Clearaudio Ambient review

A beautifully built turntable that's a joy to use and hear Tested at £4500.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Beautifully built, this deck is a joy to use and hear


  • +

    Thrilling delivery

  • +

    sweet, open treble

  • +

    spacious, detailed soundstage

  • +



  • -

    Not without rivals

  • -


  • -

    you wouldn't want to break a £1400 cartridge

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Forget the ambient turntable for a moment: let's talk about Mr Nicholas Edward Cave. Along with his band, the Bad Seeds, he created Nocturama, one of 2003's great albums.

Beautifully produced, it's one of our favourite test records. And most testing of all, is the closing track, Babe, I'm On Fire. At more than 15 minutes long, it's both an exhausting and an exhilarating listen.

Ambient creates order out of chaos

So what has this all got to do with Clearaudio's Ambient turntable, you ask? Well, played on the majority of hi-fi, Babe, I'm On Fire's rampaging bass, crashing cymbals, lashings of feedback and frantic vocals result in a chaotic soundstage, bass that jumps around like a toddler on a Sunny D diet, and treble that cuts through week-old Stilton. Not good, in other words.

But play the same track on the Ambient, complete with the £640 Satisfy Carbon Directwire tonearm, plus a splendid £1400 (yes, we did say £1400!) Concerto cartridge, and the Clearaudio delivers a performance as mighty as the music itself.

Cohesive across all frequencies

From the mass of drums, guitar, percussion and violin, you can pick out each instrument, note and nuance. However, this space isn't at the expense of integration: while the soundstage is wide and deep, the Clearaudio expertly knits together lower, middle and higher frequencies.

Of course, you might not listen to Nick Cave. No matter, this Clearaudio package loves all musical genres: Orff's Carmina Burana gets the dynamic reach and impact it truly deserves, while Christopher and Raphael Just's Popper 12-inch sounds more banging than a child with a hammer and a tin box.

Put quite simply, the Clearaudio Ambient is just wonderful, whatever it plays.

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.

Read more about how we test