A community audio streamer is designed to function a central hub for all of your digital audio sources. Cambridge Audio’s $1,099 CXN (v2) community audio streamer is arguably among the many finest you’ll discover. The CXN (v2) marries a super-rich characteristic set, copious connectivity choices, broad help for a number of ecosystems, and stable audio efficiency right into a near-perfect bundle that can match into nearly any state of affairs.
Even higher, common firmware updates promise so as to add options and performance, making for an funding that you simply’ll get pleasure from for years to come back.
Built for high-performance audio
The CXN (v2) is designed to take a seat on the coronary heart of a high-performance audio system. It’s sculpted design and brushed metallic accents make this a chunk you received’t thoughts placing on show entrance and heart.
The unit’s entrance panel show can be killer if it was an OLED panel. You’ll as a substitute must accept a pretty-good LCD show that I discovered to be crisp, sharp, and ok to get the job achieved. Tactile buttons flanking the LCD show are clearly and intuitively marked. The massive knob on the appropriate helps you fly by means of menus whereas urgent on the knob selects the highlighted menu merchandise.
Flexible enter and output choices abound. Pick from sources that includes S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink optical, USB Audio, or connect plain-ol’ USB storage. Use the CXN (v2) as a USB audio gadget, and you’ll manually select between USB Audio Profile 1.0 or 2.0 as properly.
In addition to S/PDIF coaxial and Toslink Optical (that are concurrently lively), you’ll discover unbalanced analog output and balanced (XLR) stereo output. Those with high-end audio gear crave parts with balanced connections as a consequence of their capability to reject cable-borne noise and interference. The solely output you received’t discover is HDMI, which frankly isn’t any large deal.
The Cambridge Audio streamer is constructed for two-channel bliss. You’ll be capable to obtain full 24-bit/192kHz output from the CXN (v2)’s S/PDIF coaxial output. Analog outputs reap the benefits of the CXN (v2)’s twin 24-bit Wolfson WM8740 DACs.
For a unit of this caliber, I view Bluetooth as a comfort as a substitute of a characteristic. Cambridge Audio should see it that means, too. If you really need it, Cambridge Audio provides an optionally available adapter, the BT100, that helps aptX for better-quality streaming. It received’t take you into the realm of high-res streaming, although, as a result of it doesn’t help aptX HD. Should Bluetooth be vital to you, word that the adapter that occupies one of many USB ports that might in any other case be used to host a storage gadget.
Onboard 10/100 ethernet gives a steady connection to your own home community. While the techie in me want to see a gigabit ethernet connection, a steady 10/100 connection is greater than enough for streaming even very massive high-res information. If your own home doesn’t have the infrastructure to help wired connections, Cambridge Audio provides an optionally available Wi-Fi adapter. I all the time advocate utilizing a wired connection as a consequence of its stability and velocity.
Lots of tips up its sleeve
Cambridge Audio’s CXN (v2) is an extremely properly thought out and versatile unit that may be built-in right into a broad array of ecosystems, together with each Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s AirPlay 2. The extra time I spent with the CXN (v2), the extra considerate options I found. There’s a ground-lift swap subsequent to the USB Audio enter for instance; that’s a extremely good characteristic for defeating any floor loop which may emanate from you audio system once you join a pc or NAS field to the streamer.
While the CXN (v2) is billed as a community audio streamer, it will possibly additionally operate as a full-blown digital preamplifier. Turn on the digital preamp operate and voila! The navigation dial on the appropriate aspect immediately doubles as quantity management. Pair the CXN (v2) with a high-quality stereo energy amplifier, join a pair of killer audio system, and also you’ll end up armed with a compact powerhouse of a system at a modest total value.And the tips don’t cease there. Homeowners with complicated multi-room management techniques—or the customized installers they rent to place these forms of techniques in—will love that the CXN (v2) has a devoted management bus and might ship and IR instructions by way of a port on the unit’s rear panel.
But the CXN (v2)’s upgradeability by way of firmware could be its finest characteristic of all. You would possibly consider gadget as a private laptop optimized for audio. Whenever new options and providers come out, Cambridge Audio can improve this machine to supply them. Since its authentic launch, the corporate has added Tidal and Qobuz integration, Chromecast and AirPlay 2 help, and—most not too long ago—the corporate has rendered its streamer Roon Ready (you’ll be able to learn our early Roon review here, and its latest features here. All of that comes on prime of its UPnP compatibility, Spotify Connect help, and web radio options (don’t miss our iin-depth, two-part guide to internet radio).
Fits seamlessly into any streaming ecosystem
I run a combined protocol setting, and the CXN (v2) was comfy with all of it. Firing up AirPlay 2, I simply streamed to the CXN (v2) from any iOS gadget or grouped it together with my Denon X8500H and Apple TVs for whole-home audio. Alas, Apple nonetheless doesn’t help high-res streaming over AirPlay 2 (name this a honest shout-out request, Apple).
The CXN (v2) got here up as a local Chromecast consumer, too. Adding the CXN (v2) to my Google Home app, I created a speaker group with Cambridge Audio’s different standout, the Yoyo (L) streaming speaker, and Definitive Technology’s Studio Slim soundbar.
I exploit Roon religiously as my major music server, and right here’s the place Cambridge Audio’s design brilliance paid off in spades. I may add the CXN (v2) as an “endpoint” for every supported protocol and create speaker teams accordingly. In different phrases, I may add the CXN (v2) as an AirPlay endpoint and Chromecast endpoint and create native AirPlay and Chromecast speaker groupings utilizing the CXN (v2) in each. Moreover, I linked my Roon Nucleus server by way of USB to the CXN (v2) and linked it to my Anthem AVM 60 pre-amp. I due to this fact had the potential to create a number of, impartial cases of the CXN (v2) to suit no matter protocol or structure I craved. And for these of you who play DSD (Direct Stream Digital) sources, the CXN (v2) let me select whether or not I wished to make use of DoP (DSD over PCM) or PCM for digital output.
I may go on and on. I kicked the tires on the CXN (v2) for months mixing and matching assessment gear and my private gear out and in, and the CXN (v2) by no means missed a beat and partied properly with all of them.
The StreamMagic app
While you’ll be able to management Tidal and web radio options straight from the CXN (v2)’s on-screen interface, you’ll need to obtain Cambridge Audio’s iOS or Android StreamMagic app to increase your expertise—and the unit’s performance—even additional. The StreamMagic app acts as a command and management heart for the CXN (v2) and different networked Cambridge Audio units. StreamMagic offers you central command of Tidal and Quobuz integrations. I may seamlessly browse and play my Tidal music and playlists.
The StreamMagic app made web radio a really worthwhile characteristic, too. I looked for radio stations within the U.S. and overseas. And by altering my iOS gadget’s language keyboard, StreamMagic let me seek for stations in Greece with their native Greek names. I looked for stations from Athens to Crete with ease. If you get pleasure from exploring overseas music stations, you are able to do so in your language of alternative.
There have been occasions, nonetheless, when I discovered the StreamMagic app to be a bit funky. On multiple event, the “settings” would merely spin endlessly, telling me that the connection was misplaced. Oddly sufficient, each different menu and performance labored simply nice. Cambridge wants to trace down these Gremlins.
A high-end distant
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to Cambridge Audio’s excellent IR distant management. I want that the distant management had parts of the unit’s brushed metallic built-in. Nevertheless, the plastic distant feels stable and definitely excessive finish. Buttons are properly laid out—although these with visible issue will discover the writing on the buttons to be a bit small. But each conceivable operate is obtainable on the press of a button, and as soon as I discovered the place these features have been, I may name up primary features with out wanting.
I arrange the Cambridge Audio CXN (v2) into my important system with each analog audio output to my Anthem AVM 60 preamp and S/PDIF digital audio to the AVM 60. I arrange the Anthem to help the analog and digital inputs individually. I linked it to my Roon Nucleus server by means of USB, Chromecast, and AirPlay 2. Benchmark AHB2 energy amplifiers configured in bridged mono supplied the ability for Revel Ultima2 Salon audio system.
The finest praise I will pay the Cambridge Audio CXN (v2) is that I simply set it and forgot it in my system. It simply labored, time after time, letting me concentrate on the music and what I wished to do. You’ll discover that the CXN (v2) will at occasions be brutally sincere. If your supply materials isn’t nice, the CXN (v2) will let . On the flip aspect, well-recorded materials shines with ample element.
Comparing the CXN (v2)’s DAC to the Anthem AVM 60’s DAC yielded simply audible variations. The Anthem makes use of an AKM AK4458 32-bit/768 kHz with differential output, the place Cambridge Audio makes use of Wolfson WM8740 24-bit DACs. Sending a digital sign from the CXN (v2) to the Anthem, in order that the Anthem may decode the bit stream, produced a heat, clean, well-balanced, and velvety sound. Using the Cambridge Audio’s analog outputs from the Wolfson WM8740’s yielded a clear, detailed, however extra relaxed sound, with a barely deeper soundstage whose midrange particularly positioned extra emphasis on vocals.
A winner by any measure
I’m in love with Cambridge Audio’s superlative CXN (v2). This community music streamer is smooth, good, versatile, highly effective, properly thought out, and can match into a wide range of audio ecosystems. If you’re a combined audio marriage family juggling AirPlay, Chromecast, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, Roon, and different ecosystems, think about Cambridge Audio’s CXN (v2) the definitive answer to lifelong bliss.
The unit’s wealthy characteristic set and its stable sonics are properly well worth the lofty asking value of $1,099. For the diehard digital music devotee, Cambridge Audio’s CXN (v2) audio streamer deserves an pressing audition, and it earns my highest suggestion at this value level.