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Thread: Cambridge Audio CXU universal player

  1. #11
    Join Date: May 2017

    Location: High in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the NC/TN/VA borders intersect

    Posts: 5
    I'm Timothy.

    Default My Thoughts on the Cambridge Audio CXU

    Forget the Oppo's, this is the one to own if you want a player that is extraordinarily good sounding on audio discs AND is amazingly good with both DVD and BluRay video discs. I have an Oppo BDP-95D and the CXU is significantly better with audio and slightly better with video than my Oppo BDP-95D.

    Initially, I was leaning towards the Oppo BDP-105D and I almost ordered one, but I'm glad I waited. One reason Oppo discontinued the 1xx series players was that MediaTek, the vendor for one of the chips in the 105D, ceased production of the chip they were supplying to Oppo. This chip provided HDCD decoding for the 105D (and all the other Oppo models).

    HDCD decoding for HDCD encoded discs is important to me. Almost all Joni Mitchell and Grateful Dead CD's are HDCD encoded. And many country artists continue to release HDCD encoded CD's, but they are not always flagged as an HDCD disc. So what's the big deal about HDCD? Well, the HDCD encoding process adds an additional 4 bits of information to a CD. Standard Redbook CD's are 16 bit discs (16/44), but HDCD discs are 20 bit discs (20/44), and these extra bits add additional dynamic range to the recording. The result (IMHO) equals the sound quality of a SACD (Super Audio CD). And I hear no loss of soundi quality if I play back an HDCD disc on a non-HDCD player: The disc sounds like any other Redbook 16/44 CD. [As always, YMMV] Microsoft bought the rights to HDCD several years ago but they've made no effort to market it to the major music labels.

    When I made the decision to add a newer player to my system I wanted a player that sounded good with music. About 75% of my listening is to Redbook CD's, some HDCD's, and a small number of SACD's and DVD-Audio discs. The other 25% is used to view DVD and BluRay movies.

    No one in North Carolina had any Oppo BDP-105D's left in stock, but I found a couple of on-line retailers that still had a few 105D's. I liked everything about the Oppo BDP-105D: I have their BDP-95D, and an older Oppo DV-970HD and and an Oppo DV-981D, and they have been fantastic machines. I've never had a problem and Oppo's customer service is legendary. And the 105D has the ESS Sabre 9018 DAC chip which is one of the best available. And the 105D has received stellar reviews for both its audio sound quality and its video playback.

    I was about to order the Oppo, but then I read a review of the Cambridge Audio CXU in "What HiFi," a British publication. They gave the CXU very high praise in their review, and they noted both the audio reproduction and the video playback was BETTER than Oppo's BDP-105D, which they had previously reviewed. I then did more digging in various Internet audio and video news groups and forums, and I found many people who thought the CXU sounded better on music and was slightly better on video when compared to Oppo's BDP-105D and BDP-95D. The only negatives people noted with the CXU were: (1) No headphone jack; (2) No balanced XLR outputs; and (3) No Netflix app, and general criticism for the few apps that came with the CXU. None of these were important to me. I have a separate headphone amp for headphone listening, I don't use balanced XLR connections in my system, and an inexpensive Roku device provides NetFlix and many more apps than any universal player on the market.

    Since music (and HDCD decoding) is important to me, I took a chance and ordered the CXU. I would be able to compare it to my Oppo BDP-95D, and if the CXU disappointed me, I was going to return it and order the Oppo BDP-105D. About a month has gone by and the CXU is a keeper! Music and film soundtracks on the CXU are more realistic, the CXU has more depth and "soundstage," and the CXU sounds much less digital than the 95D. Even my wife noticed the difference, and she began pulling some of her CD's out of our collection for me to play.

    I'm not sure how Cambridge Audio is able to get such great sound out of the CXU. The CXU uses five Wolfson 24 bit WM8740 DAC's (Wolfson has newer DAC chips that could have been used), and the CXU upsamples all data before it is sent to the Wolfson DAC's. Cambridge Audio says this upsampling reduces jitter and latency. And the CXU uses these five Wolfson DAC's for music decoding versus a single ESS 32 bit 9018 Sabre DAC used both by the Oppo BDP-105D and the BDP-95D for music decoding. So the Oppo should sound better than the CXU since it uses a newer 32 bit ESS 9018 Sabre DAC versus the older 24 bit WM8749 DAC used in the CXU. But it doesn't: Music (and film soundtracks) sound much more real on the CXU than on the BDP-95D, and the superior sound quality of the CXU trumps the Oppo BDP-95D.

    All of you know Oppo is now selling their new 4K players. The Oppo UDP-203 is the replacement for the BDP -103D and the UDP-205 is now available to order. I've not read any reviews yet of the UDP-203, but it (and the replacement for the BDP-105D) does not decode HDCD. So they are not something I will buy. And I'm not convinced 4K Ultra High definition BluRay discs have a future. More people are streaming, more 4K streaming content is becoming available, and physical media sales continue to decline. And Hollywood is now asking retailers to sometimes stock THREE versions of popular movies: (1) 4K UHD BluRay; (2) "Regular" BluRay; and (3) Standard DVD. And the new 4K UHD BluRay's are not cheap. This is an untenable business model and I don't think the new 4K UHD BluRay's have a future. Most average customers can barely tell the difference between a DVD and a BluRay of the same movie, and there is not that much difference between a 4K UHD BluRay and a regular BluRay unless you have a 4K projector and a high-definition screen (both are quite expensive) or a 70" or larger 4K UHD TV. IMO, the market will slowly grow for 4K UHD streaming content, but I think the future for expensive 4K UHD BluRay physical media is bleak.

    Cambridge Audio uses the same MediaTek chip set in the CXU that Oppo used in their BDP-1xx series and their BDP-9x series players, so once they go through their remaining inventory of MediaTek chips, they will have to have a replacement for the CXU. The retail price of the CXU has been lowered in England (their home base) as well as in the US. This suggests to me that they, like Oppo, are discontinuing the CXU because the MediaTek chip set with HDCD decoding was discontinued.

    The Cambridge Audio CXU is a really good unit. It has the best video performance of any standard BluRay player on the market, and its audio quality is extraordinary. I believe you would have to spend more than $20,000 on a CD player (yes, there are some that cost this much, and more) to get something that sounded at least as good on music. Buy one while they are still available! As always, YMMV.
    The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
    ---------------

  2. #12
    Join Date: Jun 2014

    Location: Plymouth, UK

    Posts: 252
    I'm Barry.

    Default

    Thanks for your thoughts Tim, very interesting. Have you tried the CXU as a digital streamer for local files or using one of the many music streaming services?

  3. #13
    Join Date: May 2017

    Location: High in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the NC/TN/VA borders intersect

    Posts: 5
    I'm Timothy.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kit1cat View Post
    Thanks for your thoughts Tim, very interesting. Have you tried the CXU as a digital streamer for local files or using one of the many music streaming services?
    Barry,

    You're not going to believe this, but I don't really stream. I have free Spotify, Pandora, and TuneIn radio accounts on a Roku streamer, but the best I can get is a 320K feed, and the music doesn't sound "right." I would much rather listen to one of the FM stations I can receive.

    I have some interest in Tidal, but I'm going to wait for someone to introduce a reasonably priced MQA enabled streamer with Tidal on it.
    The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
    ---------------

  4. #14
    Join Date: Oct 2008

    Location: East Yorkshire, UK

    Posts: 1,221
    I'm Mark.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyl Rules View Post
    I have an Oppo BDP-95D and the CXU is significantly better with audio and slightly better with video than my Oppo BDP-95D.
    Although don't forget that the Oppo 95 is from January 2011 so a six and 1/4 years old design and 3 generations behind current, the 105 was better than 95 and the 203 and 205 series better again.

    The lack of HDCD in new models might be due to licensing and royalty fees per unit as the big companies want a slice of everything and maybe the chipset manufacturers don't want to pay any more as it is not a feature that would sell many extra products.

    Interesting to see what replaces the CXU this year.

  5. #15
    Join Date: Nov 2016

    Location: New York

    Posts: 13
    I'm Mike.

    Default CXU as SACD ripper

    I have the CXU primarily because that aforementioned Mediatek chipset that is also used in the Oppo 10x players is capable of SACD ripping to hard drive via it's Ethernet network jack.

    This is not an authorized/officially supported feature, but no matter, it works perfectly.

    Anyone with an SACD collection they would like to rip to HDD should strongly consider the CXU, or a used Oppo 10x (you can't find new ones anymore), or on the cheap the Pioneer BDP-160/170 (or it's U.S. variant the Elite BDP-80fd) also work, as do the Arcam UDP411 and it's lower end sister model whose number escapes me at this time.

    Ditto the lower end version of the CXU, I believe the Cambridge BDP-752? That also works.

    Or if you already have any of the above players, and didn't know you could use it to rip SACDs, you can!

  6. #16
    Join Date: Feb 2017

    Location: U.K.

    Posts: 39
    I'm Terry.

    Default cxn

    Quote Originally Posted by zygote23 View Post
    I have a CXN which is possibly the worst single thing I have ever bought and i have bought many things in my life......just thought I'd share.
    hi there!

    what is it you dont like a about the cxn??

  7. #17
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Cheshire

    Posts: 1,041
    I'm Barry.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeyFresh View Post
    I have the CXU primarily because that aforementioned Mediatek chipset that is also used in the Oppo 10x players is capable of SACD ripping to hard drive via it's Ethernet network jack.

    This is not an authorized/officially supported feature, but no matter, it works perfectly.

    Anyone with an SACD collection they would like to rip to HDD should strongly consider the CXU, or a used Oppo 10x (you can't find new ones anymore), or on the cheap the Pioneer BDP-160/170 (or it's U.S. variant the Elite BDP-80fd) also work, as do the Arcam UDP411 and it's lower end sister model whose number escapes me at this time.

    Ditto the lower end version of the CXU, I believe the Cambridge BDP-752? That also works.

    Or if you already have any of the above players, and didn't know you could use it to rip SACDs, you can!
    Hi Mike , what software do you use for the Sacd rip ?

  8. #18
    Join Date: Nov 2016

    Location: New York

    Posts: 13
    I'm Mike.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazil View Post
    Hi Mike , what software do you use for the Sacd rip ?
    I use Sonore ISO2DSD, primarily because it is an easy to use GUI, however you can also just use a Terminal session and command line as the interface if that's preferable (for me decidedly NOT preferable).

    You also need to put what amounts to a server application onto a USB thumb drive, and plug that into the Blu-Ray player's USB input when wanting to rip SACDs. This is a tiny program that essentially just tells the player to make itself an available server for the files extracted from the SACD (this is the secret sauce). The Sonore app listens on that port and accepts the stream to your computer over Ethernet or WiFi, and can save it as .ISO, .DSF, or .DFF files.

    I use Ethernet and it has been flawless, I convert/save directly to .DSF and skip the intermediate step of having a .ISO, though many people prefer to keep that as an exact copy/archive of the SACD disc and then further distill that down to .DSF files for streaming.

    You don't have to stream .DSF though, JRiver for instance will stream a .ISO file.
    Last edited by MikeyFresh; 22-05-2017 at 16:35.

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