Cambridge Audio M1 Enhanced – Review

This remote is apparently a Richer Sounds badged version of the “Remote Angel” control, but I haven’t been able to compare it with one. The current version is the M1 Enhanced, which includes DVD screens.

The controller interface consists of a backlit LCD touch screen on the front and a small ‘programming enable’ switch on the back. The controller takes 4 AAA batteries, with a quoted battery life of 4 to 6 months. It is a learning remote, with no codes pre-stored in it. Codes aren’t lost when the battery is changed.

The controller The M1 is different from the Pronto and Marantz remotes reviewed elsewhere in that the LCD display doesn’t have any user-configurable alphanumeric bits. Instead there are programmed ‘screens’ for TV, amplifier, CD, Tape/Tuner, VCR, Minidisc, DVD, and Satellite, which ‘light’ different parts of the LCD so the same button is used for (for example) TV/Text on the TV page or Rewind on the VCR, CD or Tape page.

This hasn’t been a problem for me, as the choice of text displayed is quite sensible, but it could be a limitation, certainly if you want to use it for other automation tasks. The only ‘odd’ allocations I have made are to set the spare ‘Text’ button up as ‘Hold’ on the TV page, and to use the ’10/Guide’ key as ‘Index’, but that is fairly easy to remember.

Any buttons that you don’t want to appear on your screen can be removed and put back again easily to keep it all uncluttered. Each of the 8 screens also has a ‘quick screen’ associated with it, which removes buttons that the manufacturers expect are used rarely. This screen isn’t configurable, and I haven’t found it particularly useful.

The touch screen is easy to use, the backlight is good, and the display is very clear. There is a beep available each time you press a key, which I do find useful. It can be turned off easily if required. It would be nice to have some sort of tactile feedback (even just a lump on the ‘5’ key would be a help), but it only takes a glance to find the right button. As an aside, the REC key only activates after you have held it for a couple of seconds, to avoid you recording over something by mistake through pressing the wrong button.

Learning Learning is straightforward, but a bit confusingly documented. You set it to ‘learn’ mode by pressing and holding the ‘learn’ button with programming enabled, then hold the key on the M1 you want to use, point your existing remote at the end of the remote nearest you and press the key briefly, then release the M1 key when the ‘OK’ symbol appears. There is no indication of how much memory is remaining, just an error when it runs out. I have programmed 5 of the ‘screens’ so far with no problems.

It appears that a pressed key will repeat after a short time, but there seems to be some peculiarity with it- it’s probably not the remote’s fault though! I reprogrammed the ‘volume up’ and ‘volume down’ buttons on my amplifier a couple of times. Sometimes the key repeated when it was held down, sometimes it had to be repeatedly pressed and released. I suspect this is to do with how many codes the amplifier receives in a sequence, rather than a problem with the remote.

One small advantage of this remote is that it seems to be able to learn unusually long codes. For some reason, my television needs the power button pressed for 1/2 second or so before it comes on, but with the M1 I have programmed the whole sequence into 1 button so only one quick press is now needed.

Macros You can have any button set up as a macro, (unlike the similarly priced Sony which only appears to have 3 macro buttons), and each macro can play up to 9 codes in order (the Sony can do 20). For example, if I press the Mute button on the amplifier, it mutes the amplifier and the television.

Macro programming is harder than it really needs to be as the keypad beep is disabled. That is presumably to warn you that you are programming, but it is unhelpful.

Odd quirks: The MD page doesn’t have a Record button… just a gap where one should be ;-( When you create the DVD page, it _does_ have a Record button… (you could call it future-proofing, I suppose 😉 )

Summary All in all, I’m very pleased with it (thanks Santa!). If I (or Santa!) could afford a Pronto, I would probably go for that instead, but I’ll still give the M1 at least 4 stars- just a couple of minor oddities.

Note: I have been pointed to one report of a generic fault with some units here M1 Fault Although I have a fair idea of what might cause such a fault, I have no way of verifying it as genuine, knowing how widespread it is, or knowing whether it applies to any particular controller. I would expect that just about every product ever made has some such skeleton in its closet, waiting to show itself, so personally, I’m not unduly concerned- caveat emptor…

Approximate Price £79.95

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