Who is likely design/manuf behind Cambridge Audio's new receiver? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Who is the likely ODM behind Cambridge Audio's new receiver (Azur 551R )?
http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summary.php?PID=897

On the back of their picture it says "made in China under licence":

Is this new model an update of Cambridge Audio's previous 540R models or a clone of something new that someone else is making? I cant image that Cambridge Audio really has the capacity to do totally new development on their own. From what I can see there isnt much new here relative to their older 540R model from a few years ago?

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post #2 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 07:36 PM
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Cambridge Audio designs their own stuff. This own looks just like their previous designs. I like their designs but have never heard one. One day I hope to try one. I had the opportunity last year but I ended up buying a NAD T775HD for $1299. Too good to pass up. Otherwise I was going to try the 650R. I have heard mixed reviews for the 650R though.
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post #3 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 07:48 PM
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I just read the link you posted. It clearly states that it was designed in London by the CA team. The specs are impressive. Clearly aimed at people that care about audio. Notice that CA is not really into room correction. They have only a auto setup for calibration but no room correction like Audyssey. Many reviewers have actually liked that approach for uncolored performance in a nicely setup room where acoustic treatment and speaker placement trump room correction algorithms. Also, I have heard good things about their cooling technique and at 4.x inch height, this is a nice receiver that will put out real power compared to inflated ratings from most manufacturers (except NAD of course )
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post #4 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 07:55 PM
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As we can see from the Audessey thread, setting it up correctly is a hobby/profession in itself.

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Originally Posted by bommai View Post

I just read the link you posted. It clearly states that it was designed in London by the CA team. The specs are impressive. Clearly aimed at people that care about audio. Notice that CA is not really into room correction. They have only a auto setup for calibration but no room correction like Audyssey. Many reviewers have actually liked that approach for uncolored performance in a nicely setup room where acoustic treatment and speaker placement trump room correction algorithms. Also, I have heard good things about their cooling technique and at 4.x inch height, this is a nice receiver that will put out real power compared to inflated ratings from most manufacturers (except NAD of course )

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post #5 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bommai View Post

I just read the link you posted. It clearly states that it was designed in London by the CA team.

I know they claim that but I asked the question because I have sone doubts about the claim, it would mean this team had designed a total of one receiver in like 4 years.

I had the 540R V2 and liked many things about it. Still own it actually in a box for now, and will probably end up redeploying it as an external 5 channel amp. But personally felt that it could use room correction. I used a Pioneer receiver in the same room and while I didn't love MCACC, it did get a better grip on the booming bass. No the room wasn't ideal sonically but I'd expect that's a fairly common situation for most consumers at this price point or any really.

But back to the point, few consumer electronics companies still have in house design teams - could a company this small really have a receiver design team on payroll doing little or nothing for so long?
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post #6 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 08:19 PM
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Most companies use the term design very loosely.

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post #7 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bommai View Post

They have only a auto setup for calibration but no room correction like Audyssey.

Probably a function of the chipset they chose. Many prepros share that "feature."

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post #8 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bommai View Post

Cambridge Audio designs their own stuff.

Are you sure? I know they have sold DVD players designed and built by Oppo's parent company, like the DV89.
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post #9 of 30 Old 01-02-2012, 09:57 PM
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Unit is assembled by Anam Electronics..
Cambridge approved the specifications but the primary design was done by Anam, also the Room EQ S/W is from Cirrus Logic.. The same factory that does NAD, Harman/Kardon, Marantz, Teac and some entry level models for Yamaha and Denon.

Just my $0.02...
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post #10 of 30 Old 01-03-2012, 08:18 AM
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Moder day AVR's are more like modern computers than old school receivers. They aren't really designed. There are common parts that all AVR's have (amp board(s), HDMI board, power supply, etc...) that are plugged together.
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post #11 of 30 Old 01-03-2012, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

Moder day AVR's are more like modern computers than old school receivers. They aren't really designed. There are common parts that all AVR's have (amp board(s), HDMI board, power supply, etc...) that are plugged together.


Hardware-wise...
Yes..
The challenge is the software including the GUI, this takes significant time for writing, debugging an validation..

Just my $0.02..
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post #12 of 30 Old 01-03-2012, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Sidetrack to the original question but if AV receivers are now more software jobs than hardware, then why are manufacturers not taking advantage of Linux etc, instead of continuing with proprietary software platforms and what are by and large stone-age GUI's compared to what consumers are getting on their smartphones, tablets or computers for example?
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post #13 of 30 Old 01-03-2012, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osamede View Post

Sidetrack to the original question but if AV receivers are now more software jobs than hardware, then why are manufacturers not taking advantage of Linux etc, instead of continuing with proprietary software platforms and what are by and large stone-age GUI's compared to what consumers are getting on their smartphones, tablets or computers for example?

My guess is that the development of those Linux devices stretches back quite a ways, so it probably hasn't trickled down to receivers yet. Receivers have only recently received Internet capability in any fashion, and without that, support for those UIs wouldn't be there. Probably needs a few years. It sounds like a good idea, though.

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post #14 of 30 Old 01-03-2012, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

My guess is that the development of those Linux devices stretches back quite a ways, so it probably hasn't trickled down to receivers yet. Receivers have only recently received Internet capability in any fashion, and without that, support for those UIs wouldn't be there. Probably needs a few years. It sounds like a good idea, though.

I know Accuphase has put Windows CE on a device or two, but it isn't an AVR or SSP. I'm curious about the Levinson No502 and what it's software is built from.

A lot of Blu-ray players (all?) run some variation of the Linux kernel - so I wouldn't be surprised if we see this coming for more mainstream AVRs in the future. I think the limitation is basically complexity; why re-invent the wheel if you don't need to? What I mean here is that, if take something like a CD player or VCR, it doesn't need a super complex OS in order to do it's job. So why waste resources on the overhead to run Linux?

Modern AVRs are approaching that level of complexity though, so a transition towards a more full-fledged OS is probably not unreasonable, but again, it's a function of what is needed to get the job done. I suspect that the software behind modern AVRs is quite "good" in terms of doing what it does, and I'm sure it's built on decades of R&D - scrapping all of that just to throw something "name brand" on the device makes little sense unless the device becomes more mainstream (in other words, if you had an AVR with a Pentium chip in it, or something like that - where it's much easier to produce software).
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post #15 of 30 Old 01-04-2012, 04:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walbert View Post

Iit's a function of what is needed to get the job done. I suspect that the software behind modern AVRs is quite "good" in terms of doing what it does, and I'm sure it's built on decades of R&D - scrapping all of that just to throw something "name brand" on the device makes little sense unless the device becomes more mainstream (in other words, if you had an AVR with a Pentium chip in it, or something like that - where it's much easier to produce software).

One could question whether the current hardware/software of AVRs is up to the task though.
- For one thing, the user interfaces are downright primitive by 2012 standards
- And functionally speaking, its clear that room correction for example is being held back by the computing power limitations of the devices
- Similarly the networking interface of a receiver even with DLNA is mles behind what one can do on say a Squeezebox with web interface and open APIs that make 3rd party software like Ipeng possible

So even if we said we want to focus on an audio-oriented receiver, theese things are no longer up to par.

One cant even begin to imagine the degree of the gap by the time we look at video networking.

Considering that AVRs makers seem to be downplaying the role/quality of amplification and emphasizing the processing/control functions its hard to see the case for their current closed and limited model. Consumer appliances are kind of moving past those days.

What i also find curious is that a small company like Cambridge would not try taking some bold steps in that more open direction instead of making pretensions of being a design house, while in fact just rehashing the tired model of slapping their name on the same old, same old, outsourced and outdated stuff.
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post #16 of 30 Old 01-04-2012, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osamede View Post

What i also find curious is that a small company like Cambridge would not try taking some bold steps in that more open direction instead of making pretensions of being a design house, while in fact just rehashing the tired model of slapping their name on the same old, same old, outsourced and outdated stuff.

This is more or less the reality everywhere. There was a time when consumers/advertisers/whoever didn't demand new products every year, and when people weren't up in arms about "last year's model" - most products had a multi-year life-cycle and that means more time to recoup dev costs. That isn't how things are done today; we see "new" products in time for CES or CEDIA on an annual basis.

I'm somewhat skeptical about your statements of things not being "up to 2012 standards" - what would you define as "2012 standards?" The point I'm making is, if the design/platform/device can satisfy whatever the requirements are, it doesn't need to be so overbuilt. If you save money by regurgitating older platforms with new packaging that's probably going to net you positive cash flow.

I'm sure that if any ODM/OEM wanted to, they could put out an SSP/AVR that walks circles around modern devices in terms of processing power and features, but it would probably cost a fortune to develop, and the margins would be low. It's easier to create a low-cost platform and sell a lot of units, or create a statement product and sell a few units at a very high price (and these statement products don't have to be world-ending in terms of features; they just have to nudge the "mainstream" products).
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post #17 of 30 Old 01-04-2012, 05:32 PM
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I have no problem with CA's conservative approach to focus on audio side, a bit like Audiolab. CA would be expected to have some input to the design of the analogue board and choice of DAC. Why would they want to make everything from scratch in the UK and switch to Linux for audio? I actually would prefer an audio-only processor as I have a video processor, but I'd like to have some room correction and more DSP modes,

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #18 of 30 Old 01-04-2012, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walbert View Post

I'm somewhat skeptical about your statements of things not being "up to 2012 standards" - what would you define as "2012 standards?"

For example:
- modern GUI
- networking eg DLNA etc
- room correction
- that remote is poor, not only is it not backlit but even in daylight it is hard to read, layout/organisation is poor. (Do you have the option of an app-based remote or web interface? Nope)

Assuming they claim to be focusing on the audio customer, okay fine, at least try to do this. Wanting good audio is not synonymous with rejecting all modern progress. Rather you'd want to figure out what tools in 2012 can help me enjoy my music. Fumbling with a bad remote you havent changed in 6-8 years? No.

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Originally Posted by walbert View Post

This is more or less the reality everywhere. There was a time when consumers/advertisers/whoever didn't demand new products every year, and when people weren't up in arms about "last year's model" - most products had a multi-year life-cycle and that means more time to recoup dev costs. That isn't how things are done today; we see "new" products in time for CES or CEDIA on an annual basis.]

That's my point though - that customer isnt the Cambridge Audio customer. CA has pretty much zero chance of winning that customer, and certainly less so with this product which is new, but arguably inferior in "features" to say a mid-lower end product such the Denon 2312 or the Yamaha A810.

So why then doesnt Cambridge focus on their core customer and start doing something really different (as detailed in my previous post). I'd argue what they've done here is an inferior implementation of the strategy you are describing as the "in thing". So double failure here, as it is not the wrong strategy for them and they've also made a hash of their attempt to copy that MO from the bigger AVR makers.

Let's put it this way, having owned the CA 540R V2, I'm arguable a prime target customer for them and frankly I'm still trying to figure out what they've spent the past 5 years doing, since I last bought a receiver from them. Adding HD codecs? Wow, now that's "british design"....

Sorry to be so harsh, but actually this is an interesting slim-line receiver platform with decent power. However, one would wish that they'd actually try harder to make something successful of it. What I see here has no chance of doing any better than their previous receiver. In fact it will probably sell worse. And I dont think they really have too many shots at this, at their size.
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post #19 of 30 Old 01-04-2012, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osamede View Post

For example:
- modern GUI
- networking eg DLNA etc
- room correction
- that remote is poor, not only is it not backlit but even in daylight it is hard to read, layout/organisation is poor. (Do you have the option of an app-based remote or web interface? Nope)

I'm thinking of the Denon AVR-4810 while reading this; it does all of those things. I'm also thinking about universal remotes, but that's "outside of the product" (and I don't even use the included universals with AVRs - it's easier to just grab a Logitech).

See a picture of the 4810 and it's remote(s):


I get where you're coming from though - it should be "better" given the state of other devices. Also, and I may be wrong here, but don't Yamaha AVRs have an iPhone/iPod control app? I remember seeing a presentation about the V3800 and how it was web/mobile device controlled - could be mistaken though.

Quote:


Assuming they claim to be focusing on the audio customer, okay fine, at least try to do this. Wanting good audio is not synonymous with rejecting all modern progress. Rather you'd want to figure out what tools in 2012 can help me enjoy my music. Fumbling with a bad remote you havent changed in 6-8 years? No.


That's my point though - that customer isnt the Cambridge Audio customer. CA has pretty much zero chance of winning that customer, and certainly less so with this product which is new, but arguably inferior in "features" to say a mid-lower end product such the Denon 2312 or the Yamaha A810.

So why then doesnt Cambridge focus on their core customer and start doing something really different (as detailed in my previous post). I'd argue what they've done here is an inferior implementation of the strategy you are describing as the "in thing". So double failure here, as it is not the wrong strategy for them and they've also made a hash of their attempt to copy that MO from the bigger AVR makers.

Let's put it this way, having owned the CA 540R V2, I'm arguable a prime target customer for them and frankly I'm still trying to figure out what they've spent the past 5 years doing, since I last bought a receiver from them. Adding HD codecs? Wow, now that's "british design"....

Sorry to be so harsh, but actually this is an interesting slim-line receiver platform with decent power. However, one would wish that they'd actually try harder to make something successful of it. What I see here has no chance of doing any better than their previous receiver. In fact it will probably sell worse. And I dont think they really have too many shots at this, at their size.

Alright. I'm not trying to attack you (I have no idea who you are or what you believe), but when I think of the "target customer" for most "boutique" manufacturers (Cambridge, NAD, Anthem, B&K, Parasound, etc) I think of people who argue about how amplifiers "sound" and all of that, not about people who want modern features or lots of technology. This kind of product appeals to those people - it lacks room correction, it's very "basic" (which appeals to that "total audio purity" jag), and probably has quite competent amplifiers.

This isn't a value judgment, just my own observation. I've never seen NAD or Cambridge or similar mentioned in value-oriented discussions, or by the "objectivists" - but they often come up when people start talking about amplifiers that sound "warm" or "cold" or whatever. I think the advertisers associated with these companies know this. There probably isn't enough demand from the target audience to warrant new features.
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post #20 of 30 Old 01-04-2012, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osamede View Post

For example:
- modern GUI
- networking eg DLNA etc
- room correction
- that remote is poor, not only is it not backlit but even in daylight it is hard to read, layout/organisation is poor. (Do you have the option of an app-based remote or web interface? Nope)

Assuming they claim to be focusing on the audio customer, okay fine, at least try to do this. Wanting good audio is not synonymous with rejecting all modern progress. Rather you'd want to figure out what tools in 2012 can help me enjoy my music. Fumbling with a bad remote you havent changed in 6-8 years? No.


That's my point though - that customer isnt the Cambridge Audio customer. CA has pretty much zero chance of winning that customer, and certainly less so with this product which is new, but arguably inferior in "features" to say a mid-lower end product such the Denon 2312 or the Yamaha A810.

So why then doesnt Cambridge focus on their core customer and start doing something really different (as detailed in my previous post). I'd argue what they've done here is an inferior implementation of the strategy you are describing as the "in thing". So double failure here, as it is not the wrong strategy for them and they've also made a hash of their attempt to copy that MO from the bigger AVR makers.

Let's put it this way, having owned the CA 540R V2, I'm arguable a prime target customer for them and frankly I'm still trying to figure out what they've spent the past 5 years doing, since I last bought a receiver from them. Adding HD codecs? Wow, now that's "british design"....

Sorry to be so harsh, but actually this is an interesting slim-line receiver platform with decent power. However, one would wish that they'd actually try harder to make something successful of it. What I see here has no chance of doing any better than their previous receiver. In fact it will probably sell worse. And I dont think they really have too many shots at this, at their size.


You have answered your own basic question..
The development, tooling and validation costs of an AVR are significant..
A smaller, specialist brand such as Cambridge simply doesn't have deep enough pockets to underwrite a complete AVR platform including tooling, electrical design, hardware, software and validation. So the assembling factory requires Cambridge to share certain common, development elements with other brands..

As I mentioned previously, check out the specified key processors for audio and video of the Cambridge. Next check out the Harman/Kardon 2600/2650/260/3600/3650/360/460 AVR platform, you will see multiple, common features...

Just my $0.02...
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post #21 of 30 Old 01-04-2012, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walbert View Post

...for most "boutique" manufacturers (Cambridge, NAD, Anthem, B&K, Parasound, etc) ... This kind of product ...lacks room correction, it's very "basic" (which appeals to that "total audio purity" jag), and probably has quite competent amplifiers.

The Anthem and NAD have room correction and video processors and are far from being very basic.

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The development, tooling and validation costs of an AVR are significant..
A smaller, specialist brand such as Cambridge simply doesn't have deep enough pockets to underwrite a complete AVR platform including tooling, electrical design, hardware, software and validation.

Agreed, really saying the obvious, plus all the risks involved if they go their own way independently.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #22 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

The Anthem and NAD have room correction and video processors and are far from being very basic.

Way to completely conflate what was said, to derive a new and interesting meaning, simply to be able to argue about it!

By "this kind of product" the reference was the topic of the thread; this new Cambridge unit.
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post #23 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Agreed, really saying the obvious, plus all the risks involved if they go their own way independently.

IMHO the risk is quite the opposite - its the risk of burning resources on launching a product that's incapable of selling anywhere near enough to break even on its costs, let alone make the kind of return on investment necessary to stay in this business. This product is not well thought through - too much "what we've always done" and then trying to fob that off as "design".
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post #24 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osamede View Post

IMHO the risk is quite the opposite - its the risk of burning resources on launching a product that's incapable of selling anywhere near enough to break even on its costs, let alone make the kind of return on investment necessary to stay in this business. This product is not well thought through - too much "what we've always done" and then trying to fob that off as "design".


The budget to develop an AVR platform such as the Cambridge is > $1 million. This includes the design team (8 engineers), hard tooling, software writing debugging and validation plus platform certification by UL/CSA, FCC, HDMI, Dolby, DTS. And takes approximately 1 year assuming adequate available man-power. Next calculate the ROI based on its sales forecast..

Bottom line...
By sharing platform development its cost is reduced by 60-80% compared to doing by themselves...
Plus its development timeline and availability for sales $ contribution is accelerated significantly.

Just my $0.02...
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post #25 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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So how many units would one expect they can sell of this product, which is basically stuck in 2008 or 2009, but is now being launched in 2012?

What is the global customer base for a product of this sort? And what's their distribution network like? I can say that over here their importer& retail outlet is practically ignoring this brand.

For me this company is basically competing with say NAD and H/K for whatever few Anthem customers might drop off. Incredibly niche customer base and arguably chasing it with the same product from same factory according to what we hear in this thread.

Its fine to talk about sharing platforms as lowering R&D costs but this is not producing a cutting edge product coming out of that approach - and still have to cover production distribution and marketing costs and contribute to owners profit expectations

I'm struggling to see this as a sustainable product line.
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post #26 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Osamede View Post

So how many units would one expect they can sell of this product, which is basically stuck in 2008 or 2009, but is now being launched in 2012?

What is the global customer base for a product of this sort? And what's their distribution network like? I can say that over here their importer& retail outlet is practically ignoring this brand.

For me this company is basically competing with say NAD and H/K for whatever few Anthem customers might drop off. Incredibly niche customer base and arguably chasing it with the same product from same factory according to what we hear in this thread.

Its fine to talk about sharing platforms as lowering R&D costs but this is not producing a cutting edge product coming out of that approach - and still have to cover production distribution and marketing costs and contribute to owners profit expectations

I'm struggling to see this as a sustainable product line.

The global market for AVRs was about 3.65 million units in 2011, not including those counted in HTIBs & AVR/DVD combo players...
Cambridge's market share is <1% so depending upon which geographic area their market position is the strongest, one could calculate their market share.

IMHO..
It is basic economics, a smaller, less known brand such as Cambridge is unable to support its own AVR development platform. Note that I personally admire the specialist brands including Cambridge but one has to deal with reality..
They are unable to run with big brands in AVRs...
In other component categories such as power amplifiers and stereo receivers and preamps, maybe...
But here the total biz $ is much lower.

You mite want to check another thread I posted about the Onkyo brand, Gibson just made a major investment. However, in their last fiscal year Onkyo had sales of almost $700 million but lost money..

Just my $0.02...
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post #27 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by M Code View Post

It is basic economics, a smaller, less known brand such as Cambridge is unable to support its own AVR development platform. Note that I personally admire the specialist brands including Cambridge but one has to deal with reality.. They are unable to run with big brands in AVRs...

I'm not disputing this point here. In fat my point is why come in here with a me-too product that is 2-3 years outdated. It just seems like a waste of time, as it offers little to interest even the most niche of markets, unless one considers technophobe audiophiles a viable market, and even in that case the Cambridge Audio brand is not anywhere near exclusive enough in perceived position or priced high enough to make up for the lack of scale..

That's why my earlier point - if they are going to bother to do this at all, why make the inevitable failure with this approach, why not take a look at what today's technology makes possible and try and do something different maybe with an open source approach. This here looks like just burning money.
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post #28 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Osamede View Post

I'm not disputing this point here. In fat my point is why come in here with a me-too product that is 2-3 years outdated. It just seems like a waste of time, as it offers little to interest even the most niche of markets, unless one considers technophobe audiophiles a viable market, and even in that case the Cambridge Audio brand is not anywhere near exclusive enough in perceived position or priced high enough to make up for the lack of scale..

I see we're on the same page!

Quote:
That's why my earlier point - if they are going to bother to do this at all, why make the inevitable failure with this approach, why not take a look at what today's technology makes possible and try and do something different maybe with an open source approach. This here looks like just burning money.

That open source approach still isn't entirely "free" - you still have to get everything working together. It's easier to doll something up and try to move more units than it is to go back and re-tool and re-design.

There are other ODMs that at least try the "different" thing. I think that what you're wanting to see, does happen, I just think Cambridge is the wrong place to see it happening.
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post #29 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 04:35 PM
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I don't understand why all the concern and emotion about CA's developmental strategy. I haven't heard they are in trouble. Have you? Should you be concerned about other British hi-fi companies, like Arcam, Linn, Meridian, Naim etc. Their strongest market is most likely in the UK. CA traditionally excels in their 2CH equipment (DAC, CDP, amps) and not AVR and the same for the others. There is still a loyal fan base for 2CH audio. Linn and Naim haven't even moved to HD audio. Shouldn't they be in bigger trouble by now?

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #30 of 30 Old 01-05-2012, 05:29 PM
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The global market for AVRs was about 3.65 million units in 2011

And probably 3.64 million of them were bought by men.
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