It’s a good time to be looking for a music streamer because there are a bunch of great options being released, including a new updated version of a streamer that has been very popular at the near $1000 price point—and that is the new Cambridge CXN100. Now on its third rendition, the CXN100 will be replacing the CXN V2.
Now it is widely believed that Cambridge nailed the first Version of the CXN, which came out in 2015. And then nailed it again with the V2 which came out in 2018, making light but meaningful improvements to a streamer that was already really good. So the story with the CXN has been when you make something great, try to make the updates to keep things current, but avoid anything radical because why overhaul something that already checks all the boxes. And that story continues with the new CXN100—nothing major, just slight but meaningful improvements on an already great go-to streamer.
Returning is the incredibly well-built chassis. Instead of cramming the design into as small a unit as possible, Cambridge designed this streamer in a full size chassis, consistent with the simplistic but elegant design language of the CX series.
The new color display, which is now bigger and brighter (1280 x 569 TFT) than the CXN V2, provides all the desired metadata, including the track title, artist, album artwork, and playback resolution.
Also, the new CXN100 providespre-amp capabilities, in the event that a preamp is not already present. It can handle volume control for any connected digital source, allowing you to simplify and reduce components if you so choose.
Inputs & Outputs
The front USB on the original CXN is no longer present. There is now just one located on the back panel. Otherwise inputs are mostly the same: Optical, Coaxial, and USB with asynchronous feedback. Bluetooth is now built-in, which is a nice addition since the CXN V2 required an additional dongle attachment that was not included.
Outputs include balanced and unbalanced analog, as well as digital outs if you have a DAC that may outperform this one.
The CXN100 now uses an ESS ES9028Q2M, updated from the dual Wolfson WM8740. The new ESS DAC has increased the playback resolution from 24-bit/96kHz to 32-bit/768kHz—not much out there the CXN100 can’t support. And the ESS sounds better, and measures better, than any DAC Cambridge has used in previous devices.
StreamMagic Gen 4
The new CXN100 features StreamMagic Gen 4 with a host of streaming services, including Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Qobuz & Deezer Built-in. Plus, full MQA decoding. The new CXN also features Chromecast and Airplay. Plus, it’s Roon Ready and will do multiroom utilizing these services.
The most notable improvement is the sound of the CXN. It is sonically much more revealing, offering more nuances and subtleties than previous models. Yet Cambridge has maintained the smooth, natural sounding characteristics that were so highly praised in the first iteration of the CXN.
While it looks familiar the CXN has undergone big changes under the hood. Hundreds of hours were spent listening and swapping out the audio critical components such as capacitors to tune the entire post DAC analog stage, resulting in increased signal to noise ratio, reduced distortion and a pristine digital music experience.
To put it all together, the CXN100 is the absolute best version of the CXNs to be created. Cambridge has continued to be consistent with the design and functionality of this streamer, while taking the opportunity to update and improve the most important aspects required of a network streamer, including the overall sonic performance, its integration with high-resolutions streaming services and digital sources, the overall experience with the user interface and app, and its versatility and ability to be a useful part of the system for a long time.