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Two years ago, Brian shared with you Cambridge Audio's Evo 150 and Evo 75 Network Amplifiers. And for two years we’ve been patiently waiting for the release of this guy. The new Cambridge Audio Evo CD Transport. We’ve heard-tell of this companion device for what felt like an eternity, and now it’s finally here! If you’ve picked up one of these Amplifiers, you’ll want to hang tight with me as we talk about why this is the perfect CD player for you.
From Amplifiers to Streamers, and Turntables to CD players, Cambridge Audio has it all covered. Everything you need for a stereo is part of Cambridge’s lineup. And with Cambridge's award-winning lineage and expertise, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new CD player and was super excited to open it up. Unboxing the EVO CD was simple and quick. Easy-to-read graphic instructions, QR codes, and a well-labeled accessories box, where you will find the Power cable, and special TRRRS cable for connecting the EVO CD to one of the EVO Amplifiers. You’ll see right out of the box a minimal amount of buttons on the front panel. Only a single disc tray open & close button. On the back, you have only the proprietary CD out, and an AC power connector.
Fit, Finish, & Design
Something I love about the EVO CD is its identical look to that of the EVO 150 & 75. Attached from the start, you’ll have the two wood grain side panels, that match the Evo 150. Also in the accessory box mentioned before, are a couple of extra side panels with a dark gray (black) wavy design to change the look of the EVO CD to match the alternative style of the Evo Amplifiers. Lastly, you also get little rubber pads to slightly raise the height of your Evo Amplifier to be the same height as your Evo CD transport. Cambridge Audio has gone above and beyond to make this a true companion device to your EVO Amp.
What Is A CD Transport?
I bet many of you may be asking the question “What is a CD Transport?” and “What makes it different than a regular CD player?” Both great questions.
A CD player will have a built-in DAC, or Digital to Analogo Converter, while CD Transports, do not. This means CD players will oftentimes have a multitude of outputs, like RCA, digital coax, or digital optical—most CD transports will only have one or two digital outputs or even specialty connections like the TRRRS cable.
CD transports rely on an outboard DAC or their companion device, like the EVO’s here. Since the EVO cd has such a unique connection, it is only compatible with the EVO amplifiers.
To control the EVO CD, you need to use one of the three following options. The Evo amplifiers front panel, the Evo amplifiers Remote, or the Stream magic app. All of these will get you the basic controls of play, pause, and stop. As well as fast forward, rewind, skip forward, and skip back. I’m an app guy, so I used the StreamMagic App to control the units in my testing. If you want to learn more about the StreamMagic App, check out our video on Cambridge’s MXN10 and AXN10 Streamers where we talk about it in more detail.
When I listened to a CD on the EVO CD, each track sounded crystal clear. CD’s are the bare minimum for digital music, in my opinion. 16bit, 44.1khz is the standard. And sometimes CD’s are even clearer than hi-fi streaming services that claim to stream at that bit rate, thanks to less compression.
But the thing I was most impressed with was the scrubbing and track skipping speeds. Some lower-end CD players and transports can take a few seconds to skip to the next track. And scrubbing through a track to get to a particular section can be incredibly annoying. The EVO CD was snappy and responsive. Not something I thought I needed until I experienced it. I thought it was going to be a pain to navigate playback without any discrete controls on the Evo CD itself, but I was presently surprised with the control scheme mapping on the front panel of the EVO Amp and remote. This single cable is responsible for both sending music from the transport to the amplifier, and sending control commands from the amplifier to the CD transport.
Application & Final Thoughts
If you find yourself in the unique position of owning an EVO Amplifier, and have been looking for the “perfect match” of CD transports, well this is quite literally made for you. It’s a great way to listen to CD’s in a smallish, compact, form factor. I think it’s a missed opportunity that this unit seemingly cannot be used with any other system, but Cambridge does make other CD Players and Transports for those users, so I guess I can’t be mad at them for wanting to make a true companion device for their all-in-one devices.
All in all, the EVO CD is a niche product, but a niche product that excels at what it’s supposed to do.