Cambridge EVO 150

Cambridge Audio has been known for their quality budget minded consumer. They recently have pushed into the audiophile market with their Edge series. The Edge A amplifier, $6,000 has many of the same features as amps the same target market.

It has been harder to peg Cambridge’s exact consumer level they have been trying to carve out their footprint. The CXN v2 streamer is excellent. Their 851a amp was an excellent offering, though some had a problem turning off just after being turned on and eventually bricking.

The EVO line is marketed in no-mans land. At $3,000 it is more expensive than budget minded but not anywhere the sound of a good amp plus streamer and dac from some other names and from Cambridge. If those true audiophile-level components were purchased used for your hard earned $3,000 then the EVO 150 doesn’t even enter the race.

i’ve not heard the EVO 75 and the reviews out there say that it is vastly underpowered. It is nice that we have some forum reviewers who can hold these companies to task with their stated RMS and at what output and what acceptable THD.

The EVO 150 has all of the usual awards, mostly from places we have never heard of. Similar to typing who makes the best on Google and it will always take you to Amazon. Big name magazines sell their names, such as PC Magazine’s best mouse pal.

Like many other class d amplifiers this has a smaller footprint. I will not speak of the low heat because frankly, who really cares. Everyone wants to know about functions and quality of sound.

The EVO 150 is named for evolution but a better moniker would be Prius-like hybrid ECO technology. It had a built in dac and streamer, not the dual Wolfsons as it their CXN v2. The EVO uses the ESS Sabre entry level 9018 2 channel chipset.
There is no external power supply, mostly expected. The toroidal power has been replaced with something cheaper and smaller, perhaps because the class d doesn’t need such a large one.

It has a built in streamer, hence the all-in-one. The CXN v2 streamer is not the same.

Their highest Edge A amp in contrast, does have a toroidal power supply, dual chipset, a 24/384 streamer and at 100wpc has an incredible amount of listenable headroom.

I paired this test with B&W 802 Diamond 2 set 6 feet out from the wall. Great quality disconnects and 10g speaker cables were used, whatever that means.

I sat back with my audio chair in the same place. Another person plugged in Cherry monos using CXN v2 and Cherry amps. Stream Magic was used as the pre-amp substitute. Next, the CXN v2 streamer was removed from the chain and the Edge A was used. Next, the EVO 150 with internal streamer.

After streaming taken out of the picture, a high res CD was used as the source. For the Cherry amps an inexpensive passive Little Bear was used.

Results: By far the best soundstage and linearity was with the CD and the Cherry amps. Next best quality were the Cherry amps with the Cambridge CXN v2 streamer. Third was the Cambridge Edge A with a CD source. Next was the Edge A with it’s built in streamer. Te Cherrys performed with my amazement considering they have been out of production and technology for a long time now. Fifth and a very distant fifth, the EVO 150 with a CD source. Here it became such an unexpected result: The EVO 150 with it’s internal streamer had zero front to back soundstage. Left to right was barely listenable to an audiophile level. Timber was non-existent. Even though the highest res possible same songs were played on Qubuz, it always sounded like I was in the 90th row.
on a side note, my B&W woofers fluttered prematurely. I turned the music up until I could start to hear timber. I couldn’t achieve it. The guitars sounded like the vocals and the keyboards. It all just blended in. Of course not all was bad. The EVO 150, lacking headroom, did make nice sound coming from the tweeters of the 802’s.

Now this took all afternoon. It was time consuming for the other person to change and to be honest, the Cherry amps with the CD sounded rather similar, but not exact to the Edge A with the CD. The Cherry amps with the CXN v2 streamer was also close to the Egde A with it’s built in streamer. It was the soundstage that set them apart and I could hear the difference. If I did not have the Cherrys and the Edge play one after the other I would not notice a difference after an hour of listening.

The EVO 150 was so underpowered I doubt it is 150wpc when the Edge A was much louder at 100wpc.

Summary: My recommendation is to ignore the nameless awards and listen to the EVO 150 before you buy it. I would not recommend buying the EVO 150 from an online retailer unheard. I would not buy it. It sounded similar to 1980’s $500 Techniques connected to Bose 301’s. Those were fairly good budget units for the day when higher end Sansui, Levinson and McIntosh existed.


I have an Evo 150. . It replaced much more expensive gear and goes loud and clear. The reviews are spot on. Go figure!

Also be assured it does NOT sound like 1970s Technics and Bose 301. That’s a totally baseless assertion. I am very familiar with both and sold many Technics amps back then. If it did sound like that then something was wrong.

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I can say with great confidence it can have very good soundstage and timbre because I have heard it for a couple years now. I did buy it as an experiment and from a source with a return policy but it stayed and replaced a combo of Audio Research tube preamp and Bel Canto 500w/ch monoblocks . YMMV as always.

It is not rolled off on the top end compared to prior setup and that does tend to reel in the soundstage somewhat in comparison FBOFW. Soundstage is still wall to wall a good 18’ or so with good depth. Timbre, detail and dynamics were a big step forward.

Of course speakers used as always will have a major effect on the sound. I use it with large newer Ohm Walsh in a larger room and KEF ls50 meta speakers in a smaller room (with sub).

2ohm and 4 ohm speaks would make a stereo louder. Tumber and sounstage would have no effect on that however. Thanks for your inpjt. I woulf stull advise listening before buying, especially the EVO 150

The video review of the 3 different units is very well done and very spot on. I would agree with pretty much every point made.  Cambridge features stand out.  Dirac on the NAD could be a game changer for many.  Naim’s overall music performance is its forte, especially for more acoustic music.  I listen to all genres including electronic and that is the Evo’s forte.  

I liked it too. The second lady says she pretty much likes music with more color.
The third expressed what I felt. The EVO 150 reflects poor musicality and soundstage and don’t expect an all-in-one to sound as good as an individual component system in the $3,000 early, beginner audiofile market. There are some high end, above PS that add a bit, I have heard, but I cannot afford them. It is hard to find any sub $5,000 class d that are musical in the mid and mid base.
Some of the AG readers can agree or disagree. Class d feels sterile, lacks tonality in the mid-base in the lower end products.
As the videos noted, class a and a/b are going to give the best soundstage and musical richness. In my test, I consistently did not like the sterile tone, lack of timber and poor soundstage. This was much, much better from a hi res CD as a source therefore the streamer seemed to be the EVO 150’s biggest downfall. The tweeter was clear. The midrange was clear. Better components like the B&W diamonds 8 ohm is very well known to bring out the weakest link. This is known by everyone across the board so it depends on which level of speakers and the resolution of the source music. The blind test showed me a lacking in musicality and soundstage and timber. The lady in the second video felt that same “putting it together”. There is a whole following of people who like older McIntosh. I am a fan as well, especially the 12000. They are musical, colorful, great timber, soundstage and expensive.
I think the very best comment was “decide for yourself”. I agree and I think we all would agree. If you like musicality putting it all together, tonality in the midrange to mid-base and something that drives a good quality speakers with great soundstage vs ok soundstage then it is more important that you demo the EVO 150 beforehand.
I am a fan of Cambridge’s upper end individual components

I liked the sound of the Edge A. I recommend it.
Do I like class d? The Cherry amps are class d. They are musical and have fantastic soundstage. Therefore, not all d’s are bad. Higher end d’s can sound good. Tommy O’bian, R.I.P. was way ahead of his time with Gan-Fet class d. At the time, class d were only good for subs. So, perhaps the EVO 150, with a higher quality speaker just leaves me flat but demo it yourself. It is $3,000.   My recommendation is do not buy it from a retailer that won’t let you return it. 
With that I will end this and let each of the buyers of the EVO 150 decide for yourself. I did not like it. 

Forward vs not-forward sounding in terms of how close the vocalist appears to be towards the mike? Meaning of forward varied and well discussed on other AG discussions. 

I wouldn’t call it forward sounding at all. There is however no high end rolloff as was more common in older Class D amps and that is a difference for the better in terms of hearing all the detail in a recording, which the Evo 150 is very good at.

To round out, the EVO 150 I had for 3 weeks really wasn’t terrible, but just ok for a budget all-in-one. Streamer though was really crap. It depends a lot on your speakers. If they are high end audiophile then you can expect more of a source of quality driving them. I guess that is why it is common knowledge that a better quality speaker will unmask the lesser quality component in the chain. Going back to the separate component streamer from the same company, the CXN v2 made all of the difference for me. A lot. One thing I found really interesting was that the $6500 Edge A amp, high quality for medium intermediate audiophile level but no high like some of you higher end guys, was really not a ton better than the Cambr 851a I had ($1300).  I am very lucky to have the B&W Diamond II, but not as good as a lot of you own. I wish…

i second the notion that separates are better. Upgrading is easy. I also wish to repeat that I really like the CXN v2. I wonder if anyone could chime in and say if different high streamers have made a change in sound for you as the CXN v2 did compared to my, now thankfully, sold EVO 150. There is something for every quality of speaker out there. Heck, my father-in law bought my now wife a Ford Pinto. Lucky for her it was never rear ended!  Does anyone have an external dac with an ESS 9038 pro or 9039 pro chipset?  Everyone says upgrading an external separate dac is a must. I was just wondering if anyone has a dac that has made a huge difference when u upgraded, which chipset does it have?  The CXN v2 has dual Wolfsons. Each Wolfson is two channel for a total of 4. The ESS 9039 pro and 9038 pro each have 4 channels. The EVO 150 has the cheaper ESS 9018 two channel chip. Does anyone have any thoughts whether or not these chipsets make a difference. I truly am impressed with the CXN v2 (now mostly face-lift to the CXN100?  My next purchase will be an external dac but I wd like to hear from the brothers out there what your thoughts on all of this are. Is it sales pitch hype or have you found something that is just short of a miracle for external dacs and external streamers?  No EVO 150 guys though, lol, kidding, not really, is what I meant (sorry to that one poster who likes his :)

i did like all of the high frequency clarity of the EVO 150. As higher frequency sounds came out it just kept getting better and better for sure. For what I did not like about it the treble was not part of that. 

Aren’t the Ohm speakers of yours omnidirectional. If so then they would not be expected to have soundstage bec they are not directional?  Just curious bec I haven’t ever heard them. My older Maggies fired front and back and they did have directional soundstage, a lot.  They weren’t as forward sounding as these Diamonds though. 
Roll-off. Do they roll-off tweeters at the high end?  I did not know that. I just assumed all manufacturers let the speakers go as high after the mid-high crossover to 20kHz. Interesting. 

I still wonder if a really high end streamer makes a difference over a $1500 streamer vs a $500 streamer, apples to apples, 24 bit 192kHz?