Cambridge Azur 640H... too good to be true?

steve-p

Novice Member
I bought mine on a Thursday but he didn't ship it until the following Tuesday. It took two days to arrive, so it arrived after a week. Initially he sent me the wrong tracking number, but I was able to get the right one from the courier (GLS Germany). I think he might be selling stuff which is about to come into stock, hence the delay. He did reply to all my emails though, usually within a few hours. I would buy from him again, but perhaps I will wait and see what your experience is. In fact I was going to ask him how much he could sell the ST-64 for:

http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/ShopDetail.asp?ProductID=2641

It will play music straight from the main Hifidelio (wirelessly) and has the same user interface plus alarm functions, so would be ideal for the bedroom.
 

steve-p

Novice Member
By the way, assuming it is the same seller, I sent the phone number to you via PM. Probably worth trying to clear it up by phone.
 

brookheather

Distinguished Member
My Hifidelio dealer in the Netherlands quoted delivery for the ST-64 in April or May - he didn't have any pricing but I'm hoping it would be less than £350. My dealer also sold on eBay without actually having any stock - I had to wait two weeks for delivery - I guess its quite common for dealers to do this?

- Simon.
 

steve-p

Novice Member
It's probably more common than it should be. I accepted a little inconvenience because of the small matter of a 42% cost saving over the UK price. Normally I only buy online from retailers who show that they have it in stock.

Completely OT, but I find myself a bit short of disc space as I'm moving to FLAC. So, I've got one of these coming tomorrow to store the master copy of all my music and digital photos:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?art=2451

750GB in RAID5 configuration, which will do nicely. The price is wrong on that page, it's about £600.
 

extremelydodgy

Active Member
steve-p said:
It's probably more common than it should be. I accepted a little inconvenience because of the small matter of a 42% cost saving over the UK price. Normally I only buy online from retailers who show that they have it in stock.

Completely OT, but I find myself a bit short of disc space as I'm moving to FLAC. So, I've got one of these coming tomorrow to store the master copy of all my music and digital photos:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?art=2451

750GB in RAID5 configuration, which will do nicely. The price is wrong on that page, it's about £600.

I gave away my Terastation (the original) as I had so many gigabit problems with it. Better luck with your Pro... although if you're on a 100mBit LAN you shouldn't have any problems.
 

Kendalbeefcake

Active Member
steve-p said:
By the way, assuming it is the same seller, I sent the phone number to you via PM. Probably worth trying to clear it up by phone.

My seller finally got back to me with a tracking number, turns out they did send it when they promised (Thursday) but it's been held up. Apparently GLS hand all their UK deliveries to Parcel Force who couldn't find my work address.. :( After speaking to GLS (who spoke English, woo!) they gave me the parcel force tracking number so that I could ring them and organise a re-delivery; hopefully I should have it tommorow!

:clap:
 

Carl Stock

Novice Member
Firstly, may I respectfully point out that Opus and Cambridge Audio are both owned by Audio Partnership plc (see here: www.audiopartnership.com/brands.html).

Secondly, although I am rather late in mentioning this, I would like to point out that I am very impressed with the standard of English used by those here whose native tongue is not English. Your use of the language is better than many native English speakers; and, being interested in education, I am rather embarrassed that many native Britons are not taught other languages from primary school onwards. After all, many people in the world can speak fluently in more than one language.

Thirdly, I understand many people may be experiencing problems with their Cambridge Audio 640Hs; but I really wish it could be realised that these initial problems can be solved in the near future. There must be other users who are not experiencing any problems. The analogy of the patient seeing the doctor springs to mind: if all is well, the doctor (this forum!) does not hear from the patient (the user).

Peering at computing websites, you will find there are a vast array of conflicts and apparently simple problems that are unavoidable, at least in the short term. Even with Macs – I have one – there can be problems. Computers do not always run according to plan, be it because of software or hardware. Even with extensive testing, there are problems that can occur in the field (in the real world); and multitasking operating systems like Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc., are never foolproof – there is simply a great deal of work going on with operating systems, and it simply is not possible to guarantee near-flawless daily performance along the lines of, say, a CD player.

Lastly, any hard disk is quite capable of running 24/7 without any problems. In any case, my server's hard disk at home runs almost 24/7.

You mark my words: I am sure the 640H's firmware will be vastly improved in the very near future and will continue to be improved further.

Regards,

Carl :)

 

denony

Novice Member
Hello Steve :hiya:

steve-p said:
Incidentally I'm not actually ripping CDs on the Hifidelio in FLAC format, even though it can do it. I'm doing it on two PCs which means I can get the best compression for the files. I doubt that the processor in the Hifidelio could do it as quickly, at the maximum compression rate.
Lossless compression is the best way to get high quality. :) Unfortunately (for me), few hardware components play FLAC. 640H doesn't play it. I rip my CD in MP3 320 kb/s format because I own both 640H and a portable audio player Archos Gmini XS 202s with a built-in 20 GB hard-drive (detailed information here). MP3 works on both units.
MP3 320 kb/s is not as good as PCM uncompressed format, but it give most of the details of the audio format.

Denony
 

denony

Novice Member
Hello Carl :hiya:

Carl Stock said:
Firstly, may I respectfully point out that Opus and Cambridge Audio are both owned by Audio Partnership plc (see here: [/SIZE]www.audiopartnership.com/brands.html).

Thank you for this information! I understand why they are identical
Why are the prices so different? £600 for 640H and £900 for HDS500. It's a big difference, isn't it ?

Carl Stock said:
Thirdly, I understand many people may be experiencing problems with their Cambridge Audio 640Hs; but I really wish it could be realised that these initial problems can be solved in the near future. There must be other users who are not experiencing any problems. The analogy of the patient seeing the doctor springs to mind: if all is well, the doctor (this forum!) does not hear from the patient (the user).
I hope Cambridge will fix the bug in the very near future… All patients here are selling their 640H. I will be the only patient who try to fight again illness…. And I will loose…
In addition : Ed. Selley has disappeared of this topic without giving answer, list of 100% compatibles USB keys, feedback, … No news !
James Johnson-Flint has disappeared of this topic too.

Carl Stock said:
You mark my words: I am sure the 640H's firmware will be vastly improved in the very near future and will continue to be improved further.
I cross my fingers.

Denony
 

steve-p

Novice Member
Carl Stock said:
Thirdly, I understand many people may be experiencing problems with their Cambridge Audio 640Hs; but I really wish it could be realised that these initial problems can be solved in the near future. There must be other users who are not experiencing any problems. The analogy of the patient seeing the doctor springs to mind: if all is well, the doctor (this forum!) does not hear from the patient (the user).

I would agree with you, except there are so many apparently inherent problems that I doubt there are many satisfied owners to be found.

Carl Stock said:
Peering at computing websites, you will find there are a vast array of conflicts and apparently simple problems that are unavoidable, at least in the short term. Even with Macs – I have one – there can be problems. Computers do not always run according to plan, be it because of software or hardware. Even with extensive testing, there are problems that can occur in the field (in the real world); and multitasking operating systems like Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc., are never foolproof – there is simply a great deal of work going on with operating systems, and it simply is not possible to guarantee near-flawless daily performance along the lines of, say, a CD player.

Obviously! I am lead developer for a large software company and I use a variety of operating systems, servers, network protocols and equipment on a daily basis. To say that it is not quite right just because it's hard or complicated just doesn't work for me. It's just not right because of underdevelopment and lack of proper QA. It appears to be a long way from from users' expectations of usability and stability, and there is still a question mark over the hardware design because the CPU fan runs constantly and you could nearly fry an egg on it.

In comparison to the Audiotron: that has more functionality and only lacks the hard disk, is also CE based, has no fan, runs cold, and is fast to navigate no matter what the size of the music database. In thousands of hours of use, I have never found a single problem.

In comparison to the Hidielio Pro: that also has 160GB hard drive, has far more functionality, has a very good UI, needs no fan, runs cold, and is fast to navigate regardless of the size of the music database. I have not found a single problem yet in a week of constant use. So far I have about 100GB of music on it.

This is the way it should be. No-one expects software or hardware to be perfect, but there's a very big gap between the occasional problem that might be expected, say once a month or less, and failing to run for more than a few hours without crashing.

Carl Stock said:
Lastly, any hard disk is quite capable of running 24/7 without any problems. In any case, my server’s hard disk at home runs almost 24/7.

That's very true. My home linux server is always on, and has been running now for around 5 years. There is a caveat though. My five and a half year old TiVo is on its third drive. That is always on too, but also it is always writing to the hard drive, which generates heat. Overheating can have a dramatic effect on hard disk life. For example I've got 12 NEC Express5800 servers at work with three disks in each. On average, one fails a month. I believe this is due to poor airflow inside the case (they are blades) because fundamentally it shouldn't happen. The relevance here is that the 640H runs extremely hot, and this may well affect the hard disk life. It will be interesting to see how many fail between two and three years old.

While hard drives can last a long time without any ill effects provided they do not get too hot, the same cannot be said of processor fans. Invariably they get steadily noisier due to bearing wear.

Carl Stock said:
You mark my words: I am sure the 640H’s firmware will be vastly improved in the very near future and will continue to be improved further.

Either they put significantly more resource into sorting out the existing problems quickly, or they will damage the brand. I have subsequently heard from another (recently) ex-Richer Sounds employee that in fact there is a significant rate of return, at their branch at least. The main causes for concern are that the processor fan runs constantly, and the unit runs very hot, neither of which should happen. And the number of lockups could be related to that. In addition, the general usability and performance of Audiofile with a large amount of music are poor, and the network performance is, err, broken.

I do hope they get it right. What the market needs is something like the 640H which majors on sound quality but with enough functionality to be useful. However, they should have got it right before putting it on sale. Expecting paying customers to beta test the product will never work out.
 

steve-p

Novice Member
denony said:
Lossless compression is the best way to get high quality. :) Unfortunately (for me), few hardware components play FLAC. 640H doesn’t play it. I rip my CD in MP3 320 kb/s format because I own both 640H and a portable audio player Archos Gmini XS 202s with a built-in 20 GB hard-drive (detailed information here). MP3 works on both units.
MP3 320 kb/s is not as good as PCM uncompressed format, but it give most of the details of the audio format.

Denony
Hi Denony,

I think the 640H will play WMA lossless won't it? 320kpbs LAME-encoded mp3 is very good but I found there was rolloff at the top and bottom ends of the frequency scale. Of course, if you are using a portable player as well, that may not support it. Mine (60GB Creative Zen Xtra) does, but in the interests of file size, I use regular WMA for that, which is subjectively better than mp3 through the headphones I use (Bose). However, this is a strongly contested subject :)

One advantage of having everything in FLAC format is it's a one-off archival process. You can make any other format from it.

I've decided that it's time for a major overhaul of my system. First, I'm going to buy a good quality second hand DAC from eBay. There are loads on there including several CA ones (DAC Magic 2 and 3, S700), Musical Fidelity X-DAC, Audiolab, Audio Alchemy, Chord DAC64 etc. Or I may get one of these:

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/dac1/

I will feed this from the Hifidelio, since that is producing the original CD stream from its digital out. Second, I will finally get round to buying a DAB tuner, probably the Denon TU1800, which will also go through the DAC. Third, I have some new Monitor Audio speakers on order. Finally, last thing to change will be the amp. I'm undecided about what that will be at the moment. The Azur 840A looks good though.
 

brookheather

Distinguished Member
steve-p said:
I will feed this from the Hifidelio, since that is producing the original CD stream from its digital out. Second, I will finally get round to buying a DAB tuner, probably the Denon TU1800, which will also go through the DAC. Third, I have some new Monitor Audio speakers on order. Finally, last thing to change will be the amp. I'm undecided about what that will be at the moment. The Azur 840A looks good though.

Let us know about the DAC - all of my sources have digital out now (Hifidelio, Topfield, DAB tuner and DVD player) so I would be interested in feeding all four of them into a DAC and then into my Arcam amplifier.

- Simon.
 

steve-p

Novice Member
brookheather said:
Let us know about the DAC - all of my sources have digital out now (Hifidelio, Topfield, DAB tuner and DVD player) so I would be interested in feeding all four of them into a DAC and then into my Arcam amplifier.
Will do. I might wait until something takes my fancy on eBay so it could be a while, or I might buy new.

Straight away I can see a problem for you because most only have two or three inputs. Usually one optical, one either phono or coaxial, and sometimes a phono in addition to coaxial.

What I don't understand is why someone doesn't take a high quality DAC and build it into an amplifier, with several switchable inputs. I would have thought there are a few people who would be interested in such a product, with multiple digital sources. I have looked, and if there is such a thing, I can't find it.
 

SoundofFreedom

Novice Member
denony said:
Hello Carl :hiya:


Thank you for this information! I understand why they are identical
Why are the prices so different? £600 for 640H and £900 for HDS500. It’s a big difference, isn’t it ?

Denony

My correspondence with Opus have confirmed that the hardware is identical but that there are software differences. The Opus unit is designed as a custom install option for use with the Opus 500 multi room system and as such needs different software to allow it to communicate with the system, particularly to give display information via the wall keypads. Due to all the problems with the CA unit Opus are not allowing release until all the software is sorted out (thankfully) as they do not want dealers and installers to have to make follow up visits to sort units out.

The price difference seems alot to pay for software tweaks but if you want the features (keypad control) then you don't have much choice!
 

Kendalbeefcake

Active Member
Hello,

The topic of this thread is wandering all over the place at the moment but as a 640h "splitter" I have to agree with the concensus, CA seemed to have skimped on the development cycle and made some fairly serious compromises in terms of the hard disk/CPU fan and the choice of operating systems. IMHO I think people could forgive the noise if the software was otherwise stable, but in electing to choose CE to some extent they've premutuarly stunted the product. Linux is a much better base for an operating system for appliance style devices, hence it is used by so many manufactuerers. After reading the comments with regards to the v2 software on the 640h I gave up waiting for CA to fix the problems and came to the conclusion that I woud have to buy something like the HifiDelio as well as a dedicated "quality" disk spinner.

After finally taking delivery this afternoon, I've reassessed that decision and decided not to buy a dedicated CD player, the hifidelio (Delia) is sping-tinglingly good and with my current system I don't honestly see how I would get anything better. I have a few minor niggles but I know that at least two out of three will be sorted in the next version. Given the litany of complaints with regards the 640h if none of my problems with Delia are fixed, it is still superior the 640 in its current configuration.

To give you some idea, first time out of the box I didn't think that it was powered on, I couldn't hear it over my laptop fan..A massive difference compared to having to put my fingers in my ears listening to the 640h boot up, let alone rip CDs...Which is nearly silent on Delia..

In terms of the sound quality, Delia is easily a match IMHO, especially when you take into consideration the noise generated (or lack of it!)..

The things that do currently niggle are current lack of support for WPA (apparently fixed very shortly), a lack of DHCP client (or at least I can't find an obvious one) and the menus are currently a little small to be seen from my sofa, although the "current track" stuff is fine.

The only other critiscms I would have is the price, but if you're prepared to do business on e-bay you can find significant savings. For those of you who watched my previous post, the problems I had with delivery turned out to be Parcelforce's fault and not the trader's who did as promised..Albeit a bit slow in coughing up a tracking number so that I could sort it out.

So in summary, I don't think that I'll look back at a 640h again..

Anyone fancy helping form the first dedicated English HiFiDelio forum? ;)

Kendalbeefcake

PS Thanks to all who helped me track-down my errant parcel.. :hiya:
 

steve-p

Novice Member
Kendalbeefcake said:
The things that do currently niggle are current lack of support for WPA (apparently fixed very shortly), a lack of DHCP client (or at least I can't find an obvious one) and the menus are currently a little small to be seen from my sofa, although the "current track" stuff is fine.
Yes, WPA is in the next release, coming any time now.

There is a DHCP client. If you set the network config to 'Home Network' (and not 'Expert Mode') then it uses DHCP by default I believe. Certainly I didn't need to tell it to.

They are doing something with the display in the next release too, so that the line you are on is presented in larger form, or something like that.

Also coming is a lot more functionality in the web interface, although that might not be in the next release, but they were demonstrating it at CEBIT recently. I take it you saw the press release:

http://www.hermstedt.de/english/hifidelio/press/pr_hifidelio_cebit_03_06.html
 

steve-p

Novice Member
Kendalbeefcake said:
IMHO I think people could forgive the noise if the software was otherwise stable, but in electing to choose CE to some extent they've premutuarly stunted the product. Linux is a much better base for an operating system for appliance style devices, hence it is used by so many manufactuerers.
Actually I would like to defend Cambridge Audio on that particular point.

Don't get me wrong, I use linux a lot. I have 12 servers at work and one at home, and now I have three devices at home with embedded linux. You're right that it works exceptionally well in embedded devices, and as a server platform.

However, CE isn't necessarily all bad. I believe the problems with the implementation may well be of CA's own making, either due to poor choice of hardware, or because their software is causing the problems. The reason I say this is because I have one of these:

http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/products/audiotron/producthome.asp

This also uses embedded CE (3.0). However, unlike the 640H, it is silent (no fan), fast, and 100% stable. And I can only assume the Cirrus ARM 720T processor is less powerful than the one in the 640H, since it is several years old now.

The point is that CE can work very well. You get some format advantages for free, since you can play wma files. It only doesn't seem to work in this particular case, for whatever reason.

Also with reference to a previous post which described it as complex, in fact it seems to me that apart from CE itself (which should be stable and reliable), the Audiofile software could not be described as complex, as it really doesn't do very much at all compared to rival products. It looks like a few weeks work to me at most :)
 

Kendalbeefcake

Active Member
steve-p said:
Yes, WPA is in the next release, coming any time now.

There is a DHCP client. If you set the network config to 'Home Network' (and not 'Expert Mode') then it uses DHCP by default I believe. Certainly I didn't need to tell it to.

They are doing something with the display in the next release too, so that the line you are on is presented in larger form, or something like that.

Also coming is a lot more functionality in the web interface, although that might not be in the next release, but they were demonstrating it at CEBIT recently. I take it you saw the press release:

http://www.hermstedt.de/english/hifidelio/press/pr_hifidelio_cebit_03_06.html

Thanks Steve,

After I actually read the manual (rather than just jabbing randomly at buttons :rolleyes: ) did I figure that one out! The lack of WPA is not a disaster as I've a spare wireless bridge kicking around which will suffice for a few weeks. The web Interface is an unexpected bonus, makes titleing and sorting of albums very easy..Now if were only possible to add stuff to the compression queue from there it would be great!

With regards to the large screen, I discovered that if you hit the menu or info button twice on version 2.2b3 firmware it uses a "zoomed" mode which is much better for cross-living room viewing..Needs a bit more work as currently it doesn't stay zoomed, but that's the whole point of Beta software!

Regards

Kendal
 

Kendalbeefcake

Active Member
steve-p said:
Actually I would like to defend Cambridge Audio on that particular point.

Don't get me wrong, I use linux a lot. I have 12 servers at work and one at home, and now I have three devices at home with embedded linux. You're right that it works exceptionally well in embedded devices, and as a server platform.

However, CE isn't necessarily all bad. I believe the problems with the implementation may well be of CA's own making, either due to poor choice of hardware, or because their software is causing the problems. The reason I say this is because I have one of these:
<SNIP>

I guess it comes down to personal experience, mine with "diet" versions of windows has mostly been bad; "lite" verisons of Linux has mostly been good..It comes down to difference beetween a well implemented embedded linux and "troubled" implementation of CE.. For CA's sake I hope that they get the issues sorted and it flourishes into a product that shames my Bavarian "Delia", but I'm just not prepared for CA to hang on to my £600 whilst they get round to it..
 

denony

Novice Member
SoundofFreedom said:
My correspondence with Opus have confirmed that the hardware is identical but that there are software differences. The Opus unit is designed as a custom install option for use with the Opus 500 multi room system and as such needs different software to allow it to communicate with the system, particularly to give display information via the wall keypads. Due to all the problems with the CA unit Opus are not allowing release until all the software is sorted out (thankfully) as they do not want dealers and installers to have to make follow up visits to sort units out.

The price difference seems alot to pay for software tweaks but if you want the features (keypad control) then you don't have much choice!

Thank you SoundofFreedom for this information. I was thinking that Opus HDS500 has more bugs so it is more expensive. :D

I hope Opus owners will have better support that Cambridge Aubridge ones. Cambridge reads and posts on this forum everyday but hasn't answered to our questions about 640H issues since 20 days ! :mad:

I'm really desapointed... Not by 640H, but by Cambridge Audio Support attitude :(

Denony (alone in the dark)
 

steve-p

Novice Member
brookheather said:
Bear in mind that the Hifidelio remote control codes conflict with Arcam amplifiers.
Have you got any more detail on that? I'm picking up an Arcam amp and DAB tuner at the weekend and I'm wondering what to expect.
 

brookheather

Distinguished Member
The HF remote volume up = Arcam remote volume down and vice versa which basically means you can't change your amp volume from your remote as it will also change the HF volume in the reverse direction.

The HF remote number keys = Arcam input selection - so you press 1 and it switches to AUX etc.

Basically I wouldn't recommend using a HF with an Arcam amplifier if you can avoid it.

- Simon.
 

steve-p

Novice Member
brookheather said:
Basically I wouldn't recommend using a HF with an Arcam amplifier if you can avoid it.
Well... that's not an option. However the HF and other gear will be physically about 1.5 metres apart and at a different height, so it might not be too bad, depending on the directionality of the remotes.

Reading the german forums it seems there are clashes with other brands too. Looks like they really need to find some codes that don't clash and offer a replacement remote and a firmware update to change the codes at the server end.

If I can find the codes in a config file somewhere I might try changing them and using a programmable remote instead where you can enter the codes manually. However I will assess the problem first when I get the Arcam gear. In any case, the only thing I want to control remotely is the amp volume and DAB station. I won't be switching sources because everything (HF, DAB, DVD, Freeview) will be piped via a Cyrus DAC X into the amp, so only one source. The worst case scenario is that I disable the IR on the Arcam gear which wouldn't be the end of the world.
 

Roger the Dodger

Standard Member
Sorry to butt in, team, but can anyone recommend a good brand of portable MP3 player that is known, definitely, to be compatible with the 640H? :lease: The bigger the memory the better. I'm just being cautious, having read of problems with various keys etc. I understand that iPods don't work with it. Thanks.
 

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