Speakers for Cambridge CAX81

ast2312

Active member
May 3, 2020
21
3
25
Hi All,

I am impressed by the various reviews on the Cambridge CAX81 but having some difficulty in finding a suitable speaker set-up for a small room (2.5m x 3x5m).

I have considered the Dali Oberon 1’s and the B&W 607 but just wanted to ask if anyone has any experience of this amp and speakers. Or any other recommendation So?

I also don’t know where to draw the price point for the speakers. Will a sub £400 speaker will not do the amp justice?

Any comments very much appreciated.....
 

Al ears

Moderator
Nov 23, 2008
1,552
498
20,070
Hi, welcome to the forum,
Ideally, some say, it is better to spend approximately the same amount on components many make the same mistake and an amp that costs about a grand deserves to drive more expensive speakers.
Speakers for small rooms that are cheapish are hard to come by, will you consider second-hand?Don't worry to much about marching speakers to a fairly neutral amp, as long as it can drive them adequately, it is more important to match them to your room.
Can you stretch your budget any more?
In a small room sealed-box speakers perform well. Do you have speakers stands?
Do you have that amp yet?
Are you in the UK.
 

kukulec

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2015
38
6
10,545
Hi, I had the CXA80 with Elac BS403 and Polk Audio TSX220 in that size of room. They worked great. Now, I listen music in a room of 12 sqm with QA 3030i. What I want to say is that you could go for the bigger speakers: Oberon 3 and also BW 606.
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
191
116
270
I've used the CXA80 for a while, and I don't think you'll have any trouble with the CXA81. Just plenty of good clean power and some useful connectivity.

For a small room, I'd typically recommend a pair of small speakers and a compact subwoofer. The reason for that is the small speakers won't put out much bass on their own, which is an advantage here: you want to position the subwoofer so that it's producing the best bass in your room, and that's likely to be away from the main speakers.

Speakers are the weak link in pretty much any system. They have much much larger problems than pretty much any amplifier. Where amps typically have a response that might deviate by 1dB over 20Hz-20kHz, speakers on their own might vary by 5dB. Put those speakers in a room, and 10dB variances are easily possible.

So, I always advocate spending as much as possible on the speakers.


If you haven't purchased the CXA81 yet, I'd recommend spending more on some better speakers, and also considering active speakers.

Chris
 

Al ears

Moderator
Nov 23, 2008
1,552
498
20,070
I've used the CXA80 for a while, and I don't think you'll have any trouble with the CXA81. Just plenty of good clean power and some useful connectivity.

For a small room, I'd typically recommend a pair of small speakers and a compact subwoofer. The reason for that is the small speakers won't put out much bass on their own, which is an advantage here: you want to position the subwoofer so that it's producing the best bass in your room, and that's likely to be away from the main speakers.

Speakers are the weak link in pretty much any system. They have much much larger problems than pretty much any amplifier. Where amps typically have a response that might deviate by 1dB over 20Hz-20kHz, speakers on their own might vary by 5dB. Put those speakers in a room, and 10dB variances are easily possible.

So, I always advocate spending as much as possible on the speakers.


If you haven't purchased the CXA81 yet, I'd recommend spending more on some better speakers, and also considering active speakers.

Chris
I'd be interested to hear exactly why active speakers are going to be better in a small room....likewise why you would introduce a subwoofer into a room that's going to have issues with bass. Keep it simple has always been my motto.
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
191
116
270
Well, I'd argue that active speakers are better full stop.

An amplifier channel per driver means direct control over the cones (instead of a crossover network that decouples the amplifier), and you'll get proper limiting and driver-specific EQ. None of that happens with a passive speaker.

Furthermore, a decent active speaker will have options to tell it about the acoustic environment, and it'll respond accordingly.
For instance, I used a pair of studio monitors for a while in a fairly small room, and found the flattest in-room response was had when the low-frequency cut switch was fully engaged. That produced a rolloff at the speaker itself, but because the room was providing gain towards the bass, the response at the listening position ended up nice and flat down to the high-30s.

Chris

Edit - I can see the hypocrisy. I say I like active speakers, and my main HiFi speakers are passive. My HiFi speakers have been designed and processed to sound good in that position in this room. HiFi manufacturers don't have the luxury of knowing the exact environment their speakers will be used in, and as a result always have to compromise.
 
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ast2312

Active member
May 3, 2020
21
3
25
Hi All,

This thread has really helped. I am now looking to rebalance my costs and put more into speakers and less into the amp.
My source is a Bluesound so I can feed analogue directly into an amp so not restricted by on onboard DAC in an amp.

I have settled on a set B&W 607’s and now have looked at 3 amps at different price points; Marantz PM6006, Rotel A11 and Audiolab 6000a.

My original intentions was for a budget system but cost slippage through reading reviews started to move me to £1K amp and unbalanced system.

Any thoughts or experience on the above amps will be much appreciated. I am favouring the Rotel as it seems to be a very impressive performer and has plenty of power.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
217
76
18,870
Hi All,

This thread has really helped. I am now looking to rebalance my costs and put more into speakers and less into the amp.
My source is a Bluesound so I can feed analogue directly into an amp so not restricted by on onboard DAC in an amp.

I have settled on a set B&W 607’s and now have looked at 3 amps at different price points; Marantz PM6006, Rotel A11 and Audiolab 6000a.

My original intentions was for a budget system but cost slippage through reading reviews started to move me to £1K amp and unbalanced system.

Any thoughts or experience on the above amps will be much appreciated. I am favouring the Rotel as it seems to be a very impressive performer and has plenty of power.
Hate to get you confused, but I'm in the "get the amp right first" category. True, CXA81 with Dali Spektor 2 is a pretty unbalanced system, but no point in going to the other extreme. How about Marantz PM 6006 + Dali Oberon 5 or, if it has to be standmounts, CA Cxa61 + Elac Debut 6.2 or 5.2? For what it's worth, I find the DAC in the Bluesound pretty disappointing, and I'm all for an integrated with a DAC in your position. For the B&W, I'd look at Arcam SA10 or a used Naim 5i 2 (or italic - yes, no DAC, but a better amplifier than all listed).
 

ast2312

Active member
May 3, 2020
21
3
25
Hi All,

Thanks for all the help. It is much appreciated!

I have a new question on Dac’s (apologies if this is slightly off the original topic).

I am thinking about settling on the Audiolab 6000a, all feedback and reviews seem solid.

The question I now have is how to connect to my Bluesound and which is the best Dac.

Is it best to go digital out from the Bluesound Node 2i and convert the signal in the 6000a or do the conversion in the Bluesound and feed an analogue signal into the 6000a?

Any feedback as always is very helpful?
 

Leon Martin

Well-known member
Mar 19, 2020
35
8
45
I’m a bit late to the party but I have the CXA81 paired with Dali Oberon 5. I trialed the amp with QAcoustics Q3050i at the same time but preferred the Oberons which together with the amp produced a warmer sound. The Q’s appeared to lose most of the bass....
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
663
345
5,270
Is it best to go digital out from the Bluesound Node 2i and convert the signal in the 6000a or do the conversion in the Bluesound and feed an analogue signal into the 6000a?

Any feedback as always is very helpful?
You will be the best person to answer that question (by simple experimentation).
During your research on the 6000A you must have seen the mains transformer noise issue - something to check for immediately post purchase.
 

Squall Leonhart

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2016
66
33
4,570
I
Hi All,

Thanks for all the help. It is much appreciated!

I have a new question on Dac’s (apologies if this is slightly off the original topic).

I am thinking about settling on the Audiolab 6000a, all feedback and reviews seem solid.

The question I now have is how to connect to my Bluesound and which is the best Dac.
I own the 6000a and it's been perfect. I would say using the dac in the 6000a would be best as the dac in the 6000a is so good. You get 3 different filters to alter the sound to your liking.

There is still a subjective element so you may end up prefering the dac in the Bluesound. But i recommend trying the 6000a dac first as it's very good quality.

During your research on the 6000A you must have seen the mains transformer noise issue - something to check for immediately post purchase.
Mains transformer noise? I wasnt aware the 6000a had that issue. I guess I am one of the lucky ones as mine is dead silent
 
Last edited:
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