Amp match KEF LS50 - CXA80/81?

Mike209288

Standard Member
Hi everyone

I have a Cambridge audio CXA60. Around Christmas time I bought some KEF LS50's when they were "Cheap". At the time I did some research and the general consensus is that LS50's need a bit more drive than the 60W output from the CXA60. The plan was always to update the amp at some point to get the most out of them.

I have started to think about this, requirements are:

Max £1000
2 speaker outputs (not to be run at the same time)
Multiple Optical's in
80+W
Preferably one unit although can budge from this
Simple as possible (no streaming services etc)

Input will be via optical from a PC running tidal or a Chromecast, the speakers are located at my computer desk.

After doing some research a very obvious candidate would be an..... CXA80 or CXA81

Looking on ebay a CXA81 goes for £900 refurbished from CA, or around £750 - £800 used. CXA80's around half that. I'm half thinking is should just sell mine and upgrade to a CXA80 for not more than a few hundred quid. Spec wise I have no real reason to buy a CXA81 over an CXA80 that I can see.

Does anyone have any experience in either of these amps with LS50's or comparing to 2 amps together? Alternatively if you have any other hot tips amp wise that go well with these speakers? I have put £1000 above - I would prefer to spend less than this, and preferably used from ebay.

Thanks in advance!

Mike
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
You could keep the cxa60, use the pre outs and add one of these -


loads of clean power and you keep the sound of the cxa60 preamp section and the inputs you already have.
 

andycc72

Active Member

excellent thread on this very subject, should be of interest to you!
 

English Invader

Active Member
I was actually helping a friend audition the CXA81 at Richer Sounds yesterday. He originally wanted to pair the CXA81 with CXC transport and the KEF LS50 Metas but the dealer said that KEF was a bad match for Cambridge because of the aluminum drivers and recommended the Focal Aria 909s instead (Cambridge + KEF = overly bright sound).

The audition was basically a straight comparison between the entry level AXA35/AXC35 and CXA81/CXC with the 909s as the speakers in both cases. In the end, we went with the CXA81 with the AXC35 because the CXC didn't have the CD-R support my friend needed (much to his disappointment as he really liked the CXC).

This is a long overdue upgrade from the Kenwood mini-Hi-Fi my friend has been using for the past 30 years so I'm very happy for him.
 
Last edited:

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
If you’re using them for anything other than very near field listening then I’d go straight for this.


More than enough current for the Kefs, Arcams renowned class G power amps and sub and preouts.

Dirac Live is worth the price by itself.

One of hifi’s seriously well hung bargains.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Alternatively, and your best bet if you don’t need room correction is to sell the Kefs and buy these instead.


Or see if they can do you a decent trade in to save the hassle of selling.

Ex-demo with a years guarantee. Something of a bargain plus.
 

gava

Active Member
You could try something powerful from Nord. Can't give the LS50s too much headroom.

 

Mike209288

Standard Member
Cheers for the replies everyone - sorry for the delay.

In the nicest way nothing on this forum post has really steered me away from a CXA80/81 - requiring 2 speaker outs really limits me, and bolting on power amps etc generally costs more than the upgrade path so does not seem very justifiable.

I will continue to think

Again - thanks for the input!

Mike
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Cheers for the replies everyone - sorry for the delay.

In the nicest way nothing on this forum post has really steered me away from a CXA80/81 - requiring 2 speaker outs really limits me, and bolting on power amps etc generally costs more than the upgrade path so does not seem very justifiable.

I will continue to think

Again - thanks for the input!

Mike
Without even hearing either of these amps it is a safe assumption that if you like the combo now, the cxa80/1 will be a little better

I believe the cxa81 generally gets more love, but don't all newer models, probably exaggerated a little
 

gava

Active Member
Cheers for the replies everyone - sorry for the delay.

In the nicest way nothing on this forum post has really steered me away from a CXA80/81 - requiring 2 speaker outs really limits me, and bolting on power amps etc generally costs more than the upgrade path so does not seem very justifiable.

I will continue to think

Again - thanks for the input!

Mike
Okay, I have one irrefutable argument why you should not buy the CXA81.

At the moment you can get the Azur 851A for the same price. End of line discounts and so on. It is a much better amplifier and certainly has a lot more power.

They won't be in stock for too much longer probably, so if you really think the CXA81 is a good idea then this is simply a better one.

1619064300501.png
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
You could try something powerful from Nord. Can't give the LS50s too much headroom.


I had a healthy respect for Nord until I noticed this.

 

gava

Active Member
Well I suspect their profit margins on that stuff is pretty high. I also would prefer that they didn't sell it. Needs must I suppose.
 

Mike209288

Standard Member
Okay, I have one irrefutable argument why you should not buy the CXA81.

At the moment you can get the Azur 851A for the same price. End of line discounts and so on. It is a much better amplifier and certainly has a lot more power.

They won't be in stock for too much longer probably, so if you really think the CXA81 is a good idea then this is simply a better one.

View attachment 1498800

Looks good - love the screen, no optical in though! ;)
 

Mike209288

Standard Member
Without even hearing either of these amps it is a safe assumption that if you like the combo now, the cxa80/1 will be a little better

I believe the cxa81 generally gets more love, but don't all newer models, probably exaggerated a little
Yeah I would agree that new model's get exaggerated, especially when the price goes up. Call me negative but I don't think the majority of people could ABX a CXA 80 and 81.
 

gava

Active Member

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Eh?

Azure 851 specs:
  • Audio Inputs 6 (AES/EBU, coaxial x 2, optical x 2, USB)
@gava I think you have looked at the specs for the 851N not the 851A.

851A - Integrated Amp - analogue only
851N - Network Preamp - digital inputs only
851W - Power Amp
851D - Dac preamp - digital inputs only
851C- CD preamp - digital inputs only
851E - Preamp - analogue only
 

gava

Active Member
@gava I think you have looked at the specs for the 851N not the 851A.

851A - Integrated Amp - analogue only
851N - Network Preamp - digital inputs only
851W - Power Amp
851D - Dac preamp - digital inputs only
851C- CD preamp - digital inputs only
851E - Preamp - analogue only
Oops, my bad.
 

Mike209288

Standard Member
@gava I think you have looked at the specs for the 851N not the 851A.

851A - Integrated Amp - analogue only
851N - Network Preamp - digital inputs only
851W - Power Amp
851D - Dac preamp - digital inputs only
851C- CD preamp - digital inputs only
851E - Preamp - analogue only
Thanks for the confirmation - I thought I was going slightly mad there as well - Well done CA for such a fantastically confusing product line up!
 

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