Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Stereo Amplifier
Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Stereo Amplifier
Half a decade after the CX range redefined performance at its price point, it’s time to reimagine, reengineer and reinvigorate. The all-new CXA61 and CXA81 integrated amplifiers build on the foundations laid (and the Awards won) by CXA60 and CXA80, but with a fresh and progressive perspective.
MAKING THE BEST BETTER
How do you take an admired and successful integrated amplifier, one that’s won respect and plaudits around the world, and make it even better? Well, if you’re a Cambridge Audio engineer, you examine every aspect of the performance - and then you do everything you can to make it ‘more’. More refined, more precise, more engrossing… more musical. The CXA81: it’s everything you loved about the CXA80, but more so.
UNCOMPROMISED AND UNCOMPROMISING
All the research, all the development, all the time and effort that’s been expended on the CXA81 has been for one reason alone: to make this the most accomplished and absorbing integrated amplifier ever offered at the price. Every component selected, and every engineering decision taken, is based entirely on the desire to progress. The CXA81 has been designed and specified without compromise, in order to deliver the complete musical picture.
THE WHOLE STORY
The CXA81 is designed to bring your music to life, no matter how it’s stored. So it features an entirely new digital board, including the cutting-edge ESS Sabre ES9016 digital-to-analogue convertor. Which means digital audio files up to a heady 32bit/384kHz, or DSD256, are brought dramatically to life, with every detail and nuance delivered intact and in full. The CXA81 combines unparalleled accuracy with vivid musicality, without sacrificing convenience.
POWER AND CONTROL
Thanks to numerous improvements and upgrades - and thanks to an overspecified toroidal transformer - the CXA81 delivers a prodigious 80 watts of power per channel. This means the CXA81 has complete authority over even the most demanding speakers, it means big dynamic shifts in music are handled with total control, and it means the whole musical picture is available no matter if you’re playing at discreet background levels or at party-time volumes.
The CXA81 covers all connectivity bases, giving you complete freedom of choice. As well as digital optical and digital coaxial inputs, it features unbalanced stereo RCA inputs alongside balanced XLR sockets - and wireless connectivity via Bluetooth’s cutting-edge aptX HD standard is on board too. So there’s no need to compromise on performance in the name of convenience.
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 analogue 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 macrodynamics 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.
80W RMS into 8 Ohms, 120W RMS into 4 OhmsDAC
ESS Sabre ES9016K2MFREQUENCY RESPONSE
<5Hz– 60kHz +/-1dBANALOGUE AUDIO INPUTS
1x balanced XLR, 4 x RCADIGITAL 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
Speakers A+B, 3.5mm headphone, Preamp Output, Subwoofer OutputREMOTE CONTROL
YesMAX POWER CONSUMPTION
750WSTANDBY POWER CONSUMPTION
<0.5WDIMENSIONS (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