Review: Cambridge Audio ‘One’
The 'One' is a compact lifestyle audio product that allows you to stream music from a variety of sources thanks to multiple digital inputs, Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB+ radio tuner. I’d been looking for a new bookshelf or similar style system for the family room, so the timing for this review was convenient. Available in white or black, it's relatively low cost, small size and features put it at the right price point for me (and SWMBO).
In the box, you'll find the unit itself (no surprises there!), IR remote control with batteries, and a 2-wire DAB/FM antenna. The unit is quite heavy and while I wondered why, it was a welcome observation. The manual is quite brief covering only the very basic “Quick-Start” installation guide.
The two speaker outputs have removable thumb screws rather than the spring clips usual for this type of amplifier, revealing 4mm banana sockets for child-proof locking plugs. The enamel coated thick steel outer housing will make cleaning easier than a brushed aluminium finish, but the plastic vent covers and front fascia may get scratched if due care is not taken.
In terms of sound and features, the “One” has a good level of power output, able to drive my 6 ohm speakers to their limit with ease. The lows and highs tended to be a bit loose for my liking, but the family as a whole gave it the thumbs up. That's what's important here.
I connected it to the PC via the USB Audio In and found that there was nothing unpleasant about it's playback capability or sound. I was able to control the Windows Media Player software via the supplied IR remote. The remote is quite heavy with three ‘AAA’ batteries and it’s steel chassis (yes the remote is steel inside), and it has a very strong IR signal, having no trouble ‘blasting’ from the next room. The built-in Bluetooth antenna gives the ‘One’ about 10 to 12m of reliable range indoors, with the sound getting choppy from further away, or with a couple of walls in-between.
DAB+ is gaining more traction and slowly increasing in popularity, with functionality being added to all manner of consumer devices now. The ‘One’ has a good DAB+ and FM receiver, able to pick up all of the Melbourne-based stations from as far out as Sunbury (32kms from CBD) with only the supplied 3 metre wire antenna laying across the desk. The DAB+ tuner also synchronises the time on the One’s clock, and setting an alarm to wake me up to the built-in Radio or Disc sources. Digital, USB, Line-in or Bluetooth sources are not available from the alarm menu.
Overall the Cambridge Audio “One” is a capable and sturdy unit. The only features missing from the ‘One’, when compared with other units in the same price / features market, are the lack of playback via USB from flash memory or hard drive, and that there is no LAN or WiFi connection for DLNA or Internet radio. If you’re serious about sound quality, then perhaps a unit in a higher price bracket is in order, but this unit would be fine in the family room or kitchen for casual listening, or for outdoor entertainment areas.
Cambridge Audio One sells in Australia for $749 RRP.
Cambridge Audio is distributed in Australia by Synergy Audio.
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