Cambridge Audio: Great British Sound

Cambridge Audio CEO Stuart George arrived at AXPONA for the debut of the Cambridge Audio MXN10 streamer ($499). The faithful British brand's two hotel rooms were fairly jumping with interested "punters," I think that's a malleable Brit term one could use to describe audiophiles eager to hear more of this legacy brand that has for decades offered incredible value.

CA reps Matt Reilly and Charles Henderson took me through the paces of the MXN10 streamer, which they include in the "small box small format" category. Noting that "The Revolution Will be Streamed" on the Cambridge Audio USA site, it lists the MXN10's specs thusly: StreamMagic Gen 4 Module, ESS SABRE ES9033Q DAC. High-quality Internet Radio—using MPEG-DASH support. Spotify Connect, Tidal & Qobuz built in. Roon Ready, Connectivity Choice—USB playback, Bluetooth 5.0, Airplay 2 & Chromecast built-in. Choice of Output—RCA/phono plus, digital coax & optical connections. Compact, Half Width Footprint—for flexible placement.

Face it, the Brits have done a far better job of making hi-fi mainstream than have we Yanks. As NAD did in the 1970s, Cambridge Audio does now. Who among you hasn't purchased a CA component for a loved one? Two exes of mine didn't keep me, but they kept the CA gear!

One such legacy component, the '90s era Azur 651A integrated, made an appearance in the CA rooms, as did a two-in-one MXN10 and DACMagic200M in a svelte wood case, CA Alva ST belt-drive turntable with Bluetooth ($599), CA Alva TT V2 turntable w/Bluetooth ($1999), AXA35 integrated amp with onboard phono stage ($399!!!!!), AXN10 network player ($599), and a pair of KEF R7 loudspeakers.

Playing Massive Attack, and of course, The Orb's "Fluffy Little Clouds" over the MXN10, AXA35 integrated amp and the KEF R7 loudspeakers, music was immediate, large scale and communicative. The sound may not have equaled the Cambridge Audio Edge A integrated ($6499) I reviewed in 2018, but the trickle-down legacy/sound of one of UK's greatest hi-fi brands, was evident, alive and well.

JRT's picture

Those relatively new KEF R7 Meta 3-way floorstanding loudspeakers (US$2.5k each) are interesting, and seem to be a performance value sweetspot in KEF's passive loudspeaker product line.

As compared to the smaller popular LS50 Meta 2-way monitors, the R7 Meta provide significant improvements in sensitivity and low frequency extension. And, I would expect that the woofers significantly reduce nonlinear distortion below the 400Hz crossover frequency, especially on higher level signal crests. Even if subwoofers are used, the woofers should improve perormance in their pass band as compared to the smaller 2-way monitors.

So the R7 Meta do cost more than the LS50 Meta, but are also much more capable, and would seem to be a worthwhile subject for a review.

JRT's picture

The Cambridge Audio demo room was not "Oligarch Stuff", and I appreciate that.

"Oligarch Stuff", I credit the phrase to Herb Reichert.

In a video of a conversation a couple of years ago between Herb Reichert and Steve Guttenberg, while Steve was reporting on Herb's playback gear and system setup, Herb mentioned, "What I do for reviews, I try not to do too much of that Oligarch Stuff. ...somebody who works 9-5 can aspire to owning something that costs two or three or four grand. It's like a range where I think a lot of really amazing stuff happens."

Glotz's picture

Are Very new. The new Meta developments to the series started in the last 45 days or under. I would love to hear the R7 Metas, but missed my shot. I've been seriously thinking about those or the new R11's. Not a huge increase in price either. But, the Gloss Titanium seems to be available only for the R7 Meta's from I can see with my fav retailer. That color is to die for.