A few compromises have been made to assure the Azur 540R's affordable price, although these are generally reflected in the features as opposed to overall performance. For instance, there are only six channels of amplification -- including support for a centre rear speaker -- while other similarly priced models offer a full 7.1 configuration.
Unlike models such as Onkyo's TX-SR605, there is no integrated decoding for high-definition audio formats. This is still a rarity, though, since compatible HD players are not widely available and the receiver can still accept already decoded HD surround sound signals through its multi-channel analogue inputs.
Integrated video up-conversion is another glaring omission and analogue sources cannot be output through the HDMI connection, which can only be used for basic video switching. The absence of preamp outputs means that you won't be able to add an external amplifier as part of a future upgrade.
Most rival receivers in this class also include an automatic calibration system based on a supplied microphone that leaves the time-consuming setup process down to technology. Beginners or simply lethargic users might be put off by the lack of this system.
We didn't have too many criticisms for the receiver's enthusiastic sound performance but we did find that the occasional subtlety could get lost among all the excitement.
Cambridge Audio's Azur 540R (Version 3) is an ideal entry-level receiver that offers excellent usability and performance for an affordable price. It's missing several features, such as integrated video up-conversion and an automatic calibration system, both of which can be afforded without spending too much more in today's market.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday