Cambridge Audio celebrated its 50th Birthday in 2018. While most of us turning 50 might look to ever-expanding waistlines and the occasional mid-life crisis, Cambridge Audio has instead gone to the gym and got ripped. The new Edge range – including the Edge A integrated amplifier seen here – is perhaps its most ambitious line in a generation.
Edge is currently a three-strong group of next-gen products, designed with multiple roles in mind; they represent the best Cambridge Audio can muster, they showcase the company's tech in a way that puts the company back on the high-end map, and they represent a useful platform for the next generation of products, both at a more stratospheric and more affordable level. Whether that last statement holds true depends on a number of factors, but it's worth noting that some – but not all – elements of Cambridge Audio's Class XD Azur electronics did trickle down into some extremely reasonably-priced audio electronics from the brand. So, while Edge is unlikely to forge an Edge Lite sold in the shops for one-twentieth the price of Edge, expect to see some elements of this range appear in subsequent models across the board.
The three models in the range thus far are Edge A (the £4,500, 2x100W integrated amplifier that is the subject of this review), Edge NQ (a £3,500 full digital network preamplifier) and Edge W (a matching £2,500 stereo power amplifier, also rated at 100W). As far as we can tell, there are no immediate plans to extend this range into including phono stages or separate power supplies or anything else; it's a standalone flagship trio. And given they more than double the cost of any previous flagship designs from the brand, it's clear Cambridge Audio is setting its targets high.
The name 'Edge' summons up images of 'cutting edges', 'leading edges' and other sharp-related metaphors. So, you might be forgiven for thinking the name was there because the products are cutting edge designs, or even that it will 'edge' out the competition, but in fact, it's called 'Edge' in honour of the late Professor Gordon Edge, who designed the original P40 amp in 1968.
In fact, the Edge A is a sophisticated combination of the traditional re-drawn to be shiny and new, and the shiny and new redrawn to be more approachable to the traditional. Along the way, Edge pays homage to some of Cambridge Audio's great 'firsts' in audio product design.
As Cambridge Audio was the first audio company to use a toroidal power transformer (remember, 50 years ago the transition from valve to solid-state still had everything to play for, and many amplifiers were still relying on `R-core output transformers, treating the then-relatively fragile transistor as if it were a valve. Cambridge Audio was the first hi-fi company to abandon the ways of the tube for the technologies of solid-state, including the toriodal 'traffo'. So, the Edge A has a toroidal transformer; a dirty great big pair of them, working to cancel out their own stray fields, right in the heart of the amplifier.