When it comes to home audio, I identify as an enthusiast rather than something close to the dedicated obsession of an audiophile. Yes, sound plays a prominent role in all of the options considered – but so does simplicity, accessibility, and aesthetics before the budget is even considered (and I’ll tell you, it comes out quick and hard on the wallet when you’re on the consumer side moving past the end of the audio equipment). Living in a humble home also means that the days of floorstanding speakers and a stack of discrete components have fallen by the wayside in recent years for more integrated and simpler WiFi-powered solutions. But there she came Cambridge Audio Evo 75, an all-in-one network streaming system that compromises the equation and offers high levels of performance with a customizable design that feels right at home with everything else that doesn’t need to be plugged in.
Over its 50-year history, the English hi-fi company Cambridge Audio has carved out a place for itself as one of the more established and respected brands in the audiophile space, which is what the Cambridge Audio Evo 75 and 150 all-in-one players do (alongside their complementary Evo S speakers and Evo CD) a remarkable diagonal advance from the high-end area to a more “lifestyle” -oriented offer. It’s certainly one of the best looking audio component designs today, one that immediately looks like you could put it in a living room, den, or entertainment room and appear like it should always be on that bookcase, closet, or sideboard .
Thanks to Cambridge Audio lead designer Ged Martin for giving both the Evo 75 and Evo 150 a compact footprint with a warm contemporary design inspired by the brand’s P40 amplifier designed in 1968, alongside the vague notion of “furniture and interior design” principles from The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, a cognitive scientist and usability engineer whose research emphasizes the importance of objects designed with details that clearly communicate their function.
And up to this point, the Cambridge Audio Evo’s most prominent control – the large concentric rotary wheel on the front – is both obvious to use and feels satisfying and confident with every turn. The primary front dial controls volume, while a secondary knurled aluminum wheel is used to scroll through source options. A narrow band of vertically aligned buttons on the front is used to access power, playback controls, and Bluetooth connectivity. An included remote control provides access to these controls, as does a compatible app.
The only real “lack” of this pared-down physical interface is the lack of a touchscreen, which the bright and colorful 6.8-inch LCD display seems to promise, especially since the Evo’s two-thirds of the front of the Evo is dedicated to the screen. Fortunately, the display is still very useful, showing album art and features legibly from normal listening distance, and the reality is that most users will likely never walk over to control their system manually, so we’ve gotten used to the convenience of apps made.
One of the coolest things about the Evo is purely aesthetic. Acknowledging different interiors tastes, Cambridge Audio includes two different sets of interchangeable, clip-on magnetized panels – one set of mid-century walnut panels, the other a curled, contemporary-patterned black set of recycled paper called Richlite. The walnut side panels look particularly good as a contrast to the black anodized aluminum chassis, and we hope Cambridge Audio will offer additional finishes and textures as optional accessories to confirm the success of this design.
The amplification takes place via Hypex NCore Class-D amplifiers, an energy-efficient solution that delivers 150 watts per channel for the higher-quality Evo 150 and more than sufficient 75 watts per channel for the Evo 75 (the Evo 75 differs). from its premium sibling by subtracting a USB connection, balanced XLR inputs and a phono stage on the back).
If this all sounds like gibberish, you can be sure that the system is almost plug-and-play, and within minutes of adding speakers, you can be listening to music through a variety of streaming services such as TIDAL Masters, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast and other niche audiophile services such as Roon and Qobuz with the StreamMagic app from Cambridge Audio.
In the test, the Evo 75 delivered an almost revealing performance in numerous music genres, which was characterized by an open sound stage with full gusto. I ended up revisiting all of my favorite songs in lossless high definition MQA format, from my teenage Brit pop favorites to current regulars like Nine von Sault in quantities that I haven’t wanted to examine in years so that not all of them can be used becomes a swamp. For someone who, admittedly, has dipped into the “good but not great” performance of consumer audio over the years out of convenience, the system proved so invigorating after a few days of listening that I gave in and a pair to match Couple ordered $ 750 Cambridge Audio Evo S speakers in hopes of realizing the system’s full potential.
Just like the upcoming Evo CD transporter, the matching bookshelf speakers are designed in such a way that they seamlessly complement the Evo player, both acoustically and aesthetically. Equipped with a black silk dome tweeter, anodized aluminum midrange, and a housing made of medium-density fiberboard with gold-plated speaker terminals, the paired setup looks great even when it’s turned off (but best when you’re driving loud music).
The $ 2,250 (or $ 3,000 Evo 150) Cambridge Audio Evo 75 is an expensive deal as you still need to add a pair of speakers to start listening. But if you’re looking for the easiest, sleekest entry into the realm of audiophile performance without worrying about deciphering the deep ocean of terminology, specs, and options out there – or worrying about space for a system – this all-in-one streaming audio system really is a compelling argument that subtractive simplicity can be sublime.