Review: Cambridge Audio Edge M- A few years ago, when the Edge A DAC integrated amplifier, the first model of the new top line from Cambridge, came onto the market, I was somewhat surprised. In a positive sense, because I hadn’t expected such a minimalist-elegant design from the beautiful-living-with-hi-fi corner in view of the otherwise conventionally designed Otto normal devices from the British. Now the brand new Cambridge Audio Edge M mono power amplifiers (8,998 euros / pair ) are on the tester shelf – and they also look damn sharp.
Speaking of hot: I don’t want to talk about eroticism now, but … Cambridge has understood that the pride of ownership, which is so important for customer satisfaction, begins with unpacking, and has ensured a corresponding experience with the Edge series. I hardly know of any hi-fi device that on the one hand was literally thrown into the shell so safely and well-thought out and on the other hand staged the entire unveiling process so effectively. In the last step, you remove the leaves from the curved shapes of the monos from a black velvet dress, then find a soft, delicately white translucent silicone tape that lies in the recess of the Edge M surrounding the lid to protect the (or in front of) the cooling ribs. delicately textured, smooth surface … Well, yes.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of bass or mid-range impulse is fed to the Cambridge Edge M; the monos make it a real spectacle. Not in the sense of “too much of a good thing”, but with a very positive connotation. I catch myself looking forward to the next bass slap from Marcus Miller in “Detroit” and the snare drum from Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison in “The Sound of Muzak”. Or the (too) fat produced bass drum in St. Vitus’To physically long for “Children of Doom” from the album of the same name. The Cambridge Audio Edge M do this with the lightning-fast response of a small-volume inline six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine and at the same time deliver the full, powerful pulling power of a turbo diesel (I’m still working on my car comparison rate).
Either way, the Cambridge Edge M deliver a little more pressure all the way down to the deep bass basement than the Norma Monos or the BAT VK76SE. With the right speakers, deep bass orgies can become a physically noticeable experience, and even the astonishingly deep bass capable compact speakers Grandinote Mach 2Ractivate the popometer clearly. The cheaper stereo power amplifier Norma Audio PA 150 (5,300 euros) seems a bit more cautious, comes with a little less pressure in the deep bass and is softer in response – overall (like its big siblings) a little more elegant and flowing than the Cambridge. But okay, that’s one of Norma’s core talents anyway. Before you get the wrong impression: The Cambridge Edge M are no fights, even if their dynamic main focus is more on explosive speed and force and a little less on tracking down the smallest nuances of energy. But this, too, is quite simply a relative classification based on a very high level of comparison.
One thing is clear: the keynote
The taut, powerful bass range is followed by an earthy and supple basic tone . Jaco Pastorius’ electric bass purrs happily like a kitten and allows you to easily understand even fine structures. Thanks to their transparency alone, the Cambridge Edge M focus on this area a little more psychologically than the Norma Audio PA 150, which is less differentiating here excellent stereo Italian.
The clearly different interpretations of the timbre spectrum are a matter of taste and have a direct effect on the perception of the fundamental (and mid-tone) in particular: the Norma PA 150 transmits this aspect with a silky, matt, shimmering and fragrant, fine floating effect; The Cambridge Edge M handles the overtones with a haptically textured and drier, but by no means pale . For example, the cellos creak and grate in Agnes Obel’s “Familiar” with the British women clearly woodier, less smooth. And while I’m a fan of that silky Norma sound, I think this rougher rendition is a little closer to the truth, even if it may seem less romantic to some. But that’s mostly how it is …
Either one or the other?
The symmetrical control of the mono amplifiers also has a positive effect on the treble. While a small but noticeable amount of air and resolution remains unused compared to the Norma power amplifier, the asymmetrically controlled, the Cambridge Edge M bring this to the ear without problem in symmetrical operation. The resolution of the frequency upper room is absolutely appropriate for the class, and its character is more objective and undisguised than with the silky, beautiful drawing Norma-Amp. And above all seamlessly integrated into the overall picture. Listening never gives the impression that there is a lack of information, and the British monos never draw the listener’s attention to aural nonsense when there is so good music to be heard.
The cleanliness, the black background, which the Cambridge Edge M (not only in the high tone) allow for all of this, conveys a very special calm. Does that sound unspectacular? Is it. And that’s a good thing, because unlike the laser light emitters under the amplifiers, you can hear for a long time, loudly and stress-free, without the ears sagging and the eyelids starting to twitch.
Space and figure
The image sharpness and the spatial differentiation also benefit from the symmetrical operation. It is interesting that the space spanned by the Cambridge Edge M has clearly clearer boundaries than the one designed by the Norma PA 150, for example. The size of the stage varies with the respective recording from tight and intimate to cinemascope-sized. The Norma PA 150 does this trick just as well, but it is not so convincing to define the (virtual) walls of the recording room: At first it may seem a bit more generous, at the second it is a bit more “frayed” at the outermost edges. All in all, what happens with the Edge M takes place fairly precisely on the loudspeaker level and goes into the depths of the room when the music material requires it. Not least because of the outstanding impulse speech, the M manage to sound involved and direct, without having to approach it spatially head-on. Different tastes or not: As in terms of tone colors and overtones, the Cambridge Edge M seem to me to stay objectively very close to the facts.
These honest workhorses with model genes and no-bullshit attitude are among the most universally applicable power amplifiers under 10,000 euros that have come into my rack so far: Tonally incorruptible, dynamically explosive, sparkling clean and transparent with brilliant power reserves even for high demands the sound level. Because you can connect several monos in series, there are hardly any limits to the play instinct in this regard. And because the Cambridge Edge M play so neutrally, I don’t really see any restrictions in choosing a (appropriate) partner. Musically, they also cope with all genres that one can imagine, but they particularly shine with dynamically demanding and complex music that suits the precise control and clear cleanliness of the Edge M very much.
Restrictions? Listeners who are explicitly looking for a silky, fragrant melodious sound in the dim chimney room of high fidelity, or who want to lose themselves in intellectual analysis instead of enjoying music, are encouraged to choose appropriate alternatives. The Cambridge Edge M don’t afford any extravagance and are something like the best buddies, with whom you can really party, who will still bring you home safely and reliably after the party, if need be …
The Cambridge Edge M …
- are neutrally tuned mono power amplifiers across the entire frequency band.
- have a tight yet very powerful bass that goes extremely deep and even there still acts with outstanding control.
- connect to the bass a textured, grippy basic tone.
- have an inconspicuous, homogeneous mid-tone with very good transparency and realistic substance.
- produce a little more details, gloss and air in the upper frequencies in symmetrical operation than in asymmetrical operation.
- In absolute terms, they are not the greatest analysts, but integrate the clear and objective high tones in a way that is useful for the purpose and the music.
- demonstrate outstanding dynamic capabilities, especially with large amplitudes.
- radiate a special, subliminal calm.
- build the virtual stage pretty much around the loudspeaker level.
- delimit the stage surprisingly clearly, the dimensions of the same are almost arbitrarily variable depending on the recording.
- only know competition in their price class when it comes to the sharpness of the edges of the display of instruments and voices, especially in the center of the stage and with the absolute high-frequency resolution.
- are exceptionally well made.
- Model: Cambridge Audio Edge M
- Category: Mono power amplifier (transistor)
- Price: 8,998 euros / pair
- Dimensions & weight per piece: 150 x 460 x 405 mm (HxWxD), 23.6 kg
- Color: Lunar gray
- Inputs: XLR or RCA
- Outputs: speaker output, loop output (balanced and unbalanced)
- Output power per monoblock (<1% THD + N): 200 watts at 8 ohms, 350 watts at 4 ohms
- Power consumption: max. 1000 watts, standby: <0.5 watts
- Guarantee: 5 years