Bi amping with the Cambridge Audio CXA81

Newager

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I have just upgraded from a two decades old Rotel integrated and a power amp in a bi-amped setup with bi-wiring to a crossover that is split between the tweeter/mid-range and the bass. This arrangement did result in noticeable improvements to sound quality.

I can double up on the banana plugs so it will out of necessity remain bi-wired, but the question is, would I get any improvements with the Cambridge Audio CXA81 in a similar bi-amping arrangement?

The CXA81 has a pre-out for this purpose and I am thinking about pairing it with the Roksan Caspian M2 Stereo Power Amplifier. It has a rating of 85 watts per channel and a gain of 31.6 dB, I cannot find the value for the gain on the CXA81.

I am also two decades out of date with any knowledge so any advice and recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks
 

landco

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Hello. I'm skeptical about the idea of bi-amping; I think the improvement is too small to make the game worth the effort. The difference you supposedly heard could be simple self-hypnosis.
 
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Newager

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Thanks but the improvement was real and varied according to what amp powered the tweeter/mid and the bass.

Self-hypnosis is neutral and therefore, not limited to opinions for or against his matter.
 

Roger_A

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If you're going to buy an integrated amp plus a separate power amp I think you'd do much better putting it towards a better integrated amp in the first place. If you do go the route you propose then the input sensitivities of the power amp section in the integrated amp and the external power amp need to be the same or you run the risk of an imbalance between the bass/mid driver and the tweeter and you can't adjust this with just the one volume control. To do it effectively means buying amps from the same manufacturer and checking sensitivities first - see what they recommend but I still think a much better single amp would be better.

Of course, if you really think that bi-amping is better then you could do it the best way of all and look at active speakers where all this is done and matched for you.
 

Newager

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If you're going to buy an integrated amp plus a separate power amp I think you'd do much better putting it towards a better integrated amp in the first place. If you do go the route you propose then the input sensitivities of the power amp section in the integrated amp and the external power amp need to be the same or you run the risk of an imbalance between the bass/mid driver and the tweeter and you can't adjust this with just the one volume control. To do it effectively means buying amps from the same manufacturer and checking sensitivities first - see what they recommend but I still think a much better single amp would be better.

Of course, if you really think that bi-amping is better then you could do it the best way of all and look at active speakers where all this is done and matched for you.
Thanks, that is the advice I was looking for. I take your point and wiil contact Cambidge Audio and ask them what the gain is on the CXA81. The two Rotels have different gain but not enough to cause an inbalance, in fact it was helpful to tone down the bass.
 
Thanks, that is the advice I was looking for. I take your point and wiil contact Cambidge Audio and ask them what the gain is on the CXA81. The two Rotels have different gain but not enough to cause an inbalance, in fact it was helpful to tone down the bass.
Gain will not tone down anything unfortunately.
It will drive a low sensitivity speaker a bit better but it will not effect the characteristics of said speaker.
Not entirely sure on what you are hoping to achieve. Can you explain a bit more on the equipment you currently have and the speakers you are looking to drive?
 

AJM1981

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I have just upgraded from a two decades old Rotel integrated and a power amp in a bi-amped setup with bi-wiring to a crossover that is split between the tweeter/mid-range and the bass. This arrangement did result in noticeable improvements to sound quality.

I can double up on the banana plugs so it will out of necessity remain bi-wired, but the question is, would I get any improvements with the Cambridge Audio CXA81 in a similar bi-amping arrangement?

The CXA81 has a pre-out for this purpose and I am thinking about pairing it with the Roksan Caspian M2 Stereo Power Amplifier. It has a rating of 85 watts per channel and a gain of 31.6 dB, I cannot find the value for the gain on the CXA81.

I am also two decades out of date with any knowledge so any advice and recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks
Bi amping can be fun to experiment with, but are you sure that the difference is not a slight cancellation of the midrange, so the treble becomes more pronounced. I had that once as a result with my B&Ws.

In the past bi amping was used to avoid the need for a powerful (expensive) amp by combining two lighter amps in driving more difficult to drive loudspeakers. That need should kind of have disappeared in today’s age when really decent amps that drive even the most difficult loudspeakers come with an ok price tag.
 
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record_spot

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FWIW, I think biwiring's an absolute waste of time. Did it for years, swapped back to single runs and found no difference. The biwiring went.

Which speakers are you using? If you're going down the biamp route, If you've already bought the Cambridge amp, fair enough, otherwise I'd have suggested checking out the Cambridge Edge integrated or power amp. More expensive but by the time you've lashed the cash on the CXA81 and the Caspian Power Amps, you're kind of on the way to that territory.

If the full price is a tad keen for your wallet, then check out Cambridge's Ebay store. They currently have the Edge W power amp for £2,600, the Edge M for £2,900, or the Edge A Integrated for £3,900. These are all refurbished (B-grade apparently), but my experience of Cambridge open box / refurbished gear is nothing short of excellent. I've their DACMagic 200M and the Alva ST turntable and both were flawless out the box. Plus, you have 30 days return.
 

AJM1981

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FWIW, I think biwiring's an absolute waste of time. Did it for years, swapped back to single runs and found no difference. The biwiring went.

Which speakers are you using? If you're going down the biamp route, If you've already bought the Cambridge amp, fair enough, otherwise I'd have suggested checking out the Cambridge Edge integrated or power amp. More expensive but by the time you've lashed the cash on the CXA81 and the Caspian Power Amps, you're kind of on the way to that territory.

If the full price is a tad keen for your wallet, then check out Cambridge's Ebay store. They currently have the Edge W power amp for £2,600, the Edge M for £2,900, or the Edge A Integrated for £3,900. These are all refurbished (B-grade apparently), but my experience of Cambridge open box / refurbished gear is nothing short of excellent. I've their DACMagic 200M and the Alva ST turntable and both were flawless out the box. Plus, you have 30 days return.
Bi-wiring is indeed not a thing in audible sense. An amp with one pair of speaker connectors doesn't drive differently.

When you connect the top to a speaker 1 output and the bottom to a speaker 2 output on a single amp, sometimes the effect of slightly cancelling out the midrange might be an outcome, which also might occur in bi-amping . That automatically gives a sense of a minor change, which is almost like putting a minor dent down in equalizing somewhere in the mids.

There are non-audible theories behind bi-wiring which, for any common user are really far sought, and when someone does that with that idea in mind, it is all fine to me. Most speaker manufacturers put two sets of binding posts there, just to give the back a better optical design. If they 'could' get away with 3 rows of binding posts there, they would totally do it. But given that some of the leading speaker manufacturers also just put one set of binding posts over there, it indicates that even manufacturers don't really see the need there.
 

Newager

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Bi amping can be fun to experiment with, but are you sure that the difference is not a slight cancellation of the midrange, so the treble becomes more pronounced. I had that once as a result with my B&Ws.

In the past bi amping was used to avoid the need for a powerful (expensive) amp by combining two lighter amps in driving more difficult to drive loudspeakers. That need should kind of have disappeared in today’s age when really decent amps that drive even the most difficult loudspeakers come with an ok price tag.
Thanks, in the past, bi-amping did work for the reasons you described, bi-wiring also helped control the bass. You have answered my question by stating that it is no longer necessary. I have returned the CXA81 as the AUX's have a discrepancy with output compared to digital. On digital the volume knob is at 10 o'clock on phono it's at 2 o'clock. Also the hum was much lounder than on my old Rotel at comparative volume.

This explains why playing vinyl was rubbish compared to digital. I will buy a good integrated amp, the speakers are self-built 70l monsters, and I will control the bass with the addition or subtraction of sound-deadening material.
 
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