Cambridge CXA-81 V2
An excellent foundation for a two-channel system
We say: Recently a lot of Amplifiers have adopted digital circuitry - easier and cheaper to manufacture, but not always ideal from a sonic point of view. Listening to the Cambridge Audio CXA81 is a breath of fresh air! It is an Analog design through and through and at the top of it's game. A decent power supply means it'l grip your speakers and deliver tight bass, and its low distortion analog circuitry means airy and smooth highs.
An award, straight out the bat!
Cambridge Audio promise the resulting sound of the CXA81 is pristine but not clinical, with unrivaled musical coherence no matter the source and I think this is a perfect description. It just sounds right no matter what you play. From the opening bars of whatever piece of music you select, you are greeted with the same powerful yet punchy, dynamic, and astonishingly detailed presentation. What really shines through though is a level of clarity that not only pips its rivals but also makes them appear a touch cloudy.
The CXA81 houses a superior ESS Sabre ES9016K2M DAC and improved USB input that supports audio of up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 quality, allowing you to make full use of its delightful presentation with high-resolution files, while an aptX HD Bluetooth receiver is also built-in for direct streaming from any compatible device at up to 24-bit/84kHz.The reverse side of the amp reveals a healthy complement of physical connections to join that improved USB input. On the analog side, there are four RCA ins and a balanced XLR. Meanwhile, the CXA81’s S/PDIF coaxial input will handle files up to 24bit/192kHz, and its pair of Toslink optical connections take that up to 96kHz.
Confidence is key to the CXA81’s performance, hammering out staccato rhythmic patterns with assured conviction, snapping in time, and allowing its expert handling of alternately loud and soft beats to lock in a groove. You will be impressed with the CXA81’s macro dynamics and speed. Its higher-resolution DAC and integrated Bluetooth receiver are welcome upgrades from Cambridge’s previous CX-series integrated-DACs, which in their five years on the market won praise for their value and performance.
POWER OUTPUT; 80W RMS into 8 Ohms, 120W RMS into 4 Ohms
DAC; ESS Sabre ES9016K2M
FREQUENCY RESPONSE <5Hz– 60kHz +/-1dB
ANALOGUE AUDIO INPUTS 1x balanced XLR, 4 x RCA
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; 750W
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; 8.7kg (19.1lbs)
BOX CONTENTS; CXA81 Integrated Amplifier, Power Cable, 3 x AAA Batteries, Remote Control, Control Bus Cable