on April 26, 2013
I was turned on to buy this radio by a review in Monitoring Times magazine. That review was a glowing two-pager and said among other things that, "While audio fidelity is more a matter of personal preference, in a side-by-side sound comparison with an older Bose Wave ® radio...I preferred the factory preset audio of the Ambiance Touch to that of the Bose." So, I bought one and here is what I found:
The sound is indeed fantastic. It is adjustable from every possible aspect, absolutely room-filling, the bass is never overpowering (unless you like it that way) and the overall, well, ambiance of the sound is first rate.
Overall the setup was very easy. I had it connected to the Internet and my Pandora account, working with my iPhone in both Bluetooth and docked all within the first five minutes of cracking the box. The setup wizard is very nice. The manual might mention it takes a few minutes to startup though. But turn it on and wait for the wizard or just step through the settings.
I wish also that the manual was more complete as to the Internet Radio functions. It is often hard to determine (at least for me) which category the sub-category is within and scrolling is a pain. A nice printed list of categories would help.
Although I like Pandora there are other services that I like better and hope that Cambridge will add them to subsequent firmware updates (at least there is a menu choice for updating from the Net). I would absolutely love if they could add MOG and Stitcher to the Home menu!
It would also be nice if the manual had a bit more on the remote control. A few times it wasn't so intuitive how to use it instead of the touchscreen.
Overall, I am truly happy with this purchase. If you are looking for a WiFi radio that will work with your other equipment, one that has a full Internet capability and one that isn't going to drive you crazy with an odd interface - this is the one.
on December 11, 2013
I am updating this review to let people know that there are other, probably more economical and better sounding options out there for purchase than this model. I waited to post about this product for some months because I wasn't sure what I thought about it. Every so often, there would be what I perceived to be a "network surge" that killed the wifi connection. This would shut the unit down in mid-play, and the connectionhad to be re-established. This could sometimes take about 7 minutes from the shut down to the boot back up - not always so convenient. I did two things that seemed to resolve this problem; one was a factory reset, which can be done from the control panel. The second was accepting a recent software update (the radio's screen "asked" if I wanted to do the update). Subsequent to these maneuvers, the product has worked without any issues but is not really reliable for a party or if you just want to set up a station and do other things. AM is unlistenable. The sound quality of this radio, I think, is equivalent to our Bose, and I actually prefer the sleeker look of this model. Also, it has a port for plugging in an ipod which is wonderful. In addition, I can turn on home sharing to Itunes, and can access my entire music library from other computers on our family network.
There are good features and the sound is good, but something in its internal design is not engineered correctly.
on July 12, 2013
8/06/2013 The radio cycles thru a sand clock timer, logo, loses the time, and get the time back from the internet pretty much on a daily basis when I turn it on. The process takes like 3 minutes. Then it works fine until the next day. Seems like it is updating software but I find it odd that it does it so often. It has actually done it twice while listening to music. Very strange. Also the "on" button would not work on the device while it is throwing a fit, only the could be turned on by the remote. There is something wrong with the software of the radio. I noticed the new radios dropped $40 in price form $300 to $260. There is a reason for it.
7/12/2013 I got my refurbished radio today. It came more wrapped than if you were mailing a dozen of eggs. It was actually annoying having to open 3 boxes (this is the Russian Doll of radios), peel plastic wrap, pull a foam cover... Turned on, connected to wifi, programming is straight forward but the touchscreen is not very sensitive. It's one of those cheap mooshy resistive touchscreens. The remote is ok but the radio is on the slower side responding to commands. Time comes automatically from the internet. Radio reception is less than average with the stock antenna. Internet radio was ok but had a lot of buffering pauses making it close to useless. It might be better with wired internet but I doubt it since it is sitting next to the wireless N router. Pandora sounded great, no pauses there. The Bluetooth function was easy to set up with a Galaxy 4 phone and works fine up to 15-20 feet. I haven't tried the ipod dock yet, so I'll have to update later. It already had a glitch where it stopped responding to the remote, lost the time, and cycled through the logo for about a minute. I'll keep an eye on this. As for sound quality it is ok, just ok. FYI, I'm not an audiophile but I'm not deaf either. They describe it like every radio in the world: "fills the room". What is that supposed to mean? That phrase is tossed around so much that it is already meaningless to me. You cannot find a review without that stupid phrase. It's just a peppy small radio in the end, and it sounds like such. You are not going to throw a big party with it. As for the remote, it is small and will probably get lost easily. I programmed my Harmony universal remote but took like an hour. Every single key had to be taught about 100 times because the Harmony had a hard time recognizing the commands. Very annoying indeed.
Overall, I paid 200 plus shipping for it and it has more features than any other that I looked at for about half the price. That's its main selling point. Bluetooth will probably be the most used, even to stream Pandora (or Spotify) because if you sit away form the radio you cannot see the screen and change the station. If it fails I'm screwed since it cannot be returned (refurbished) and the warranty is only for 90 days. I guess I'll get an overpriced Bose with the Bluetooth adapter and consider it as a very expensive radio lesson. I'll update in a few weeks/months but keep in mind no news is good news.
on August 7, 2013
I purchased this product based on the great feature set, the best of all the internet radios I researched.
After unpacking and plugging the radio in, I ran into problems with the setup wizard - specifically the internet clock setup. It did not work. Time stayed at 00:00. So I had to set it up manually, typically not a big deal, but more about that in a minute.
I figured that it might have to do with an outdated version of the software that runs everything (version 3.1.2 ) so I selected the software update option. I received an "Error" message, each and every time tried it.
Anyway, on to the internet radio. I was excited to be able to pull my favorite stations from the internet and things were going great. That is until the software crashed during a station search. The crash caused the software to reboot itself.
After the software rebooted, my saved settings and stations came back but NOT the clock settings, which I had to manually enter again (otherwise it blinks "00:00" like an old VCR). I ended up doing this a lot because the internet radio crashed repeatedly - whether during a search, a station change, browsing stations, it crashed, causing the software to reboot each and every time - rendering this feature useless.
I then went to the website to check the tech support page, except there isn't one. There is a support email page (no phone numbers) where you can select 'sales/support' and fill in a text box to describe the problem. An auto-generated response email is then sent back stating "We have received your inquiry and will assign the appropriate team member to get back to you within 48 hours". I'm still waiting.
My whole experience leaves me feeling that it was released before it was ready. I did try the FM Tuner and the Bluetooth connectivity - which both worked initially. I did not use them as much as the internet radio. My experience with the radio did not give me confidence with any of the other features.
I really was hoping for the best with the Ambiance 2, however it left me disappointed and frustrated. I returned it to Amazon 4 days after I received it
on April 20, 2013
Something is terribly wrong with these radios. My first one went out in three months. The replacement has these problems:
1. Radio works for 5 or 10 minutes then I get mostly static. My Logitec radio in the same position and on the same Pandora link works fine. So it is not my router or electrical equipment as there is none near the radio.
2. Sound bar on top often has random lights, some of which flicker.
3. Often I will see a strong signal strength meter, see the music album cover on the screen, but there will be no sound at all.
4. The radio does not work, including with remote or touch, without unplugging it for one minute and replugging it in about 75% of the time.
GET A LOGITECH - it works perfectly for a fraction of the cost.
on March 9, 2014
Even for the day or so that it was working, it sounded terrible. I adjusted it every way possible and could not get it to sound any better than a cheap transistor radio. Was completely disappointed as I have purchased three other CSW products and have been satisfied with them. Then it would not turn on sometimes and the cheap touch screen menu on front became unresponsive. Tried to contact CSW to return it and have not heard a word. This used to be a decent company with good customer service and now is neither. Stay far away from this one! Only gets one star because I have to. $200+ down the tubes. If you buy it, expect that. Don't let them unload this garbage on you. (They no longer list a phone # to contact them and it keeps getting discounted, now I know why)
on April 8, 2014
Follow Up Review
It took the company in excess of two days to respond to my initial email advising that the unit was defective and requesting an RMA number to return the product. The first response was a canned email that suggested that the problem was caused by my failure to properly setup the unit. After I responded that the defect was a known problem, I received, relatively promptly, a second email providing an RMA number and a link to a pre-paid UPS label. I returned-shipped the product and received confirmation from UPS that it was received by the company on 4/18. I have received no acknowledgement of the company's receipt of the product, or notice that a replacement unit is being sent. My two follow-up emails inquiring as to the status that were sent to "James Skilling" were ignored. It is now 4/29 and no replacement product has been sent and no credit has been issued. I disputed the charge today on my credit. I had previously purchased three radios from this company, but no more. This company is a sad joke.
I just received this unit directly from Cambridge Soundworks. (It was on clearance sale). The unit did not work properly right out of the box: after about 45 seconds of listening to music streaming through Pandora or an internet radio station, the speakers partially cut-off, and the sounds reduces in volume and gets "fuzzy."
Interestingly, the company appears to only communicate with its customers via email (I was unable to find a telephone number on their website), which is never a good sign. Hence, I expect that it will be extremely inconvenient to arrange for the return of the unit, and its replacement with a functioning unit.
I will provide an update concerning how the company responds to my issues.
on November 18, 2013
I have always preferred to have big sound for my household audio. You can imagine my skepticism about a table radio being able to replace amplifier-driven tower speakers. However, I was intrigued by the numerous features the Ambiance offers, including wireless streaming, iPhone docking, internet radio, and fully integrated Pandora. I figured I would give it a chance, and I was blown away. The Ambiance surprisingly fills the house with sound, let alone the downstairs where it resides on the centrally located kitchen counter. We have also enjoyed listening to it while out on our deck, without having to drag the radio outside. This sleek black beauty is a work of art, blending nicely with its surroundings. While the radio won't create the kind of amplified sound you might expect at a big club, you will find you don't need it that loud due to the crystal clarity of the audio made possible by the built-in enhancement technology. You can enjoy the music without having to blare it (and without annoying your neighbors). Plus, I was able to get rid of all my old audio equipment cluttering up the living room. No more wires everywhere, hooray! My favorite feature of the Ambiance is the fully integrated Pandora, which is my most frequently used source for music. My wife mistakenly thought you had to dock the iPhone in order to access Pandora, until I showed her how easy it was to use without it. The touch screen is very user friendly, and setup was a breeze. You can enjoy music from pretty much any source imaginable, from your local PC, iPod, Pandora, or radio stations across the globe. I highly recommend it!
on May 8, 2014
I received the internet radio and set it up. I liked the sound and the convenience. However, there was a flaw in the unit. Whenever it was turned off and later turned on again, the sound would not come back on. I would have to cancel the wi-fi connection, re-boot the unit, and re-connect it to wi-fi to obtain sound again. Even then, the procedure was not a reliable fix. I contacted Cambridge and received no response. Amazon accepted the defective unit back, but would not exchange it. They refunded my money and would only sell me another unit if I paid $112 more than what I paid for the defective one. It's business of course, but disappointing to me as a consumer.
on April 13, 2014
I’ve only had the Ambiance two days, but the mixed bag of reviews here prompted me to write one quickly. I have the Ambiance in a bedroom, replacing an old internet radio gadget which is behaving badly. I wanted Pandora and my favorite FM station: anything else is gravy. I got what I wanted and some gravy, but Ambiance is a bit awkward so I give it four stars, rounded up from 3.5 stars.
Here’s my take on the main comments users make in their reviews.
For FM, I have the house outdoor TV antenna hooked to the radio and the provided AM loop antenna hooked up for AM. I live in a suburb of a metropolitan area. I receive the FM and AM stations I wanted. The AM station was okay, but there was some manmade electrical noise present. As a side note, I hooked up the provided FM antenna, a 1 meter long wire with a connector attached. That also received my favorite FM station: it got two dots out of four on the signal strength indicator while the outdoor antenna yielded 3 dots of four.
For at least two decades now, I have seen the radio sections of hi-fi receivers get progressively worse. They simply don’t have the sensitivity of an old transistor radio, so I am not surprised at the Ambiance’s performance. Don’t expect miracles, expect to use external antennas, preferably an outside antenna for FM. If you live in a forest in a valley 50 miles from a radio station, expect nothing.
Incidentally, Ambiance displays RDS information on the touchscreen, so you see the name of the piece or the performer, if the station broadcasts that. Very nice touch.
Pandora works mostly well at my radio’s location. I get some dropouts(buffering). The dropouts are handled gracefully by the radio: if reception isn’t restored in a reasonable time, it simply stops searching and let’s you know. The unit I’m replacing has a tendency to shut-down and restart, taking minutes to re-boot.
I did find I could improve performance by raising the wireless router from one foot off the floor to about five feet above the floor. If you have trouble, do a little experimenting or go to a wired LAN connection, if possible.
Internet Radio is the same as Pandora. I’ve set up a couple of favorite stations, but I agree with other reviewers that navigating internet radio here is painful. Cambridge encourages us to explore, but I don’t want to be Columbus.
I haven’t seen any comments on the Aux feature, but it works! I ran the headphone output of a tablet into the Ambiance and played some music. The sound was light years better than the tablet’s.
Music Player and Ipod Dock
I haven’t tried the Music Player and I probably won’t. I don’t have much music on my computers, and past experiments with streaming my computer music have been slow and painful. (UPDATE: I changed my mind. I went into MediaPlayer on my Windows PC, clicked streaming, turned on everything. I turned Ambiance on, went to Music Player and was playing the Albinoni Adagio, all in about five minutes. Fast and reliable. I think we have a winner here.)
I don’t have any Apple stuff. Note, again, that the dock connector on the Ambiance is compatible with older Apple units.
The sound is ok, like a good quality table radio. I was disappointed, while going through initial set-up, that Pandora sounded really bad. However, after doing the adjustments suggested by Cambridge the radio sounds quite nice. Its still a bit bass heavy, but I will do some more tweaking. As with any sound system, the location of the speakers and the listener can have a big influence on the sound. Putting Ambiance close to a wall really pumps up its bass.
Build and Appearance
The photos of the Ambiance don’t make its shape evident. Its not a box: it has a curved front and back, and the sides angle inward from front to back. It looks more elegant that your grandpa’s radio. The volume touchpad, with runway lights, on the top of the unit is sort of a “wow” touch. The finish is “piano” black and explains why my wife won’t let me touch her piano. The touchscreen is ok, but it’s a bit small for its task. I had trouble pushing “1" while entering the wi-fi password because the number was so close to the edge of the screen. Count on using the remote. As others have mentioned, the three step dimmer for the standby touchpad backlight is too crude: the Ambiance is too much of a night light at night.
As mentioned before, the touchscreen is a bit small for all the work it has to do. Navigating about is a chore, menu item colors make reading difficult, and the internet radio interface is confusing. Do look at the manual, and do go to the Cambridge web site to look at the start-up description. Those items are actually useful.
A headphone jack.
Ambiance 2 works for me. If your wi-fi is no more than twenty feet from Ambiance and you hook up antennas, I think it may work for you also.