Between Cambridge Audio CXA81 and CXA61, the CXA81 integrated amplifier or the older CXA80 models are simply upgraded versions of the CXA61 and CXA60. These integrated amplifiers combine preamp and power amp in one chassis.
Cambridge Audio worked relentlessly to produce the best-engineered amplifiers. The CX Series also included CXC CD transport, the CXN network music player, CXU universal Blu-ray player, and CXR120 and CXR200 AV receivers.
Cambridge Audio CXA61 integrated stereo amplifier price is slightly less than the CX81 and the same applies for the older models. What makes these Cambridge Audio integrated amplifiers unique is their circuitry, transformer in a solid cabinet that delivers outstanding audio.
In terms of versatility, they offer a wide range of inputs and outputs. The recent models support Bluetooth and USB. there is a slight difference in their connections so you would choose the one which will be compatible with your existing devices.
Although you might be able to purchase the older CXA60 and CXA80 models at a lower price, you have to take the hassle of a separate Bluetooth receiver, or might miss the XLR input in the CXA60 model.
The Cambridge Audio CXA60 review will focus on design, features and functions. The Cambridge Audio CXA80 tests will show the advanced features and its benefits.
The first difference between Cambridge Audio CXA60 vs CXA80 is that the Cambridge Audio CXA80 has 20W more power per channel. Both these amps use toroidal transformers which minimize noise and have higher efficiency.
Between Cambridge CXA80 and CXA60, the CXA80 transformer is more powerful than CXA60 and has 50% volt-amp capacity. Cambridge Amplifier CXA80 has two additional ports which increase versatility when compared with Cambridge Amplifier CA60.
The transformer is intentionally placed far from the preamp circuitry to get rid of any electromagnetic interference. It has an asynchronous USB audio input (USB 1.0 and 2.0) and one balanced XLR input.
With the Bluetooth port, you can play 24-bit/192kHz high-resolution files via PC, Laptop. You can choose the Class 1 or Class 2 mode from the front panel. The balanced XLR connection enhances the audio quality with the original and uncolored sound.
This will helps you if you have long lengths of cables. Also, the XLR is capable of connecting high-end sources. The CXA80 amp has a dual mono design. If you look into the design of the Cambridge CXA80 amp, you will see that the stereo channels are powered independently by two different PCBs.
with the use of an independent transformer, twin rectifier, and independent PSU for the left and right channel, the CXA80 outperforms CXA60 in terms of stereo imaging and separation. If you want to switch between XLR or RCA connections, you need to press the A1 button.
You can also push the input button to select Bluetooth or USB. Blue means RCA/Bluetooth selection and red stand for XLR/USB. With the help of the Control Bus connection, you can connect with other CX products like the CXC or CXN.
Are there any similarities?
If you look into Cambridge CXA60 specs, you will see there are more similarities than differences when compared to CXA80. The advanced features in the CXA80 increase its cost. They support speakers with an impedance of 4 and 8 ohms.
They have a similar designs; the design is sleek and sturdy. The front panel has several buttons and a large knob. The amp is made of aluminum finish, and has a floating effect chassis. The top side has a venting unit through which you can see the toroidal transformer.
The rear side has a thoughtful design where each port is labeled two times one label is readable and another is upside down. This comes in handy if you bend over from the front side to insert a plug, then what seems upside down from the rear side will be readable. However, if you want you can check out the comparison between S.M.S.L AD18 and SA300.
The CXA60 and CXA80 have the following inputs: 2 TOSLINK optical and 1 S/PDIF coaxial digital audio inputs, 4 stereo RCA audio inputs, 1 3.5mm audio input, Bluetooth via BT100. For Bluetooth connection you need to buy an additional BT100 Bluetooth Receiver
Since CXA60 and CXA80 amplifiers support both digital and analog inputs, you don’t need to spend on an additional DAC or depend on its quality for conversion. It has the following outputs: 1 stereo RCA preamp output, mono subwoofer output, minijack headphone output switchable A+B speaker outputs.
The frequency response is similar in the two amps. Cambridge Audio CXA60 and CXA80 have a similar DAC, the 24-bit Wolfson WM8740. Music or any file from TV or any streaming device passes through it.
Cambridge Audio CXA60 vs CXA80: Which one sounds better?
Cambridge Audio CXA60 integrated amplifier has excellent musical representation. It is accurate, clear, precise, and seems like an all-in-one solution for music lovers. However, the CXA80 is the best sounding between the two.
It has excellent stereo separation, delivers 3D sound. The dual-mono design is responsible for the improvement. Overall, the CXA80 delivers more powerful sound, lifelike acoustics with a broad soundstage and details.
Cambridge Audio CXA60 Pros
- Musical audio with deep bass
- Great design with controls
- Several inputs and outputs
- Supports Bluetooth
- Easy setup
- Remote control should be more user-friendly
Cambridge Audio CXA80 Pros
- Reduced distortion
- Outstanding sound quality
- Clever dual mono design
- Supports USB and XLR
- Audiophile grade device
- Costlier than others
The Cambridge Audio CXA81 and CXA61 integrated stereo amplifiers are newer models of the CXA series. The engineering behind these amps is appraisable. The engineering has some resemblance with their Edge Series.
The difference between Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs CXA61 remains the same in terms of power. The CXA61 has 60W whereas the CXA81 has 80W. This means the CXA81 integrated stereo amplifier is capable of handling powerful speakers.
You can still connect bookshelf speakers or tower speakers to the CXA61. The Cambridge Audio CXA81 integrated amplifier will be able to drive more powerful speakers.
Comparing Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs CXA61, the CXA61uses ESS Sabre ES9010K2M DAC. This is a high-end DAC which is capable of converting 32-bit 384 Hz and dsd-256 files. The Cambridge CXA81 specs show that it uses ESS Sabre ES9016K2M which is an upgraded one and performs better than CXA61.
In case your audio sources are mostly digital, we prefer you to buy Cambridge Audio CXA81 with an additional cost. Between Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs CXA61, the CXA81 amplifier has a balanced XLR and 4 RCA. The CXA61 includes a 3.5mm MP3 input instead of an XLR.
In case you want to use headphones, certain headphones may need a 6.5mm-to-3.5mm socket adapter. Comparing Cambridge Audio CXA60 vs CXA61, the CXA61 doesn’t have the tone and balance controls and it has built-in Bluetooth.
Audiolab 6000A is another popular amp. While comparing Cambridge Audio CXA61 vs Audiolab 6000A, we see that they have the same price range but the 6000A has better dynamics. It has a phono stage included. It also has tone controls and DAC filters.
However, if you are considering buying some amp, then Sennheiser GSX 1000 and 1200 could be your perfect choice, you can take a deep look.
What are the similarities?
In this Cambridge Audio CXA61 review we will compare it with older models along with CXA81. Both the CXA61 and CXA81 have similar cabinet design compared to previous models. However, some people don’t like the black rectangular area on the front panel.
We expected it to glow like an LCD display but it just has some black coloured buttons on it.
The connections between the Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs CXA61 are almost similar with slight differences as mentioned above.
The digital audio inputs of both models are similar: 1 S/PDIF coaxial, 2 TOSLINK optical, 1 USB audio, Bluetooth (integrated). The outputs are as follows: Speakers A+B, 3.5mm headphone, Preamp Output, Subwoofer Output.
The USB input supports 32bit/384kHz and DSD256 and the Bluetooth A2DP/AVRCP with aptX HD supports files of 48kHz 24Bit.With several inputs, you can even connect your TV via TOSLINK which will enhance the overall audio.
Both these Cambridge Audio CX series models are Roon Tested which used DSP to improve audio. If you like to experiment, then you can use the Roon or Audirvana software to tweak the settings. If you are using the CXN-V2 , then you can connect it via RCA or balanced XLR. you can also use XRT cables.
Some of the best speakers for Cambridge Audio CXA61are: KEF LS50, KEF Q150 andB&W 601 S2.
Which one sounds better?
Between CXA81 vs CXA61, the CXA81 has better dynamic range due to its powerful DAC. Connecting CXA61 with good speakers, you will be able to reveal the bass. Along with that, the amp will deliver a wider soundstage and will give a musical feeling.
The Cambridge Audio CXA61 makes the audio become enjoyable, lively, and to go with the flow. It will make you dance along its tunes. It has a natural representation of audio and it always remains in control.
The CXA81 has a clean and warm sound. It remains confident in each section of the frequency response curve along with low and high-volume levels. The bass is deep but decent. It is a ‘British sounding’ amp which means you will get the most concise and detailed audio. However, if you are looking for DAC and AMP combo, then you can take a look.
Cambridge Audio CXA61 Pros
- Minimizes distortion
- Power amp reduces crosstalk
- Built-in Bluetooth
- Consistency in sound production
- Sturdy built
- No built-in phono amp
Cambridge Audio CXA81 Pros
- Simple plug-and-play device
- Roon Tested for better sound
- Great instrumental separation
- Works with powerful speakers
- Works with subwoofers
- No stereo RCA jack
Denon PMA-800NE Stereo Integrated Amplifier
This amp has 85WPC and supports Bluetooth and phono preamp. The Advanced High Current circuit produces superior and clean sound with accuracy. The sound is neutral, balanced and smooth and the build quality is excellent. if you are confused about how to choose best amp, then our guide will come very handy,
Cambridge Audio AXA35Cambridge Audio AXA35
The AXA35 is a budget-friendly amp that delivers 35WPC. The USB port supports Bluetooth receiver or Google Chromecast. The sound is impressive just like other Cambridge Audio products.
A comparison between Cambridge Audio AXA35 vs Onkyo A-9110 is often made. The Onkyo 9110 has higher SNR and a decent amp. It has excellent bass and treble calibration and the sound is outstanding.
NAD C328 integrated amplifier:
This is an affordable amp that delivers 40W per channel, has built-in Bluetooth, DAC and phono input. It uses a powerful Class D amplifier and delivers sweet and melodious sound.
Factors to consider while buying an amplifier
The following criteria should be taken into account while choosing an amplifier.
A 100W or 200W amplifier doesn’t make much of a difference. Just because the power is doubled, doesn’t mean the amp becomes twice as powerful. The 200W amp can play music 3dB louder than the 100W which is almost unnoticeable.
However, amplifier power is a crucial factor to take into account. It depends on speaker sensitivity and your room size. A 15W to 20W amp power is enough for small bookshelf speakers.
If you have large tower speakers, or bookshelf speakers that seek high power, then you may need a 200W amplifier. It will vary from speaker to speaker.
Since you will be connecting several devices with your amplifier, make sure your amp has ample connections to support these. For instance, with Cambridge Audio CX81, you need a turntable with phono preamp built-in in it.
Different amps have different connection options. RCA inputs are needed to connect audio sources, A phono input is used for a turntable that doesn’t have phono preamp. For some users, USB connection is important to connect to the PC.
Balanced XLR is very popular which is needed to pair high-end devices. Other standard connections include, subwoofer out, preamp out, A+B speaker, etc.
Wired or wireless
If you want to go both wired and wireless, make sure the amplifier has built-in Bluetooth of the latest version. Older amplifiers like Cambridge Audio CXA61 didnt have built-in Bluetooth. So, you need to pay extra and buy a separate Bluetooth dongle.
Along with being Bluetooth compatible, make sure the amp will connect to Bluetooth devices faster and provide stable and consistent connection. However, if wireless isnt an issue for you, you can totally skip this part.
Since you will be placing and using the amplifier with all the equipment in your home theatre or sound system, the looks will matter. If you have tight spaces, make sure to choose a sleek and slim amp.
You can choose a specific colour to blend with the system. Cambridge Audio CX amplifiers are built with high-quality material. The cabinet is strong enough to deliver service year after year.
Amplifiers support 4ohm or 8-ohm speakers. The user manual will have a detailed description which you should follow thoroughly.
Other things are important while choosing an amplifier like amplifier class. There are several types (Class A, Class D, Class A/B.) and each has its own pros and cons.
Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs CXA61, which is better? The answer is simple. The specs aren’t night and day so it comes down to personal preference and critical listening. It also depends on your speakers.
Standard bookshelf speakers or small tower speakers will work great with the CXA61. However, if you have speakers that are demanding, or have <88dB efficiency speakers, then going with CXA81 is a better choice.
The major differences between the Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs CXA61 lie in power, connections, and dual mono design. The CXA81 has a warmth in its tone so if you are expecting an ‘attack-on-your-face’ sound, then it is not for you.
Bluetooth connectivity in these amplifiers allows seamless connectivity with all wireless devices. In terms of performance to price ratio, we are pretty much satisfied with these products.
The CXA61 is for those who love to dance to the rhythm and enjoy a musical tone. Whereas the CXA81 is for powerful speakers and will sound a bit ‘recessed.
What should I do when I don’t hear any sound connecting the amp?
Check out these steps if you face this problem:
- Make sure the connection, cabling or wiring between speakers and amps, or between the audio source and amp are correct.
- Make sure the volume knob isn’t at minimum
- Check whether the amp is in Standby mode.
- Check whether the A/B light works.
What can I connect to the USB Audio?
Since the Cambridge Audio amp support USB B type, you can easily connect a PC working with Microsoft Windows or Apple
Mac OS X OS. Make sure you use a premium USB cable. Also, you should make sure the USB connection remains within 3m of distance otherwise the output might be inconsistent.
There is a Ground/Lift Switch which you should keep in the Ground label in general cases. If you think you hear an electronic hum, then you can disconnect the USB earth.