Cambridge CXA-81 V2 with DAC and Bluetooth
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.
Stereophile Recommended Component 2021
The CXA81 helped KM realize "how much music can be had for such a low price. It knocked me flat with its ability to sound good in so many ways."
- 80 watts x 2 channels into 8 ohms (120 watts x 2 channels into 4 ohms)
- 4-ohm capability allows use with a wide range of speakers
- THD: 0.02% (20-20,000 Hz at 80% of rated power)
- built-in high-performance ESS Sabre SE9016K2M DAC
- toroidal power transformer for low noise and high-current output
- Bluetooth® wireless connectivity for streaming music from compatible smartphones, tablets, and computers
- aptX® HD encoding provides high-quality music streaming from compatible devices
- Class AB amplifier design
- full-metal casework with thick brushed aluminum front panel and acoustically damped chassis for enhanced resonance control
- remote included
- two Toslink optical digital inputs
- coaxial digital input
- USB Type-B input for connecting a computer
- four unbalanced stereo RCA inputs
- balanced XLR left and right input
- mono RCA subwoofer output
- stereo RCA preamp output
- switchable A+B speaker outputs with binding-post connectors
- control bus input and output
- 12-volt trigger input and output for automatic synchronized on/off with compatible Cambridge Audio components
- IR input
- RS-232C data port
Dimensions and warranty:
- 16-15/16"W x 4-1/2"H x 13-7/16"D
- weight: 19.1 lbs.
- warranty: 3 years
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