• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Cambridge Audio CXN V2 Measurements (Streamer & DAC)

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
3,045
Likes
9,730
Location
Paris
Cambridge Audio CXN V2 Measurements (Streamer & DAC)

PXL_20220320_135511557.NIGHT.jpg


Hey folks,

Here is a quick review, measurements-based, of the Cambridge Audio CXN V2 streamer and DAC. It has been kindly loaned to me by @biglebowski. It was released in 2018 and is somehow quite popular in Europe. Actual MSRP in France is 1139€. This testing happened, coincidently, with the (terrible) review Amir just published for the CXA81 amplifier. Hopefully, the performance here does have nothing in common with the aforementioned.

PXL_20220320_135725866.NIGHT.jpg


The unit does have a bunch of digital inputs and outputs, with a lot of wireless support : Wi-Fi, BT, Chromecast, StreamMagic app, Roon Ready, Airplay, DLNA, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Qobuz Connect and so on... Overall build quality is good, I just found it to be a bit light for its size. UI is smooth and fast and the (not notched) volume knob has a good feeling and feedback.

CXN uses some very old Wolfson WM8740 DAC chips, that were quite popular in the early 2010's and known for their "warm and dynamic sound", if I recall correctly.:cool: Cambridge also advertises this to use internal (and non-bypassable) 24b/384Khz upsampling. Honestly, we should not pay attention to this kind of gimmicks. What we care about is what comes out of the analog outputs. Let's see how this affects (or does not) the performance...

Disclaimer: Measurements you are about to see are not intended to be as precise or extensive than what you get from a 30k€ AP. There is obviously both hardware and software limitations here, so not quite apples to apples comparison with Amir's testing. For example, I estimated SINAD (AKA THD+N) to be usually 5 to 6dB worse with my measurements rig, when compared to ASR reviews of the exact same products. Still, this data is enough to have a pretty good idea if the gear is bad or not, stellar, broken, or sub-par...

- ADC : E1DA Cosmos (Grade B), set to 4.5Vrms input for measuring XLR, or 2.7Vrms for RCA. Minimum phase filter. (3.5Vrms and 1.7Vrms have been used for preamp)
- Software : RMAA 6.4.5 PRO and Multitone Loopback Analyzer 1.0.13.
- Method : 8 runs for each test, then I chose the closest to the average. All tests are running 24bits / 44.1Khz.
- Cambridge CXN V2 : Fixed XLR outputs and USB input for most tests, unless specified otherwise. I cannot measure its output voltage precisely, but it is no doubt higher than the 4.1Vrms out of my Matrix, since RMAA sees the CXN at least 1dB stronger.

RMAA Summary
Test
Results
RMAA rating
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
+0.02, -0.07
Excellent
Noise level, dB (A)
-117.4
Excellent
Dynamic range, dB (A)
117.4
Excellent
THD, %
0.00055
Excellent
THD + Noise, dB (A)
-101.0
Excellent
IMD + Noise, %
0.00084
Excellent
Stereo crosstalk, dB
-116.5
Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %
0.00084
Excellent

Frequency response
fr.png

Left​
Right​
From 20 Hz to 20 kHz, dB
-0.19, +0.02​
-0.18, +0.02​
From 40 Hz to 15 kHz, dB
-0.07, +0.02​
-0.07, +0.02​

Noise level

noise.png

Left​
Right​
RMS power, dB
-116.1​
-116.1​
RMS power (A-weighted), dB
-117.3​
-117.5​
Peak level, dB FS
-91.0​
-90.8​
DC offset, %
-0.0​
+0.0​

THD + Noise (at -3 dBFS)
thd.png

Left​
Right​
THD, %
0.00057​
0.00053​
THD + Noise, %
0.00078​
0.00074​
THD + Noise (A-weighted), %
0.00093​
0.00088​

Dynamic range
dynamics.png

Left​
Right​
Dynamic range, dB
+116.1​
+116.2​
Dynamic range (A-weighted), dB
+117.3​
+117.4​
DC offset, %
-0.00​
+0.00​

Intermodulation distortion (swept tones)
imdswept.png

Left​
Right​
IMD + Noise at 5000 Hz,
0.00100​
0.00090​
IMD + Noise at 10000 Hz,
0.00078​
0.00073​
IMD + Noise at 15000 Hz,
0.00084​
0.00077​

Intermodulation distortion
imd.png

Left​
Right​
IMD + Noise, %​

0.00085​
0.00082​
IMD + Noise (A-weighted), %​
0.00071​
0.00068​

Stereo crosstalk
cross.png

Left​
Right​
Crosstalk at 100 Hz, dB
-111​
-112​
Crosstalk at 1000 Hz, dB
-116​
-115​
Crosstalk at 10000 Hz, dB
-116​
-116​


RCA Measurements
THD XLR VS RCA.png
Test​
Cambridge CXN V2 USB (RCA)​
Cambridge CXN V2 USB (XLR)​
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB​
+0.02, -0.07​
+0.02, -0.07​
Noise level, dB (A)​
-110.1​
-117.4​
Dynamic range, dB (A)​
109.8​
117.4​
THD, %​
0.00121​
0.00055​
IMD + Noise, %​
0.00189​
0.00084​
Stereo crosstalk, dB​
-104.4​
-116.5​

Performance goes down quite a bit using RCA outputs. Please note that my Cosmos ADC is not optimized for unbalanced measurements. Still, I've got better results from either Topping E30 or my Matrix Mini-i Pro 3 when measuring SE outputs. I consider this to be "good enough" for transparent music listening, but I would recommend to better use XLR outputs if you plan to buy a CXN.​


USB versus S/PDIF
Test​
Cambridge CXN V2 USB (XLR)​
Cambridge CXN V2 S/PDIF Toslink (XLR)​
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB​
+0.02, -0.07​
+0.02, -0.10​
Noise level, dB (A)​
-117.4​
-117.0​
Dynamic range, dB (A)​
117.4​
116.9​
THD, %​
0.00055​
0.00056​
IMD + Noise, %​
0.00084​
0.00083​
Stereo crosstalk, dB​
-116.5​
-115.9​

Performance is mostly identical with whatever USB, Coax, or Optical input.


"Digital Preamp" mode
Test​
Volume 25/30 (relative to 3.5Vrms input)​
Volume 20/30 (relative to 1.7Vrms input)​
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB​
+0.01, -0.08​
+0.02, -0.07​
Noise level, dB (A)​
-113.7​
-102.1​
Dynamic range, dB (A)​
113.7​
101.9​
THD, %​
0.00019​
0.00033​
IMD + Noise, %​
0.00084​
0.00274​
Stereo crosstalk, dB​
-112.5​
-101.1​


That is expected behaviour: only SNR goes down along with the signal, which is typical of digital attenuation. I found no other issues which would not be related to higher noise with lower signal.​


Multitone Analyzer (100 tones, 5 averages)

XLR
Multitone XLR.png


RCA
Multitone RCA.png

Multitone tells the same story : you get good performance out of balanced outputs, and not that great (yet acceptable) from RCA. In fairness, tho, even RCA did still perform a touch better than the Schiit Modi 3 I measured in this same test.

Conclusions
Unlike the CXA81 that is supposed to be paired with, the CXN V2 did not fail to produce good results. What you do not have here is State Of The Art performance, when comparing to some budget DACs from most famous Chinese manufacturers. What you do have, tho, is audible transparency, along with tons of features and connectivity. These are what you pay for. This review being focused on objective performance only, I let @biglebowski comments about regular usage.

Flanker rating: Competent (XLR). Good enough (RCA).
 
Last edited:

Somafunk

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
586
Likes
1,225
Location
Scotland
I have the cxn v2 bought back in 2020 as my first streamer and can say it’s revolutionised my listening habits and enjoyment for the better compared to my previous setup of DacMagic plus connected to my iMac, for an all in one box simple solution I’m very impressed with it as it just does everything that I need with roon/tidal/Apple music/2gb library and has never stuttered/failed/lost connection. From anywhere in my house I can control it with my iPad/iPhone and having spms it means I can lounge in my chair and not have to move at all which is a massive bonus.

I can agree about the lightweight build quality but it’s digital so short of placing the innards inside a costly machined aluminium chassis i dont see the point in additional expense. I don’t think there is anything in a similar price range for an all in one box streamer solution with balanced xlr outputs and multiple connectivity, would I really hear a difference between more modern dac chips?, I doubt it so I’m perfectly happy with my choice.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,795
Likes
11,043
I am glad that this has no real issues performance wise (at least on XLR) - as it really is pretty comprehensive on the functionality/ services front with a very simple interface. For someone wanting a good (albeit not cheap) streaming DAC for Spotify, Tidal or Qobuz ( and its brilliant for Roon due to the good remote and screen) its a good option. I think I paid around £700 UK a couple or 3 years ago and had I stayed with Roon it would still be getting daily use.
 

Tangband

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
1,346
Likes
1,227
Location
Sweden
Very nice to read this review .:).
This seems to be a good streamer.
There are some few competitors, mainly from the second hand market ( Linn Akurate dsm ) that might be a bit better sounding and measuring. But this seems to be a very solid buy, maybe one of the best for this price, to buy new.

edit: can you regulate the volume from the spdif out ?
 
Last edited:

biglebowski

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
37
Likes
86
Location
Paris, France
Many thanks for the measurement work mate :)

Good to see it measures well enough for my human ears.

Regarding usage I can say I like the UX, screen is of good size to display visible information up 2 to 3m away for my eyes. The contrast is not very great when it comes to navigation in the menus though, it is hard to tell what line is highlighted. Not a big deal

I do like the Stream Magic environment, the iOS app is great, sync fast and I can’t remember of any single bug either with the app or the hardware itself in 8 months of use. It is connected wirelessly and I never experienced any failure regarding network connection neither.

I use it as a preamp feeding active speakers from its XLR outputs, and the main drawback I have to report is the volume step count and size. It has only 30 steps, in some occasion I want the volume to be between 15 and 16 but I have to chose.
I would have liked 60 or 100 steps so the the volume would be adjusted with smaller increments.
 
OP
VintageFlanker

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
3,045
Likes
9,730
Location
Paris
You can't. Effectively passthru
Yep. Definetly is.

About that, @biglebowski told me that some people on Roon forum complained about digital outputs being also upsampled. I did not find such things :

PXL_20220320_114709212.jpg


What's weird, tho, is the upsampling being there using Roon Ready input... so already applied in the software domain. Seriously, why?

Screenshot_20220320-125320.png
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,795
Likes
11,043
Yep. Definetly is.

About that, @biglebowski told me that some people on Roon forum complained about digital outputs being also upsampled. I did not find such things :

View attachment 194205

What's weird, tho, is the upsampling being there using Roon Ready input... so already applied in the software domain. Seriously, why?

View attachment 194206
That stacks up with everything I've seen and read. Even the on board streaming services are upsampled (I think) before the DA conversion. Which as you note it doesn't do on the digital outputs. It's a "selling point" but I'm not sure why.
 
OP
VintageFlanker

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
3,045
Likes
9,730
Location
Paris
Exactly, they seem to be very proud of this feature.

Damned, that is full of marketing nonsense. This guy took a long time to explain what their "proprietary" upsampling is, not why it is needed to begin with :
The more snapshots or samples that we take result in a much smoother and more accurate recreation of the original waveform, because much more information is captured.
Much more information is captured ?! Captured from where, a compressed 16/44.1 file? Does CA just claim to create music by its own? :facepalm:
 

mainframe

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
11
LOL - "straight line approximation"

Marketing waffle aside, its nice to see if you pay more you get more with this cambridge. If a purchaser were looking at the Bluesound Node and wanted to spend more, the cambridge appears a worthy recommendation/upgrade.

Shame about the CXA81 results here & interesting vs. the stereophile measurements. Hope Cambridge Audio gets to the bottom of that
 

biglebowski

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
37
Likes
86
Location
Paris, France
Yes by adding large amounts of noise and harmonic distortion. :D


JSmith
come on... please let's not put all the Cambridge products in the same bag. The CXA81 measured badly but isn't the CA Duo the best measuring phono preamp ever ?

We all agree this video is bullshit, this upsampling thing definitely does not add anything beneficial to the signal, but that does not mean that the signal is audibly deteriorated either.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,795
Likes
11,043
Damned, that is full of marketing nonsense. This guy took a long time to explain what their "proprietary" upsampling is, not why it is needed to begin with :

Much more information is captured ?! Captured from where, a compressed 16/44.1 file? Does CA just claim to create music by its own? :facepalm:

There is another thread on here about snake oil vs rip off. This device IMO is neither- it does its job perfectly well. But that particular element of the spec and marketing isss a little bit sssssnakey- or maybe its needed for that particular (older) DAC chip and they decided to make it a "feature" rather than a requirement.
 
OP
VintageFlanker

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
3,045
Likes
9,730
Location
Paris
please let's not put all the Cambridge products in the same bag.
Yep. Objectivity works pretty much that way.

One bad product does not allow to make fun of an entire company (I still make fun of marketing, tho). If it was the case, then we have seen terrible gears from Schiit, S.M.S.L, Topping and so on.

About Cambridge Audio, I remember AudioXpress (I guess @SIY did it) measured Edge W power amp with excellent results for a traditional Class AB design.
Yes by adding large amounts of noise and harmonic distortion. :D
Not the case with CXN. Or define "large amounts".;)
 
Last edited:

JSmith

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 8, 2021
Messages
2,625
Likes
5,740
Location
Algol Perseus
come on... please let's not put all the Cambridge products in the same bag.
Apologies if misunderstood or I wasn't clear, however I did not mean all Cambridge products and I assumed (wrongly it seems) people would understand that being a comment in this specific review thread. I see now the comment I replied to was more general, so I should have specified myself in my response.


JSmith
 
Top Bottom