The Right Stuff
Sound & Vision|February - March 2020
The Right Stuff
CAMBRIDGE AUDIO AXR100 STEREO RECEIVER
Daniel Kumin

THEY STILL make stereo receivers? Who knew! But seriously, folks—I’m here all week. Stale humor aside, there will always be a sure market for high-quality audio playback, with access to terrestrial broadcast radio, AKA good old FM, and a basic feature set for hooking up outboard components. And Cambridge Audio’s AXR100 is one of a small but growing cadre of current-day stereo receivers aiming to satisfy it.

British stalwart Cambridge Audio—that’s Cambridge as in punting on the Cam, not duck boats on the Charles—has a well-earned reputation for judiciously balancing audiophile desires with the imperatives of value, an equation to which the AXR100 seems well-targeted. Its 100-watts-per-channel amplifier is supplied by an impressively solid power supply, including a substantial toroidal transformer, something not always seen at this entry-ish level. Also of note is onboard digital-to-analog-conversion, in this case a 24-bit/192-kHz circuit served by optical and coaxial digital inputs, but lacking the USB type-B port you’d need to connect a laptop or other computer source directly. I frankly found this omission to be surprising, given that hi-res streaming is the audio “it” of the moment, and streaming directly from a connected laptop is the easiest and cheapest way to get on board. (Surprised, that is, until I poked around the agora a bit, where I found that none of the other under-$1,000 stereo receivers, regardless of brand or country of origin, includes this all-important input, either.)

In other terms, feature-wise the Cambridge is unabashedly basic. It has three stereo analog RCA inputs, a moving magnet phono input, and a fourth, auto-selecting analog-input on a front-panel minijack for conveniently connecting portable devices like a phone via its headphone output. The only audio outputs other than speakers-level, which are provided in duplicate as selectable speakers-A/B on light-duty plastic multiway jacks, are a fixed-level analog record-output and a single subwoofer jack, which is low-pass filtered at a fixed, 12 dB/ octave 200 Hz curve.

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February - March 2020