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Cambridge CXN/DAC Question

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Well-known member
Apr 21, 2020
I'm leaning toward letting the CXA81 do the conversion. Sounds a little cleaner and sharper. I feel everything that comes from the upsampling to sound the same. Sounds strange I know but it sounds all warm and smooth IMHO, regardless if the recording has a bit of bite in it. It may just come down to the different implementation of the 2 different dacs and have nothing to do with the upsampling.


Well-known member
Jun 16, 2020
I actually got rid of my CXA81 in favour of an Arcam SA20 but still have the CXN v2 and CXC.

I think the digital coax out probably offers the purest signal path.

Having said that, I have read that the CXN upsamples literally everything for its analogue outs and downsamples the data back to it's original sample rate before outputting it via digital coax and optical.

I don't know if that's true. It seems overly complicated and unnecessary.

As you mentioned, some people claim the additional processing creates issues with audio quality.

What I can tell you is that when I play music from my CXN to my SA20 via digital coax, the SA20 displays the original sample rate.

My personal opinion is that digital coax sounds slightly better but it's hard to say. RCA sounds very good.

What do you think sounds best so far?

Can i just ask, you obviously didn't rate the CXA81 and CXN V2 as a good pairing then due to the upsampling issue?


Adam W.

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2020

Can i just ask, you obviously didn't rate the CXA81 and CXN V2 as a good pairing then due to the upsampling issue?

No, not at all. I think the CXA81 and CXN make an excellent combination.

The only reason I exchanged the CXA81 for the SA20 is because I prefer the slightly warmer and smoother sound it offers. Sending the 81 back wasn't easy as it genuinely is a great amp.

It's just personal preference, that's all.


Well-known member
Aug 28, 2015
Hi all

I'm thinking about buying the CXN.

I currently own a CXA81 with the built in ESS Sabre DAC and a CXC CD transport. They're connected via digital coax.

The CXN uses twin Wolfson DACs.

If I connect the CXC to the CXN and connect the CXN to the CXA81 using XLR, am I likely to hear any difference in sound?

Hi sir :)

It certainly depends on the rest of the chain, if the differences can be revealed. I for one could never get along with the ess sabre dacs. But that is me , my room and my ears. I prefer a little more musicality, even at the expense of a slight loss of out right resolution and detail, and the wolfson chips do that. That is something everyone has to decide for themselves i guess :)

I do have a ruthlessly revealing sacd player and dac. But I find it is all revealing but not muiscal. So I use a tube dac to get me the musical enjoyment I want. A lot of details are jotted out between the SS and tubed dac. But so what :D

I still enjoy listening to thee tubes in the end