cambridge audio cxa61 amplifier
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Cambridge Audio CXA61 Review

Speaking of Cambridge Audio, the British audio company, I guess everyone immediately thinks of Edge’s flagship series. Recently they have also made an updated version of the two amplifiers of the CX series, including the mid-level model Cambridge Audio CXA61 that I want to introduce to you today.

Cambridge Audio CXA61 integrated amplifier has a simple gray-black design, 60 watts 8ohms dual-channel amplifier circuit. It supports Bluetooth aptX HD decoding and has obtained Roon Tested certification to be compatible with the Roon playback software system.

Technology

There are four rear analog RCA inputs, two Toslink digital inputs, a front mini-plug analog input, a coax digital input, and a USB input for the input connections. The versatile input connections on the CXA61 will cover a lot of situations.

There is also a built-in Bluetooth adapter for the CXA61, while the older series required a separate optional adapter for Bluetooth. There are also two sets of triggers, an external IR input and an RS-232 connection for home control systems.

There are a preamp out and a subwoofer out, which you can enhance the low-frequency by adding an external subwoofer.

cambridge audio cxa61

The DAC Cambridge Audio CXA61 uses is an ESS SABRE ES9010k2m, a high-performance audiophile-level DAC capable of high-res audio, even up to 32-bit 384 kilohertz and DSD-256 quality when using the USB input from a computer. I feel the better DAC offers quieter background, more dynamic sound, and a better sense of musical involvement.

It also uses Qualcomm’s Bluetooth decoder chip. Cambridge Audio and Qualcomm have an excellent relationship. They attach great importance to the sound effects of Bluetooth transmission. Of course, when you hear Bluetooth, you will think, how can Bluetooth sound good?

But in fact, the sound of aptX HD or above is acceptable. But here, I want to tell you the bottom line, that is below aptX HD, I think the level is still not good enough. The aptX HD Bluetooth receiver is capable of 24 bit 84 kilohertz audio files. The coax input will play up to 24 bit 192 kilohertz, and the Toslink inputs will handle up to 96 kilohertz.

Connections

There are four rear analog RCA inputs, two Toslink digital inputs, a front mini-plug analog input, a coax digital input, and a USB input for the input connections. The versatile input connections on the CXA61 will cover a lot of situations.

There is also a built-in Bluetooth adapter for the CXA61, while the older series required a separate optional adapter for Bluetooth. There are also two sets of triggers, an external IR input and an RS-232 connection for home control systems. There are a preamp out and a subwoofer out, which you can enhance the low-frequency by adding an external subwoofer.

Cambridge audio cxa61 integrated amplifier

If you switch things around a lot, plug the cables and unplug them, trying different combinations, you know it can be frustrating to lean over the back of the amplifier, trying to read those labels of connectors upside down. Cambridge Audio solves this problem cleverly by printing labels both right side up and upside down.

ROON Tested

In terms of settings, one thing to talk about is that the most significant feature of CXA61 is that the decoding is changed, and the amplification circuit has been fine-tuned. There is also a new feature, Roon Tested.

What is ROON Tested?

You can see this sentence on ROON’s webpage: “Roon provides an amazing new way to experience your music. What it does with our partners’ products is magic.”

Roon Labs started because the software that was tired of listening to music only had text or simple cover pictures. If you are a music lover like me, you should listen to music while studying who wrote this song. How many pictures of the album’s cover are there, and when added to the album? And at the same time, there are introductions by the singers and other related information.

Cambridge audio ROON play

This is the design of Roon Labs, and they invented the concept of ROON. It gives you the experience of listening to music and allows you to browse your music collection. Also, when the music clip is being recorded, who is playing BASS, playing drums, and so on will be listed.

Roon Labs adds these data to their cloud database server one by one and then keeps updating. Therefore, this software is not only an extensive database of data but also a music playback software. It can be said to be a music management and playback software. The multi-room streaming function allows users to listen to the same music in different rooms.

There are some differences in ROON’s interpretation of digital data. After it sees your music data, it will look for photos, comments, lyrics, and concert dates in its database and establish connections between artists, composers, performers, conductors, and producers.

What you end up with is a searchable, online magazine about your music. Data from many of our music sources are usually collected over many years. ROON can automatically identify your music data and then use the latest online data update method to enhance it. This applies not only to your local files but also to content from TIDAL!

Sound Performance

As a 60 watt, not too high power amplifier, Cambridge Audio CXA61’s power is still excellent under the name Cambridge Audio. I used a pair of speakers to match the speakers. The Focal Chora 806 has a large cabinet, so the sound scale and sound pressure can be done well.

Cambridge Audio’s amplifiers will not be too heavy or thick in tone balance adjustment. Still, it will not tune very fast, very high-definition, and icy sound, and it will not be so for those who like to listen to popular music, vocal, and musical instruments. Such as orchestral music, those that are not too complicated are more than adequate.

Due to the price and cost limit, the previous amplifiers of this level have a shortcoming that the sound is rougher. Still, this generation benefited from the circuit adjustment and decoding improvement. This small shortcoming is more challenging to hear in this model.

Of course, it is an entry point. The level of decoding cannot be used with loudspeakers or speakers that are difficult to push. The speakers I tried this time are easy to drive, so the performance is quite good.

When I put the speakers, I also specially selected different placement positions. The handling and throughput of the amplifier became more relaxed and comfortable. Therefore, if you buy equipment with this budget and the listening environment space is about 15 square meters, it is not difficult to push the speakers.

That can easily make a comprehensive, pleasing, and pleasing sound without difficulty, skill, or personal skills. Very easy to build a simple sound combination.

Cambridge Audio CXA61 review

I connected the CXA61 up to our best-selling pair of bookshelf speakers, the Klipsch RP600m speakers, which by the way, is just a magical speaker for the money. The source was a Sonos Port with its digital output going into the Cambridge Audio CXA61 coax digital input.

The amp felt like the perfect match for these speakers as it drove them exceptionally well. As you might imagine, the Klipsch speakers can rock the house, which could easily be done with the CXA61 driving them.

But they also maintain a full sound when I turn down the volume. These bookshelf speakers can get down pretty low, and the bass was potent and fast using the CXA61.

Stereo imaging was spot on with a wide and deep sound stage. Paired with just about any somewhat easy speakers to drive, the CXA61 will perform way beyond what you would expect for what it sells for.

In terms of the openness of the sound, the sound field of CXA61 is very spacious. This is especially obvious when listening to “From Gold”. Novo Amor’s works can often create an ethereal atmosphere. The instrumental music of the song plays a crucial role to a large extent.

There is power in quietness and sadness in gentleness. Therefore, the large sound field can make it easier to integrate into his music world. Fortunately, CXA61 did not disappoint me but let me hear a warmer and mellow version of “From Gold.”

From Gold CXA61 Integrated Amplifier From Cambridge

Thanks to this, we can also get many sound details, such as Ariana Grande’s “Sweetener.” The vocal accompaniment accompanies the background sound of this song. Under the interpretation of CXA61, this male harmony becomes clear and powerful. I believe this is not entirely the speakers’ credit, but the resolution of the CXA61 itself is excellent.

Conclusion

Cambridge Audio CXA61 brings you closer to your favorite music. Put you in your favorite record and tell you the story of each note in the most natural, relaxing, and most imaginable way. Whether it is analog or digital music, low-fidelity or high-resolution music, Cambridge Audio CXA61 allows you to enjoy the ocean of music.

Cambridge Audio CXA61 has been carefully designed and refined with only one goal: to let you hear the most shocking music sounds. The selection of each component and each design decision are dedicated to minimizing acoustic staining and improving accuracy. Cambridge Audio draws on its 50 years of experience to make the CXA61 an all-in-one amplifier so far.

Cambridge Audio CXA61 Stereo integrated amplifier

The oversized toroidal transformer provides 60 watts of mighty power for each channel of the CXA61. The repeated engineering design makes it have extremely low distortion and too high power efficiency. The final result is a loudspeaker with unlimited power reserve, which can maximize all speakers’ potential and play quickly and naturally at any volume without distortion.

CXA61 has a redesigned digital board, equipped with industry-standard ESS Saber ES9010 K2M digital-to-analog converter, no matter what kind of music source, is committed to providing the best music experience.

Cambridge Audio CXA61 amplifier can vividly and realistically present the most advanced 32bit/384kHz and DSD256 high-resolution audio, combining convenience and sound performance in an unprecedented way. If you are looking for an amp in the $1,000 range and down, the CXA61 should be on your list.

The price of CXA61 is not low, but compared to some sky-high price power amplifiers, the performance of CXA61 in all aspects already makes people feel very cost-effective. It is suitable for those who are new to Hi-Fi music or who like to play a small Hi-Fi system.

It integrates various input/output methods, which can be flexibly changed according to your needs. I think CXA61 also performed well in terms of sound replay performance, with a certain level of resolution and openness and the overall preference for a natural and warm style. If you are worried about choosing an amplifier product that can take into account traditional, digital, and personal Hi-Fi, I think CXA61 is a pretty good choice.


Cambridge Audio CXA61 Specifications

  • POWER OUTPUT: 60W RMS into 8 Ohms, 90W RMS into 4 Ohms
  • DAC: ESS Sabre ES9010K2M
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: <5Hz– 60kHz +/-1dB
  • ANALOGUE AUDIO INPUTS: 4 x RCA, 1 x 3.5mm MP3 input (front panel)
  • DIGITAL AUDIO INPUTS: 1 x S/PDIF coaxial, 2 x TOSLINK optical, 1 x USB audio, Bluetooth (integrated)
  • COMPATIBILITY: TOSLINK optical: 16/24bit 32-96kHz PCM only, S/PDIF coaxial: 16/24bit 32-192kHz PCM only, USB: audio profile 1.0/2.0 (default 2.0), up to 32bit 384kHz PCM, up to DSD256 or DoP256, Bluetooth: 4.2 A2DP/AVRCP supporting up to aptX HD (24bit 48kHz)
  • BLUETOOTH APTX HD RECEIVER BUILT-IN: Yes
  • ROON TESTED: Yes
  • OUTPUTS: Speakers A+B, 3.5mm Headphone, Preamp Output, Subwoofer Output
  • REMOTE CONTROL: Yes
  • MAX POWER CONSUMPTION: 600W
  • STANDBY POWER CONSUMPTION: <0.5W
  • DIMENSIONS (H X W X D): 115 x 430 x 341mm (4.5 x 16.9 x 13.4”)
  • WEIGHT: 8.3kg (18.3lbs)
  • BOX CONTENTS: CXA61 Integrated Amplifier, Power Cable, 3 x AAA Batteries, Remote Control, Control Bus Cable

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