Cambridge Audio, a funky, music-centric audio brand based in London whose tag line is “Made by Music” announced today a successor to its award-winning CXN V2 (the first streamer ever inducted into the What Hi-Fi? Hall of Fame) called the CXN100. Saying it is a “true generation step up in sound quality” the CXN100 brings a fresh design, new higher-grade components and is said to deliver added functionality and better overall value.
See more on the new Cambridge Audio CXN100
It was just a few months ago in October, when British hi-fi buff book What Hi-Fi? named the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 as Product of the Year and the first streamer entered into its Hall of Fame. With a 5 out of 5 star rating, the review was quite glowing, listing the Pros as “Superb sound quality,” “Sophisticated design,” “Wide range of wireless connectivity,” and “New features added via software update.” The Cons? There was only this from the review team, “Nothing of note.”
But apparently, the best wasn’t good enough for Cambridge Audio, as the very British brand sought to push performance even further in the new CXN100. Like most of tech these days, this model is assembled in China, but was “designed, tuned and engineered at our own London-based music venue and HQ, Melomania.”
A Significant Update
Cambridge says that this update is far more significant than one might think. It was, the company tells us, “a complete mechanical redesign.” And as is often the case with high-performance brands, Cambridge’s “music-obsessed engineering magicians” were said to have invested literally hundreds of hours changing out various components and using their ears as well as their test gear to decide which of these components were best.
It’s fitting that 2023 saw our iconic CXN V2 inducted into the What Hi-Fi? Hall of Fame, commemorating a remarkable reign as the best streamer in its class. Because even with CXN V2 still on the throne, we’ve not rested on our laurels. We’ve taken the next step, and CXN100 represents the next generation of network player. It’s here to take the crown.James Johnson-Flint, Cambridge Audio owner
A Meaningfully Upgraded DAC
The result of their testing and listening was a change in what might be the most critical component – the digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Cambridge calls the DAC “a vital cog in any streaming machine.” Simply put, it is the engine that takes the streamed digital signal and converts it to analog, suitable for listening.
The CXN100 employs the ESS ES9028Q2M SABRE32 Reference DAC which can handle PCM digital signal inputs up to 32-bit 768kHz and DSD 512. The company says this DAC offers “precision, superb dynamic range and ultra-low distortion. They also say it is an appreciable upgrade that both sounds and measures better than the Wolfson DAC employed in the previous CXN V2 streamer.
Simpler Signal Path; More Upgraded Components
Another benefit of this change in DAC is that the ESS has such a precise timing filter, that it requires no post-DAC filter. This helps to simplify the signal path, and in high-performance audio, the simpler the audio path is, the better the sound.
The company notes that many other components were changed as well, including upgraded capacitors and op-amps yielding an improved signal-to-noise ratio and reduced distortion.
Connecting to the Stream
Included in the CXN100 is Cambridge’s proprietary Gen4 StreamMagic module – which is found in some of their other models as well. This module brings copious streaming services to the party including, Spotify Connect, TIDAL Connect, Qubuz and Deezer…all built in. High-resolution internet radio is available as well, thanks to MPEG-DASH support.
Another big feature for many in the high-end crowd is that the unit is Roon Ready and MQA compatible.
Many Flavors of Sweet Connectivity
There are many flavors of sweet connectivity included, with wired options such as USB, S/PDIF Coaxial, and TOSLINK. Wireless fans fear not – you can easily connect via Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and (dongleless) Bluetooth. Analog outputs include balanced XLR connections or unbalanced RCA jacks.
Last, but not least, the company says that the CXN100 is “fully compatible” with Google Home, Apple AirPlay, and Roon multiroom systems – for music everywhere and anywhere if you employ any of these whole home solutions.
Control Freaks Rejoice, There are Many Ways to Take the Wheel of the CXN100
One of the things I’m sure you noticed is that the CXN100 front panel rather boldly displays a 4.76-inch high-resolution color screen for a gorgeous high-rez display of album artwork. The company says you can see it all the way across the room.
The unit is fully controlled by the company’s StreamMagic app with easy and intuitive control wherever you are. The streamer can also be operated with a CX Series physical remote control, available separately.
Want to know more? You can download a detailed spec sheet at this link…
Price and Availability
The CXN100 is available now from Cambridge Audio or an authorized retailer and sells for $1,099 in the U.S.