Best Used Amp for Cambridge Aero 2s

To Doug Schneider,

After reading some positive reviews regarding the Cambridge Audio Aero 2 speakers (also your article), I decided to buy them. Now I’m looking for some electronics (amplifier, CD player). I have a question: What amplifier would match with the Aeros? I have read that they have polite high tones. Does it mean that they need an amplifier with exposed highs and colder sound? I’m looking for a secondhand amplifier, and considering Rotel (e.g., RA-05), NAD, Marantz (e.g., PM6003 or PM7001), Cambridge Audio (e.g ., Azur 640A V2.0). I know that they may not use all the capabilities of these speakers, but I have a limited budget. Therefore, I need some advice on which of those amplifiers (maybe others) would match the Aero 2s in the best way.

Thanks in advice,

Here’s the thing: The Aero 2’s highs are a tad subdued, which I believe has to do mostly with the way the Balance Mode Radiator disperses its sound into the room. If you look at our measurements of the Aero , there are peaks and valleys in the upper frequencies that, when the on- and off-axis responses combine, produce an overall balance that’s slightly reticent in the highs. But because of that, don’t necessarily think that you have to pick an amp that’s been deliberately designed to sound bright, even with these speakers, because that could still get fatiguing to listen to, since the top-end roll-off is slight. Instead, my suggestion would be to partner the speakers with an amplifier that’s been designed to sound neutral from the bass through to the highs, which is what most perceive as sounding right. Just avoid any amplifiers that sound dull.

Luckily, the four brands you mentioned tend to design their gear so that it sounds neutral, and of those, none stands out to me as being head and shoulders above the rest -- all have great reputations for making fine products. The Aero 2 is also really easy to drive, so all the amplifiers should be compatible insofar as power output goes. No other brands pop to mind as being mandatory to include, but if you need other ideas, Hegel Music Systems, Anthem, Cyrus Audio, and Exposure are some other brands that you might find on the used market. Unfortunately, however, I can’t tell you which one will be the very best for these speakers; instead, you’ll have to let your own ears decide. . . . Doug Schneider