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Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

Phono preamplifier for moving magnet cartridges (Silver)

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  • Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

    Silver

  • Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

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  • Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

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Item #: 779551PS
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

by Dave Bar
Cambridge Audio
back_panel

The Azur 551P adds excitement and life to the sound of your vinyl records.

"Do I really need a separate phono preamplifier?"

The simple answer is, of course, if your turntable or stereo system doesn't already have one built in. But even if does, and you're currently plugging your turntable directly into your receiver or amp's phono input, you could still be missing out on a lot of sonic goodness. That's because many manufacturers use low-cost, low-fi circuitry that sounds flat and lifeless. The Cambridge Audio Azur 551P solves that problem. It boosts and equalizes the tiny voltages coming from your 'table's moving magnet phono cartridge to deliver a robust, line-level signal infused with rich, dynamic sound — revealing layers of musical detail hidden in the grooves of your favorite vinyl records.

The Cambridge Audio difference

Cambridge Audio has a passion for creating high-value audio gear that captures every last drop of detail and emotion from your music. The 551P has been carefully designed to offer plenty of foot-tapping performance at a price that won't break the bank. Its advanced electronics include high-quality 'Class A' amplification circuits and hand-picked components housed in an all-metal outer casing featuring a thick brushed aluminum front panel. The 551P isn't expensive, it only sounds and looks that way.

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Highlights:

  • compatible with moving magnet phono cartridges
  • external power supply for reduced noise and interference
  • acoustically damped full-metal chassis with thick, brushed aluminum front panel
  • discrete transistor input stages instead of integrated circuits for greater dynamics and lower noise
  • single-ended 'Class A' gain stage with audiophile-grade passive RIAA equalization
  • gain: 39dB (at 1 kHz)
  • signal-to-noise ratio: greater than 85dB
  • THD: less than 0.009% (20-20,000 Hz)
  • RIAA response accuracy: ±0.65dB (25-20,000 Hz)
  • crosstalk at 20 kHz: greater than 76dB
  • 8-1/2"W x 1-7/8"H x 6-3/4"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • MM phono pre-amplifier
  • AC power supply (with attached 6' DC cord)
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Important Safety Instructions
  • Caution note

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features

Overview: The Cambridge Audio 551P MM phono pre-amplifier has been designed to complement a wide range of entry-level MM (moving magnet) turntables. This high-quality pre-amplifier contains the amplification required to enable you to connect your MM turntable to your stereo amplifier or home theater receiver. Some amplifiers are already able to support turntable connections, but these built-in phono pre-amplifiers are out-performed by the Cambridge Audio 551P. Connected using a stereo audio interconnect cable, the 551P is set-up in minutes allowing you to appreciate stunning clarity, musicality, and resolution from all your vinyl recordings.

All Metal Chassis: The Cambridge Audio 551P MM phono pre-amplifier features an acoustically damped full metal chassis with a thick brushed aluminum front-panel.

Moving Magnet (MM) Compatible: The Cambridge Audio 551P is a Moving-Magnet-type (MM) phono stage; which describes the commonly used type of cartridge (sometimes referred to as a "needle" or "stylus") configuration typically supplied with affordable modern turntables.

Class A Amplification: The 551P MM phono pre-amplifier utilizes a single-ended "Class A" gain stage with audiophile passive RIAA equalization for excellent sound quality.

Discrete Transistors: The Cambridge Audio MM phono pre-amplifier uses discrete transistors for the input stages, instead of the more common integrated circuits which can cause interference and distortion.

MM Phono Input: The Cambridge Audio 551P MM phono pre-amplifier is fitted with a set of stereo RCA inputs to connect your MM (moving magnet) cartridge turntable.

Audio Output: The Cambridge Audio 551P MM is fitted with a set of stereo RCA outputs to connect your turntable and the pre-amplifier to the line-level inputs on your home receiver. Do not connect the 551P to a "Phono Input" on a receiver or amplifier.

Ground Terminal: The 551P has a turntable ground, in case your turntable has a separate ground lead. This provides shielding to the tone-arm and the sensitive circuitry in the turntable.

Power Switch: The Cambridge Audio 551P features a front-panel power switch to turn the unit On/Off; this allow energy consumption to be zeroed when not in use.

External AC Adapter: The Cambridge Audio 551P MM phono pre-amplifier includes an external AC power supply.

  • Input: 120V AC, 60Hz
  • Output: 12V - 500mA
 
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Cambridge Audio Azur 551P Reviews

Average Customer Review:

14 people say:

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5 out of 5

Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

Written By Bob K., Arizona on Sunday, August 31, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Recently upgraded my system with a used turntable and a cheap phono amp. Decided the amp was not up to my standards, and since I already had a Cambridge Azur system, I decided to at least check out their phono amp for an MM cartridge. Just no comparison with the other unit!!!!! Absolutely love how this amp makes the records sound. Even at low volume the details are incredible!!!!! Definitely would recommend this unit if you are looking to upgrade your turntable with a MM cartridge.
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5 out of 5

Fantastic Sound

Written By Flachboard, La Crosse, WI on Monday, August 04, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
My entry-mid level turntable has never sounded better!
Pros:
Great sound for a great price
Cons:
None thus far
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5 out of 5

A conversational piece

Written By Colin H., Maine on Saturday, June 07, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I imagined that it would take a period of intense and devoted listening to hear how this pre-amp differs from the built-in amps of the earlier AVRs, but no, its brilliance revealed itself just seconds into 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'. It picks up every nuance in a controlled and balance way. Truly something I will brag about to my other analog loving friends!
Pros:
Great grounding / power circuit isolation No noise to speak of
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

Written By dennis, shedd, oregon on Thursday, April 17, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Sweet, warm beautiful sound. Pressing the power button is like pressing a 1970's button.
Pros:
Sweet sound Nice looks
Cons:
Nothing
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Cambridge audio azur 551p

Written By JAMES H., Kannapolis,NC on Friday, March 14, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Good Phono Pre-Amplifier easy to hook up.
1 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Solid Pre Amp

Written By E, WI on Friday, February 21, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This is a solid pre amp for the cost. My Onkyo receiver did not have a phono connection and after deciding to get back into vinyl I went looking for a solid pre amp option for my new turntable. Good sound quality and perfect size for my setup, I have just off to the side on my cabinet. There are less expensive pre amps available but after reading reviews, researching options and talking with a Crutchfield rep and a a few other dealers I went with this pre amp and felt it was a good balance of price/quality. For those just starting out in vinyl note that this pre amp does not come with RCA cables.
Pros:
Easy setup, good size for space. good feel/components.
Cons:
Lack of RCA cables for some.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

What an Improvement!

Written By Paul, Boston on Saturday, February 08, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I love vinyl and this preamp really brings out the depth, clarity and warmth of that analog sound. I recently upgraded my Technics SL 5 with a Prestige Green cartridge by Grado and was amazed at the improvement. I decided not to stop there and decided to upgrade my $50 TCC 750 pre amp as well. After much research, the Cambridge Azur kept rising above the rest. With Crutchfields generous policies, I had nothing to lose and gave it a go. So glad I did! This upgrade, paired with my Marantz SR 5007 has been a revelation. I was really missing out on a ton of detail and a really great soundstage with this pre. My vinyl sounds even more amazing than ever! If you are considering this, I suggest going for it. I would be surprised if any one would be disappointed with this quality unit.
Pros:
Easy setup, great sound, solid build, grounding wire attachment, on/off switch, light on indicator, gold plated audio in/outs
Cons:
Odd size-too big to set up on top of my tower next to turntable, too small to stack on top of
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

Written By Joe Z, Waynesboro. VA on Friday, February 07, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
My ONKYO didn't have a phono jack, so I contacted Crutchfield online and chatted with a service tech. He suggested the Cambridge Audio Azur 551P phono preampliphier. Although it is expensive at $157, it was worth it. It arrived in two days and was easy to hook up. I was skeptical of all the great reviews but when I listened to my first record it was crystal clear. I was amazed at how much better my old albums sounded. I kept trying different types of music from classical to heavy metal and all sounded great. I even tried my old 45 record collection and again the sound was so clear. I take care very good care of my records, so I can't comment on any scratched or damaged records. Thank you Crutchfield for helping me find the right item.
Pros:
Well made and has a power switch so it does not use electricity when not in use. Excellent sound reproduction. Easy to hook up. Use good patch cords and phono jacks.
Cons:
The cost is high but well worth it. You get what you pay for is the old expression.
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Excellent

Written By pressurewelder, West Virginia on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Very impressed. . It's obvious that Cambridge knows what vinyl is supposed to sound like, and they build the 551P with quality components. Makes my modern amp sound as warm and crisp as my vintage recapped SX950. But this Cambridge preamp is more sensitive to nuance and detail, with better resolution.
Pros:
Modern vinyl playback at it's finest for the money, Sounds more expensive than it is.
Cons:
A set of patch cords and ground wire included would be nice. But would obviously raise the price, and some folks wont need them.
5 out of 5 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Good Product

Written By Rick, Charleston, SC on Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Had a lot of trouble with the inexpensive $20 pre-amps that are largely touted on the online shopping services. Bought one and it didn't work at all, so I couldn't even complain about excessive noise that I read about in many reviews. Threw in the towel and upgraded with the help of a Crutchfield support person (Rocky) that both educated and directed me towards the Cambridge 551P. It was more than I wanted to spend but guess what? It works just fine and my albums sound just like they did on my older JVC receiver. So far I'm happy.
5 out of 5 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Cambridge Audio Azur 551P

Written By JoeR, Pittsburgh,PA on Saturday, May 25, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Unit performs as advertised without any problems to date.
Pros:
Unit performs as stated.
Cons:
None
4 out of 6 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

First pre amp

Written By DonE., Hilo Hawaii on Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I haven't used a pre amp before , so take this w/ a grain of salt. I had a hum in my system when using this device , so I upgraded the in/out audio cables per Crutchfield tech support. That cured everything . Sound is clearer than I remember my LPs from years ago ( some from 1963 ) I have traveled & toted about 300 LPs for all of my adult life. Getting this with the Pro-ject Carbon turntable was a little pricey for me , but hearing those cuts on my LPs that NO ONE plays anymore was worth it. (Thanks , Honey),my wife , not Crutchfield... P.S. went with Monster gold cables..
Pros:
works & looks great
Cons:
they should put really high quality cables with it , or none at all
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Superb upgrade in SOUND!!

Written By R. Proudfoot, Oak Park, MI on Sunday, January 13, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I decided some months back to renew my interest in vinyl. I dug out my old Technics SL-Q2 turntable, installed a new Audio Technica stylus and purchased this product. As with the previous reviewer I could not plug into the phono jack in my Sony receiver but instead plugged into an auxiliary jack. What an improvement in the SOUND!!!! Remarkable improvement compared to listening to my old albums without this phono pre-amp. Highly recommended!!!
Pros:
Much improved sound quality. Really makes my entire unit sound totally different (amazingly different). Simple to set up/install.
Cons:
None
10 out of 10 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Excellent Product

Written By David D, Clayton, North Carolina on Saturday, December 01, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Excellent product, I was skeptical of this product at first, my turntable has a built-in amp, and also my amplifier has a phono jack. I went in through a line on my amp, and turned off the switch to the preamp on the turntable. I was amazed at how much better the sound of my old albums produced using this product. I don't have high dollar audio equipment, but I feel like I do now! The sound is louder, more pure, and crisp, not as dull and flat as it use to be. I'm not saying this is a miracle product, but it did help out my stereo system. I don't think I'll go out and buy one of those $500 plus turntables, I'll stick with my cheap $200 table for now. I'm a satisfied customer, and I recommend this product... made in England, not China, so it should last for more than a couple of days, but what do I know, it's probably made in China too.
Pros:
Does improve the sound of your turntable (mine anyway), Not a bad looking peice of equipment
Cons:
none
12 out of 13 people found this helpful
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For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the Cambridge Audio Azur 551P, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_779551PS/Cambridge-Audio-Azur-551P-Silver.html ).

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