Pro-Ject Debut EVO Banner Dezember 2020

Cambridge Audio EVO 150 Review – Finest British sound

Foto © Cambridge Audio

Cambridge Audio EVO Series, this product range combines all the experience Cambridge Audio has gained in over 50 years of company history in a compact form with timelessly elegant design. Lifestyle? Yes, but with “Great British Sound” for audiophile demands. The flagship of the product range is the Cambridge Audio EVO 150.

Cambridge Audio EVO Series, this product line stands for the finest HiFi with “Great British sound”, even if it is presented primarily in all-in-one systems with the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, whereby this system represents the current flagship of the series.

EVO, from Cambridge Audio’s point of view, stands for evolution, namely “The Evolution of HiFi”. The Cambridge Audio EVO Series is supposed to unite everything that modern hi-fi in noble design can represent today.

Cambridge Audio EVO Series – The result of over 50 years of experience

For more than 50 years, Cambridge Audio has dedicated itself to the design of outstanding products, according to the company from England. From a technical point of view, these decades have of course seen an impressive development, which ultimately led to a networked world of consumer electronics.

Over the decades, however, the user’s approach to HiFi has changed fundamentally, especially in recent years, with the rapid progress of the aforementioned convergence of worlds, i.e., the combination of classic consumer electronics with IT and network technology.

In many cases, this has resulted in a completely different approach on the part of the user; even complex solutions are expected to be simple, even intuitive to use.

And last but not least, fashion has also changed, trends in interior design, for example, come and go, and of course this has a great influence on how consumer electronics products have to present themselves. After all, many users want systems, especially in the premium segment, to be integrated into their living environment as harmoniously as possible.

The Cambridge Audio EVO Series is seen as the result of this development, as the answer to the question of how a modern premium HiFi system must present itself today in order to fully satisfy the spirit of the times and thus the demands of the customer.

“For us at Cambridge Audio, evolution means more than just improving sound and enhancing listening pleasure. So we were particularly keen to transform the convenience and ease of use of hi-fi without compromising on sound quality and performance. Evolution means bringing hi-fi into the future, adapting it to current lifestyles and ensuring that the products look as good as they sound. Evo is the product we’ve been working towards for over 50 years.”

Stuart George, Managing Director at Cambridge Audio

Focus on All-in-one systems

The Cambridge Audio EVO Series is presented first and foremost in the form of two so-called All-in-one systems, the entry-level Cambridge Audio EVO 75, and the flagship Cambridge Audio EVO 150.

In order to do full justice to the system concept that Cambridge Audio is pursuing here, they also offer other solutions in the Cambridge Audio EVO Series that are intended to optimally complement the aforementioned all-in-one systems.

First of all, there is the Cambridge Audio EVO CD, a solution for playing audio CDs that perfectly matches the All-in-One systems from both a design and a purely technical point of view.

And to crown a hi-fi chain based on the Cambridge Audio EVO Series and thus in a particularly compact form, there is the Cambridge Audio EVO S speaker system.

Reminiscent of its own beginnings

It is interesting to note that Cambridge Audio drew inspiration from the company’s beginnings when developing the new Cambridge Audio Evo Series. The iconic Cambridge Audio P40 Stereo Integrated Amplifier, a stereo integrated amplifier from 1968 that marked the beginning of Cambridge Audio, is said to have served as the basis for the design of the new all-in-one systems. Yes, one even speaks of a homage to the pioneering work of the developers of the Cambridge Audio P40 Stereo Integrated Amplifier.

But, of course, the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is in a completely different league, especially when it comes to its concentrated functionality.

Cambridge Audio EVO 150 – Sound art for the living room

Cambridge Audio explicitly points out that the all-in-one systems of the Cambridge Audio EVO Series, with the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 at the top, can be described as lifestyle solutions, but in the same breath emphasises that this description alone falls short.

The Cambridge Audio EVO 150 in particular is seen as a premium class hi-fi solution, and is even referred to as a product that can meet even the highest demands. The Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is not only an extremely compact, noble-looking system, but it is also a system with meticulous sound quality.

Minimalist, timelessly elegant design

The design of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is the brainchild of Ged Martin, who took the approach that simplicity is the most elegant expression of industrial design. And indeed, when you look at the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, you can’t help but notice its timeless elegance.

The design of the system is harmoniously balanced, a successful mixture of clear forms and effective accents through the use of different materials.

A solid housing forms the basis, the front appears sober and clearly structured, especially because a more than generously dimensioned display takes up more than half of it. It is flanked by several buttons and a massive rotary encoder.

The top of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 presents itself in a matt finish, with the manufacturer’s emblem protruding on the right in a kind of metal plaque.

The side panels are made of wood, and it should be emphasised that the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 comes in two versions. So the user can decide for himself whether he wants a noble walnut wood or a discreet black version with a honeycomb pattern.

Between the exchangeable wooden panels on the side and the cover plate on the top, cooling fins have been integrated very narrowly, which from a purely design point of view represent a successful finish.

At the bottom edge, the cabinet tapers inwards, so it almost seems as if the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is floating above the floor.

As described, the system appears very compact, but in the end it is not as small as one might think. After all, it measures 317 mm in width, 352 mm in depth, and 89 mm in height.

Of course, this is ultimately so compact that the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 can be easily integrated into any living space, especially since it will certainly not be hidden away, but rather proudly presented. The Cambridge Audio EVO 150 can indeed be an elegant eye-catcher…

Class D amplifier from Hypex Electronics BV

Cambridge Audio emphasises the amplifier module used here as a particularly important feature for the best possible sound quality of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150. It is a Class D module from the Dutch specialist Hypex Electronics B.V. and thus relies on its Hypex Ncore Technology.

Hypex Ncore Technology is the first Class D amplifier that not only outshines the best linear amplifiers, but surpasses them in every relevant aspect of sound, according to the Dutch, who also promise to offer the highest degree of clarity, resolution and musicality with this solution, in combination with those characteristics that only Class D can offer, namely efficiency and compactness.

However, Cambridge Audio was not content to use these modules alone; they optimised them in painstaking detail to achieve their own sound ideas, which they always describe as “Great British Sound”.

Even the best components do not deliver an incredible sound by themselves, according to Cambridge Audio, so that Francesco Bettucci, Stephen Tizzard and Sam Smith spent hundreds of hours in Cambridge’s London laboratory optimising every detail of the amplifier with an output of no less than two times 150 watts on speaker systems with 8 ohms impedance and two times 250 watts on 4 ohms, respectively, until everything fit exactly the way they imagined it.

Cambridge Audio EVO 150 im Test 37

Excellent converter

This also applies to the tuning of the converter, which is one of the crucial components of a modern all-in-one system such as the Cambridge Audio EVO 150.

An ESS Sabre ES9018K2M is used, which the company calls a reference DAC and which can process signals in Linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 384 kHz, as well as DSD including DSD256.

The signal processing of digital signals is promised to be particularly precise and free of sound-damaging jitter for clear, detailed reproduction with high dynamics and free of distortion.

Cambridge Audio EVO 150 im Test 35Cambridge Audio EVO 150 im Test 36

Analogue – amazingly versatile

Above all, so-called all-in-one systems are increasingly focussing on “digital” alone; analogue sources are hardly ever connected. This is not the case with the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, which offers three options.

First of all, there is a classic pair of RCA sockets as analogue input, but there is also a balanced analogue input designed as XLR sockets.

In addition, there is another pair of RCA sockets, behind which an integrated phono preamplifier is hidden. Even if this is reserved for drives equipped with MM cartridges or, at best, high-output MC cartridges, this is a feature of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 that deserves to be emphasised in a positive light. Vinyl lovers can thus integrate their drive without any further equipment.

And to complete the overview of the analogue interfaces, the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 not only offers a pre-out, but also a separate subwoofer connection.

Directly at the front, there is also a connection for headphones in the form of a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack.

For connecting the speaker systems, the rear of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 has four pairs of screw terminals, so that you can use a so-called A/B configuration for the speakers.

Cambridge Audio EVO 150 im Test 39Cambridge Audio EVO 150 im Test 40

Really everything there for digital sources

When it comes to digital sources, the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 first offers two optical S/PDIF interfaces. These so-called TOS-Link interfaces can process signals in Linear PCM with up to 24 bits and 96 kHz. The coaxial S/PDIF interface, which is also available, allows PCM with up to 24 bit and 192 kHz.

We were particularly pleased with the HDMI connection, which can be used to connect a TV to the Cambridge Audio EVO 150. This makes a soundbar obsolete, because good TV sound can be enjoyed directly via the fine hi-fi system. Of course, ARC, i.e. an audio return channel, is supported as well as HDMI CEC for central control with the help of the TV’s remote control alone.

Once again, the greatest potential is offered by the USB port, which allows direct connection to a PC or Mac and where data transfer is asynchronous with USB Audio Class 2 up to 32 bits and 384 kHz with Linear PCM as well as DSD256.

If you want to use USB storage media directly as a source, the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 also has a USB interface on the rear panel.

Bluetooth module for portable devices and headphones

Smartphones, tablets and notebooks can be easily connected via Bluetooth 4.2, whereby signal transmission is also supported with aptX HD and thus 24-bit 48 kHz, provided the source allows this.

The Bluetooth module is designed as a transceiver, so you can also connect corresponding headphones and enjoy loss-free signal transmission with up to 24 bit and 48 kHz thanks to aptX HD.

Cambridge Audio EVO 150 im Test 38

Audio Streaming over the Network with Cambridge Audio StreamMagic Platform
The focus of the streaming functionality of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is, of course, once again the Cambridge Audio StreamMagic platform, which has been continuously developed by Cambridge Audio for years.

It should be mentioned that the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 uses the fourth generation of the Cambridge Audio StreamMagic module.

This initially lays the foundation for music streaming via the only actual industry standard, UPnP. What is more exciting is that this platform also supports Apple AirPlay 2 as well as Google Chromecast, so that it not only covers both important platforms in the area of smartphones and tablets, but also enables the flexible use of all important streaming providers. All you need to do is install the corresponding app and you can select the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 for playback.

In addition, Cambridge Audio itself provides a suitable app for the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, namely the Cambridge Audio StreamMagic app.

First and foremost, this allows direct access to your own content, whereby all relevant data formats are supported. In this context, it should be explicitly mentioned that the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 can process content encoded in MQA, which is not insignificant for selected streaming services.

Of course, direct access to TIDAL is also available via the app, and the Cambridge Audio StreamMagic platform already supports TIDAL Connect. The same applies to Spotify, so that Spotify Connect is also supported. Another service that is directly implemented is Qobuz.

Of course, Internet radio is also available and podcasts can be accessed.

It should be explicitly mentioned at this point that the Cambridge Audio StreamMagic app for Apple iOS and Google Android not only covers the topic of streaming itself, but actually offers complete control over the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, but more on that in a moment.

First of all, we have to mention that the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is of course already Roon-ready, which means that it can be seamlessly integrated into the music management and multi-room hi-res audio streaming software developed by the software company Roon Labs LLC. for bit-perfect streaming via RAAT.

What else there is to say…

So far, we have not listed all the interfaces that can be found on the Cambridge Audio EVO 150. First of all, there is an RS232 interface, which is used for integration into control solutions, as well as trigger connections. And the mini-jack connector on the rear panel, which is designated as a CD, is used for central control in conjunction with the optional Cambridge Audio EVO CD Transport.

And how does the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 get onto the network? Well, in the simplest case simply via the tried and tested network cable, but an integrated WiFi module is also available as an option.

Intuitive operation

As we have already mentioned, the Cambridge Audio EVO 150’s generous display stands out at first glance. It has a screen diagonal of 6.8 inches and not only provides all relevant information at all times, but also displays cover artwork during streaming.

The control directly on the device is made possible by a series of buttons, which can be found directly to the right of the display, as well as the rotary encoder, which fulfils two tasks. On the one hand, it serves to control the volume, and on the other, as a rotary encoder for adjusting parameters. There is no more exemplary solution to guarantee ease of use. Moreover, you hardly need to take a look at the manual to get an overview of the operating concept.

In addition, the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 comes with a matching remote control, which fully meets the high quality standards that the English company wants to fulfil with the Cambridge Audio EVO 150. You immediately have the feeling that you are holding a really valuable piece of hardware in your hands.

And then, of course, there is the already mentioned app, the Cambridge Audio StreamMagic app for Apple iOS and Google Android, which is not only limited to streaming, but actually serves for the complete control of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150.

From the practice

One thing is certain, a system like this will not be found in a separate listening room, it belongs in the living room. And it should be prominently displayed, because it looks, and we want to emphasise this once again, extremely elegant.

Placed neatly next to or under the TV, a few speakers attached, and you are perfectly equipped.

This is exactly how we tested the Cambridge Audio EVO 150. In our case, we also relied on tried and tested premium hi-fi from England in the form of the compact KEF LS50 bookshelf speaker systems.

In this respect, we can state that such a combination produces an impeccable picture; there is no question of any “technology” interfering with the ambience of the living room; quite the opposite is the case. Such a HiFi chain clearly serves as an eye-catcher, radiating a noble touch.

“The Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is the hi-fi system you really recommend to good friends – or treat yourself to!”

Michael Holzinger, chief editor sempre-audio.at

This is hi-fi in its most elegant form, where you probably don’t have to have any discussions with other housemates as to whether it “makes sense”. And many an envious glance from visitors is certain, without the system having been able to show its true strengths, i.e. even before the first sound is heard.

Yes, HiFi as part of the modern lifestyle also has a certain prestige, one should admit this unreservedly…

With a so-called All-in-One, you sometimes think that you have to do without something, because the compact dimensions force the developers to make certain concessions. This is definitely not the case with the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, which is proven by the variety of connections the system offers.

On the analogue side, one could perhaps still discuss whether a phono preamplifier would not be desirable in this price range, which would also bring drives with MC cartridge systems into play, but in the end Cambridge Audio will probably be right with the decision to rely solely on MM cartridges.

Especially since they have a drive from their own company in mind, namely the Cambridge Audio Alva TT.

As far as digital sources are concerned, in our opinion, the HDMI input is a big plus, because it allows you to rely on the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 alone, and you are already equipped for very good sound when watching TV. And you won’t need to connect many more digital sources than the Cambridge Audio EVO CD Transport, because streaming is perfectly covered by the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 itself.

When it comes to streaming, it has to be said that the developers’ decades of experience in this field are a benefit in all respects. The Cambridge Audio StreamMagic platform is one of the most versatile on the market and can be controlled intuitively via the Cambridge Audio StreamMagic app, regardless of whether you access your own content on the network or use various streaming services.

Since Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 are also supported here, the complete range of relevant streaming services is directly available to users even without this app, and for high-end users, the integration into Roon ultimately solves the issue of streaming almost perfectly.

The only question that remains is how the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 performs in terms of sound, whereby it should come as no real surprise that Cambridge Audio succeeded in delivering the promise of “Great British Sound” almost perfectly in this class.

It was not without ulterior motives that we chose the KEF LS50 as our partner for this test. As fine as these speakers are, they can be just as demanding when it comes to electronics. This is where power is most important in order to actually unfold the full potential.

And here it becomes apparent that the amplifier technology chosen by Cambridge Audio and its special tuning is indeed capable of achieving amazing things.

You wouldn’t expect the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 to produce music so effortlessly and at the same time sovereignly, combining power and richness of detail. You would much rather expect a much more powerful electronic system to be the basis for this impressive sound stage that builds up in front of you.

In principle, we would classify the sound characteristics of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 as almost neutral, but we were pleased with the discreet warm touch that is ultimately conveyed. We found exactly the right mixture of exact reproduction and musicality in the sense of enjoyment. This is what makes listening to music really fun.

Getting to the point

How do you combine lifestyle with premium class hi-fi? The answer to that question is right here in the form of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150, which offers everything you’d expect from a modern hi-fi system in a compact, elegant package. What’s more, despite its enormous flexibility, it’s a solution that’s downright intuitive to use, and can boast downright impressive sound when paired with the perfect pair of speakers. The Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is the HiFi system to recommend to good friends – or to treat yourself to!

Manufacturer:Cambridge Audio
Distribution Austria:Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Distribution Germany:Cambridge Audio
Price:€ 2.499,-


HiFiBLOG Award Reference

High-end hi-fi in the most elegant form and with the most modern features – this is the claim that Cambridge Audio fulfils with the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 and also delivers “Great British Sound”.


Positive

  • outstanding design
  • compact in size
  • sufficient analog inputs including phono preamplifier
  • HDMI input with ARC for TV integration
  • Bluetooth including aptX HD
  • versatile streaming platform
  • Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2
  • Roon ready
  • impeccable, impressive sound
  • intuitive operation

Negative

  • Phono preamplifier only for MM and not MC cartridges

Test environment

  • KEF LS50
  • NUCLEUS+ by Roon
  • Samsung 65 Zoll TV
  • TIDAL HiFi

Conclusion

SOUND
DESIGN
HANDLING
PRICE/PERFORMANCE

The Cambridge Audio EVO 150 is the hi-fi system you really recommend to good friends - or treat yourself to!

User Rating: Be the first one !

About Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.com, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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