cambridge audio cx feature 1
Amplifier / AV Receiver | Cambridge Audio

Cambridge Audio CXC, CXA81 Review

Cambridge Audio, known as the Voice of Great Britain, is one of the best brands in the Hi-Fi field. Since the second-generation CX series’ announcement, it represents a significant update to its CX series product line.

The original CX series was widely praised and recognized for its epoch-making digital processing solutions, impeccable performance, and modern design style. But with the advancement of technology, Cambridge Audio engineers believe that it is time to update the hardware. It can provide every audio enthusiast with a perfect balance between performance and price.

cambridge audio CX series

Historic British Sound

The British brand Cambridge Audio is qualified to be included in the long history of British audio brands. The unique and innovative style of “external simplicity and internal refinement” is famous worldwide. At the same time, the product’s design style does not lose the grace of the traditional gentleman. The inner music experience is even more breathtaking. In 1968, Cambridge Audio released the iconic P40 amplifier, which showed the goal pursued by Cambridge Audio: the production of audio equipment, and the faithful creation of pure and natural sound performance, which became an essential part of the “British Voice.”

The products designed by Cambridge Audio all have a characteristic, which is to hope that the products can make the general consumers enjoy the fun brought by music. When developing products, Cambridge will try to simplify the signal transmission path, which we often call the “shortest” path.

Sincere Upgrade Option

The CambridgeAudio CX series is second only to the flagship Azur 851 series. It has a large number of models, including CXC CD turntable, CXN wireless streaming DAC, CXA60, and CXA80 integrated amplifiers, CXR120, and CXR200 audio and video surround amplifiers. Two Hi-Fi products were evaluated in this test: CXC CD turntable and CXA81 combined amplifier.

Among them, CXC is a CD turntable designed for audiophiles. It has two designs: single-speed CD reading, allowing the turntable to work at the most stable speed. The second is to use the S3 servo system inherited from the flagship turntable 851C, which can effectively debug and reduce the time base error.

CambridgeAudio CX CD 1

CXC provides two digital output methods: RCA S/PDIF and optical fiber. With the CXA81 integrated amplifier, it immediately became a complete system.

CXC’s actual sound performance can stand out in its peers. It does not have DAC and analog amplifier and uses a linear power supply rather than the switch-type transformer module common in similar products. CXC uses a toroidal transformer, and high-frequency noise should be lower than many products of the same level, this is one of CXC’s selling points.

cambridge audio cxc

The movement part is reinforced to increase stability. The most critical thing is the servo system, which is responsible for detecting pick-up errors and instructing the movement to reread the wrong position in real-time, reducing errors.

The amplifier CXA81 belongs to the second generation CX series. It is the successor of the CXA80, and the overall pattern of the two generations is very similar. For example, the center of the machine is a toroidal transformer. The left and right are mirror-symmetrical amplification lines, which achieve a dual mono channel structure and balances the weight distribution of the body.

cambridge audio cxc internal

CXA81 uses XLR input and two sets of speaker wire binding posts, Class AB amplification. At 8Ω load, each channel output is 80W. The built-in DAC part also has a USB type B input. Support up to PCM 32bit/384kHz, DSD256. CXA81 directly integrates the Bluetooth module and supports aptX HD, which corresponds to the highest PCM 24bit/48kHz.

cambridge audio cxa81

The two CX series belong to the second generation, retain a large number of old successful elements, and even add new features. The factory stated that they spent five years researching and developing, and the most significant improvement was not to look at it with eyes or to explain it with numbers, but to hear clearly with their ears. Detail reviews for CXA81 Integrated Amplifier

cambridge audio cxa81 back

Sound Performance

Due to the built-in decoding function of CXA81, the combination of CXC can shorten the analog link again, making the audio fidelity higher.

In the album “The London ViolinSound,” the texture of the cello sound is well shown, the extension of high frequencies is natural and sweet, and full of artistic temperament. It has a very flexible and delicate reflection, and it is exceptionally analytical and interpretable. The positioning of the instrument is accurate and correct, with proper smoothness, and maintains excellent acoustic and musicality in the transition of fast and slow rhythm and gentle emotion. The balance of the two is just right, and under the restoration of CXA81, it shows the musical and artistic side.

Then continue to play the vocal album, “Beyond Light Years.” The vocals restored by the two CX series have further enhanced the singer’s voice density in the music. The subtle sounds, such as ventilation during singing, are depicted, and they sound naturally embossed. And the sense of space is also looser than before, and it sounds very comfortable.

“Songbird” This is a song from the famous saxophonist Kenny G. The sound is elegant, and the sound quality is delicate and beautiful. The sense of music is gorgeous and leisurely, and the ultra-high frequency extension rhythm is smooth. The balance of the whole frequency band is excellent, and the sound is delicate and flexible. The overall coherence is extraordinarily harmonious and natural. The saxophone is lively, the strings are transparent, and the texture is dense. It will not bring the listener’s slightest sharpness and rigidity, but it can reveal a kind of new richness.

Conclusion

After listening to CXC and CXA81, it showed its full performance in sound. Sometimes it is simple, and the intentional production is better than the sophisticated design, and immediately becomes an essential member of the home’s sound source combination.

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