Cambridge Audio Azur

All-in-one music on a budget

Like the competition, Cambridge Audio's Azur gives its owner the chance to stuff all of their old jewel CD cases into the attic once and for all. The Azur is Cambridge Audio's way of bringing music to every room in the home, while at the same time reducing the clutter that typically accompanies a powerful home-theater system.

Advertiser Links for Cambridge Audio Azur

Under the hood, the Azur sports a 160GB hard disk, giving its user the ability to store up to 30,000 songs. That's a whole lot of music! As well, it uses a 1 GHz processor to keep the tunes running on time. This is a powerful machine, which, upon first inspection, can be hard to believe because of the size of the device. For many, the Azur might initially look like just a premium CD player, but underneath it possesses the muscle to satisfy the most fanatic music lover.

Doesn’t look like much, but the Azur
is an affordable media center
To reach maximum quality sound, the Azur offers the user the ability to rip music onto the hard drive uncompressed. This means that there's no loss of quality when transferring files from a CD. This technology beats many of the lossy compression media players limited to MP3 or WMA. These codecs can potentially lose sound quality every single time a file is coded or decoded, making the Azur a sound-quality junkie's dream.

However, there are some issues to keep in mind with the Azur. For one, many sticklers have been annoyed by the fact that the Azur doesn't actually include a Wi-Fi adapter, despite Cambridge Audio's proud inclusion of wireless internet functionality.

Rammstein is noisy, but as noisy as the Azur?

Secondly, noise is an issue. We're not talking about the latest Rammstein CD – although that could certainly qualify as noise – but the Azur has been compared to a vacuum cleaner when ripping discs. Considering the importance of this function to any media center built around specialized digital audio features, it seems particularly annoying that a basic function like this should be left in the final product.

Cambridge Audio's Azur is on the budget end of the media center lineup, and for that reason it can be excused for many of these (relatively) small issues.

The Azur retails for about $1,300, depending on your vendor of choice.