Cambridge Audio CXN v2

So I just picked up this unit today and have been listening to it for sometime tonight. I wanted the Aurelic Mini but could not find one. I was able to A/B the Bluesound Node 2 with this unit and since I have no stand alone DAC went with the CA because it was a huge jump in SQ from the Bluesound.
And I have gone from a Sonos Connect to this bad boy. All I can say is WOW!

I will be doing an in depth review of this unit as I learn all features and use it over this weekend

Comments

  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 15,122
    Awesome bud!
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
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  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,941
    edited September 1
    I like that there's no visible WiFi antennas.

    Edit: I see that it uses a USB based WiFi dongle w/ antenna. Meh.
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 932
    Fortunately I have ethernet close by so it doesn’t matter.
  • mdaudioguymdaudioguy Posts: 4,777
    Looks nice. Congrats! Are you streaming from a local network or USB source, or a streaming service?
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  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 932
    I have the following in/out of the unit:
    Streaming - Tidal(hifi) , high res internet radio (Absolute, Linn, BBC etc)
    Transport - Denon 2910 Coax dig to input
    Transport 2 - Sony 300 disc jukebox toslink to input
    Toslink out to JVC XM-448 minidisc player
    RCA out to Marantz Pre


    So here are some more thoughts as I stayed up way to late last night thoroughly enjoying this unit.

    I purchased this about 2pm yesterday clear across town at my fav dealer. I had to rush home as we had guests coming for dinner and I was making chicken on the egg. I managed to get home just after 3 and threw it in the rack with only the RCA our hooked up and the internet connected by Ethernet. I downloaded the Cambridge Audio app and also loaded in my Tidal account details. This was very easy in the app. This quick hasty hookup afforded me to listen to Tidal while cooking a a little when guests were here. I could not really get a sense of the SQ but I did get very familiar with the app.
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    Searching and playing through the app was just as easy as Sonos and the Tidal interface was better organized. It gave me clear direction on artists and their catalog.

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    So after the guests left I was able to start exploring more of the features and SQ of this device. When I was at the dealer, we had this hooked up to the same server as the Node 2. I played two tracks, Rush - Mystic Rhythums, Peter Gabriel - Digging in the Dirt, both of which I have listened to hundreds of times. What threw me was the Parasound/pmc combo they were hooked to, but it was very clear to me the SQ on the CXN was more detailed, wider and very forward. The Node wasn’t bad, until I played the same song on the CXN and it just sounded much better.
    I am positive the Node would have been an upgrade from the Sonos, but this is light years ahead. There are a few features I were hoping would benefit my setup and one I knew would.
    The screen on the front was one I knew would, it is great. Not only does it display album art from Tidal, it shows radio station’s images. You also get all of the complex menus shown on this front panel. Great feature!
    The other two features that I was hoping are:
    1. built in DAC with pretty good ratings. I have the Denon and Sony transports hooked up to the digital inputs and using the onboard DAC to process. What a difference that makes. Even outdoes the 2910 which is no slouch.
    2. There is a digital preamp built in. I have been toying with the idea of hooking the RCA out directly to the Linn monoblocks, what is stopping me is I would have to choose between the theater setup or just a 2.1 setup otherwise the subwoofer would be isolated. I might experiment with that later.

    Onto the sound in my rig. My soundstage for all music has become much wider and less pinpoint. Not sure how to explain, but listening to classical now has made the orchestra entirely in front not just between the speakers. Vocals are very out front and again not just in a sweet spot center location. Overall stereo has become more engaging and enveloping. The speakers are disappearing basically.

    Not without some gripes. Last night I was serching for hi res internet radio and was trying to take search results and directly save them to presets without first connecting to that channel. The unit did not like this and it forced a restart on the UI. Tried the same thing again with the same result. When I then tuned to the station first then saved it as a preset, no issue. Weird.
    Also for some strange reason the remote control (which I will rarely use because of the Harmony) controls the volume on my Marantz. Tried changing the remote channel in the CXN but it still controlled the M. Again weird. This might be problematic should I consider connecting it directly to the amps.
    Here is a shot of the remote. It’s got the brushed aluminum face and is heavy which I like.

    mtcqnahpyzj7.jpeg

    The unit is also heavy and well built. It has the same brushed aluminum face and higher end buttons. Meaning the metal tab type ones typically seen on higher end gear. It also has the large knob that is used for menu navigation and also the digital preamp if used.

    c3nvzwhia5db.jpeg

    There is a USB media in for server/usb drive hookup. A usb for the wireless dongle should someone want to hookup wirelessly (it has the dongle included) another B type usb for direct to pc/mac hookup. Coax and toslink in as sep channels. Same two out. Balanced and RCA outs.
    I had my Denon powered with a Zu Audio power cord which I swapped and Hooked up to the CXN.

    Overall I am super happy with this unit as I listen to Hi On Line radio- Classical in sonic bliss. Of course the wife wants to get out of the house and go “do something” today. Ugh. Hopefully I will find some wine for her today so I can get back to the couch and listen more.

    Thanks for reading.
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 932
    edited September 8
    Holy crap!!
    Just had the idea to grab the wife’s Mac and load the tidal app. Then cued up some MQA masters and heard cymbals like never before. Just damn.
    On the CXN the 24/192k MQA is miles better than SACD through the Denon. Testament to the DAC.
    Now I’m wondering if I have to have the computer or if there is some bypass I can come up with.
    Wow this thing is impressive.
  • Update.
    Downloaded a DSD album of Eric Bibb and loaded it onto a USB drive, the noise that I wasn’t even hearing is gone! Wow.
    Anyone considering a streamer with a built in DAC that’s very good quality for the price should put his on their list. A step above the Bluesound and a huge leap above the Sonos
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 30,161
    joecoulson wrote: »
    So I just picked up this unit today and have been listening to it for sometime tonight. I wanted the Aurelic Mini but could not find one. I was able to A/B the Bluesound Node 2 with this unit and since I have no stand alone DAC went with the CA because it was a huge jump in SQ from the Bluesound.
    And I have gone from a Sonos Connect to this bad boy. All I can say is WOW!

    I will be doing an in depth review of this unit as I learn all features and use it over this weekend

    Cool man, though without a stand alone dac, those other digital devices like the Sonos aren't worth it on their own merits.
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