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Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier Review

Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier amplifier is a cost-effective and powerful digital integrated amp. This product has been upgraded from the previous generation, with improved specs in both frequency range and sound quality making it perfect for music lovers who want their own sonic signature to shine through.

The History of Cambridge Audio and CX Series

The Cambridge Audio company was founded in 1969 by a group of engineers who met while studying at the University. The founders wanted to provide consumers with high-quality audio equipment, so they were one of the first companies to use toroidal power transformers and integrated amplifiers instead of separate components that need cables linking them together. Today, this tradition is carried on as well because it’s something these “young” music lovers are just not ready to give up yet!

Cambridge Audio’s values are timeless: they emphasize quality sound, leading to a product that will last for decades. Every Friday afternoon the UK team is treated to an intimate live concert which keeps them connected with how important music can be in our lives.

Cambridge Audio CXA81 review

Audio products were designed and built by the same people for 25 years. You can trust to get a consistent product you will love because of their expertise over time. The CXA81 is made with such care that it should last decades, which means your investment becomes an asset instead of something soon-to-be tossed away or left behind when moving on from Cambridge Audio.

Before I get into the Cambridge Audio CXA81, it’s important to understand just what integrating is. Back in their early days of Audio, people bought a stereo receiver with an FM radio and preamp which is a part ‘let lets you choose inputs and change the volume. You can remove these two pieces without losing any functionality if you have a power amp that drives your speakers- this would be considered as an “integrated amp”.

With streaming music becoming more and more popular over the last few years, I’ve seen a massive increase in demand for integrated amps. Add a music streamer to an amp, and away you go! With most TVs having some digital output these days; we’ve seen many amps also include DACs – Digital-to-Analog Converters – which allow listeners to improve their sound quality by connecting easily with any TV or other device that has at least one digital output port.

The Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier

The Cambridge Audio CXA81 is a powerful stereo amplifier that outputs up to 80 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 120 watts per channel into 4 ohms. The amp uses class A/B amplification, so you know the sound quality will be better than any other similar product on market today!

Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amp

The frequency response is from 5 Hertz to 60,000 Hertz. It features four pairs of unbalanced stereo RCA inputs as well as balanced XLR and digital optical input options that can be used with the included adapters for compatibility with many other devices. With Bluetooth 4.2 aptX HD at 24-bit 48 kHz support, you’ll always have a reliable connection option so long-distance listening will never be an issue!

It has dual speaker outputs to have zone A and zone B and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, a preamp output, and a subwoofer output. It is 4.5 inches tall. 16.9 inches wide and 13.4 inches deep. It weighs 19.1 pounds.

Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier

The Design

Cambridge continues to live up to its name with its latest product lineup, the CX series. The new line tapers out at the front of each unit for a look that appears like they are floating on your shelf and moves colors from gaudy golds and reds to more earth-toned whites, grays, blacks in order to accommodate any consumer’s tastes.

The sleek, contemporary front panel has a volume control knob with stations and sources each having its own button. There’s also an A/B Speaker selection that allows you to switch between the speakers on either side of your table without turning off or disconnecting them. Lastly is a headphone jack for when one person wants privacy while others are playing video games in public places or watching tv at home late into the night.

Cambridge removed tone controls for the new series, but the improvement and sound are nothing short of spectacular. So it seems they were going for pure sonic performance with the upgraded models.

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The CX-81 has one of the most sturdy and well-priced builds available. Just by touching it, you can tell that is a quality piece with its volume knob feeling solid in your hand without any give. The rear connections are also high-quality with beefy speaker binding posts to keep all your wires secure as they come out at an angle so there’s no chance of them falling off or tearing free from their sockets when pulled on accidentally

The CX 81 may have been created for those looking for a budget-friendly option but don’t compromise sound quality–it provides not only great power output but durability too!

At the top of this box, there is a lovely little pattern with perforated holes. That allows the heat to escape from the top of the box because it can get a little warm. You don’t cover up these holes. You want to give this enough room to breathe and allow that heat to escape so it can perform as it’s intended to perform.

The power supply is in the center of this amp, and I really like that because it balances everything out to make sure both sides match up. It’s also nice when you’re moving around with your equipment since you know where things are placed on one side or another without having to think about it all too much.

The Connections

The connection options on the back of this Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier ensure that it can be at the heart of a pretty expansive setup component. Connection-wise, you’ll have RCA analog inputs and one balanced Audio input. You’ll also get 2 Toslink digital inputs as well as 1 coaxial digital input or USB port to connect your device. With Bluetooth HD now included, there is no need to worry about wires!

Cambridge Audio CXA81 amplifier review

This innovative device for controlling your sound system has a plethora of options. It features the Cambridge proprietary connections with two sets of triggers, an external IR connector, and an rs-232 control connector to accommodate every need. Other features include a ground lift switch on USB input if that connection causes a hum in your system.

Have you ever had to try and read labels on a piece of equipment upside down? If so, Cambridge has an awesome fix. They print the label for inputs both right side up or upside down depending on which way they’re being viewed from. This means that no matter what direction someone is looking at it in, there will always be input labeled text available!

Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier with built-in Power Save mode is one of the best amps, not only in terms of sound but also power efficiency. When idle for 20 minutes without any input sources playing it will automatically shut off to save even more power and protect your speakers from being damaged by too much audio at once.

If you want to be able to play louder music with no clipping or output distortion you can turn on the Clipping function that’s available via the CXA81 setup menu which lowers volume levels when necessary so there are never problems like feedback (feedback occurs when an amplifier gets overloaded).

The Inside

I knew the CXA81 was something special when I saw it, but once inside and peeking around a bit more you can see how much effort went into making this product. The support circuitry surrounding the audio path is there to reduce any interference that might compromise sound quality. It’s also worth noting some of these expensive isolation techniques we usually find on higher-end products for low noise operation as well!

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The Power

Cambridge Audio has been working in the audio industry for a while now, having pioneered many innovative technologies over time. One of their most impressive and noteworthy achievements is toroidal transformers—you can see one right at the heart of this amplifier! In addition to being an awe-inspiring sight, it’s also beneficial because both channels have separate taps which provide you with what almost feels like a dual-mono design; using that type of configuration provides excellent imaging when listening to music.

The Cambridge Audio CXA81 is a high-quality power amplifier that can pump out 80 watts of clean and crisp sound. The unit has an immense amount of current, which means it’s able to drive most speakers at their highest level without distortion. Just like many other top brands in the industry, Cambridge focuses on having plenty of reserve for any speaker loadings as well as super-clean circuitry throughout all stages; this ensures you’ll get nothing but stellar audio quality with every use!

Cambridge audio cxa81 integrated amplifier

The Specs

Cambridge made a considerable upgrade to the DAC in the new CX series, using an ESS saber es 9016k2M DAC which improved USB support up to 32 bit 384 kilohertz and DSD 256 quality. HD Bluetooth module is now built-in instead of the optional dongle, and it’s capable of 24-bit 84 kilohertz Audio files. All the more legacy digital inputs, the coaxial input will handle up to 24 bit 192 kilohertz, and the 2 Toslink inputs will work up to 96 kilohertz.

The new DAC enables many high res files and offers much better audio quality than the previous model.

Sound Performance

The Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier is a new improved version of the old favorite, and Cambridge has made improvements in almost every area. I wondered what they could do to improve on an already incredible sounding amp- well turns out that most of my questions were answered when they upgraded capacitors used throughout the signal path as well as upgrading some components in the preamp section and power amplifier sections. Whoever did all this listening deserves gold stars for their huge improvement! If you liked how the CXA80 drew you into music, then wait until it grabs your collar with its latest incarnation: The CXA81!

You’ll love the new Cambridge CXA81 because it’s a product that will make you smile from the first note. It was clear to me while testing this amplifier, and if I know anything about my fellow audiophiles out there- they’re going to be head over heels for these speakers too!

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The Brits know how to make a speaker system. The sound is crisp and clear, yet doesn’t overpower the musical tone in any way. You can feel every beat of your favorite song while never getting tired of listening when you turn up the volume or switch to one with more bass because these speakers are able to portray both low-frequency sounds as well as higher ones without sounding too much like it’s all just “pounding” at your ears from time to time (which I’ve found tends to happen on other systems).

Versatility really stands out here: whether I’m scrolling through my Spotify playlists for something new or doing some light reading before bedtime, this setup will keep me entertained no matter what mood strikes!

The CX 81 had us grinning from ear to ear. Every instrument was clear and easy to hear, which made it a blast for our ears. It has plenty of power so that no matter the situation you’re in, whether listening through complex or intense sections of songs like “Citizen Of The Planet” by Alanis Morissette, the amp will never break down under pressure–it’s an amazing performer!

The clarity of this amplifier left me smiling with every single note being easily distinguishable on its own without becoming overly noisy during louder periods. I was confident about how well this device could handle any type of music I threw at it.


I would say the Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Amplifier, a very robust if not slightly old-fashioned sounding integrated amplifier favors the mid-range and a little bit of warmth while possessing a very lovely and nicely appointed in a detailed soundstage. The CXA81 will deliver a beating heart to any system. It’s at the top of its class and beyond.