Our Verdict 
Some compromises required, but this Cambridge offers visceral thrills at a reasonable price. Those of a nervous disposition need not apply
For 
Good looks, nice remote
agile, forceful sound in stereo or multichannel modes
Against 
Lacks some specification niceties
not the most subtle or detailed listen
Reviewed on

This is where Cambridge Audio is at its most effective – mixing it up at the budget/entry-level. The Azur 540R v3 may lack the auto set-up of price rivals, but its big-print menus are easy to navigate, and while its remote could do with some backlighting, it's nice to use.

Getting the subwoofer to meet the speakers on common ground is a little tricky, and the Cambridge can't strip the audio information from its HDMI inputs, but sound is every bit as energising as from other Cambridge products at this sort of price.

Amplifying The Bourne Supremacy, the v3 serves up a brawny, substantial movie sound – you're not short of impact or dynamic potency here, even if the finest details go astray in all the uproar. The Cambridge steers effects rapidly and accurately, keeps a determined grip on the low-frequency bluster, and places dialogue ahead of and apart from the rest of the action.

Excitement is delivered in bulk, and the 540R is able to retain impressive levels of composure even at antisocial volumes – no film you listen to through this receiver will want for atmosphere or attack. Information is integrated well and separated acceptably, and the Cambridge has a sense of enthusiasm and involvement that's lacking in a couple of rivals.

The 540R even makes a case for itself in stereo. It's not the last word in refinement, complex music becoming a little ragged, but the vim and vigour of the movie reproduction is preserved intact. Soundstaging is plausible, detail levels acceptable, and excitement sometimes palpable. It's not the most soothing of companions, but the 540R v3 is capable of lighting a fire under any film or music you care to play. If that sounds like your kind of thing, dive right in.

More after the break