Anyone else heard the Cambridge Audio 640P Stage?
I recently picked one of these up on somewhat of a whim. After running “hi-end” equipment for years (Musical Fidelity amplification, Von Schweikert speakers, Michell/Dynavector analog front end), I’ve suddenly become enamored with the plethora of high-quality “mid-fi” gear out there.
After reading opinions here and over at Audio Asylum on the Cambridge Audio gear I decided to set up a mid-fi system just to see what all the fuss was about. The fact that the 640A amp could be had for around $400 due to a “Version 2” being released this month only pushed me to satisfy my curiosity.
Associated gear I assembled:
NHT SB-3 Speakers
Cambridge Audio 640A Integrated Amplifier
Cambridge Audio 640P Phono-Stage
Rega P3 Turntable (no mods other than a Herbie’s mat)
Dynavector 10x5 Cartridge
I’ve had this set up in the bedroom for about 6 weeks now and feel everything is burned in pretty well. I’ve been just blown away at the clarity, dynamics, soundstaging, etc that this modest sub-$2k system provides. More than anything it’s just musical as hell and easy to listen to. The fact that the 640A seems to have no problem at all pushing the 86db SB-3’s to reasonable sound levels is a testimony to the build quality of this unpretentious integrated.
This weekend I dug out an old NAD PP-1 stage I had in storage, as well as the CI-Audio VPP-1 and Dynavector P-75 I use in other systems to see how the 640P compared. Here’s a rundown of what my ears tell me when compared to the Cambridge stage:
NAD PP-1: sounds like I put a wet blanket over my head compared to the 640P – just plain awful. Recessed highs, sloppy bass – never did much care for this phono amp…
CI-Audio VPP-1: more versatile than the 640P, but about on par sonically. Bass might be a tad punchier on the VPP-1 if I listen very closely but overall very similar sounding to 640P.
P-75: hmmmm, puzzling…. didn’t seem quite as dynamic and the highs seemed a bit more “laid back” when compared to the 640P. Not bad, but I expected the P-75 to blow the 640P away. I preferred the 640P in this system. When used in my main system in “PE” mode with a Dynavector 20xL this is one of the best sounding sub$1k phono stages I’ve ever heard. Perhaps it’s just a lack of synergy with the 640A amp or the P-75’s MM stage isn’t nearly as good as its MC section.
For the whopping $179 that the 640P runs, it’s a steal. When you consider its great build quality, discrete dual-mono design (no op-amps), and reasonable versatility it’s a tough one to beat.