Product spotlight - Cambridge Audio Evo 150

I’ve spent about a week with this and wanted to share some thoughts. For those who are not familiar, this is a complete all in one source and amp that just needs speakers to complete the package. Currently, it is running on a pair of Usher Be-10 in my living room and the general consensus is that I love it!

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This is a lifestyle product that features a plethora of inputs, including XLR, RCA, phono, digital, USB, HDMI ARC, Bluetooth, and WiFi. It also has a built in streaming device so you can use qobuz, tidal, or other services. With A+B speaker outputs and even the ability to Bluetooth to headphones, the versatility is quite extraordinary. It boasts 150 watts of class D power but it’s actually fairly musical and I find myself enjoying music with it - high praise coming from someone who is not fond of class D historically. At $3,000 it’s not cheap, but it’s a bargain with how much it has going on an the build quality it offers. If you don’t need as many inputs or the power, the Evo 75 is also available for $2250.

Setup was surprisingly easy and hassle free. I simply shared my network with it via iPhone settings and it was up and running. It’s extremely responsive, even switching automatically to hdmi when I fire up the TV. The screen is gorgeous and large enough to be useful at distance, and the design is very modern, sleek, and tasteful. If you don’t like the black sides in the picture, there are also rosewood panels that can go in place. Simply remove the magnetic panel and put the other one on.

In my main system, I get extreme depth and projection, offering layering of the music that competes with some of the best I’ve ever heard. With the Evo 150, this magic disappears, but honestly I never expected to hear that from a package offering so much at this price. What it does is engages you with a proper tonal structure and a relatively natural progression of the music, which is where I usually start to gravitate away from class d amps.

Since installing it, I find myself listening to music more and more downstairs and I’m absolutely loving it. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a system down there, but the newness usually wears out and it goes dormant. I don’t get the feeling that’s going to happen this time. The simplicity of turning on the system WITH MY PHONE makes it so easy to whip on a song or album and just enjoy it. You can also control the volume via phone or TV remote, making its integration absolutely seamless. If you want to use the remote, it’s also a fantastically modern design, though the buttons might not be completely ideal for use.

I don’t tend to get into lifestyle product like this, but I am won over. If it means anything, I can tell you I haven’t given a product review in probably five years. Since being a dealer I’ve found it to be impossible to do so and still have people think you’re being objective instead of biased. In fact, prior to the Evo release I was expecting to drop Cambridge as their products don’t really fit my client base anymore. These products got me completely on board again.

The only real negative I can say is that you cannot use spades on the amp end with the 150. The connections are so close that there is simply no good way to utilize them. Bananas are a must. Other than that, if you’ve been looking for a product like this to streamline and destress the listening experience, I cannot recommend them high enough.

Bravo, Cambridge. Bravo.
 
Thanks for the write up, Skip. Having known you for many years I know that you're rather picky about the products you praise. You're one that says little about products that don't move you in some way. We don't always agree on every product, but, I do highly respect your opinions on gear.

This is interesting to me in that I'm really looking to TRY and take the step towards a lifestyle product. I'm getting weary of tube rolling and nitpicking my system for minute perceived gains. Having said that, I'm not sure if I could settle on a system without rubes. Just love that rich texture they offer
 
Is it Roon Ready, Skip?
Hey Craig! It apparently is. There really isn’t much of anything it doesn’t do quite honestly.
Thanks for the write up, Skip. Having known you for many years I know that you're rather picky about the products you praise. You're one that says little about products that don't move you in some way. We don't always agree on every product, but, I do highly respect your opinions on gear.

This is interesting to me in that I'm really looking to TRY and take the step towards a lifestyle product. I'm getting weary of tube rolling and nitpicking my system for minute perceived gains. Having said that, I'm not sure if I could settle on a system without rubes. Just love that rich texture they offer
I'm not a lifestyle guy, but this one has convinced me I need it in my life. Sometimes products come out that just seem to get it all right in the same package. The iFi Stereo 50 was one I really enjoyed - though it was particular about speaker choices - but this one is a MUCH better unit in all regards. It is so easy to use I don't even fret about the wife or kids using it. The sound easily competes with most others in its price point even without the bells and whistles that it does so well.
 
I wasn't as enamored with the iFi 50 as you were, but, the issue may have well been my speaker choices. Of the ones I tried I found the sound quality to not been what I was looking for. I did, however, love all of the great options it had at its price point.
 
I think lifestyle considerations are huge in today's market and this type of unit much like the few other all-in-ones fits the bill. Myself I would want the streaming and DAC portion as a separate unit(s) so as that continues to evolve I'm not left with something that I can't sell off in an effort to upgrade. But of course that kinda defeats the purpose and this then basically becomes an integrated.
 
I think lifestyle considerations are huge in today's market and this type of unit much like the few other all-in-ones fits the bill. Myself I would want the streaming and DAC portion as a separate unit(s) so as that continues to evolve I'm not left with something that I can't sell off in an effort to upgrade. But of course that kinda defeats the purpose and this then basically becomes an integrated.

Two thoughts:

1. Separating the digital would put it in the enthusiast category and defeat the design goals of the unit, IMO. I think the integration is part of why I view this unit as such a huge success.
2. With both single-ended and XLR analog inputs, the unit could still be paired with an upgraded digital side if desired, but if you intend to use it that way, and going back to point 1, I think there are better solutions for sheer sound quality, namely the Norma HS-IPA1.

I'm still using it daily and love it. The only issue I'm running into is figuring out how to have Netflix send the stereo codec by default instead of the multi-channel one that the Cambridge is not designed to handle. It isn't hard to change on the fly, but it would be nice if it were a default setting.
 
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