Cambridge CX Range Components at Totally Wired
The team at Cambridge Audio give a great description of the new CX Series - “it’s the culmination of decades of experience, years of hard work and far too many late nights. But it’s our fanatical attention to fine tuning that creates award-winning products…
We’re really proud of our new CX range, because as well as engineers and designers, we’re also band members and music lovers, and we think you’ll agree that great things happen when people who love music design hi-fi!
Whatever component of the CX Series you buy, we hope that the love and attention we’ve given it makes it a joy to own, and you get as much pleasure listening to it as we do.”
Having dealt with Cambridge products for many years now, I’ve got to say that this new range really is the best thing that they have ever done. They have found a real focus in terms of delivering excellent sound and great value with big improvements made in the overall design and build quality of each component.
We introduced you to the CXU Universal Disc Player late last year. The CXU sounds just great as a music player and also brings visuals and surround sound into the mix - it’s a mighty machine that delivers both the best picture and sound from any format yet remains wonderfully user friendly and lends itself to many possible system choices. In both picture and sound quality, surround sound for movies and stereo for music, the CXU is the class leader and our first recommendation.
The Cambridge CXU is much more than just a disc player - it is a fully functioning digital preamplifier with multiple inputs and outputs including wifi for streaming. The CXU is your best choice for many types of system. For the home Cinema enthusiast it offers an unmatched clarity of picture from all formats of disc and input - HDMI and USB. The CXU incorporates the latest release of DARBEE Visual Presence and 4k upsampling from all video inoputs - not just disc. This combined with brilliantly executed 7.1 surround sound delivers you and immersive movie experience. Read more here.
Now we’ve got the new CXA-60 and 80 integrated amplifiers, CXC CD and CXN Network player to add to the line-up. Let’s have closer look at each in turn…
The CXA-60 is the latest in a long line of highly capable integrated amplifiers from Cambridge. It’s a very practical and yet modern beast with plenty of inputs - both analogue and digital, output for two pairs of speakers, headphones and remote control. What sets it apart from previous Cambridge designs I’ve listened to is a much greater level of refinement and balance - especially with digital. The CXA-80 is even better again with a large dollop of added power and driving ability as well as extra inputs.
Unlike the two obvious competing amplifiers we have at this level - the Quad Vena and NuPrime IDA-8 - the Cambridge CXA is a full sized component. The designers have made the most of having room to work by creating a really nice symmetrical layout centred on a large toroidal transformer. The Cambridge sound is quite distinct from both the warm glow of the Quad and the class leading detail and resolution of the NuPrime - there is a real drive and sense of power with the Cambridge. I think it reflects the age and musical sensibilities of the CX design team - it’s a completely modern British product.
“We’re impressed with the Cambridge CXA60. It’s an amplifier that delivers in every aspect. It looks smart, it has a wide spread of connections, and its enthusiastic, detailed and rhythmically cohesive performance is a joy to listen to.” Read more here.
Note that the CXA 60 and 80 both come with BTR100 Bluetooth receiver included in New Zealand.
The CXC is a dedicated CD transport for the avid CD collectors - given the quality choices in both digital amplifiers and CD players there is now no need or even reason to have a conventional CD player with the DAC built in - this just costs more and locks you into a level of performance that is guaranteed to be quickly surpassed. The CXC is built to do one job, very, very well indeed and it’s going to be with you for many years to come.
Team the Cambridge CXC up with any DAC or amplifier with a digital input - that includes any home cinema products as well as just about everything in the NuPrime and NuForce ranges. The combination will breathe new life into CD for you and give the best of all worlds. And here’s another review complete with best buy status for you.
Network Players seem to be a component that have done really well in the UK but I’ve got to admit that I’ve struggled with the concept. But having spent some quality time with the new Cambridge CXN we are starting to come around. At the heart of the CXN is a really nice DAC - this is Cambridge’s best work and handily surpasses any other product they build. It’s also a a good digital preamplifier with a full range volume control allowing you to connect directly to power amplifiers. Or select a fixed output option if you have a quality integrated amp.
Where the CXN goes further than conventional DACs is the ability to deal with a greater range of inputs - it will connect directly to your network - either by wifi or ethernet and allow access to both any drives on the network and the internet in general. So suddenly streaming services like Spotify are no longer handled via your phone or tablet but are delivered direct to the DAC for markedly better performance. And there its a rather nice display on the front panel to show cover art and info.
The Cambridge CXN is an equal opportunity employer - Mac or PC - it works perfectly and evenhandedly with both in any combination you might wish. And of course there is an ap for both android and apple. I’ll admit to treating it effectively as an airplay speaker and while the UK reviews seem to to think this is a lesser option, I think there is a bit of bias there - carefully connect the CXN with a better class of power amplifier and you’ll really hear it fly.
The Cambridge CXN makes most DACs look a bit threadbare and primitive in their operation. It’s very much dedicated digital device that wants to be connected - both wirelessly and by cable - to multiple devices and sources. Call it a digital hub, the heart of your modern system or just a new twist on a preamplifier. There are things it will do the our favourite NuPrime models simply can’t - and visa versa. What it will come down to is what you want to connect and how you actually want things to work - The Cambridge goes a long way to being the best of all worlds with great sound, full control over sources and streaming and a full suite of connection options all at a highly competitive price -for that it has to be worth your consideration.
“It’s clear that a lot of thought and attention has gone into the Cambridge CXN. The functionality, design and ease of use are the best we’ve seen at this price, and the engaging, punchy sound is sure to win people over.” What HiFi Best Network Player 2015.
CXU Universal BluRay Disc Player and preamp $2195
CXA-60 Integrated amplifier $1495
CXA-80 Integrated amplifier $1795
CXC CD transport $895
CXN Network Player $1695
2 year warranty
Totally Wired Limited
The Terrace Houses
217 Stuart Street
NZ Toll Free