Cambridge Audio CXA81 integrated amplifier Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog sources: Thorens TD 124 and Kuzma turntables, Jelco TS-350S Mk.II tonearm, Hana EL MC phono cartridge, Luxman EQ-500 phono stage.
Digital sources: BorderPatrol DAC SE, Asus laptop computer.
Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Ragnarok 2.
Loudspeakers: Polk Audio Legend L100, Quad S2.
Headphones: Master & Dynamic MH40.
Cables: Interconnect: Shindo Laboratory, Triode Wire Labs Spirit II, Furutech GT2 Pro Series USB cable. Speaker: Auditorium 23. AC: Triode Wire Labs Obsession NCF power cord, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Kuzma Platis 65 isolation platform; IsoTek EVO3 Aquarius line conditioner; Salamander five-tier rack; IKEA Aptitlig bamboo chopping boards (under preamp, power amps); Mapleshade maple platform (15" × 12" × 2", under turntable), mahogany blocks (2" × 2" × 0.5") under platforms and boards; Sanus NF24B Natural Foundations Series 24"-tall medium bookshelf speaker stands; 3"-thick studio-treatment foam damping (ceiling, walls).—Ken Micallef

COMPANY INFO
Cambridge Audio USA
1913 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(877) 357-8204
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Long-time listener's picture

As it turns out, I AM in the market for a good, mid-priced integrated (since the NAD M32, highly recommended by Stereophile, didn't work out so well). But my question is, if Accuphase, Luxman, NAD, and many others can offer tone controls in their much higher-priced integrateds, why can't Cambridge Audio? Their CXA-61 has them, but I guess as we go up in price, we get FEWER options. That's nice. Cross another one off the list.

JRT's picture

...is listed on the Shiit website for $149, and might be a solution adequate to your need for parametric EQ tone control, but maybe not with this integrated amplifier, which I think trades away too much system flexibilty for that integrated functionality. Opinions vary.

https://www.schiit.com/products/loki

Note that it has single ended I/O, so I would suggest relatively short interconnections and shared ground potential with the equipment attatched at the other end of the interconnections.

Long-time listener's picture

It's too bad it has to come as a separate unit, which means more cables, but it's interesting nonetheless. I'm not sure I like the frequencies where they have set the four EQ bands (20, 400, 2kHz, 8kHz), seems kind of odd to me, but I'd have to use it to see. For my purposes, a simple set of bass and treble controls, centered at around 80/100 Hz and 10Khz, usually accomplishes all I need, or else maybe a "tilt" control as I've seen on some amps.

JRT's picture

...Parasound Halo P6 2.1 preamplifier/DAC is good quality, includes your desired tone controls among a wide variety of useful functionality, and has balanced outputs to interconnect to monoblock amplifiers located near the loudspeakers. Nord Acoustics makes some good moderately priced Hypex NCore NC500MB monoblock amplifiers with balanced inputs.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Parasound+Halo+P6+2.1

https://www.google.com/search?q=Nord+NC500MB

JRT's picture

If you do order from Nord, you might want to add this £10 option for US support.

https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/orderinginfo

Long-time listener's picture

Will keep that one in mind for the future

Ortofan's picture

... tone controls and uses Hypex power amplifier modules.
https://www.stereophile.com/content/marantz-model-30-integrated-amplifier

partain's picture

Yea or nay ?

SimonK's picture

As I've experienced with all current Cambridge products, their speakers outputs have reversed polarity, so you need to actually go from minus to plus (black to red and red to black) to get the correct phase response. Cambridge has gotten somewhat of a reputation of being a tad laid back because of this - this is simply because they aren't when correctly wired. The CXA81 plays neutral and accurate. It is beyond me, why they don't inform their customers about this.

Jim Austin's picture

I realize I'm answering an older comment, but it's important to correct this. As you can see from the measurements included with this review, the Cambridge Audio CXA81 preserves absolute polarity.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

SimonK's picture

Hello Jim

Thanks for commenting and correcting. I just re-read the measuresments and it may very well do that, but the explanation to what I hear must be then, that the digital input is inverting the polarity as you measured. What would be the idea here? For my point of view it seems like you would have a polarity issue if using both analogue and digital inputs, so that you'd need to change the speaker outputs whenever you play from one or the other source.

wozwoz's picture

I am fan of Cambridge equipment, and have one of their amps in a bedroom (not main audio setup) which is a very fine minimal classic design. Having said so, I would never purchase any amplifier that has Bluetooth built-in, (a) in part because I don't want to be needlessly radiated in my own home, and (b) because Bluetooth is a suboptimal typically compressed and lossy medium that is, in my view, inconsistent with the goals of hi-fi, and it disrespects the equipment to include such a format (leaving aside radiating your brain).

LogicprObe's picture

The review states that the amp has 'natural silicone rubber' feet.
No silicone products are 'natural'.
They are all man made.
Latex is the only 'natural' rubber product.
You can't believe anything from the marketing departments of these companies.

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