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Customer Reviews

Cambridge Solo

Phono preamplifier for moving magnet cartridges

MFR # C11026

Cambridge Solo

Cambridge Solo

Phono preamplifier for moving magnet cartridges

MFR # C11026

46 reviews
View this product

Great Buy!!!

David from Acworth Ga on 12/1/2021

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I have a Cambridge Audio AX85 receiver and AR 22 speakers. I thought the sound was great from my record collection. I got the Solo yesterday and all I can say is WOW! Strangely it makes the music more melodic and flat and the sound is enriched with new highs and lows. I urge you if your on the fence about this amp.... buy it you won't regret it!

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Ask First!

Crutchfield customer from Kissimmee, FL on 11/16/2021

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I found out the hard way you don't connect a Pro-ject phono box to a Cambridge Audio integrated amp-you connect a Cambridge Audio Alva Solo phono pre-amp. What a blunder! I should of talked to your experts first, I probably would have saved money.

Pros: I don't think I damaged my system.

Cons: There aren't any.

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Kansas City, MO on 10/4/2021

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Works great

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Bad loud hum developed

Chris A. from Middletown, NJ on 8/12/2021

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Unit sounded great but developed a loud hum in one channel. Tried various grounding options but hum persisted. Sometimes it goes away but not always. It wad sporadic . Got frustrated and disconnected the solo and hooked turntable back up to my preamp phono preamp. No hum. UPDATED 8/21/21: Upon closer investigation with the assistance of Crutchfield's assistant AJ, I discovered that the hum I was experiencing was actually from a loose wire in my phono cartridge, NOT the Cambridge Solon as I originally reported. The Solo is performing fine and the sound is an huge improvement over what I heard before I installed the Solo. Great sound with a reasonable price point. I would highly recommend.

Pros: Great sounding when not humming.

Cons: Bad occasional loud humming

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Outstanding receiver.

James from Montevallo, AL on 8/7/2021

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If you are in need of a 2 channel stereo receiver that delivers fantastic sound this is the one. Paired with a Technics 1500C turntable, and Klipsch Heresy IV speakers, all purchased from Crutchfield, I have the sound I want and deserve without spending a king's ransom.

Pros: Sound quality and build quality

Cons: None.

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0 of 1 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Chewelah, WA on 8/3/2021

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One year ago, I dragged my old LP's out from under the stairs, and bought a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable. For a year, I ran it hooked up directly to a Yamaha A-S501 amp, and it sounded good. I did not know if a phono preamp would be a worthwhile upgrade. This year, I bought the Cambridge Solo, and now almost all of my old records sound better. The biggest difference is in the soundstage. Sibilance is better controlled, and vocals are smoother. Over all, the improvement is significant. I've only had the Cambridge for two weeks, but I'm very pleased with it. Well worth it.

Pros: Better sound, better soundstage.

Cons: None.

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Grounding issue

Crutchfield customer from Fredericksburg, VA on 7/17/2021

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I had the same problem as another reviewer. The pre-amp doesn't ground my turntable properly so there's a hum. I returned the first one, and while the second one was a bit better on the grounding, it still had the problem. I know it wasn't the turntable because it was grounding perfectly to three other pre-amps I was evaluating. I did find a work around by connecting a second ground from my receiver to the pre-amp. That got rid of the hum entirely. The sound is very good, although I did pick up some distortion on a one of my tougher "reference" disks. I'm also evaluating the Pro-Ject Phono box S2 which is only a bit more, and it's been trouble free, no distortion, and sounds similar. The Solo was a bit warmer than the Pro-ject, but I feel the Pro-Ject was better on more complex material (most likely the reason it didn't distort on that tough disc), the Solo could get muddled like many of the other sub $200 pre-amps I've heard. I'm afraid the Solo will have to go back for good this time.

Pros: Good warm sound

Cons: Distorts and gets muddled on complex material Quality control, two units didn't ground the turntable adequately

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2 of 2 found this helpful

a better vinyl experience

Crutchfield customer from Minnetonka, MN on 6/19/2021

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I added the Cambridge Solo phono preamplifier to my stereo system to improve my vinyl experience. Connecting it to my 1973 Technics SL1300 turntable and my Cambridge Audio AXR-85 receiver (bypassing the internal phono preamp on the receiver) produced more detail, a more spacious soundstage and more life-like sound from the instruments in the recordings. This is a good way to upgrade a basic system at a modest cost.

Pros: simple set-up, better sound

Cons: an RCA stereo cable is not provided

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Lancaster, CA on 3/22/2021

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Purchased this since my Onkyo TX R7810 phono input was lacking in volume. I would have to turn the volume substantially higher when playing my pro-ject debut carbon. The Solo was easy to plug in and connect. Made a big difference on the clarity and now my pro-ject plays at a closer volume to my other audio inputs.

Pros: Easy to set up

Cons: Wish it had an auto on/off

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Forestville, CA on 3/14/2021

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Easy setup and far superior to the phono stage on my amp.

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Murfreesboro, TN on 3/13/2021

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Nice preamp. Would be nice to turn off the auto off feature and maybe different color lights for off and on. Overall great device.

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Elk Grove, CA on 3/8/2021

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I have been listen to both CD and vinyl, and I always felt that vinyl sounds more natural but lag of dynamic. I was using the build-in phono preamp at that time. When I started using the Cambridge Solo, the dynamic improved significantly. Now the dynamic is matching my CD system. I have since then listen more vinyl than CD.

Pros: Very clean and dynamic sound

Cons: None

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5 of 6 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Novato, CA on 3/8/2021

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The Solo appears very well made and is very easy to use. The sound has been been pleasantly neutral, as it should be. My vinyl collection goes back to the 60's, and I haven't found anything that draws attention as a flaw. An LP with clean sound remains that way.

Pros: Simple to use. Clean natural sound.

Cons: None.

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Louisville, KY on 3/6/2021

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Very nice preamp, it has just the right amount of gain for my 5mV cartridge. It has a very quiet internal power supply, no more trying to make your own battery packs to eliminate hum. I'm using it with a micro ridge stylus cartridge, and all of the details come out with crystal clear clarity. I would highly recommend this preamp if you plan on sticking with moving magnet cartridges like me, because it sounds good enough that you will want to keep it for awhile.

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Excellent

Crutchfield customer from Casper, WY on 2/17/2021

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This thing is awesome! I've been using a variety of 70s vintage amps for years and this just blows them away. I have it paired with Klispch Heresy IIs and love it.

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Atlanta, GA on 1/29/2021

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Good clean power. Simple. Would be 5 stars if it didn't have auto off feature which requires hitting power each time you start. Makes it so you can't put the device in a hidden spot.

Pros: Good clean power for phono

Cons: Can't disable auto-off feature

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3 of 5 found this helpful

Nothing but good things to say

Crutchfield customer from Nashville, TN on 1/26/2021

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Excellent quality and great sound. This brings out the warmth that I love about vinyl. Awesome experience with Crutchfield as well. Super fast shipping time.

Pros: Small footprint, excellent sound.

Cons: Turns off automatically when not used which is not a big deal but I sometimes forget to turn it back on and wonder why I have no sound. User error. :)

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Phono Upgrade

Gregory from Columbus, MS on 1/24/2021

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This is a great alternative if your receiver is older and the phono stage is not where you would like it to be. The unit is compact fits easily where you need to put it.

Pros: Size Easy hook up

Cons: Standby light should be red

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Alva solo is amazing!!!

Christopher from LONG BEACH, CA on 11/25/2020

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This is a beautiful piece with amazing sound. Nice and warm but still has good dynamics. I was using the built in phono on my Yamaha Aventage RX A1080 and knew a separate phono should improve it. The Yamaha has a surprisingly decent phono stage but the Solo is a while new animal. I am using a vintage Yamaha TT, a Nagaoka MP 110 and Kef Q350 speakers. The sound is amazing. Especially in pure direct mode. I'm sure the Rega MM phono would be better still but that is over twice the cash. I have heard it before in another system and would argue that this is 95% of the rega for less than half the price . I have used the Project Phono stage before as well and this is miles better. I will admit to being a bit of a Cambridge fan boy though. I like warm and lively sound. If it's too clean it get sterile and unpleasant. Sometimes warm can remove dynamics and punch. I find Cambridge Audio to marry warmth and dynamics as well as anyone. This is no exception.

Pros: Warm dynamic sound, amazing value

Cons: No "auto on" option

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo Preamp

Crutchfield customer from Toms River, NJ on 11/11/2020

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It's simple to set up and the mids that were previously missing are now smoothly pronounced. It added lots of punch to my records. No added noise. Awesome preamp!

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Evans Mills, NY on 11/8/2020

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No complaints or issues so far, this pre-amp is a huge improvement to the on-board pre-amp that is in my AT-Lp60X turntable. Sound stage is better and the music sounds more detailed. My new U-turn Orbit with Ortofon OM5E should arrive tomorrow and I can't wait to see how that sounds with this pre-amp. The rest of my setup is a Yamaha RS-202 and KLH Quincy speakers. Only possible downside is that, at least according to the manual, the input voltage range is too small to take a high-voltage cart like the Ortofon 2M Red or Blue, that's why I went with the OM5E because the voltage is lower. U-turn wouldn't tell me definitively if this would be a problem, but I wanted to stay within the range specified by the manual to try and prevent any sound issues. I know sometimes people have complained of hum, I only hear a very very slight hum with no music playing, you really have to be close to the speakers to hear it. In my opinion, with this set-up it isn't an issue. Lastly, I really like the way the unit looks and the build quality, the upside-down text on the connections, so you can read them when you're looking behind it from the top, is a nice plus.

Pros: Better sound than the pre-amp in my turntable Great build quality Looks good Easy to use and set up

Cons: Limited input voltage range Very quiet/slight hum with no music on

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Excellent choice

Michael from MEQUON, WI on 11/1/2020

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This is my first preamp. I am pairing it with a Sony PS-LX310BT through a Denon AVR-X2300W. The internal pre-amp on the Sony worked good. I didn't have anything to compare it to. The Solo is a big improvement over the internal Sony pre-amp. The vinyl has a bigger sound and deeper bass. There is also less static when playing older vinyl. A big selling point for me is that the Cambridge Solo has a standard plug and not a wall wart.

Pros: Looks good. No wall wart.

Cons: None after several weeks.

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Bloomington, IL on 10/13/2020

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Works as advertised. I have a vintage Pioneer receiver with a phono stage but the Cambridge Solo sounds better than the stage in the receiver. Very easy to set up. I really like the balance adjustment. I can't imagine a more expensive phono stage sounding any better than this. I'm very pleased with it.

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Drastic sound improvement on modern or vintage component groups

Crutchfield customer from Janesville, WI on 9/7/2020

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My first dedicated preamplifier. I noticed an immediate difference on my modern system which includes an Outlaw 2160r, Project Debut Carbon and Forte'II speakers. What I observed was louder volume at the same dB levels on the receiver, less Klipsch harshness in the high end, incredible separation and a just plain better sound stage. Since that time, I have run older Technics and Pioneer turntables through a Sansui 7070 which I thought had a better preamp than the Outlaw and noticed the same almost night and day difference. My cartridge/stylus' are all under 300.00 and I felt like the preamplifier made the biggest difference on an Ortofon Red. Worth every penny.

Pros: Easy to hook up, drastic sound improvement apparent from the first song.

Cons: None

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Belleville, IL on 9/6/2020

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Very Easy to set up and works as advertised.

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Cambridge Solo

Carlos from HUMACAO, PR on 9/5/2020

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LOVE IT

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Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from West Chester on 7/29/2020

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The phono preamp on my Onkyo TX-8020 was sufficient, but lacking. In an effort to improve the sound of my records, I bought the Cambridge Solo. The soundstage is larger and the sound is much better than my receiver's phono input. The Cambridge is also aesthetically pleasing. Simply seeing it next to my headphone amp makes me smile.

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Big step up from a built in phono stage.

Crutchfield customer from Sanford, FL on 7/9/2020

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For what I wanted it is perfect. After using the built in phono stage on my integrated amplifier for a few years I was ready for a step up. After getting some advice at a local record store, I decided that a more entry level model might not be much of a boost so I decided to go for this model. It really opens up the sound, everything has a much more expansive sound, very musical, very engaging, highly recommended.

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Fantastic

Crutchfield customer from Evington, VA on 6/21/2020

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I demoed the ever popular Schiit Mani phono preamp and thought it was pretty good until I tried the CA Solo. The Solo crushed it, and is absolutely amazing. Another great Cambridge product and great service from Crutchfield.

Pros: Warm sound, built in subsonic filter that doesn't take away from the music.

Cons: none

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4 of 4 found this helpful

So far so good ??

Crutchfield customer from Battle Ground, WA on 4/19/2020

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Only have had this about 2weeks and don't really have any complaints and since this is my first pre-amp don't have much to compare it to,time will tell I guess.

Pros: Actual AC cordand not a wall wort.

Cons: None so far.

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Excellent

Crutchfield customer from Grand Rapids, MI on 3/22/2020

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Works fine plug and play. Exceptionally quiet and does its job without complaints.

Pros: Quiet Appearance Easy to set up

Cons: None

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Just buy it!

Crutchfield customer from Daly City, CA on 3/11/2020

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I recently re-activated my interest in vinyl. Bought a vintage turntable but needed a phono preamp. First I bought a Schiit Mani. BIG mistake; it had white noise, hum, and received broadcast radio on the cheap power lead. Had to pay $30 to return it. So I bought a Cambridge Solo. I've had good luck with Cambridge in the past and the Solo is no exception. Plugged it in to my system, the same system the Mani gave problems with. No white noise. No interference. VERY minor hum but only if you put your head next to the speaker and turn the volume up when no record is playing. I'm picky so trust me, the hum is not an issue. Oh, and this is with a 35 year old NOS Sony turntable. The Solo sounds great! No fuss connection. A REAL engineered power supply that doesn't hum and isn't a wall wart like on so many other "audiophile" phono preamps. Just buy the Solo. You will be happy. Unless you need/want Moving Coil capability, in which case buy the Duo. Right now I'm listening to Pink Floyd's the wall on LPS I bought decades ago and it sounds great.

Pros: - easy to install - super quiet when it should be. - has a real, well engineered, internal power supply.

Cons: - if you want both Moving Magnet and Moving Coil, buy the Duo instead, and get a headphone preamp as a bonus.

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5 of 5 found this helpful

Hmmm .... good sound but loud hum.

Crutchfield customer from Houston, TX on 1/21/2020

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Sound was very good but there was a loud hum in the background. We tried two different units and I had the same issue with both. I was pairing it with the Cambridge CXA61 amplifier, so I was not expecting to have any issue like this. Ended up returning it.

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Good sound and quality build

Crutchfield customer from Raleigh, NC on 12/5/2019

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This is my first stand-alone phono pre - it sounds better than the built-in pre on my integrated amp but I have nothing else to compare it too. The construction is sturdy and it feels like a well-built component. It also has a built-in power supply and uses a universal IEC power cable which is great and uncommon on a device this small. I am using it with a vintage Kenwood turntable. The auto power-off feature annoyed me so I disabled it per the user manual instructions (hold button for 5 seconds) so I can manually turn it on and off.

Pros: Performs well, build quality is very sturdy, universal power cable!

Cons: Moving-magnet only

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Lawrenceville, GA on 4/22/2019

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Product works as advertised! Great customer service.

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0 of 7 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

William from Los Angeles, CA on 2/1/2019

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Easy to use. Sound is good but not stellar.

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Great Quality, and sound

Michael from Melbourne, FL on 1/24/2019

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Wow! Major improvement to my Debut Carbon DC turntable sound! . My setup: Debut Carbon DC, Acrylic platter, Ortofon 2M Red, Cambridge Audio Solo, Peachtree novaSE

Pros: Easy set up: plug in and turn on!

Cons: None

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Clear, Dynamic Sounds

Adrian from Johns Creek, GA on 11/28/2018

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The Cambridge Solo preamp was easy to install. I connected it to the output from my turntable and then connected its output to a pair of line inputs on the rear of my AV receiver. The records sounded much more alive and dynamic and I didn't have to turn the AVR's volume as high as did previously when the turntable was connected to the phono input. The high sensitivity and low noise ratings helped to produce clear sounds from the turntable, via the AVR. To truly experience the best sounds from the audio system, each component in the entire system must complement each other - great AVR or amplifier, great turntable with high quality audio cables and stylus, and of course, a great preamp like the Cambridge Solo. Highly recommended to anyone with a very good MM stylus and looking to listen to clear, dynamic sounds from records.

Pros: Easy to setup and use. Very low noise/distortion rating 90dB, low standby and operational low consumption; high gain @ 1kHz: 39dB.

Cons: None at this time.

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Amazing sound upgrade!!!

Alex from Quarryville, PA on 11/26/2018

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Wow! Major improvement to my Debut Carbon DC turntable sound! From the very first listen: a noticeable reduction on surface noise and better sound separation. I have been finding I was missing music details in my records! This is my 3rd preamp (the previous two around the same price than this Cambridge Audio Solo). The Cambridge blew the other two away. My setup: Debut Carbon DC, Acrylic platter, Ortofon 2M Blue.

Pros: Great sound! Surface noise decreased on my record playing! Great looking! Real power cable/PSU, this is not a wall wart powered device! Great price!

Cons: Time I will spend re-listening to all my records as soon as possible!

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1 of 2 found this helpful

Cambridge Solo

Richard from Highland, IN on 9/18/2018

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A great step upward for my Music Hall USB-1 turntable. (Dynamics & Resolution) Feeds Placette Audio pre-amp, Ayre VX-5 Twenty power amp & B&W 805 D3 speakers.

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Cambridge Solo

Israel from Caguas, PR on 9/2/2018

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Thanks,Carlos!!!great!!!

Pros: Great and velan sound

Cons:

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Works great

Jody from Derby, KS on 8/12/2018

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Works wonderfully. Low profile, simple operation. Exactly what I needed.

Pros: Easy set up (plug in and turn on!)

Cons: Nothing

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Cambridge Solo

Crutchfield customer from Rahway, NJ on 7/15/2018

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Excellent sound quality! Super easy setup. I just paired this baby with Sony 1080 receiver and my vinyls sound amazing! Highly recommended!

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Cambridge Solo

Greg from La Grange, MO on 5/30/2018

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Seems to work pretty good. Sterio Review wrote many years ago that the ideal preamp would be a piece of wire with a gain. I think we have one like that here.

Pros: it works

Cons:

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0 of 1 found this helpful

Great Phono Stage

Jim from Lansing, KS on 5/24/2018

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I could tell a difference from the first time I used it it. I was reminded of my Marantz 3300 pre amp and M 250 amp from 1973. Glad I purchased it and would recommend this phono stage to anyone wanting to upgrade. I currently have a Rotel RC-1570 pre amp and RB-1582 MkII amp. I prefer the Solo over the Rotel built in phono preamp.

Pros: Very easy to install. Great packaging. Great addition to my system.

Cons: None.

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Breathe new life into your vinyl

Chris from Needham, MA on 3/23/2018

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The Cambridge Solo is the latest phono preamp to come from the folks at Cambridge. I am using the Solo to connect a vintage Bang & Olufsen 1700 turntable to a mid-range Onkyo receiver and refurbished Boston Acoustics speakers, and the results are great. To my ears the combination of Solo, B&O, and my vinyl deliver a sound that is balanced between detailed and rich. The Solo preamp itself appears to be well built and has a brushed stainless front with only a single On/Off button. BTW, the folks at Crutchfield were very helpful: An email question I submitted was answered promptly and with enough information to help me decide between the two or three Cambridge preamps I was looking at. At this price point I can highly recommend the Cambridge Solo for anyone looking to breathe new life into their vinyl.

Pros: Detailed, rich sound esp. for the price point Well built preamp from a respected manufacturer Nicely finished, brushed stainless steel front

Cons: No USB output for anyone looking to create digital files from their vinyl

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5 of 6 found this helpful

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