Cambridge Audio A3i - Strange Sound on Input

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Hi. :)

I do post, but I tend to do so in reply to others, so I believe this is my first thread. :)

I have a Cambridge Audio A3i amplifier, which is great. :) It’s an eBay item, but it has now failed. :(

The problem seems to centre on the inputs, most notably the CD one. The sound seems out of phase, and it’s as if virtually all of the voices have been somehow stripped out! The effect is like listening to an instrumental version of a song! The other inputs – I’ve only tried the Video one so far, as well as the CD one – seem somewhat weak in terms of output, though the sound does not seem quite right. However, that could just be me.

So, basically, the Video input seems to be fine, although it requires the volume to be turned up more than usual to get a decent amount of sound.

The seller says he used the CD input without any problems, as well as others, without any problems. He also says he has owned other hi-fi equipment (Musical Fidelity, for example).

What could the problem be with this amp? They’re lovely amps – I know x-pro (Alex) on here designed it :) – but I am afraid I do not have the necessary experience to fix it. It was actually sold to me as fully working, but it is not, and I have only had it a few days after it arrived from an eBay seller with 100% feedback. The seller has refused to issue a refund, so I am having to follow this up with eBay and PayPal, and so the amp may have to be handed back. :( If not, I will be left without any means of repairing it.

I really like this amplifier because I have hearing problems relating to my neurological condition, so certain sounds can make me feel unwell, and it suits me betters than any other amplifier I’ve tried, so I am trying to get more of these amps when I can find them on eBay, but this is the only one I have, and it does not work, and my hi-fi setup is in tatters, really. :( I really like music when I am well enough to listen to it, but I still do not have the amp I need. :(

If anyone could suggest anything, I would be very grateful. :) I know about the internal LEDs being useful for diagnosis, but I am not sure how relevant they would be in this case. Also, although I have my parents to help me, much of their time is taken up looking after me, so it’s not always easy to get the time to open things up like this – and it’s incredibly heavy, so I’ll blame Alex for that! :D ;)

The relays seem to be fine, and there is no hiss. However, I have noticed the source select switch seems rather stiff as it gets to the CD position, so I am wondering if this is a mechanical problem, perhaps? I have tried ‘exercising’ it (turning it a few times), but I do not wish to have anything done to it without any guidance. It was not damaged in transit, and it was incredibly well packed – the best I’ve ever seen – and in great condition.

Many thanks for your help. :)


Carl :)
Joined 2004
Paid Member
Hi Carl,
Sounds as though you have lost your input ground. Look to see if "audiophile" RCA connectors were used. You will need to unplug all inputs and measure between the shields to the others and phono ground (if there is one).

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