In the price range around 1000 euros for an integrated amplifier with d / a converter, the competition is killing. A manufacturer must really go all out to compete. The product must be versatile, sound just right and be competing in terms of pricing. Tricky. How does the Cambridge Audio CXA61 perform in this class?
The new Cambridge Audio CXA61 sells for – officially – 899 euro. In that class, all the major manufacturers have at least one model: Marantz, Denon, Arcam, Advance Acoustic, Rega, Cyrus… so on and so forth. We recently did a test in – roughly – that class at Artone Studios. The entry-level speakers from that test chafe against the 1000 euro class and some models are also available without a phono stage or streaming module. Then they do fall into this price range.
The Cambridge Audio CXA61
The new CXA61 offers 60 watts per channel at 8 Ohms. At 4 Ohms the power rises to 90 watts. Cambridge uses a Class AB setup with a toroidal transformer at its center. This ‘classic setup’ will please many enthusiasts.
No shortage of inputs. We see four – single ended – analog inputs. USB, coaxial and two times optical. And then there is bluetooth. For those looking for some extra ‘oemph’: there is also a separate subwoofer output.
As the heart of the digital part, Cambridge has chosen the ESS 9010K2M chip. What is a bit special is that this is a chip for mobile use. The chip is designed for low power consumption and is more compact.
Now we see it more often: MOON has done it too. And although a chip only tells half the story, it is worth mentioning that this series is basically intended for mobile applications.
As input receiver we see a nice AKM AK4113VF. The usb handling is provided by an Xmos chipset. This is now pretty much the market standard. The USB input is also ROON certified. In short: plug the Cambrige into a NUC or other Roon server and you can play immediately.
When you see these specifications like this, there’s not a whole lot more to wish for. In fact, everything is available. From analog to digital to bluetooth. If you are looking for a full-fledged streaming solution, you can of course connect the CXN V2 to it to create a nice streaming solution. NuPrime also has interesting solutions that are a little more affordable.
The construction of the Cambridge is solid. The panels stick together nicely and the volume knob has no play. Neat. We don’t always see that in this price range where plastic is frequently used due to cost savings.
What we honestly like is the lack of flashy displays and lights. The appearance is modest and because there are no dancing meters on the front, we focus on music. Less is more…