The CXA60 integrated amplifier from Cambridge Audio cxa61 has been one of my favorite best stereo amplifier for a long time. And when its direct successor, the Cambridge CXA61 cx series, came out, I was very interested in reviewing it.
The Cambridge CXA60 has performed pretty well, staying as the Product of the year’s winner. Many users have recommended it more than superstars like Rega Brio and Audiolab A6000A. This is one of the reasons I got really interested in the Cambridge CXA61 cx series.
This Cambridge amp has a tough act to copy. From a glance, it seems too much for the price. It looks like one of those high-end products you will get at the highest price.
One of the reasons I loved Cambridge Audio CXA61 is its high-quality design. I have seen many amps in this price range, and none of them gets close to it. Don’t get me wrong because all the others sound just good.
If you like beautifully presentable hardware, then here is one you are going to really enjoy. It made me happier the moment I set my eyes on it.
First, Cambridge is designed with many inputs and outputs, just like many other amps. Cambridge Audio cxa61 has gone through a lot to impress here per channel.
The stunningly good-looking and clever people at Cambridge audio cxa61 have given the input double labels. There is one up straight and one upside down, this means you can read them from any point, even when you are leaning.
It is these tiny details that make the brand stand out. You will never see such details in any other amp. Many manufacturers don’t focus on user experience with such details. But in my experience, these are some of the things that make it count for use.
The Cambridge CXA61 is an instant reminder that many engineers are terrible when it comes to designing for the user. As much as we need the best sounds, there comes a time when a user wants something they can easily use.
The Cambridge new CXA61’s design with its big, silvery slab is something to admire even from a distance. I, however, was a bit disappointed with the lack of a digital display. It would have been really nice to have something like this, as seen in its direct competitor, the NAD D3045.
It is not such a big loss, though, considering how good the company has been in simplicity and easy-to-use features. The motorized volume knob made me forget everything else. It is large, attractive, and can be controlled with remote control.
The amp features a 3.5mm input for the headphone amp. Now, this is my favorite feature. I love working on my laptop while listening to music, but I don’t like making noise for other people. Keeping it low with headphones makes great sense.
Almost all the controls can be worked on with a remote. This makes the device seem very complicated; it is a very basic machine. Perhaps the Bluetooth pairing is the only operation that seems complicated since it calls for one to hold the relevant button down for some time. Everything else is as simple as the amp look.
I have used so many complicated machines that I sometimes just want something that can give me quality sound and nothing more.
The ins and outs
Cambridge audio cxa61 is the true hero for the modern audiophile. They don’t just make their products simple; they have included so many details that you will love using their products immediately.
In terms of inputs and outputs, I don’t think there is anything of great value the amp does not have. Everything is set in the right position.
I enjoyed using the two speakers in outputs. There are not very many products in the same price range that come with two sets of channels. And the best part of you can run them both at once, no matter the differences in their impedance.
Impressive, right? I thought so too. I must admit this feature was way more helpful to me than I had thought. I love testing multiple speakers every time I get a chance, which is why I love such useful features.
That is not all. There is a wide selection of the ins and outs, all set to ensure to have the best time using the best stereo amplifier. The four RCA input ensures you don’t miss out on your favorite movies.
Then there the selection of digital inputs. The S/PDIF coaxial, TOSLINK optical, and the USB input offers more options for audio sources. I cannot think of any audio device that cannot connect this amp. As a modern user, it makes much sense that I want something like this because there are all sorts of audio sources on the market today.
If you want to incorporate it into a larger system, you will find the preamp connectivity very useful. This feature lets you expand your system in the best way possible.
It may be these connectivity features that make the CXA61 a bit expensive. I wanted to know why it is higher than something like the Onkyo A-9110, which has just as many features and quality. Let’s say that it has some better features that no other amp will give you.
I have been a fan of Cambridge Audio cxa61 for a long time. Every time they come up with something new, you can always expect better things. The inputs on the CXA61 are not very far from those on its predecessor.
There is nothing more useful on an amplifier than sound quality. When buying, users often consider sound quality, and it makes a lot of sense, considering that there is no other way of using the amp, except to make sound good to the ear.
If you want to get the best from the Cambridge Audio CXA61, for fun music. You want something that will get you up, jump around, and perhaps sing or perform in a funny dance. If your friends capture and embarrass you with it on Instagram, then you have used it the right way.
From the outside, it looks like an imposing junk of silver. The real action is on the inside.
It offers some of the liveliest sounds than other products in the price range. The sound range is also very impressive, giving you a chance to hear your music from different angles.
I really loved the bass. It does not feature those overcooked and bloated sounding and does not dominate the performance.
Another thing I enjoyed was the ridiculous amount of energy and a kick that came from the bass. I recommend testing it with something with a higher tempo. It tried with the heavy-hitting singles by Questlove, and the effect was more than lovely. It is best for hard rock and reggae. But I am not saying it does not go well with other genres.
The first speakers I used had somehow poor quality, but the amp made them sound really loud. It is confident enough to work with anything you throw in its way. Moving from hard-metal, I tried with some jazz grooves and few hip hop; the sound came out just as good,
Its 60 watts of power into 8ohms speakers is an improvement from its predecessor. I got the impression that it was going to come out great right from its design. It features a subwoofer output on the rare, which you may not need, depending on your music and speaker set.
I wanted to make sure this amp was really as good as the company says, so I tested it during the year’s busiest time. Towards the end of the years, I had so many audio requests coming in and had limited time to deliver. People wanted gifts for their loved ones. For this reason, I had a lot of other amplifiers in the same price range to compare with.
The only other amp that seemed to have a similar low sound was the Onkyo-9110. Otherwise, all the others did not give me the right satisfaction. And since I wanted my customers to come back, or recommend me, I chose to do my best and test them out.
The treble and the mid
The bass alone is not enough to give you the best sound output. You need other parts of the sound spectrum to extend your sound signature. Elements like guitars and vocals do not rely on the bass. In fact, they don’t do very well, which is why you may need more balancing.
The CXA61 brought out the warmth in these sounds, making me feel like I was right in the performance. It was very engaging and welcoming, no matter the music you are playing. The male vocal came out clearer, which made me think perhaps it was made more for male voices. It feels masculine and clean, with incredible details.
Something about details, the high-end quality of this amplifier was very impressive. I could feel the high amount of texture and realism that come from the music pieces I was playing.
It is not every day that you find an app that can pull off these sounds. It retains everything that makes a track special while keeping them sharp and high.
Well, there is no denying the Cambridge Audio CXA61 is quite expensive. It is 250$ higher than its predecessor. But price does not count when you factor in sound quality.
I have no complaints in terms of clean audio. I compared it with Parasound New Classic 200 integrated, and it competes quite favorably. Though the Parasound is a bit higher on price, there is nothing it offers you will not get from Audio new CXA61.
One thing that makes more sense in amplifiers for me is instrument separation. I had a great experience with this amplifier too.
I first needed to get good speakers. And just so you know, you can benefit more from the quality of speakers you connect to the Bluetooth.
It gave out a wide, spacious sound stage. Even though it was not as good as the general sound after connecting with the Bluetooth, it still makes a good impression. The soundstage is more solid than spectacular.
The best comparison to this feature was in the Demon PMA-600NE, which way cheaper, though. Generally, however, Cambridge audio cxa61 seems to understand what users want in sound, and they strive to offer more detail.
I took a long time listening to the new CXA61 through a Bluetooth connection. I was streaming music through Bluetooth and some of my favorite applications, and it was really impressive,
It is hard to notice the difference when playing from other wired sources or Bluetooth. Well, it does not mean there is no detail, which is why I used the term. the Bluetooth Sound through the analog inputs had more lift in them. It was not easy to notice it, but it sure was there.
It might be because the DAC chip inside the CXA61, converts digital sound to analog sound. This ESS Sabre ES9010K2M chip keeps the sound flowing seamlessly. With ESS sabre, the Chances are there are some quality features lost during the conversion process. This is not a new problem since it was also in the CXA60.
I also tested it again with a CXC CD player by Cambridge audio cxa61. I love playing music from CDs too because of their detailed quality. I was very happy with what came out. I didn’t even have to connect anything because everything is internal.
Finding the right speaker
Even though the CXA61 sounds wonderful, it only begins to make sense if you have the right speakers. I realized this after testing it with a number of speakers. I discovered that speakers with slightly higher sensitivity performed much better.
This means a speaker with a sensitivity of about 90dB will serve you much better.
Cambridge Audio cxa61 has made sure that you connect and start enjoying music immediately you get home by including the necessary hardware and Bluetooth as well. In the package, you get a power cable, a manual, a control bus cable, and a remote.
- The sound from the CXA61 comes out with energy and life.
- It comes with a cleaver design, with a sleek appearance that makes it a real winner.
- It comes with a wide range of features and 8 ohms inputs and outputs with bluetooth.
- It is quite expensive, compared to others.
- The remote control is a bit complicated.
The competition in the modern market for amplifiers is fierce. And because of this, there is always something better or less.
One of the best alternatives and my recommendation is the NAD 3045 with 16.9 x 13.4 and 384KHZ PCM and digital audio. It is a bit cheaper and features a handsome and highly effective construction. It has the same wattage and also all the other features. But Cambridge audio cxa61 sounds way better.
If you are looking for more, in terms of features and price, the Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Wood 8-in-1 and the Parasound New Classic 200 Integrated amp should be good stops. It is a bit expensive but delivers superb sound with clever features. You can connect with your turntable for vintage tunes.
The Onkyo A-9110 is a more budget-friendly alternative. It is just a skeleton amp with no digital inputs and other basic features. But it sounds fairly great.
Cambridge audio cxa61 also has several alternatives that will serve you just as well at the CAX61. There is its predecessor, the Cambridge Audio CXA60, for instance, which is much cheaper with excellent sound.
I have always been impressed with the products from Cambridge Audio, and the CXA61 is no exception. It is a highly recommended product, even in a market with stiff competition. The brand is trustworthy for those who prioritize sound quality and features.