Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) network streaming player and CXA81 integrated power amplifier belong to the second generation CX series. The previous generation’s design style continues smoothly to the second generation, which is more advanced than the old design. It is a successful industrial design and worth using.
Cambridge Audio CXN Network Streamer
CXN (V2) puts Google Chromecast directly into the machine, and directly uses the technology of the leading network technology company, which is a smart method. Smarter is to use the Stream Magic platform of Cambridge Audio directly, and of course, there is a dedicated Remote App. Cambridge Audio is one of the pioneers of network streaming. The Stream Magic platform began to appear as brands entered the streaming battlefield and have evolved to this day.
Its front panel design is excellent. The good thing is that users do not need to read the manual, they can intuitively use those buttons, and rotate and press the knob to operate various functions including song selection. On the other hand, the remote control of CXN (V2) is the same as that of CXA81, which can control different models of the entire CX series.
CXN (V2) supports Spotify, Apple AirPlay 2, TIDAL, and other network music streaming platforms, of course corresponding to UPnP protocol, playing music files stored in NAS, including DSD64 format.
It also has TOSLINK and Coaxial, USB, Bluetooth aptX, and other digital input methods. The digital and analog conversion core, like the previous generation, is a pair of Wolfson WM8740 DA chips. Before the digital signal is D to A, it will go up to PCM 24bit/384kHz through Cambridge Audio’s exclusive ATF2 technology (that is, the second generation ATF).
Like the previous generation, CXN (V2) also has a pair of XLR interfaces to output analog signals. Of course, there is another way to play, that is, through its TOSLINK and Coaxial output, the digital signal is handed over to other DACs for processing.
Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier
Next is another protagonist, CXA81, which is the successor of CXA80. The overall pattern of the two generations is very similar. For example, the center of the machine is a toroidal transformer, and the left and right are mirror-symmetrical amplification lines, which achieves a dual mono channel structure and balances the weight distribution of the body.
Besides, both have XLR inputs and two sets of speaker wire binding posts. The same is for Class AB amplification. When the load is 8Ω, the output of each channel is 80W. Both units have a built-in DAC part and also have USB type B input. However, the new model is built with ESS Sabre ES9016K2M DA chip from ESS Technology, which replaces the previous generation Wolfson WM8740 and supports the highest PCM 32bit/384kHz and DSD256.
In terms of Bluetooth, the previous generation needed to purchase a BT100 transceiver to support aptX. The new machine has integrated the Bluetooth transceiver module directly and supports aptX HD, which corresponds to the highest PCM 24bit/48kHz.
The factory stated that they spent five years researching and developing, and the most significant improvement was not to look at it with eyes, nor to explain with parameters, but to hear clearly with ears.
The progress between the two generations of CX series was too obvious. Let’s talk about power first. CXN (V2) and CXA81 face small floor speakers, while the previous generation faced bookshelf speakers. Dynamic, mid-bass thickness, weight, control, etc. are all excellent.
The most beautiful thing is to strengthen the smooth music sense and vitality. Emphasizing the dynamic of music, and then gently thicken and smooth the vocals. That is to retain a lot of details. The vitality is impressive. The fast speed without loss of detail and strong control makes the music rhythm advance quickly and powerfully. For strong-tempo music, CXN (V2) and CXA81 are right partners.
Cambridge Audio CXA81 V2 Specs
- CONTINUOUS POWER OUTPUT: 80W RMS into 8 Ohms, 120W RMS into 4 Ohms
- THD (UNWEIGHTED) <0.002% 1kHz at 80% of rated power;<0.02% 20Hz – 20kHz at 80% of rated power FREQUENCY RESPONSE: <5Hz – 60kHz +/-1dB S/N RATIO: (REF 1W INTO 8 OHM) >93 dB
- S/N RATIO: (REF FULL POWER) >105 dB
- INPUT SENSITIVITY: Input A1-A4 (unbalanced) 370mV RMS
- INPUT IMPEDANCES CXA81: Input A1 (balanced) 50 kOhm
- INPUTS: Balanced and Unbalanced,MP3 jack (CXA61), Coax SPDIF, TOSLINK, Bluetooth, USB Audio
- OUTPUTS: Speakers, Headphone, Preamplifer Output, Sub Output
- POWER AMP DAMPING FACTOR: >110 at 1kHz
- USB AUDIO INPUT: USB Type B conforming to USB Audio Class 1 or USB Audio Class 2 (user selectable)
- BLUETOOTH: 4.2 A2DP/AVRCP supporting SBC, aptX and aptX HD codecs
- COMPATIBILITY: USB Audio Class 1: Up to 24-bit 96kHz (asynchronous),USB Audio Class 2: Up to 32 bit 384kHz (asynchronous) and up to DSD-256, TOSLINK: 16/24-bit 32-96kHz, Coax SPDIF: 16/24-bit 32-192kHz
- MAX POWER CONSUMPTION: 750W
- STANDBY POWER CONSUMPTION: <0.5W
- DIMENSIONS 115 x 430 x 341mm (4.5 x 16.9 x 13.4”)
- WEIGHT 8.7kg (19.1Lbs)