

Details on the other AVRs were unavailable.

Also new is the $109 BT100 Bluetooth receiver, which incorporates AptX decoding to improve Bluetooth sound quality.


Related Articles