A new year brings a raft of new products from Cambridge Audio
With the Consumer Electronics Show just about kicking off in Las Vegas at the time of writing, some of our homegrown Hi-Fi designers are getting ready to unleash some of their latest wares for 2015. London-based Cambridge Audio are not only ready to show a new product, but an entire range. Let’s take a look at the stunning new ‘CX’ series.
Stunning is truly the operative word here, with Cambridge‘s design team having created a beautiful, modern chassis for the new series, which comprises six components initially. The cases that previously housed the 851 and 651 series have been transformed, with a clean, sleek minimalism to the boxes, and new button layouts as well. This fresh feeling even extends to the company’s logo, which has seen a further tweak to front-up this new look.
Easily the swankiest design change of all is the CX series ‘floating’ base, a clever piece of design work that eschews the traditional four independent ‘feet’ underneath, for an underside that inclines gently from the front two corners to create a plinth in the middle. The effect it creates is superb, and its added resonance control is the icing on the cake.
This last device is a real curveball from Cambridge, giving us CD users a great opportunity to get even more from a format that is seen by some as being in decline. A CD transport, for those scratching their heads, is simply the disc reading components of a CD player without the Digital-to-Analogue converters (DAC) that then turn this information into audio, ready to be played through an amplifier and speakers. Separating the often-noisy electronics of the disc player from the DAC means that new levels of performance can be achieved. Often, using an ‘outboard’ DAC can bring better performance again, as seen with the marque’s ‘851D‘ DAC.
The CXC‘s inclusion here shows that the format, and digital in general, is very much a part of Cambridge‘s plans for the future, as all of their new amplifiers are fitted with digital inputs – which is something of a rarity on 2-channel stereo amps these days.
Whilst we’ve yet to have a proper play with them, the specs for all of the receivers, be it stereo or A/V, are looking pretty tidy themselves. The two stereo amplifiers are Bluetooth optional (with the addition of a Cambridge BT100 dongle) and the least powerful of the two is still capable of an impressive 60 WPC output into an 8 ohm load. Cambridge‘s continued use of toroidal transformers means that this new pair should be able to drive even the most demanding speakers adequately. The CXA80 also packs an extra punch over the CXA60, having not only the Optical and Coaxial digital inputs of its little brother, but also USB 1.0 and 2.0 capability, meaning it’s an almost complete TV/PC audio setup in one box.
The new A/V amplifiers are possibly the most impressive looking components on display here, with their clean lines being highlighted further by the new front-and-centre display. Both amplifiers are capable of 7-channel audio, perfect for the current Blu-Ray format. Again, the power specs for the pair are impressive, with the CXR120 offering around 60 WPC into 6 ohm loads when driving all channels, and the larger CXR200 stretching to 120 WPC into the same load whilst also driving all channels. Network streaming built into these types of machines became a big thing in 2014, and Cambridge have made sure that the CX series is well up to spec here, too, with both receivers able to handle a wealth of audio-formats, played either over a network or from a HDD via USB. Speaking of network capabilities…
The CXN is Cambridge‘s latest network streaming player. Following hot on the heels of the multi-award winning ‘StreamMagic 6‘, this new incumbent brings all of the original’s know-how, and adds a beautiful new colour display, alongside a host of other new tricks. The DAC inside is capable of playback of files in up to 24/192khz bit-rates, and these can then be further upsampled to 24/384khz via some clever onboard technology. With the inclusion of Spotify Connect, AptX Bluetooth and Airplay, it’s difficult to see what could have been left out on paper at least.
We’ll have more info on this new series in the coming weeks, with the range due to us here in Richer Sounds stores for March – but suffice to say, they’re already looking like some of this year’s biggest hardware releases.
Author: Chris, Liverpool store