Cambridge Audio DAB300 Review

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jimb's review of Cambridge Audio DAB300

★★★★★
Cambridge Audio DAB300

“I have used DAB for a while on a 'portable' receiver,...”

Written on: 06/08/2003 by jimb (1 review written)

Good Points
Price, sound quality, ease of use, No set up, facilities.

Bad Points
Remote is extra cost, not worth having, CCFs on remote central are a more sensible option, for use on Philips Pronto or a PDA. Pronto and iPAQ work just fine.

General Comments
I have used DAB for a while on a 'portable' receiver, which gave a sufficiently creditable performance to use through a Hi Fi system and encouraged me to go for a full size receiver. The price of the cambridge audio DAB300, that too was worth a risk



I have experience of using Freeview (Panasonic) tuner and Sky (Sony and Grundig digiboxes) to listen to DAB. In comparison the cambridge audio DAB300 radio is in a different league of audio quality. Having used Harmon-Kardon , Yamaha and Technics and Aiwa high end FM receivers in the past, THE major difference is the silent background in stereo. Over thirty years of chasing stereo radio broadcasts and spending a small fortune on analogue receivers over the years looking for that 'silent' stereo decoder



Now here we have it! I've struggled for forty years to achieve what this receiver delivers! The cambridge audio Radio 3 reception is clean and clear, belying the MP3 format limitations. I have read other commentators say they hear MP3 high frequency artefacts. I have tried to seek them out with a little HF lift on the pre-amp (cambridge audio C500 driving P500s, bi-wired and bi-amped LINN TUKANS). I am pleased to say that I cannot hear any artefacts on R3 whether in silent periods or during music broadcasts, (obviously more likely with the latter, however much more difficult to detect). Other stations that use 128kbps or 160kbps, may be affected. It is very difficult to tell on rock music as the upper frequencies are rarely of great finesse



The major disappointing discovery is that Radio 4 where broadcasts are at low data rates even in stereo 128kbps is used for 'The Archers' - OK I admit it, I'm nuts addicted I'm afraid! Even at this rate speech via the cambridge is just fine.



A further discovery is the ability to manually select the Dynamic Range Compression on the receiver, I wonder what value this is, and unless this complements the broadcast expansion system (Is there one?) the only result can be compression distortion. Isn't radio compressed enough? An expansion system would make slightly more sense. Such a pity that the people at the BBC think we all listen predominantly in cars! Anyway, what is the point of this user control on a Hi Fi receiver?



The cambridge audio DAB300 is just incredibly good! The sound reminds me of analogue 19 ips Revox Dolby A tape recordings. (they were very good in their day, perhaps some of the Radio 3 was originally sourced on such equipment?



The only downside to the Cambridge DAB-300B (the software is completely stable on this model), that there will be another model in a matter of months with more facilities, such as recording (a radio version of TIVO?) favourites prediction, probably will detect your mood when you come home and switch on a programme with suitable content to either soothe you or to take you to a rock concert to play air guitar and blast the boss right off the face of the planet!



The sound quality seems limited more by MP3 than anything intrinsic to the radio.



Absolutely brilliant cambridge audio!

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