Streaming upgrade from Cambridge Audio cxn v2

I have a great sounding system with ayre integrated and sonus faber serrafino speakers. The streamer/dac is by far the cheapest part of the system with the Cambridge Audio cxn v2. I’m wondering if upgrading the streamer/dac would give a step function improvement or if the cxn is already good enough and the improvements will be subtle at best. My dealer is recommending the ayre qx8 but I’ve not yet listened to it. Any thoughts for a streamer/dac that would give me a step function improvement for around $6000 new or used.?


I'm surprised that many of you are suggesting an expensive streamer rather than a cheap streamer and an expensive dac: if the dac has a reasonable sized buffer, shouldn't it make up for the weakness in the streamer?

There’s still the issue of noise, parts quality, etc. There are many reasons why a $3k streamer can sound a lot better than a $1k streamer (same with DACs), and with most things in audio the chain is only a strong as the weakest link. Balance is key, which is why I recommended a streamer and DAC above that were priced in the same ballpark. A streaming setup in particular can quickly expose where you cut costs, so again, balance is key. Just my $0.02 FWIW.

@deone don’t be surprised. Do be skeptical of recommendations with nothing concrete to back it up other than “I think it sounds good”, especially before dropping big bucks. Do your homework and you will realize top notch digital these days need not cost a fortune and a fortune alone assures nothing except money spent. 

if the dac has a reasonable sized buffer, shouldn’t it make up for the weakness in the streamer?

You’re on the right track - these days most digital inputs are buffered so the digital interface and streamer have less and less of an impact on sound quality. You can see this play out here - link.


I read a review on the CXN V2 and it seems to be well engineered, so I wouldn’t have any qualms about using it as a streamer if it has all the features you want. The DAC section also looks pretty good - you’ll probably be hard-pressed to find another DAC that would be an improvement in terms of fidelity if volume levels are matched and you’re listening blind. Other DACs may sound different and more to your taste though.


The Ayre QX-8 looks pretty nice - I used to own an all Ayre system myself. It also has a streamer section so it could replace your CXN V2 wholesale and would add a headphone amp to your system in case you needed / wanted it.