Cambridge Audio Azur 540Rv3 review

The 540R v3 is capable of lighting a fire under any film or music you care to play Tested at £350.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Some compromises required, but this Cambridge offers visceral thrills at a reasonable price. Those of a nervous disposition need not apply


  • +

    Good looks, nice remote

  • +

    agile, forceful sound in stereo or multichannel modes


  • -

    Lacks some specification niceties

  • -

    not the most subtle or detailed listen

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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.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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