High end streamer from Cambridge

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High end streamer from Cambridge
Monday, January 5, 2015

Cambridge is launching a slew of network audio components at CES this week. Most interesting to the sound quality fiend will be the Azur 851N, the first streamer in the company’s range topping Azur series. This has all the bells and whistles in a full size chassis with a 4.3inch display, something that means you don’t absolutely need the Cambridge Connect app to run it. As well as the usual network connections it has three USB inputs for hard drives and memory sticks, which means you don’t need the network for anything more than control purposes. The 851N “intelligently” upsamples to 24/384 and will take signals up to 24/192, DSD is not mentioned in the spec. It has digital inputs including asynchronous USB alongside Apple Airplay and support for optional Bluetooth aptX via the BT100 dongle. It also supports Spotify Connect and BBC iPlayer but not the increasingly popular Tidal lossless service. The Azur 851N will cost £1,200 and is expected to go on sale at the end of March.

Cambridge also has a totally new range dubbed CX with rather attractive new casework. The range will have two integrated amps in the CXA60 (60 watts/8 Ohms) and CXA80 (80W, above) with both sporting digital as well as analogue inputs alongside an asynchronous USB on the CXA80, a Wolfson DAC being provided for conversion purposes. The CXC CD transport is a first for the brand and uses proprietary S3 servo technology for “efficient recovery of digital data”.

The CXN upsampling network player (above) has many of the features seen in the Azur 851 including the ability to stream from a USB drive, asynchronous USB and Apple Airplay. Likewise it supports the same streaming services but adds the ability to act as a digital preamplifier thanks to a DSP volume control. Two CXR AV receivers complete the range with the usual overkill of features and multitude of power channels, they also support DSD playback from Blu-ray players and smartphones. Possibly these elements account for the upper range of the £300 to £2000 pricing for CX components which will go on sale from the end of Q1.

Jason Kennedy