Cambridge Audio CXN

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by AvFan, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I just purchased a Cambridge Audio CXN to upgrade the digital side of my system from a CA DACMagic. The CXN is being replaced with the CXN V2 but it looks like they just improved internet radio and access to Tidal for $150 more than the current price of a CXN. Neither feature was a must-have for me. I downloaded the Cambridge Connect App and when it found my new NAS without an issue I was sold.

    I like OPPO products, I have had three of their disc players, and I was seriously looking at the Sonica DAC but its lack of gapless playback and that some reviews noted somewhat harsh high frequencies steered me to the CXN. Admittedly, I didn't do a head-to-head comparison between the CXN and Sonica so I can't say how the sound of the two units compare but they both have the functions I intend to use. Also, there isn't a lot of info on CXN when I searched AK so I hope to add some insights for folks who are looking for a streaming DAC.

    I'm looking forward to rediscovering my digital music that includes CDs, 24/96 downloads and 24/96 recordings of some of my records with the convenience offered by the CXN when it arrives next week.
     
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  2. steppen

    steppen Member

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    I have the same doubts about CXN and Sonica but never saw any A/B test between both. Any inputs ?
     
  3. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I too would have liked an A/B comparison but I couldn't find any and I asked that question in a Sonica thread a few months back. Crickets. The Sonica reviewers really liked its features and most liked its sound but there we a few, enough for me, who said they thought it was a bit harsh. The CXN has also received good reviews on its features but also on how its sounds and no mention of it being harsh. The reviews are really nothing more than a guide as it is how a product sounds with the other components in a system including the room. I'll post my impressions of the CXN after I've had a good chance to listen to it, but with that caveat.

    First caveat: My speakers, Selah Audio Ottavo, have RAAL ribbon tweeter and an Accuton ceramic midrange drivers. They are accurate and nuanced so if the CXN is laid-back or harsh I will be able to hear it.
     
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  4. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    My CXN arrived the other day and I've had the opportunity to listen to a variety of audio files all with very good to outstanding results.
    • 16/44.1 files sound very good. Each that I have listened to had some digital "glare" but that could be the mastering versus the bit/sampling rate. The CXN is absolutely a step up from my DACMagic.
    • 24/96 HDTracks AIFF files are excellent and seem to lack the glare I heard on 16/44.1 files. It is very easy to listen to these files.
    • I have recorded a number of albums using VinylStudio with a Focusrite 2i4 ADC recorded at 24/96 and all that I've listened to have been outstanding. I can't do a direct comparison now as my cartridge and tonearm have changed since I recorded most of these albums however my new turntable rig is better than before so I anticipate any new recordings will be even better than what I have now.
    • The CXN supports gapless playback and that is one feature I definitely wanted due to the amount of live music I own.
    • The CXN is a Swiss Army knife of audio inputs and I've tried: NAS via WiFi, USB hard drive, Apple AirPlay, and digital optical from my laptop using Audirvana. The CA app (on my iPad mini) is kind of clunky and lacks some features I'd like to have but it does work.
    • I intend to use files on my NAS via WiFi (2.4 gHz) most of the time. I have not had any WiFi dropouts. I have some work to do to organize the folders on the NAS to make it easy to select albums. Most of this effort is because I've used iTunes for all my CD rips and things like album art are not embedded into those files. I've found a couple of software options (Bliss and Tag&Rename) that hopefully can add album art metadata to audio files. For future CD rips I may start using XLD.
    • I haven't explored internet radio or Spotify yet. Eventually I will add an OPPO BDP-83 to my system and I will be able to compare it to the CXN's DAC. I can always use the BDP-83's coax digital output into the CXN.
    I'm excited about the CXN's sound quality and the flexibility it provides me to listen to my digital files on my stereo. I've been focused on analog playback for a few years and it is nice to upgrade the digital side of my system in order to have easy access to my digital music and enjoy good sound quality.
     
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  5. PRESSON100

    PRESSON100 Member

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    After reading your post, you might be the one to ask; If I buy my first DAC(dac magic?), and I obtain some of these higher sampling rate files and compare them to my CDs, will I hear a difference in quality? I am new to the digital side.
     
  6. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I don't want this to sound like I'm dodging your very reasonable question but, unfortunately, whether you will hear the difference between CD quality 16/44.1 and SACD at 24/96 depends on many factors, only one of which is the DAC. The factors that play into whether you will hear a difference include: the DAC, all the other components in our system, your room and speaker configuration, and finally your hearing. When I'm listening I tend to focus in on what I term "digital glare". It is that etched sound on higher frequencies that can set my teeth on edge. To be fair that edge can be caused a multitude of other reasons (the recording process, mastering, the attention to detail in the pressing process for vinyl records) other than bit depth and sample rates so before making my comments above I listened to a number of different files at 16/44.1 and 24/96.

    I have only owned the CA DACMagic and the CXN so you may want to poll others about their experiences with other DACs. I thought I could hear the difference between a 16/44.1 and 24/96 a few years ago using the DACMagic in my system. It was an important determination because I was deciding what bit depth and sample rate to record some of my records and the choice of bit/sample had downstream impacts on the method and cost of how I stored all my music. I believe I can also hear the difference between 16/44.1 and 24/96 using the CXN.

    The only way to know if you can hear a difference between CD and SACD in your system is to get a DAC that does both and have a listen. Sorry I cannot be more definitive but given all the variables it is probably the only way for you to know.
     

     

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  7. PRESSON100

    PRESSON100 Member

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    I actually have a dedicated SACD player as well as a CD player. I think I hear a slight improvement on Dark side of the moon with the SACD. What I guess I am asking is if you hear any difference on a FLAK or the 86, which I guess you said you heard something. I think I might try the DAC magic. Thank you for your response.
     

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