Cambridge Audio unveils 851E/851W amps and speakers

Cambridge Audio is unveiling a trio of new products at the High End Show in Munich this week: a pre/power amp combo and two new pairs of speakers.

The Cambridge Audio Azur 851E preamp and 851W power amp will both be available this autumn, prices to be confirmed. They join the existing Cambridge Audio 851A integrated amp and 851C DAC/CD player/preamp in the range.

One of the highlights of the 851W power amp is Cambridge Audio's proprietary Class XD system with 12 output transistors per channel, which it says "combines the best of Class A and Class AB amplification, eliminating crossover distortion like a Class A amp while offering the power efficiency of Class AB."

Other key features include:

• Power delivery 200W into 8 Ohms stereo or 500W RMS in mono bridged configuration per amp

• Terrapin impedance buffering modules separate amplifier and signal impedance

• Two separate toroidal transformers, one for the power amplifier itself and one for input and other circuitry

• New smart auto-standby detects incoming audio signal and comes out of its energy efficient (<0.5W) standby mode

• All-metal chassis, with extensive use of aluminium

• CAP5 proprietary protection to prevent DC spikes, overheating, short circuits or clipping

The matching 851E preamp is improved over its predecessor, the 840E, with a more versatile range of inputs (eight in all, including three selectable between XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced), a linear volume control circuit and improvements to the signal noise.

Cambridge Audio has also been busy on the speaker front, with the SX range comprising SX-50 (above) and Cambridge Audio SX-60 standmounters, with a silk-dome tweeter and custom-designed 13cm and 16.5cm driver respectively, and the SX-120 subwoofer with 20cm driver and 70W RMS amplifier.

The sub comes in a black finish, the others in a choice of black or dark walnut. All three models will be available in June, prices to be confirmed.

Somewhat larger are the Aero speakers, featuring full-range balanced mode radiator (BMR) drivers instead of traditional tweeters. They also have custom-designed mid/bass drivers, and are designed for use in stereo and multichannel set-ups.

The full Aero range comprises:

• Aero 2 standmount speakers (above) - 6cm BMR plus custom-designed 15cm driver

• Aero 3 surround speakers - dual monopole/bipole configured surround sound unit (bipole for rear surround, dual monopole for rear and side effects in a 7.1 system) with 2 x 10cm BMR drivers

• Aero 5 centre speaker - 6cm BMR plus 2 x custom-designed 13cm drivers

- Aero 6 floorstanding speakers 6cm BMR plus 2 x custom-designed 15cm drivers

- Aero 9 subwoofer - with two 25cm drivers, one front-firing and one down-firing ABR (auxiliary bass radiator) to eliminate bass port air noise; 500W RMS high-efficiency Class D amplifier

The Cambridge Audio Aero range will be available this autumn, prices to be confirmed.

By Andy Clough

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.