How Much Should I Spend On An Integrated Amp
Q: I’d like to ask you a question.
I’m new to the world of home audio, but I’m determined to learn everything I can.
I’m currently using a Yamaha television receiver.
Do you believe that a Cambridge Audio integrated amplifier would be the best option to replace it?
I’m interested in the CXA 81.
It contains all of the characteristics that I’m looking for.
In addition, it costs $1300.
Alternatively, do you think I should start with the CXA 60 and upgrade as time passes?
The pre-out and sub features are really appealing to me.
That is also available from Yamaha for $129, as well.
I was completely unaware of it at the time.
With an update, I could add a tube amplifier as well as a subwoofer.
It’s difficult to choose between a $500 amp and a $1300 amp.
It’s nearly three times the cost, but it appears to be more durable and has the potential to be expanded.
I am looking forward to hearing from you!
A: Well, Nick, you’ve covered a lot of ground here.
According to what I can tell, you currently have a Yamaha receiver that costs $129, and you want to upgrade to an integrated amplifier.
This is a fantastic idea for anyone trying to create a high-end Hi-Fi system on a tight budget, and I believe it is achievable.
It is possible to have many years of musical enjoyment from the correct integrated.
Additionally, as you pointed out, many systems allow for expansion with the addition of pre-outs and sub-outputs.
I understand you’re considering two Cambridge Audio amplifiers and debating whether the CXA81 Integrated Amplifier ($1299) is worth the extra money over the CXA60 Integrated Amplifier (which is presently available for $500) or not.
After spending a significant amount of time with both, I can report that they both produce the great warm, energetic sound that Cambridge Audio is known for.
I had a great time with each of them and would recommend them to anyone.
In general, when comparing the CXA81 to the CXA60, I believe the CXA81 is worth the additional money
In addition to having greater power, the CXA81 is more polished (read: transparent) across the treble and midrange, and has better control over the bottom end, which should result in more taut bass performance.
It also contains built-in apt-X HD Bluetooth for streaming in CD-quality, as well as a built-in USB DAC for playback from a computer or other device.
Having said that, the CXA60, despite the fact that it is an older model, produces superb sound.
It’s possible that you’ll like the way it sounds.
Finally, and maybe most crucially, when it comes to comparisons like this, it all comes down to your listening environment, including your speakers and, most importantly, your hearing.
By the way, the tone controls on the CXA60 are different from those on the CXA81.
That is a deal-breaker for some people.
Ideally, you should spend some time with each one and determine which one best suits your listening preferences.
If you don’t have access to a local Hi-Fi dealer who will allow you to take the gear home for an audition, you may have to purchase a CXA60 from an internet retailer (such as Amazon) that accepts returns and use it for a few weeks before making a decision.
After you’ve heard it once in your head, you’re finished with it.
If this is the case, return the CXA60 and try the CXA81 instead.
You should be satisfied with it, I am sure of it!
You can also follow some recommendations.
I purchased this a long time ago when I was considering updating my amplifier.
An old-timer who used to own an audio business had sent it to me.
“Buy the best electronics that you can afford,” he advised.
My initial reaction was that he was simply trying to upsell me, but after years of testing audio equipment, I now understood what he was getting at.
In spite of how affordable your speakers are, superior electronics will get the maximum performance from them.
However, if you have amazing speakers but are using a sub-par amplifier or source, you will feel as though something is missing.
It’s the equivalent of looking out a perfectly clean and transparent window and seeing a garbage dump.
It’s hardly the finest of circumstances.
So I went through all of that to say this.
If you have the financial means to purchase the more expensive amplifier (in this case, the CXA81), do so
This product will provide you with the best results with the speakers you now have, and it should also be able to shine with speakers that are several times its price if you decide to upgrade further down the line.
I hope this has been of assistance!