Cambridge Audio CX81 - Best Audio Output

Hello there!

I’m about to buy the Cambridge Audio CXA81 integrated amplifier. It has an integrated DAC (ESS Sabre ES9016K2M), 1 coaxial, two optical and one USB input. I want to use Volumio with it but am asking myself how I would get the best sound quality.

I thought about using a Raspberry Pi 4 but am open to suggestions. Would you recommend to just use the amplifier’s/DAC’s USB input or would something like the HiFiBerry Digi+ Pro be a better option?

Here’s a link to the amplifier: https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/products/hi-fi/cx-series-2/cxa81
And here is a link to the HiFiBerry Digi+ Pro: https://www.hifiberry.com/shop/boards/hifiberry-digi-pro/

Thank’s in advance! Have a nice day!

Hi,
I’m using Volumio with a RPI 3b+ (run cooler than RPI4) with the audiophonics Digi+ pro hat


and QED performance coaxial cable with coaxial input of my amplifier (Advance Acoustic x-i60) and ethernet connection (avoid WIFI if you can)
Very good sound. It’ s a bit perfect connection, so no need of linear power supply

More info and tricks here:

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Thank you very much for your quick answer and the two links you provided. (The blogpost is very interesting!)

Do you know if the Audiophonics Digipi+ PRO is prefered over the HiFiBerry variant?

The RPI4 has eliminated the issues sometimes seen with RPI3 running Ethernet and usb together. But you might consider the FLIRC heatsink case - it looks quite neat and keeps the RPI4 cool. I would be surprised if you got any USB noise feeding the CXA81 directly from the RPI4. To look for it play a very quiet track (before the recording gets going). Play at max volume and listen for any mid/hi frequency whistles/tones. If you can’t hear them with your ear near the speaker then they aren’t there!
You can certainly try Archimago’s clock adjustments to run things cooler and possibly reduce noise in some setups, but if you’re not experiencing an issues it probably isn’t necessary.
To better the DAC in the CXA81 you would need to consider something very high end like the Topping D90 or the OktoResearch dac 8 stereo - but be warned you are very much in the area of diminishing returns and are unlikely to hear any improvements!
So try the low cost solution with the RPI4 and standard USB cables

I’m not so expert, you have to look over both specs. Apparently they are the same (audiophonics is cheaper!)
I suggest you to use these HAT, so you can free a USB port. But if you have high quality files, maybe you should use USB port. These HAT can provide only CD quality 24bit/192Khz (that is good!)

Cheers