Top positive review
Really good speaker amp, additional features are lacking
Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2020
I’ve had my CXA60 for 6 months and I’ve had to soak it in and come to terms with my feelings on it. Starting with the shortcomings, it is nice that it has a DAC, but I connected a Schiit Modi3 that normally lives with my secondary system to one of the Analog inputs so I could use the USB to Connect my computer (Speaking of which, it's a bummer that the USB port only works with the Cambridge Bluetooth dongle.) Because I already had it hooked up, I was able to do A/B-comparison with the Modi VS the Cambridge DAC in the CXA 60. I thought that the Modi3 sounded better, but it was only noticeable When switching back and forth using the same mastering of the same song on each.
You could probably switch toss-link cable from my TV and CD player between the two amps between songs and I'd never notice the difference . That being said, I don't notice a lot of things. For instance, I can't hear the difference between cables provided they aren't broken, I can't hear the difference between a CD and 24/192 Hi-Res of the same recording, and I'm not even certain that I can tell Spotify premium MP3 from Lossless, so if I can hear the difference between the Schiit and the Cambridge Dac. Either one kind of sucks, or one is really good. The Schiit is a pretty cheap DAC, so I would lean toward the former.
When I'm not splitting hairs over the subtle differences between DACS, I love the way this amp sounds. This is in comparison to two other integrated amps I’ve had connected to the same speakers in the same room:
My 19 year-old Onkyo A-905TX which is a 15/22 WPC, the CXA 60 was better in pretty much every way other than the fact that it takes up more space, but it should be (4x the power and more space with which to separate and shield the channels from each other).
The other was an Elac EA101EQ-G, which is a similarly priced modern amp. The features of the Elac were Better. I wish the CXA had room correction, subwoofer blending (even if the cxa just did some high pass filtering by not sending anything over, say 80hz to the main speakers when a subwoofer is plugged in, that would be nice), a better DAC and Bluetooth, Even without the advantages of all those fancy features, The CXA sounds better than the Elac. It has much more power (although on paper they should be fairly similar) and you can hear warmth, openness, clarity, texture, detail (fill in the Autophile adjective of your choice) that the Elac is just missing and no amount of DSP can compensate for.
To be fair to the Elac, I may just like the sound of an A/B amp better than class D and I might have liked the sound of any full-sized A/B amp better than the Elac due to personal preference. Nonetheless the CXA 60 is about the last thing in my system I would replace, although I may end up getting a Mini DSP to help improve the D/A conversion and do some room correction and subwoofer blending…
So the moral of the Story is that the CXA 61 is out and it has Bluetooth, and a somewhat better DAC with a USB input. It’s selling for almost $1000 and the 60 is on sale if you can still find it for < $500. Spend $150 for a Cheap Schiit Modi or something similar with a USB input and a bluetooth aptx receiver with a digital output and you’d basically have the same thing as the CXA61 for $350 less, or if you want room correction and subwoofer blending, you could spend $500 for a miniDSP and for the same Price as the CXA 61 you’d still get the same great sounding speaker amp with all the features that the CXA60 and 61 lack for a great 2.1 system.