After the visit of the exceptional Edge set (Edge NQ and W) we have another product from British Cambridge Audio in today. Importer Dimex likes to put its products in the spotlight and so it should! That way it is easier to put together a shortlist of a certain type of equipment. We don’t mind testing all these devices at all by the way. The Edge range is the pinnacle of what Cambridge Audio produce but this time we are taking a step back. We are testing the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, a serious all-in-one amplifier. The kind of device that has been gaining popularity of late. Is it just a pretty box or is the performance commensurate. We’re going to find out for you!
We are surprised by the compactness of the Cambrige Audio EVO, in the promo photos the EVO 150 looks bigger. Wider especially. Once put on our audio-furniture, we find the proportions are almost perfect. At the front, the EVO 150 has the typical curve that the CX series also has. The large volume knob is completely balanced with the beautiful, elongated color screen that takes up the rest of the front. That volume knob consists of two parts with the inner ring serving to select inputs. The barely visible, vertical push buttons complete the design. We hardly needed these buttuns… and you may only need those buttons at startup.
The large LED screen deserves extra attention. Besides the image of the album cover, we see a lot of info like title, artist, time lapse and so on. The most important info is readable from our listening position. This is without doubt the nicest screen we have seen on our audio rack and an absolute asset of the EVO 150. It is not a touch screen but that is not a dealbreaker for us. We would want to taint this very beautiful screen.
With the included remote control you conjure up even more info on the screen. The remote control fits well in the hand and does not have too many buttons. Yet we find the placement of the mute button not ideal and in the semi-darkness we can only find the volume easily.
On the sides we see wooden panels but the box contains a nice surprise. You can swap the side panels! Besides the wooden version there is also a black pair of panels with a kind of wavy design. We prefer the black version but it is especially nice that you can choose.
In the back it is quite crowded but everything remains clear. On both sides we see not one but two pairs of speaker jacks. There are four digital inputs (2x optical, coax and usb), three analog inputs (xlr, rca and phono), and two analog outputs (pre-out and sub-out). In addition, the Ethernet connection, a usb connection for media and an HDMI-ARC connection. Multiple triggers and an rs-232c port ensure that everything is on board to flexibly integrate your audio and media into your living room or listening room.
Under the hood, unlike Cambridge Audio’s other amplifiers, is a Class D amplifier delivering 2×150 into 8 Ohms. The letter D in Class D does not, for the sake of clarity, stand for digital. The N-Core modules used come from the Dutch company Hypex and are now well known for their control and speed. The digital part is based on an ESS Sabre chip, the ES9018K2M, a popular chip that determines only part of the display. The implementation and power supply determine the lion’s share of how the dac will sound. We have tested several Sabre dacs over the years and were often surprised by the differences.
We already talked about the app in our review of the Edge. The StreamMagic app is solid without a doubt. It takes some getting used to but that is the case with every app. All streaming services are present and you can also use Bluetooth or Google Chromecast if you want. The app has a few nice features such as naming the inputs and throughout the test period it proved to be a stable partner.
We mainly used Roon but that is a serious investment. It is definately admirable that Cambridge Audio develops their own app but also provides Roon on all their streamers.