lightbulb Moving Forward With My Balky Cambridge 851A Integrated Stereo Amp

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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 month 1 week ago
#29366
Hi Gang,

I have found a long-established Audio dealer in Raleigh who also performs in-house service on audio equipment. After an extensive conversation, I have authorized this dealer to have a go at repairing my Cambridge 851A Integrated Amp. The problem is an intermittent lower-volume issue in the right channel.

This is my last effort to restore and continue to use this amplifier. I have previously posted details about this problem. If this dealer can find the problem and correct it for a reasonable cost, fine. If not, I will simply retire the amplifier and decide what to do next.

Meanwhile, I am using my Cambridge CXR120 AV Receiver to run my stereo music system. The sound is not as detailed as the sound from the 851A, but the annoying problem of changing output levels in the right channel is gone.

I will report results after the dealer has completed his efforts.

From what I have learned and experienced, Cambridge has regressed considerably over the last four or five years and is no longer worthy of being considered for purchase of reliable and high-quality audio gear.

Too Bad!!!

Best,

Art
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ArthurDaniels Posted 4 weeks 1 day ago
Last edit: 4 weeks 1 day ago by ArthurDaniels. info_outline
#29413
The Cambridge 851A Puzzle Continues:

Last Tuesday (3 days ago), the owner of the shop to which I had taken the unit for possible diagnosis and repair, called me to report that he had subjected the unit to a number of tests, but had been unsuccessful in replicating the right-channel lower-volume output problem I had described to him.

I thanked him for his effort and retrieved the amp, brought it home and installed it into my system. While installing, I decided to try a slightly different connection approach. My external Cambridge DAC Magic 100 has both Balanced and Unbalanced (RCA) audio outputs. The amp offers a pair of Balanced/Unbalanced inputs and a separate group of several Unbalanced inputs. The pair of Balanced/Unbalanced inputs are controlled by a set of switching relays, while the separate group of Unbalanced inputs bypasses the relay board.

My thought was to be able to easily switch from Balanced to Unbalanced inputs if the problem recurred, in order to determine whether or not the problem was somehow related to the switching relays. When I first fired up the unit, I was listening in the Unbalanced mode and the problem occurred. I applied the usual fix of playing a mono test track through the right channel and the problem immediately corrected, including hearing the "Pop" sound just before the right-channel volume corrected.

However, I have now been listening to the unit for 3 days and the problem has not recurred. I have turned the unit off and on a number of times; I have switched between Balanced and Unbalanced inputs several times; I have repeatedly changed the Volume control to a variety of different volume levels -- no issues whatever in any mode or at any time.

I am "holding my breath" when I type this, but it appears that something has changed somewhere because, previously, the problem would have repeatedly occurred during a typical listening session. Perhaps the "Little Audio Gremlin" sensed his end-of-life status in my amplifier and moved on to hassle someone else.

In any event, I am enjoying listening to music without right-channel volume problems.

Happy Listening, everybody

Art
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ArthurDaniels Posted 3 weeks 6 days ago
#29424
:silly:

The Gremlin either has returned, or he never left.

This afternoon, the "lower volume in right channel (LVIRC)" problem returned - and I could not correct it with any of my tricks.

However, while the problem persisted, I was able to perform all tests needed to eliminate all other possible causes (speakers, cables, DAC, etc.) to confirm that the problem resides within the Cambridge 851A Amplifier. I also confirmed that switching inputs between Balanced and Unbalanced on the Cambridge did not affect the problem.

I plan no further investigations, nor do I plan any further actions to attempt to correct the problem. I will live with it and use my proven methods to either offset it or temporarily correct it. If the problem remains mostly corrected, I will live with it. If it becomes permanent, or predominant, I will replace the Cambridge with a different stereo amp.

Suggestions for a good replacement in the $2000.00 or under category?

Thanks,

Art

PS: The local former Cambridge Dealer told me that he no longer carries Cambridge because of numerous quality issues, coupled with poor support from Cambridge.

Caveat Emptor

Art
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