CXN/CXA80 Xonar Essence STX which is best for sound?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by DK1, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. DK1

    DK1
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    **********solved************

    Hello All,

    Ive been using the Asus Xonar STX 2 for my PC music library, RCA into my Yamaha AS-500 for a few years and all good.

    But as things have moved on I decided to move with it, and I'm excited to receive a Cambridge CXA80 and CXN tomorrow.

    However, I really have no idea how I'm going to connect the PC to the Amp or the CXN.

    Are the CXA80 dacs an improvement over the STX soundcard? I really have no idea.

    The easiest would be BT dongle but I understnd "its not there yet", so what would give me the best connection?

    RCA from the card into the amp? would this make the onboard dacs surplus ?
    USB from the motherboard to the CXN ? Whould this make full use of the Cambridge processing?
    Optical from Soundcard to CXN? would this cause processing issues?

    Thanks guys.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  2. raptor

    raptor
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    Hi I think to get the most out of the CXN it's optical out of the pc soundcard then into the CXN hop that helps.
     
  3. DK1

    DK1
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    Banana Plugs!!! How can you make an Amp in the current year and at this price point that doesnt contact banana plugs!?!

    Unless the total lack of sound is something I'm completely overlooking (yes , ive checked mute/volume) Ive gone optical from PC direct to amp so there should be a signal in but nothing coming out.
     
  4. classicrock

    classicrock
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    Try prising out the bungs in the end of the plastic speaker terminal caps. Manual should help here?
     
  5. DK1

    DK1
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    done that.

    I have tried evey input including RCA so the next thing I need to try is speaker cable, but Im not going to butcher custom made speaker cable to find out if the amp is working :(
     
  6. classicrock

    classicrock
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    I'm surprised banana plugs won't fit in terminals with those blanks removed? Give Richer Sounds customer help line a ring. Have you any spare cable with bare ends or spade terminals? Don't try putting banana plugs in any RCA socket! If stuck solid core electrical mains or lighting cable works fine as speaker cable.
     
  7. raptor

    raptor
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    A/B speaker output ??
     
  8. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Sound card on PC not configured for optical out?
     
  9. DK1

    DK1
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    Bi-wire so A/B selected, then A selected, then B selected, then back to A/B.

    I tried touching the plugs against the contacts and I was suprised to not hear a click.

    Hang on! amp just turned itself off while CXN stayed on, so although I was assuming there was a signal as the soundcard is exporting maybe the amp isnt getting anything.

    CXN is XLR to the amp but still no sound, but I thought that might be down to me not understanding the CXN, so Ive gone back to sources I do understand.
     
  10. DK1

    DK1
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    The computer sound I do understand so I've tried all the different variations. RCA/optical. Ive just bought a USB 2.0 off ebay to check that. Checked all the settings and it is exporting via soundcard.
     
  11. DK1

    DK1
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    Right, Defo the Amp.

    I spotted that I had disabled my music library from being discovered by the CXN.

    Did a quick facepalm, but then realized it wouldnt have mattered .

    The CXN is now playing files from my music library, XLR into the amp , A1 selected (XLR) and no sound :(

    I wanted to be down the pub watching Rugby by now :(
     
  12. DK1

    DK1
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    OK, I think I've done everything I can now :(

    CXN playing music file > A1 (LXR) input on amp > conventional speaker cable hook up....nowt :(
     
  13. classicrock

    classicrock
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    Sure you haven't got mute on (and correct speaker selected)?
     
  14. PiperCub

    PiperCub
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    I'm sure you'll work out the issues (which I was somewhat struggling to follow if I'm honest) but as regards your original questions ;

    Using rca from the soundcard is the worst thing you can do, as your resolution of the soundcard looks to be a maximum of 24bit/192khz whereas the cxn has dual mono woolfson upscaling dacs at 24/384 kHz, so you will not only bypass any benefit of upscaling by using rca, you will also just rely on the PC Card dacs which don't appear anywhere as good as the Cambridge audio ones. You want to make sure you use best dacs and 'dual mono' dacs mean each channel ie left and right has its own dac. Also each dac is upscaling as mentioned, so you miss that out if you used rca.

    I don't know what motherboard from the pc you have and what format this is in but I'd guess it probably won't be in any high bit rate formats, so I'd guess using USB is a no no. Your USB on the cxn supports file formats up to 24/96 so not the fullest resolution of traditional download flac formats at 24/192 that you can get eg from hdtracks.

    Using optical from the soundcard is not ideal either as you should use coaxial aka s/pdif for best quality, as traditional wisdom dictates this is a better connection over toslink aka optical. The cxn has both inputs so use the coaxial if you do this. But it looks like the soundcard had s/pdif or optical.

    You shouldn't link up any digital inputs to the amp at all, as the amp doesn't have dual dacs, there is just one stereo dac and you won't get this dual mono sound quality. Also the amp dac is not upscaling.

    But I think you are getting in a bit of a mess with these connections. Sorry if I'm telling you how to suck eggs, but the idea of the streamer is to connect it up to the router and this Ethernet connection takes all the information such as music files information data and the sound data, all in one cable. Ethernet supports best possible sound quality.

    If you haven't done streaming before the easiest thing to do is buy a nas (network attached storage) drive from pc world etc. You use mirroring software (which comes with the nas drive) so any downloaded or cd ripped music you store on your pc, is mirrored onto the nas drive, or if the nas has two seperate hard drives or more, so you have backup redundancy, move your music straight onto the nas. This would be good if you don't play music when on the pc, but mirroring ensures you can listen to your library on the pc. The other advantage of an nas is your pc can be off (other than when it is mirroring) so you don't burn out the pc.

    I'd use the xlr connections if you can between the two devices (rather than rca) as both streamer and amp have balanced circuits, as another post on this forum posed (and Cambridge audio confirmed these are indeed balanced circuits). This means you'll probably benefit from better sound quality of the balanced circuits and a different signal path on the amp and streamers circuits, if using the rca connections.

    Sorry if long but hope this helps you and happy watching the rugby (if it's not over)

    Cheers Simon
     
  15. DK1

    DK1
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    Simon, thank you for an extremely detailed and useful answer.

    I am still having problems tho, and it seems like you have some experience.

    2 things:

    The CXN isnt showing in my homegroup although I have sucessfully "played" a number of files from my PCs music library using the ethernet route.

    I put the played in "" because there is no sound.

    I have an internet radio station "playing" right now but I cant hear it :(

    I'm believe the problem is the amp* but I need to rule out other issues.

    If I am playing internet radio/music file from PC from the CXN, it is going into the amp XLR then as long as the amp is set up correctly (source/volume etc set correctly), I shouldnt have any problem?

    *there was an obvious "dink" in the packaging, but the delivery guys openned the box to show the damage hadnt gone right through, so I decided to sign for it.
     
  16. PiperCub

    PiperCub
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    I think homegroup applies to network sharing between PCs and not upnp network devices like the cxn. So I don't think the cxn would show as a homegroup in Windows 7/10/vista which I assume you have.

    Judging by the fact the track is getting through to the display, it seems the network is ok and the cxn is connected to it.

    It sounds just like a connection issue. How about this , from the amp manual

    "Note: To select the balanced input on the CXA80, press the A1 button twice on the front panel or on the remote control so that the A1 light on the front panel display lights up Orange. Repeatedly pressing the A1 button will toggle between balanced and unbalanced inputs"

    It's much the same as my cyrus mono amps, they have a input switch to choose between rca and xlr (with a different light colour to tell me what connections are in use). That would be my best guess. The units come probably with rca configuration (as factory settings) as most people use and have rca cables in audio. My amps came in rca mode with factory settings too. Maybe then you are using the rca connection input settings but with xlr cables connected, hence no sound.

    If this doesn't work, try checking speaker wires and plugs, use rca cables to check no faults with the xlr cables / pins you have. By doing this you have followed a process of elimination. If this doesn't work contact CA.

    Does this sort it?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  17. PiperCub

    PiperCub
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    Sorry you did that (selecting xlr inputs) it seems as per your comment in post #12

    Can you connect a CD player or other streamer (known to be working) to the amp and see if you get sound. Preferably cd player as no network.

    Some pictures of the set up and connections / wires could be useful.
     
  18. DK1

    DK1
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    Yeah, but I didnt push the button twice.

    Feeling suitably sheepish :)

    Thanks for the help.

    I will probably be back wuith a question about spotify in an hour or so.
     
  19. PiperCub

    PiperCub
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    Did it work, that was the issue? You now get sound?

    You shouldn't feel sheepish as instruction manuals can be too lengthy, and if you don't have a quick start guide.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  20. classicrock

    classicrock
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    Cambridge should come with a quick start guide and you have to download the manual which isn't that great.
     
  21. DK1

    DK1
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    Its not mentioned in the trouble shooter that I saw.

    I was resigned to spending today unhooking amps, cables and sources from other rooms
    and I would still not have gotten any nearer a solution.

    Thankfully Pipper had the good taste to buy a Cyrus :)

    Now its sorted it sounds lovely tho' :D
     

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