question-circle Question for Other GE Forum Members Who Own Cambridge Audio Gear

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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 month 1 day ago
#28583
Hi Gang,

I am having an interesting intermittent issue with my Cambridge 851A Stereo Amplifier. This problem normally occurs when I turn the unit on, but has also occurred during use. The problem relates to the relative volume levels of the left and right channels. At times, the volume level of the right channel drops noticeably.

When this condition happens, sometimes it will self-correct within a relatively short period of time (10-20 minutes perhaps). I can always tell when the problem is corrected because there is suddenly a noticeable increase in the right-channel volume level.

I can also effect a correction by manipulating the volume and balance controls for a couple of minutes. I have a mono test track which I use in conjunction with the manipulation of the controls. I can hear when the correction takes place because there is in the right channel a "pop" sound, followed immediately by a volume increase.

When the problem has been corrected, the amplifier output is normal and balanced between the left and right channels. The amplifier almost never repeats the problem unless I turn it off.

I am posting this issue to learn who else might have a Cambridge 851A Stereo Amp and if they have encountered a similar problem. I am also interested in other opinions or experience with this Cambridge model, or Cambridge gear in general, because my current 851A unit is the third unit I have owned since I made my original purchase in February 2017. The two previous units failed and were replaced at no charge to me under the Cambridge 3-year warranty by Crutchfield, from whom I made the original purchase.

I have discussed this problem with Cambridge Audio support. My unit is now out of warranty (based upon the original 3-year warranty). Cambridge has offered for me to send the unit to their U.S. contract repair facility in New Jersey for a one-time additional no-charge repair, I would have to provide packaging for the return shipment, but Cambridge would cover the shipping costs and the repair costs and provide a 30-day warranty on the repaired unit.

I have a BSEE degree. During my career, I managed an electronics service shop. I also spent many years managing business relationships between electronics contract manufacturing companies and their OEM customers. I have an intimate knowledge of what makes a competent company in this world. After doing some research, I believe that Cambridge's contract service company poses a significant risk of effecting an improper repair.

Therefore, I have decided not to entrust the unit to their contract repair company. I plan to live with the problem and continue to use the unit so long as it does not permanently fail. I have informed Cambridge's support group of my decision.

Comments will be most welcome.

Happy Listening,

Art

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anthem Posted 1 month 1 day ago
Last edit: 1 month 1 day ago by anthem. info_outline
#28584
Art:
Sounds like you got yourself a "situation". You've stated what you won't do in terms of a repair, and that's fine, but maybe not.

I own a Cambridge Audio Azur 840C cd player. I've had it for 10 plus years. Several years ago, when playing a cd, it would mysteriously stop playing. To remedy this, i would tap on the top of the player with my hand and it would commence playing. Eventually it stopped playing all together. The warranty had expired...now, what to do?

I took it to Electronic Wizards in Wichita Kansas an electronics repair shop that can pretty much repair anything. They found a broken solder on the inside of the player and promptly fixed it. It cost $200-$250 to fix but well worth it. I've been using the CA Azur 840C exclusively for the past 2 months and have had not one problem since the fix was made.

Art: the moral of the story is...get it fixed. If it be a fix by Cambridge Audio or an independent repair shop...get it fixed. You aren't gonna be happy until you do!

Get it fixed.
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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 month 1 day ago
#28585
Hi Anthem:

Thanks for your thoughts. Cambridge has contracted with an independent company called PanurgyOEM in New Jersey to handle their in-warranty repairs in the US. As I mentioned in my OP, I am not willing to let PanurgyOEM work on my unit. With only a 30-day warranty covering their work (and some of that warranty used up during the return shipment), if they either do not fix the problem, or, worse, screw something else up, then I am stuck with a useless device and no remedy.

I think I am better off using my interim corrective methods to handle the problem so long as they remain effective. Cambridge seems to be unconcerned that I have had 3 defective units in 3 years. If the unit completely fails, I will attempt to escalate my concerns within Cambridge.

In the 851A Users Manual, Cambridge warns that the unit runs hot. I have my 851A sitting on an open and ventilated shelf with nothing else around it to cause extra heat problems. I think the unit's interior design does not dissipate heat effectively. In any event, three failures in three years is unacceptable, especially for a flagship product for a high-end audio company.

I plan to check with Audio Advice in Raleigh to see whether or not they carry Cambridge products and about repair options. I may also talk further with Crutchfield about repair options. If I can find someone local that is qualified and capable, I would work with them to make sure they can recognize the problem. I am not confident that a guy off the street hired and trained by PanurgyOEM will be able to recognize and diagnose the problem, resulting in a NTF diagnosis and nothing being done.

Spending hundreds of dollars to repair this unit when I have experienced failures in three of them and with essentially no warranty on the work makes little sense to me.

Best,

Art

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anthem Posted 1 month 1 day ago
#28586
Art:
You should be able to find a qualified repair shop in your area. As with Electronic Wizards in Wichita, they required a $40 deposit refundable upon completion of the repair. If the repair cost to much, they keep the deposit...that's fair.

From the luck you're having with CA gear, if the fix isn't at a reasonable price, I'd look at getting an amp from another company. Seriously!
D-Sonic m3a-600m Mono > Decware Zen Torii mk4 > McIntosh MC152 > Emotiva xpa1 Mono's > Anthem Statement P2 > Primaluna ProLogue Premium Preamp > Morrow Audio > Oppo 205 > Decware ZLC > Triton Reference

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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 month 1 day ago
#28588
Anthem,

If I must purchase a replacement amp, it will be another brand. However, I have some other choices from what my daughter calls "Dad's Electronics Boutique"" which I would try out before investing more money.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Art

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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 month 9 hours ago
#28594
Update:

I have developed an alternative method for dealing with the problem. When I turn the 851A on, I listen to determine what state it is in. If it is balanced and both channels are functioning normally, great. If not, I move the Balance control to balance the channels and listen to music. Usually, within 5-10 minutes I hear the Right Channel suddenly become louder - telling me that the amplifier has self-corrected. At that point, I readjust the Balance control to the middle "Balanced" position and continue to listen.

I can live with this issue indefinitely, if necessary. Too bad for the negative comments from me regarding Cambridge Audio products, but there it is.

Art

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