Cambridge Audio CXA81

cookd

Standard Member
Hi,

I have been reading lots of reviews and when we come out of lockdown, I would like to demo the Cambridge Audio CXA81 with the CXN V2. They seem to tick all of the boxes I need for a stereo amp that I will be using only for music. The problem is that I cannot decide which speakers I should be shortlisting to pair with this amp/streamer combo. I have read reviews that say to avoid light sounding speakers such as MA Silvers and Focal Chora. Can anyone recommend some speakers that I should have on my list that would be suitable for this amp? The room is 7mx7m, hardwood floor, budget £1K, but could stretch to £1300. I listen to mainly rock, blues, but would also need it to sound good with synth based pop like Depeche Mode to keep the wife happy ;)

Possibly a stupid question, but how can I determine from the specs if a speaker has a better bass response?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
The bass response is often quoted in the manufacturer’s spec with a number somewhere between 20hz and 70hz depending on whether it is an 18” sub or a 4” bookshelf. However, be aware that different manufacturers quote this differently. This number is usually qualified by a -XdB number the frequency quoted is where the bass sound has dropped to XdB below the nominal sensitivity (typically 85-95dB/W/m). The most common is -3dB but some use -6 or even -10dB. So make sure you are comparing apples with apples. For most music anything below 35Hz -3dB is fine unless you are into church organ music in a big way. What this number does not tell you how quick the bass tails off, sealed tails off slower than passive radiators than ported but the tail off starts at a higher frequency in the opposite direction, ported, PR then sealed.

The biggest there effects on the “tone” of the music are the inherent frequency response of the speakers, the position of the speakers in the room and the room itself. 7m x 7m is a pretty big room to fill and will stand some floor standers, but hardwood floors and sparse furnishings (and big glass windows) can accentuate the high frequencies which the Cambridge seems to have plants of anyway. So, as you have picked up getting speakers with neutral to warm sound may help, Wharfedale ego 4.4 Kef Q750 and Tannoy XT6F come to mind but also the new Wharfedale Linton Heritage is in budget and may do a good job (£1100 with stands).

However, it is your system, your room and your ears that will make you smile so if possible arrange hone auditions or sale or return to make sure it works for you.
 

cookd

Standard Member
That's great, thank you. I didn't realise you can request to home audition equipment. Do Richer Sounds do this? You are right, it is a big room, so I want to make sure the speakers I choose are capable of filling that room.
 

curzon35

Standard Member
I have the Cambridge set up you refer to and after spending ages in my local HiFi shop in Crewe came away with the Fyne F501's. I have been buying hifi for over 40 years and for me the Cambridge/Fyne combination in incredible. Most of my listening is 80's rock music along with Northern Soul and the sound I am getting is at ease with both types. I auditioned Kef, Monitor audio, B&W, Wharfedale, Q Acoustics and others and the Fynes were a country mile in front
 

curzon35

Standard Member
My room is 9m x 5m, the sound fills the room easily, I just play S&M2 by Metallica. I've seen them live and my system is pretty close
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
I have the CXA61 - the 81's baby brother and couldn't be happier.

The features of these amps speak for themselves - enough inputs to meet most requirements (I'm running a phono stage into the Analogue 1 input, I also run a MacMini into the USB, can connect to Bluetooth with my iPhone or iPad and it's rock-solid. I also run my TV and BR player into the optical inputs.

The sound really suits my listening - which sounds like it's not dissimilar to yours.

I'm running it into pair of Mk.1 Ophidian Mojos (they've just released the Mk.2 version) and for small speakers the sound is quite staggering. I really can't believe the depth fo bass they can produce even at very modest listening levels. They're 4ohm, and seem a great match to the Cambridge "sound".

If you can seek out a pair to audition, I don't think you'll be disappointed. "Mr Ophidian", Gareth James, is incredibly helpful if you speak to him.
 

Mindhead1

Standard Member
I have the Cambridge set up you refer to and after spending ages in my local HiFi shop in Crewe came away with the Fyne F501's. I have been buying hifi for over 40 years and for me the Cambridge/Fyne combination in incredible. Most of my listening is 80's rock music along with Northern Soul and the sound I am getting is at ease with both types. I auditioned Kef, Monitor audio, B&W, Wharfedale, Q Acoustics and others and the Fynes were a country mile in front
I’m considering picking up a CXA81 and am curious to know the models of the speakers you auditioned. I currently have Klipsch rp160m speakers but have been eyeing Kef and Wharfdale (specifcally the Lintons because I love the look) speakers to try something different. I have only owned Polk and Klipsch speakers in the past. I’ve never heard of the Fyne’s, but they may not be available in the US.
 

fireandskill1

Active Member
I have recently changed to the CX setup CXA81, CXNv2 and the CXC, and was struggling to find speakers to compliment it well, my existing B&W CM7’s worked well enough but the mid-range was a tad harsh for me so after a lot of research I have ended up with a pair of Sonus Faber Sonetto 3’s (from Jordan Acoustics, Bournemouth) connected to the new Cambridge stuff they are absolutely epic! Look gorgeous too. I appreciate they are above budget but if you can try them do so as the were made for each other.
 

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