Cambridge Audio CXN V2 w/ Modwright Instruments Truth Modifications A Review

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jtsnead

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Was the CXN updated to do MQA?

senna1a

No, I believe the V2 would require a hardware upgrade to decode MQA.

mr_bill

I have my CXN V2 that’s currently in queue for the upgrade, so I will be able to give my perspective vs the stock CXN that I lived with since last May. I also have an Auralic Aries Femto bridge feeding a PS Audio Directstream DAC, so while not apples to apples (and a bit more $$), I’ll be able to provide some ideas of compare / contrast to a separate streamer/DAC

Looking forward to your thoughts when you receive!  You already have a nice digital front end,

Sonicjoy

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Hi I have been looking at the CXN for a while now. Looks like a great unit. Question, if only using the digital outputs is there any improvement to be had from having this upgrade? It seems from what I can tell that it's mainly an upgrade to the analog section.

jtsnead

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Good news MQA is coming to Cambridge products, Dan I might need to get one now

https://hifipig.com/cambridge-audio-adds-tidal-connect/

senna1a

I realize I’ve not provided an update, however, I wanted to let things break-in and do a good amount of comparison. I will make it short as I don’t have much to add. Beyond what Dan/others have shared, to me it’s the most dense 3D soundstage and pinpoint imaging I’ve heard from a streamer in my system to date. My Auralic bridge is awaiting sale and my DirectStream DAC is serving duty for other items. I also A/B’d the CXN into my Esoteric DAC vs Dan’s gapped output stage and preferred Dan’s all in one solution. If on the fence, I would be confident in this mod. And of course both Dan and Kristin make it easy to do business with great service.

It’s also worth noting, I thought the tubes Dan supplied were a good match. I rolled some of the NOS Mullard, Amperex and Siemens tubes I had on hand. The stock tubes Dan supplied have a nice “mid hall” tonal balance, and also have the largest soundstage of all I tried; I did find the Amperex from Andy @VTS provided slightly more soundstage depth. I think this is my subjective preference only, as there several good 6v options if you would like to roll tubes.
« Last Edit: 4 May 2021, 03:24 am by senna1a »

mr_bill

Hi senna, great report!
Do you have the Modwright Cambridge running straight to an amp and using the volume control on the Modwright or do you use a separate preamp?

senna1a

I tested both direct to my Monoblocks using the CXN column control and through my preamp. It was actually a close call in sound, and if I didn’t have any other source needs (SACD and vinyl), I would just go from streamer to amp (I actually did this for about 10 days just to live with it); but with multiple sources, I’m leveraging a separate preamp.

mr_bill

Thanks Senna, appreciate it!

mr_bill

Senna,
I just took a look at your gallery and you have a great system.  Love the components and also the Salk speakers and the NHT 3.3 speakers! 

displayname

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Good news MQA is coming to Cambridge products, Dan I might need to get one now

https://hifipig.com/cambridge-audio-adds-tidal-connect/
Based on the reviews, The MW upgrade is likely a great investment. I haven't done that yet, but I will tell you that you should not move to this unit if you are dead set on MQA playback. I've been using Tidal Connect since it released. It works great from a functionality standpoint. It's actually been more stable then playing back Tidal on my laptop. BUT it will not suddenly play MQA through the CXN. The CXN hardware simply is not equipped for MQA, and neither Tidal Connect nor Dan's upgrades will do that. When switching to Tidal Connect through the app to the CXN, you are automatically "stepped down" to Hifi. But Hifi is CD quality, and sounds great. I personally feel the tonality of a DAC is far more important than MQA vs hifi, but others feel differently. I just wanted to share so you had the whole picture of capabilities.

jtsnead

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Yes displyname this has been a issue for me because I do like MQA through my system so I haven't pulled the trigger I was also looking at Lumin D2 which is though to have a warmer sound and also uses Wolfson dacs

displayname

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Yes displyname this has been a issue for me because I do like MQA through my system so I haven't pulled the trigger I was also looking at Lumin D2 which is though to have a warmer sound and also uses Wolfson dacs
My preferred dealer sells both Cambridge and Lumin. He doesn't dislike the D2, but that's also not one he regularly recommends. He's a big proponent of the U1 mini + you dac of choice. He also recently picked up Innous and Volumio, while continuing to speak highly of Auralic who he used to carry. But when you ask him bluntly, Lumin is his go to. All great solutions with various pros and cons with certain feature sets, but he has pretty consistently said he prefers the tone of Lumin using Lumin's software (not Roon) over everything else. And that does bring MQA into play if you pair it with an MQA capable DAC.

Where does the Modwright CXN stack up sound wise? I'm not really sure and I'm not sure I'll ever get to hear them side by side unless I'm the one fronting the check.

The good news is there are a LOT of excellent options on the market, and what's available for at or under $4K is pretty unreal. $4K is a lot of money, no doubt. But when comparing to a good vinyl rig, it feels very reasonable.

crunchmaster2000

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I reached out to Dan around end of April 2020 inquiring, if he might be interested in modding the CXN V2. After a busy period during Covid Dan had the mod ready in Nov and I went for it. I had the unit running in my setup for about a year before I went for the "Truth Mod". The sound of the unit pre-mod was already very good I must say. When I compared it to my vinyl setup I would say the sound got to about +90% there. Although I acknowledge the remaining 10%, or less make BIG difference still. Some of the gaps in sound I would characterize in the very fine detail, dynamic range was slightly constricted and generally just missing that extra edge in airiness and liveliness.

After receiving the post-mod unit back I must say, I was very impressed. Sure, the stock tubes that it came with needed some time to break-in, but even from the start when I compared vinyl to the DAC it almost became indistinguishable. I still find the vinyl to sound better, but it is only really marginal. The greatest test came when I played the remastered version of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers Hearts Club band... my goodness - it blew me away. And now over time I find the unit to just sound very natural and organic. The sound is very lively and the dynamic range is pretty much where I want it. It's also dead silent very important for the setup I have. Very satisfied with the unit. Might only upgrade the tubes at some point, but right now am super happy with what I have.

It honestly now mostly comes down to the quality of the audio recording and streaming format. Once I have a great version lined up there really isn't anything I feel is missing.

Some info on my setup the above is based on:

Analogue source:
TT: Thorens TP320
Cartridge: Nagaoka MP500
Phono stage: D.Klimo LAR Gold Plus

Digital Source:
DAC: Cambridge Audio CXN V2

Amplifier: Bakoon Amp 13R

Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Mezzo XD