Almost got floored by Cambridge S30 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 405 Old 04-10-2011, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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This speaker is crazy good. In my continued quest to find a
real solid budget speaker - I bought these. They are neutral,
smooth and balanced, with a rich midrange. The sound stage
is big and wide. And, they do play below 80hz, to cross good
with a sub. I have never heard a woofer and tweeter play this
good together, at this price point. Nothing jumps out between
the woofer and tweeter at any time. They are solid for both,
music and movies. They made the HTD Level Three go to a new
home. And they will soon make either the NHT Classic Two or
Focal Chorus 705, go to a new home. All I can say is for me - I
have never owned or heard a speaker from $600 down, that I
enjoy any more than this $219 a pair speaker. I may find a way
to get these measured.
http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/assets...cification.pdf

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post #2 of 405 Old 04-10-2011, 10:09 PM
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Hi Jim,

Given some of the posts of yours describing your opinions of various speakers I've also heard... I must say... I'm interested in hearing these.

They've been on my radar thanks to several reviews I've read here and there over the past couple years... but they were never high enough on my list to really pursue. Maybe I should move them up a bit.


Just curious... so I have an idea how you gauge these... How would you rank them in comparison to the Pioneer S-31B, PSB Image B4, and NHT Absolute Zero... a few other small monitors we discussed not long ago....
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post #3 of 405 Old 04-10-2011, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Hi Jim,

Just curious... so I have an idea how you gauge these... How would you rank them in comparison to the Pioneer S-31B, PSB Image B4, and NHT Absolute Zero... a few other small monitors we discussed not long ago....

I rank them higher, and also above Mirage.
I was thinking about you when I played these. They need about 8"
from the back wall and more room from the side walls. They do have
good bass - the sound stage is very good.

I agree with the review.
http://www.whathifi.com/review/cambridge-audio-s30

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post #4 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 07:39 PM
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Interesting...

The bargain hunter in me wants to find these for cheaper than the $219 price they sell for everywhere.... well... just because that's the normal price.

I guess I'll see whether my desire for a "better deal" or my impatience wins out....
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post #5 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Interesting...

The bargain hunter in me wants to find these for cheaper than the $219 price they sell for everywhere.... well... just because that's the normal price.

I guess I'll see whether my desire for a "better deal" or my impatience wins out....

They are a solid value at their price - Good Luck!
A big difference from the Pioneer S-31B, and cheaper.

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post #6 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

They are a solid value at their price - Good Luck!
A big difference from the Pioneer S-31B, and cheaper.

Well, I was able to get the S-31B for around $160 new... but even at that price, I wasn't a big fan, so I sent them back.

While they had solid bass, I felt the midrange was a little recessed and the highs a little forward and edgy.... I only listened to these nearfield though...

In any case, I preferred the PSB Image B4 to the Pio's, and later found I like the NHT Absolute Zero even more in this nearfield setting... (I also A/B compared the AZ and B4 in my main room, and still gave the edge to the NHT there as well...)

I may just order the S30... Worst case, if I don't like them I eat the return shipping costs...
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post #7 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 08:15 PM
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BTW, Jim... since you've listened to quite a few speakers...

Have you ever heard the SVS SBS-01, or the new SBS-02? That's another budget option I've been eying up since SVS has a nice sale on them right now...


I've also been looking at Aperion lately... I'd have to go used, since the prices are a bit higher... but their 10-year warranty is transferrable, so used wouldn't bother me.

Honestly though, the measurements I've seen of the Intimus line haven't impressed me - low efficiency, weak bass response in the bookshelves, and a common shelved up treble (we're talking 3db higher plateau here in some cases)... but measurements don't tell the whole story, and may really seem to like Aperion.

The new Verus line is very intriguing though... particularly after seeing the Audioholics review of the Verus Grand bookshelves and the impressive in room response... Only the Grand bookshelves, Forte center and bookshelves would possibly be in my range though... even used though the others would be too pricey for me.


Sorry, getting way off topic here...
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post #8 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 08:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Have not listened to SVS - they don't draw my attention.
However, their subs have my attention.

Aperion Verus Grand is interesting - not the rest of their stuff.
I was going to try them however, I got a good deal for the
Snell K7 speakers.

Ok to get off topic - this thread is not drawing much interest.

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post #9 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Well, I was able to get the S-31B for around $160 new... but even at that price, I wasn't a big fan, so I sent them back.

While they had solid bass, I felt the midrange was a little recessed and the highs a little forward and edgy.... I only listened to these nearfield though...

The PSB and NHT are good - however, they draw more attention to
the speakers than the source that is being played - due to the lack
of an expansive sound stage.

I sent my S-31B to a new home - I wanted more midrange. The S30
Cambridge has good midrange detail - with an expansive sound stage.

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post #10 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 10:15 PM
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I will have this speaker for a near-field setup at the office later this week, I'll chime in on them if the thread is still alive.

I got them as an alternative to the Audioengine P4's which certainly measure well, but I think are ugly. It'll be interesting if they can match or beat my A5's. They are cheaper than the P4's which I find baffling, if they sound as good as the reviews claim.
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post #11 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ediblestarfish View Post

I will have this speaker for a near-field setup at the office later this week, I'll chime in on them if the thread is still alive.

I got them as an alternative to the Audioengine P4's which certainly measure well, but I think are ugly. It'll be interesting if they can match or beat my A5's. They are cheaper than the P4's which I find baffling, if they sound as good as the reviews claim.

The Cambridge will not win any awards for looks, and they may be
a problem for near-field listening. And as is true for most speakers,
they will not be for everybody. Good Luck!

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post #12 of 405 Old 04-11-2011, 10:52 PM
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Problem in what way for nearfield? I'm assuming one possible issue would be having them too close to a wall...

I had the Audioengine P4 for a short time... I found them too bright, both nearfield and when A/B comparing them to both the PSB Image B4 and Mirage OMD-5 in my main room.

When listening to the PSB Image B4 on it's own, I feel it's just a little on the warm side of neutral.... When switching from the P4, they made the Image B4 seem dull and dark...

Compared to the Mirage OMD-5... a speaker I've thought was just a little top end forward and bass shy... the P4 still seemed noticeably bright to my ears...

I don't know what the A5 sounds like... but the P4 just wasn't for me. Of course... just my opinion.
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post #13 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 12:23 AM
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I'll try and keep the S30's as far back as possible. There isn't going to be a wall behind them, and the desk is wide and fairly deep, so that will help. They're not going to be right up against the computer display.

I'm hoping the short distance between the woofer and the tweeter will make it more conducive to a near-field setup. That small front profile caught my eye as something that might work. I'll have to break out the doorstops to angle them up since they are rather short.

I also run Sierra-1 NrTs at home, near-field with a computer setup with the desk in the middle of the room. A rough equilateral triangle about 120cm each side, with the speakers on stands, tilted up about 5 degrees, about 10 degrees of toe-in. It's not really a normal setup for a computer workspace, but it does work well enough for the speakers.

The soundstage is stable as I move my head around normally, but isn't stable if I move in to less than half that distance. Otherwise they sound fine in this setup, just that the width and breadth of the sound isn't as big as a setup with more room.

Frankly the Sierra-1 NrTs have spoiled me in what I find acceptable as computer audio, which is why I feel compelled to move off the Audioengine A5's. I'm looking for a touch better clarity in the mid-range, which is a bit thick and soft on the A5's. I doubt the P4's would fare any better, so I went with the Cambridge Audio S30's on a whim. In my opinion, they look miles better than the P4's from the images I've seen.
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post #14 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Problem in what way for nearfield? I'm assuming one possible issue would be having them too close to a wall...

They may work for some people near-field, they sound better to me
sitting further back. They will appear bright to some people - due to
the some what forward, sound stage presentation. They are 9" deep.

Speakers that are designed well, with the tweeter placed on top of the
woofer, have sounded good to me. This is the only real first order cross-
over speaker, that I have really liked.

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post #15 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ediblestarfish View Post

I'll try and keep the S30's as far back as possible. There isn't going to be a wall behind them, and the desk is wide and fairly deep, so that will help. They're not going to be right up against the computer display.

I'm hoping the short distance between the woofer and the tweeter will make it more conducive to a near-field setup. That small front profile caught my eye as something that might work. I'll have to break out the doorstops to angle them up since they are rather short.

This will be interesting - I know you are spoiled by the Sierra speaker, and
I do not expect them to match the Sierra sound quality - however, they may
work good in your office.

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post #16 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 01:33 PM
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Well... impatience won and I ordered a pair today.
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post #17 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

This speaker is crazy good. I may find a way
to get these measured.
http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/assets...cification.pdf


Where are you located? I have tons of measurement equipment, but it may not be near you. I'm in Washington D.C. Dennis Murphy
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post #18 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dennis Murphy View Post

Where are you located? I have tons of measurement equipment, but it may not be near you. I'm in Washington D.C. Dennis Murphy

Dennis, I live in San Angelo, Tx - I moved from Virginia.
I may send you a pair anyway.

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post #19 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Well... impatience won and I ordered a pair today.

Maybe it will work out for you - it only took one day?

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post #20 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

Dennis, I live in San Angelo, Tx - I moved from Virginia.
I may send you a pair anyway.

Hi If all you're intrested in is measurements, I would only need one. Cheers, Dennis
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post #21 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi If all you're intrested in is measurements, I would only need one. Cheers, Dennis

Thanks,
I will send you a PM later tonight for an address.

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post #22 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

Maybe it will work out for you - it only took one day?

Hey... what can I say?

Patience is a virtue I just don't have...
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post #23 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Hey... what can I say?

Patience is a virtue I just don't have...

Me too!

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post #24 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 08:24 PM
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Any comparison against the Ascend 170 se?
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post #25 of 405 Old 04-12-2011, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Any comparison against the Ascend 170 se?

I have never listened to an Ascend speaker - I respect what I have
read about them and what forum members say. All I can say is, in the
last 20 yrs of serious listening - these are my favorite budget speakers.
And I have owned many and many speakers. Somebody, did their home
work on these - they put more into the sound and not the looks. I will
be getting them measured.

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post #26 of 405 Old 04-15-2011, 07:16 PM
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Just got them set up, they look very nice to me. I have them set up on Audioengine's A2 speakers stands which look hilarious but it works. They are long, with a small front as expected--looks like someone put the speakers on the wrong side for those used to a more traditional layout. I have the dark oak finish, and with its satin sheen, looks very good. It's a very subdued look and doesn't draw much attention to itself.

I have them hooked up to the small Audioengine N22 amp, with a Behringer UCA202 off my computer.

First impression is that they work very good off-axis. There's not very much lobing as I move my head around, and I would happily call it a near-field capable speaker. They still sound better further back, but work similarly as well as many near-field monitors in close range. I did have to toe them in quite a lot to optimise the sound.

In respects, they are easier to set up a stable sound stage than my Audioengine A5's, which sound noticeably less stable at the same close ranges, and do not image quite as well.

However, the S30's are not a neutral sounding speaker. There appears to be some noticeable boost to the treble and bass. It could be some anomalies in my particular setup, but it is what I hear. The Audioengine A5's sound more natural and flat in the same space, and I prefer that. It's not entirely bad--the S30's definitely sound more lively, it's just that it doesn't feel quite right. The mid-range seems a bit recessed.

In terms of clarity, the S30's are particularly good in the mid-range. Noticeably clearer than the A5's. Treble is a bit soft, yet sounds a bit overemphasized. Seems to be some distortion there as well, as if the tweeter is playing a bit more than it should. Bass is quite prodigious for such a small speaker, and unfortunately it feels like a noticeably weak link. It's not particularly well sorted, a bit too emphasized, thick, indistinct, and all around not particularly good. It's certainly there though (in spades), and better than none. The A5 has similar bass reproduction in many respects, perhaps with a slight edge in clarity and neutrality.

Overall, the speakers present a good and enjoyable sound, but it does not have the ability to approach realism the way my Sierra-1 NrT's can reach for (but not quite grasp). There's just too many missing elements for it to.

But that it's $219 is the real point. I don't think I've heard, or seen anything that can do quite as well as a 2.0 setup at that price. I might be critical of it in the absolute sense, but within the price bracket... I really have to give it nothing more than a top rating.
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post #27 of 405 Old 04-15-2011, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ediblestarfish View Post

Overall, the speakers present a good and enjoyable sound, but it does not have the ability to approach realism the way my Sierra-1 NrT's can reach for (but not quite grasp). There's just too many missing elements for it to.

But that it's $219 is the real point. I don't think I've heard, or seen anything that can do quite as well as a 2.0 setup at that price. I might be critical of it in the absolute sense, but within the price bracket... I really have to give it nothing more than a top rating.

I know they are not perfect, that is why I call them crazy good. They are
being measured on the East Coast - the first word is, that they were voiced
to play better off stands. And at the moment, no real signs of a boost in the
treble or bass. No speaker under $700, has ever sounded near perfect to me.
Thanks, for checking back in with your opinions.

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post #28 of 405 Old 04-15-2011, 07:54 PM
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Hi I've been meauring and listeining to these speakers for the last couple of days, thanks to the generosity of Jim Z. Obviously speaker sound is a very subjective thing. But anechoic measurements can shed some light on the basic response profile of the speaker indepently of how they might sound in a particular room. And I can state with little fear of subsequent contradiction that the midrange is not recessed--quite the opposite--and the bass is actually shelved down relative to the midrange. I need to listen more, but so far I think the bass is one of the most impressive features of these speakers. To my ears, the bass is very clean with excellent impact for a tiny 4.5" driver. The next job is to measure the drivers without the crossover in place to see whether it's worth the trouble, cost, and space of trying to bring the midrange and treble in better balance with the midbass. If not, these little speakers are still an excellent buy and a very intelligent design.
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post #29 of 405 Old 04-15-2011, 09:38 PM
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I received my S30's yesterday, and have done a little listening so far... I'll reserve judgment for now...but initial impressions are promising.

Planning to do some level matched A/B comparisons with my Energy RC-10 and NHT Absolute Zero... I can already tell the S30 stomps the Absolute Zero in the low end.... they really do have much more bass impact than I imagined.

Like ediblestarfish, I thought that these had a prominent upper bass bump... but it appears I'm wrong, based on Mr Murphy's comments. I'm looking forward to seeing how these measure.
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post #30 of 405 Old 04-15-2011, 09:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Like ediblestarfish, I thought that these had a prominent upper bass bump... but it appears I'm wrong, based on Mr Murphy's comments. I'm looking forward to seeing how these measure.

Even before Dennis measured them - I could not hear any bass bump.
The bass also sounds clean to me. Also, I do not hear a recessed mid-
range. They give the Focal Chorus 705V, a challenge in the midrange
department. I do sit 9 1/2 ft back, and they have a lively, some what
forward presentation - however, they do not sound bright to me. The
tweeter is good.

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Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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