Cambridge Audio CXN (v2) network audio streamer review: This is a sweet-sounding, high-tech musical powerhouse

A network audio streamer is designed to serve as a central hub for all your digital audio sources. Cambridge Audio’s $1,099 CXN (v2) network audio streamer is arguably among the best you’ll find. The CXN (v2) marries a super-rich feature set, copious connectivity options, broad support for multiple ecosystems, and solid audio performance into a near-perfect package that will fit into just about any scenario.

Even better, regular firmware updates promise to add features and functionality, making for an investment that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Built for high-performance audio

The CXN (v2) is designed to sit at the heart of a high-performance audio system. It’s sculpted design and brushed metal accents make this a piece you won’t mind putting on display front and center.

cambridge cxv2 display adele Theo Nicolakis / IDG

The Cambridge Audio CXN (v2) doesn’t have a huge display on its front panel, but it conveys a lot of information in the space afforded to it.

The unit’s front panel display would be killer if it was an OLED panel. You’ll instead have to settle for a pretty-good LCD display that I found to be crisp, sharp, and good enough to get the job done. Tactile buttons flanking the LCD display are clearly and intuitively marked. The large knob on the right helps you fly through menus while pressing on the knob selects the highlighted menu item.

Flexible input and output options abound. Pick from sources featuring S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink optical, USB Audio, or attach plain-ol’ USB storage. Use the CXN (v2) as a USB audio device, and you can manually choose between USB Audio Profile 1.0 or 2.0 as well.

In addition to S/PDIF coaxial and Toslink Optical (which are concurrently active), you’ll find unbalanced analog output and balanced (XLR) stereo output. Those with high-end audio gear crave components with balanced connections due to their ability to reject cable-borne noise and interference. The only output you won’t find is HDMI, which frankly is no big deal.

The Cambridge Audio streamer is built for two-channel bliss. You’ll be able to achieve full 24-bit/192kHz output from the CXN (v2)’s S/PDIF coaxial output. Analog outputs take advantage of the CXN (v2)’s dual 24-bit Wolfson WM8740 DACs.

cambridge cxv2 rear panel Cambridge Audio

The Cambridge Audio CXN (v2) offers copious input and output options, including a control bus for integration with sophisticated multi-room audio systems. Also, note the inclusion of balanced analog audio outputs.

For a unit of this caliber, I view Bluetooth as a convenience instead of a feature. Cambridge Audio must see it that way, too. If you really want it, Cambridge Audio offers an optional adapter, the BT100, that supports aptX for better-quality streaming. It won’t take you into the realm of high-res streaming, though, because it doesn’t support aptX HD. Should Bluetooth be important to you, note that the adapter that occupies one of the USB ports that could otherwise be used to host a storage device.