Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono Preamp - Dreamedia AV
Vendor: Cambridge Audio

Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono Preamp

Premium Phono Preamp with Dual Cartridge Support

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Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono Preamp

Experience the Pinnacle of Vinyl Sound with Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo

In the world of vinyl playback, the quest for the perfect sound is a passionate journey for audiophiles. The Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono Preamp stands as a testament to this pursuit — a device designed to elevate your home audio experience to new heights. It's not just a component; it's your ticket to rediscovering your vinyl collection with unparalleled clarity and depth.

Unmatched Versatility for Vinyl Enthusiasts

The ALVA Duo is a rare breed in the phono preamp landscape, offering exceptional support for both Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC) cartridges. This dual compatibility ensures that whether you're just starting your vinyl journey or you're a seasoned collector with a high-end turntable, the ALVA Duo will bring out the best in your records.

  • Supports both MM and MC cartridges: Tailor your listening experience to your preferences and collection.
  • High gain settings: 39dB for MM and a substantial 60dB for MC cartridges, catering to the needs of audiophiles.
  • Low input sensitivities and equivalent input noise: Ensures a pristine audio signal, capturing every nuance of your music.

Impeccable Sound Quality

The ALVA Duo doesn't just play music; it reveals the heart and soul of each record. The detailed and accurate sound reproduction is a result of meticulous engineering and the pursuit of perfect audio fidelity.

  • Signal to Noise Ratio: >90dB for MM and >70dB for MC, translating to a background that's as silent as a whisper.
  • THD+N 1kHz: <0.0025% for MM and <0.20% for MC, ensuring the purest sound with minimal distortion.
  • RIAA Curve Accuracy: +/- 0.3dB 30Hz-20kHz, for faithful reproduction of the original recording.

Designed for the Modern Audiophile

Crafted with attention to detail, the ALVA Duo boasts a sleek and sophisticated design that complements any home audio setup. Its compact dimensions and solid build reflect Cambridge Audio's commitment to quality without compromise.

  • Dimensions: A slim profile of 48 x 215 x 159 mm to fit seamlessly into your audio rack.
  • Weight: At just 0.95kg, it's a heavyweight in performance, not in bulk.
  • Eco-friendly: Low power consumption and auto power down feature for energy-conscious users.

Features Tailored for Performance

Each feature of the ALVA Duo is designed with the listener in mind, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable vinyl listening experience.

  • Integrated headphone output: For those intimate listening sessions, with a dedicated volume control.
  • Subsonic filter: Eliminates low-frequency rumbles to protect your speakers and enhance clarity.
  • Balance Control: Fine-tune the left and right channels to your room's acoustics or recording anomalies.

Connectivity at Your Fingertips

The ALVA Duo ensures that connecting to your existing setup is effortless, with a range of inputs and outputs to suit any system.

  • RCA Inputs: Two pairs for versatile connections.
  • Gold-plated Stereo RCA Outputs: For pristine signal transfer.
  • Headphone Output: A 1/4" jack with dedicated volume control for private listening.
  • Turntable Ground Terminal: To eliminate hum and ensure a clean ground.

What’s in the Box

When you unbox the ALVA Duo, you're greeted with everything you need to start enjoying your vinyl collection immediately.

  • Alva Duo Phono Preamp: The heart of your vinyl playback experience.
  • User Manual: Comprehensive guidance to get the most out of your preamp.
  • Safety Guide: Ensuring a safe and secure setup.
  • Mains Lead: Power your journey into high-fidelity sound.

Performance Evaluations

The ALVA Duo has been rigorously tested to meet the high standards of audiophiles. It consistently delivers a sound that is both powerful and precise.

  • Dead quiet operation: The MC circuit ensures a hushed background, letting your music take center stage.
  • Excellent sound quality: From deep, punchy bass to a clear and detailed midrange, and crisp highs.
  • Neutral and detailed sound: A flat response for accurate audio reproduction, ideal for purists.

Pros: Why Choose the Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo

The ALVA Duo is not just another phono preamp; it's a statement of quality and a commitment to the vinyl experience. Here are just a few reasons why it stands out from the crowd:

  • Versatile cartridge support: Adaptable to your turntable's specifications and your listening preferences.
  • High gain settings: Ensures that even low-output MC cartridges shine.
  • Integrated headphone output: Offers a private listening experience without compromise.
  • Eco-friendly design: Low standby power consumption and auto power down for a greener footprint.
  • Sophisticated visual design: A sleek addition to any home theater setup.
  • Solid build quality: Durability that you can rely on for years to come.

A Story of Sound

Imagine placing your favorite vinyl on the turntable, the needle drops, and the room fills with a sound so clear and detailed that it's as if the artist is performing just for you. This is the experience the ALVA Duo delivers — a sound that's as rich and authentic as the vinyl it plays. It's not just about listening to music; it's about feeling every emotion and hearing every layer as the artist intended.

Dreamedia: Your Home Theater Architects

At Dreamedia, we understand the importance of perfect sound in creating an immersive home theater experience. The ALVA Duo is a component we proudly recommend for its exceptional performance and reliability. And remember, we're here to help design and optimize your home theater system, ensuring that every element works in harmony for the ultimate audio-visual experience.

Embrace the full potential of your vinyl collection with the Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono Preamp. It's an investment in your passion for music, an homage to the timeless art of vinyl, and a commitment to audio excellence. Welcome to a world where every note resonates with clarity and emotion — welcome to the ALVA Duo experience.

Our Review

Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono Preamp Review


In the world of vinyl playback, the phono preamp serves as an unsung hero, deftly bridging the gap between the turntable and the amplifier. A quality phono preamp can elevate the listening experience, extracting every nuance from the grooves of a record. The Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo enters the market with the promise of high-fidelity audio reproduction for both Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC) cartridge enthusiasts.


Build Quality

Upon unboxing, the ALVA Duo's heft and construction immediately communicate durability. Weighing just under a kilogram, it feels substantial without being overly bulky. The chassis exhibits a reassuring solidity, with no apparent weak points or flimsy components. This level of build quality is a testament to Cambridge Audio's commitment to longevity.


The sleek, minimalist design of the ALVA Duo will likely appeal to a wide range of audiophiles. Its compact dimensions allow it to sit unobtrusively in most setups, while the clean lines and understated color palette ensure it won't clash with other components. The unit's sophistication extends beyond its functional aspects, adding a touch of class to any home audio system.



One of the standout features of the ALVA Duo is its dual support for MM and MC cartridges. This versatility ensures that vinyl enthusiasts can use their preferred cartridge type without compromise. The dedicated gain settings for each cartridge type are calibrated to optimize performance, providing a tailored experience for the listener.


The ALVA Duo's connectivity options are robust, featuring the necessary inputs and outputs to integrate seamlessly with most audio setups. The inclusion of an integrated headphone output is a welcome addition, allowing for private listening sessions without the need for additional equipment.

Eco-Friendly Aspects

In today's eco-conscious world, the low standby power consumption and auto power down feature are not only practical, but they also reflect a commitment to energy efficiency. This eco-friendly design minimizes the preamp's environmental impact without sacrificing performance.

Additional Functionality

The on-board subsonic filter is a thoughtful inclusion, dealing with potential low-frequency rumble and preventing wasted amplifier power. Additionally, the headphone amplifier is a boon for those who enjoy a more intimate listening experience or require late-night sessions without disturbing others.


Sound Quality

The ALVA Duo's sound quality is impressive across a variety of musical genres. Bass notes are delivered with punch and precision, while midrange frequencies are conveyed with clarity and detail. High frequencies are well-defined, contributing to an overall sound that is both engaging and faithful to the source material.

Gain and Sensitivity

The preamp's high gain settings and low input sensitivities are critical in achieving this level of fidelity. They ensure that even the most subtle sonic details are captured and amplified without distortion, providing an auditory experience that is both immersive and true to the original recording.

Noise Floor

Cambridge Audio's attention to the equivalent input noise is noteworthy. The ALVA Duo operates with a near-silent background, ensuring that music is presented against a clean canvas. This low noise floor is particularly beneficial for listeners who value the dynamic contrasts and quiet passages in their music.

Dynamic Range

The ALVA Duo handles dynamic range with aplomb, adeptly managing the transitions from quiet to loud without any signs of strain or compression. This dynamic capability allows the preamp to convey the emotional impact of music, from the subtlest whisper to the most powerful crescendo.

User Experience

Setup and Usability

Setting up the ALVA Duo is straightforward, making it accessible to both seasoned audiophiles and newcomers to vinyl playback. The intuitive design and clear labeling of inputs and outputs contribute to a user-friendly experience. The day-to-day operation is equally hassle-free, with the preamp's functions being easily manageable.


While the ALVA Duo is designed to be compatible with a wide range of cartridges and audio systems, it may not be the perfect match for all setups. Certain cartridge models may not synergize as well with the preamp, potentially leading to a less than optimal sonic performance. It's important for users to consider the pairing of their specific cartridges with this preamp to ensure the best results.

Pros and Cons


The Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo boasts a number of strengths, including its versatile support for MM and MC cartridges, high-quality sound reproduction, and energy-efficient design. The integrated headphone amplifier and subsonic filter further enhance its value proposition, offering features that go beyond the basic requirements of a phono preamp.


Despite its many positives, the ALVA Duo is not without its potential drawbacks. Some users have reported susceptibility to RFI, and a few have experienced a low-level hum over time. Additionally, in systems with already high-quality built-in preamps, the improvement in sound quality may be marginal.

Comparisons with Competitors

When compared to other preamps in its price range, the ALVA Duo holds its own, offering features and a level of performance that are often found in more expensive units. Its ability to deliver a neutral and detailed sound with a flat response sets it apart from competitors that may color the sound or introduce unwanted noise.

Use Cases

The ALVA Duo is well-suited for a variety of use cases, from the vinyl enthusiast looking to upgrade their existing setup to the audiophile seeking a high-performance, versatile preamp. Its compatibility with both MM and MC cartridges, coupled with its high-quality sound reproduction, makes it a compelling choice for those who place a premium on audio fidelity.

Final Thoughts

The Cambridge Audio ALVA Duo is a formidable contender in the phono preamp market. Its combination of sound quality, versatility, and user-friendly features make it a worthwhile investment for anyone serious about their vinyl playback experience. While it may not be the perfect fit for every setup, its strengths are significant enough to warrant consideration by potential buyers.


General Specifications

  • Maximum Power Consumption: 10W
  • Standby Power Consumption: <0.5W
  • Auto Power Down: Yes, after 20 minutes of inactivity
  • Voltage Compatibility: 100-240V AC
  • Dimensions: 48 x 215 x 159 mm
  • Weight: 0.95kg

Audio Specifications

  • Cartridge Support: Moving Magnet (MM), Moving Coil (MC)
  • Gain @ 1kHz: MM
  • Nominal Output: 300mV
  • Sensitivity for Nominal Output: MM
  • Equivalent Input Noise (A-weighted): MM
  • RIAA Curve Accuracy: +/- 0.3dB 30Hz-20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: MM
  • THD+N @ 1kHz (20-20kHz BW): MM
  • Input Impedance: MM
  • Input Capacitance: 100pF
  • Overload Margin: >30dB
  • Crosstalk @ 10kHz: MM


  • Headphone Output: Yes, with 6.35mm jack and volume control
  • Subsonic Filter: Yes
  • Balance Control: Yes
  • Cartridge Loading: Fixed
  • Adjustable Resistance Load: No
  • Adjustable Capacitance Load: No
  • Vacuum Tube: No


  • RCA Inputs: 2 Pair
  • XLR Inputs: No
  • RCA Output: 1 Pair
  • XLR Output: No
  • USB Output: No
  • 3.5mm Output: No
  • Optical Output: No
  • Coaxial Output: No
  • Headphone Output: 1/4" with dedicated volume control
  • Gold-plated Stereo RCA Outputs: Yes
  • Turntable Ground Terminal: Yes
  • Detachable AC Power Cord: Yes, 58" length

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