Cambridge Audio CXA80 *EX-DEMO*
Brand Cambridge Audio
THE HEART OF YOUR DIGITAL MUSIC SYSTEM
POWER PRECISION AND DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY
Designing the CX Series amplifiers was a labour of love; the product of a team dedicated to extracting every drop of pleasure and detail from all genres of music. These amplifiers will help you discover a new dimension of sound. The CXA80 must be heard to be believed. Rated at 80 Watts per channel, its class AB amplifier design will reveal spectacular detail in your music. Separate dual mono windings on a low-flux toroidal transformer further enhance performance and together these design details deliver incredible control over your speakers on a wide, enveloping, captivating sound stage.
To journey deeper into the music you love, the CXA80 has been designed from the ground up with built-in digital to analogue conversion capabilities. Using a high-specification 24-bit/192kHz WM8740 DAC chip from Wolfson, the CXA80 offers a powerful upgrade for all your digital sources. And because we’ve designed it with digital in mind, it features two optical inputs, a co-axial digital input and an asynchronous USB Audio socket, so you can play your music directly from your PC or Mac. Add an optional BT100 Bluetooth dongle and you’ve got aptX streaming direct from your smartphone or tablet, allowing access to music from Spotify, Youtube, and a host of others.
Analogue sources are equally well catered for with balanced XLR inputs, RCA inputs and a front 3.5mm aux jack. In use, the CXA80 is a delight. The floating effect of the chassis, the brushed finish, and the easy-to-read front panel, all create an amplifier that’s as beautiful on the outside as it’s well engineered on the inside.
Whatever your source, the CXA80 will reveal new depths and layers of sound, letting you re-discover your favourite music.
CHOOSING THE DAC
Both our CXA60 and CXA80 amplifiers employ the same Wolfson WM8740 DAC, and there’s a very good reason for that: it sounds superb! There are more recent Wolfson DACs in circulation, however none sound quite as great as the WM8740 in our view. Which is why, time and again, we choose them.
The CXA80 utilises two separate windings on the oversize toroidal transformer. In effect, this is like having two toroidal transformers wound onto one chassis, providing separate windings for each amplification module. If you get a huge transient in the right channel, it won’t unsettle what’s going on in the left. The current is being drawn from a different path, rather than a common path, so the output is stable and remains unflustered, whether your liking is for Little Richard or Lamb of God.
DYNAMIC THERMAL TRACKING TRANSISTORS
The transistors used by the CXA80 are not your usual common or garden offerings. They come with an integrated Dynamic Thermal Tracking System. So what does this mean? Normally a Power Output transistor utilises a thermo-coupler attached directly to the heat sink of the amp; this informs the system so that it can rebias when key temperatures are reached. However, using Integrated Dynamic Thermal tracking provides a far more accurate reading of the real temperature of a transistor, and relays it faster too because it’s not a delayed heating effect. This enables us to bias the amplifier more accurately and in almost real time. Which means your CXA80 is always running at optimum performance.
MUSICAL SUBWOOFER OUTPUT
If you want to use a subwoofer as part of your speaker complement, the CXA80 doesn’t penalise you for it. Because we want to ensure there’s no unnecessary high frequency noise affecting the subwoofer, we’ve put the output filter at 3KHz. This is high enough to prevent any phase shift associated with the low pass filter affecting what happens below 200Hz. The result is a phase linear subwoofer output signal which is clean and musical.
REINVENTING THE SIGNAL PATH
The CX range represents a step change in the way our engineers have approached signal path design, and the result is one of our most musical and entertaining amplifiers yet.
Previously, we went to almost surgical lengths to minimise distortion in order to get the best results. This invariably meant 46 components sat in the signal path. For the CX Series, we wanted to dramatically reduce that component count. The CXA80 now has only 24 components in the signal path. The big difference is that there are now 500 support components as well. Their job is to guarantee those 24 key components are absolutely optimal all the time, regardless of mains fluctuations and other influences.
This has made a big difference when it comes to tuning. Previously, tweaking one of the 46 components only made a small difference and it was sometimes difficult to quantify exactly what difference any change made. With the CX series, those 24 components have now actually become quite critical. Changing just one affects the character of the amplifier.We can hear very clearly what each of those components is doing.
This revision has fundamentally changed the character of the amplifier. Listening to a CX series amplifier is fun, engaging and exciting.
HIGH RESOLUTION ASYNCHRONOUS USB
In order to offer 24-bit 192kHz resolution via asynchronous USB we use a specialist XMOS device dedicated to the USB input. We’ve also written a custom driver to allow PC users to access the higher sample rates available in USB Audio 2 mode. This bespoke code allows us to stream audio files at the highest possible resolution.
If you want to use your CXA80 with a Bluetooth source, we offer an optional BT100 audio receiver. To ensure that this does not interfere with other components in the amplifier, it’s isolated internally on the digital input board. From the ground up, this is an audiophile Bluetooth device. All the coding for the BT100, including the aptX implementation, is done in-house. We even include an extension cable which enables you get the best Bluetooth range.
EMBRACING CLASSIC DESIGN
Sometimes there’s a good reason to keep things uncomplicated. The CXA80 features a high-quality damped metal chassis, designed to ensure that nothing rattles or interferes with the electronics. We’ve also kept volume control simple. The CXA80 uses a logarithmic ALPS pot. And when it comes to switching inputs, the CXA80 uses relay switching with silver plated contacts. This classic approach is still the best way to move signals around, rather than with transistors or electronic switches.
- Power output:80W RMS into 8 Ohms, 120W RMS into 4 Ohms
- DAC:Wolfson WM8740
- Frequency Response:<5Hz– 60kHz +/-1dB
- Analogue audio inputs1x balanced XLR, 4 x RCA, 1 x 3.5mm MP3 input (front panel)
- Digital audio inputs:1 x S/PDIF coaxial, 2 x TOSLINK optical, 1 x USB audio, Bluetooth via BT100 (not supplied)
- Compatibility:TOSLINK optical, S/PDIF coaxial, USB 1.0 and 2.0, BT100 Bluetooth receiver
- Outputs:Speakers A+B, 3.5mm headphone, Preamp Output, Subwoofer Output
- Max power consumption:750W
- Standby power consumption:<0.5W
- Dimensions (H x W x D)*:115 x 430 x 341mm (4.5 x 16.9 x 13.4”)
- Weight:8.7kg (19.1lbs)