Cambridge Audio CXN Network

 

Cambridge Audio


Cambridge Audio once again delights us. The high-definition network player CXN, part of the CX line launched earlier this year with a new design and improved sound quality, is exceptionally good for its category.



Price $1350


The Cambridge Audio CXN builds on the success of the award-winning $1,300 Stream Magic 6 v2, but the fresh, modern look of the CXN sets it apart from its predecessor. But even more it distinguishes itself from others by a truly excellent sound quality.

Enthusiasm and Joy The CXN is characterized by drive and enthusiasm; the combination of sophistication, impeccable rhythm and richness of detail makes his playing truly breathtaking.

Energetic sound is distinguished by enviable control over rhythms and bass power. We have rarely seen such power from a Cambridge model. Rich, textured and groovy basses form a solid foundation for rhythms. The attack and decay of each note is precise and crisp; we are in awe of the unstoppable groovy drive. The CXN does an excellent job of creating space between instruments; rapper Ghostpoet's atmospheric composition X Marks The Spot easily fills the room, leaving a decent headroom in terms of dynamics.


Without too much embarrassment The character of this Cambridge can not be called the softest, but its full-blooded sound is very pleasant to listen to. CXN is not shy about conveying the emotional content of the song: he fully recreates the dark and harsh mood of The Dead Weather's 60 Feet Tall, while also paying tribute to the funk-metal epic Rest in Peace rockers Extreme.

The true tone, noted by us in the mentioned compositions, extends to all fragments of the frequency range: the drums beat flawlessly exactly, the basses are deep, brilliant highs cannot be blamed for brightness or lack of dressing. The midrange is wonderful; voices are full and expressive. Cambridge isn't snobbish about file formats; Both high-resolution recordings and Spotify streams are streamed smoothly and dynamically.

The CXN is compatible with all modern streaming features, so you need a reliable network connection. In addition to cable via Ethernet, you can also use Wi-Fi - the antenna is included. All you have to do is plug your NAS server, laptop or smartphone into the same network and then hit the play button. Connection setup is fast and streaming is seamless.

Apple device owners can listen to their music collections via AirPlay, but we're not overly impressed with the uneven playback quality. We recommend connecting your iPhone or iPod to the front or rear USB port - this will improve the sound quality and recharge the device at the same time.


Ready for any kind of music In addition, CXN supports Spotify Connect and Internet radio, giving you access to millions of songs around the world. The list of formats inspires respect; it contains not only all popular varieties - WAV, FLAC, A IFF, A LAC and MP3, but also DSD64, files in which can be played via the rear USB port.

Ready for high definition

All digital inputs on the CXN are capable of accepting high-resolution streams up to 24-bit/192kHz, with sample rates up to 384kHz. Their list includes a Type B USB port for connecting a laptop, optical and coaxial inputs. Also, along with two digital outputs, there are RCA and balanced XLR outputs.


You have to give Cambridge Audio credit: the CXN looks amazing. Its stylish, modern look immediately sets the player apart from previous, more traditional Azur 351 and 651 components. Floating design, brushed aluminum body, and strict black or silver finish underline the high class of the device. We especially like the round knob: it has a smooth input and precisely adjusted resistance, the player instantly responds to commands from the menu.

The front panel has become much more rigorous and stylish, a bright and clear 4.3-inch TFT display shows a lot of useful and well-organized information: song title, artist name, album name, sample rate and full color cover art.


Cambridge Audio




Control methods

Playback and input selection can be controlled using the buttons on the front panel, but the remote control (also redesigned) is much better suited for this.

We used the remote control interchangeably with the updated Cambridge Connect app - it makes it easier to browse through song lists and select the ones you want. At times, the application "slows down", but not enough to force you to abandon its regular use.

Pleasant trifles

Another nice detail is Cambridge Audio's tradition of labeling inputs upside down, which makes it easy to make out the markings by bending over the device from above.

The company was very attentive and thoughtful about the creation of CXN. Functionality, design and usability are exceptionally high for this price range, and the lively and immersive sound will find many fans. If you are looking for a network player, be sure to check it out - and be prepared for the fact that you will not need other options.


Worth overpaying

The CXN's closest competitor is the superb Pioneer N-50A, an Award-winning update that recently received a top rating. However, although the Pioneer is $500 cheaper, we would have preferred to pay a little more and buy the Cambridge Audio. The CXN's looks, ease of use, and more powerful and outspoken sound tip the scales in its favor.

THE LANGUAGE OF NUMBERS

• HD 24bit/192kHz, DSD64
• Streaming functions UPnP, AirPlay, Internet radio, Spotify Connect •
• Inputs 2 USB type A, USB type B, optical, coaxial
• Outputs Optical, coaxial, balanced XLR, RCA
• Network Ethernet, Wi-Fi
• Remote control Yes
• Finishes 2
• Dimensions (HxWxD) 9x43x31cm
• Weight 4 kg


Cambridge Audio


FOR

Great sound in every way; stylish design and quality construction; equipment and a wide range of files; the convenience of use

CONS
For this price - nothing

VERDICT
Stylish and functional player with great sound

OPTIONS ARE POSSIBLE

Pioneer N-50A

$800 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The excellent and less expensive Pioneer is a strong competitor, but falls short of the CXN in terms of power, refinement and sheer listening pleasure.

Cambridge Connect for Android and Apple

The free Cambridge Connect app lets you browse music files stored on your NAS server, laptop or smartphone with a user-friendly interface. Since the most difficult part of the work falls on the smartphone's powerful processor, and not on the network player with its software, songs load faster. The application displays the album cover and tracklist; it makes it easy to navigate the largest collection of music. Songs can also be included in the current playlist.

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