When I changed address, of course I brought my stereo system with me. The problem I had was that when I reconnected it all up was that the amplifier developed a hum. Maybe it got knocked on the way. A short while later, the old DVD player I had, gave up the ghost. I replaced it with a DVD/Bluray player which, as it turned out, only had a single output, HDMI. So I couldn’t play CDs direct into the amplifier without putting the TV on!
A few weeks ago, I saw an advert on Ebay for a Cambridge Audio One. This is a remote-controlled CD-Radio-Amp all in one, rated only at 30w per stereo channel, but these are real RMS watts, not some other method of producing an artificially high figure, and it goes loud! It was £150 by a firm claiming to officially recondition returned units on behalf of Cambridge Audio. It was temporarily down from £175, but other sellers wanted anything from £269 up to north of £400 for one. Richer Sounds want £349 for an unused one. It makes you a little suspicious as to what you are getting, but I decided to risk it.
A down side to the One, is that it only has one Phono Analogue input, which needs a pre-amp for vinyl, and it doesn’t have a “Tape Out”. I bought a Behringer PP400 phono pre-amp, for £20, and believe it or not, I am getting a better sound than I had with the old amp at its best, with the same speakers. It meant I also had to buy a Digital Cable to connect the TV, and all other inputs (DVD etc.,) are channelled through that. If I ever need to connect an further analogue input, you can get an analogue to digital converter for £10-£20, powered by a USB charger, and there just happens to be one on the back of this unit! But as other sound sources (CD and Radio) are included, it’s hard to see at this point what I would need it for.
In short, this is a bloody good amp. So did my risk pay off? Yes. It works nicely. I was worried about some rotation noise when I first played a CD, but then a different CD played without the noise, so I’m blaming the individual disc for that. The CD sound is good quality, and you can program a CD to play selected tracks. It’s very good just as an amp. It includes both DAB and FM Radio (provided you have a half-decent aerial), it behaves as an external sound card when connected to a computer via USB, and it has both Optical and Coaxial Digital inputs. It has high-quality binding posts for loudspeaker leads, which can be removed, leaving behind banana-plug sockets, and you can put your bluetooth-enabled phone or tablet nearby and play music from it. On the front, you have another audio input (labelled mp3), and a headphone output.
A criticism is that you can only preset 5 DAB and 5 FM Radio Channels, but you can skip through all available.
I’m not sure I’d want to pay £400 for it, but if you can find it at the sort of price I got it for, then snap it up! And, while I’m here, a big shout-out for the Behringer PP400 phono preamp for all you vinyl lovers. It punches way above its weight.
The amp has a Bluetooth input. I’d never tried to use one of them before. This is the subject of a separate article.
Just to add, every time I use this amp it just seems to sound better. This is true hi-fi in an all-in-one package. It never seems to struggle. I was playing the first Horslips LP, Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part, yesterday. It seems to have been recorded with far too much presence on the flute, and some of the keyboard parts, and it has, over the years, sounded a little overblown in places. Not on this amp. This firm on Ebay, are still, at the time of writing, still have a number of both the black and the white version of this unit, at £175. I just can’t recommend it enough!
Here is the seller’s page on E-bay, and at the time of writing, it has both White and Black versions of this unit for sale.