What’s the best DAC match for the Cambridge Audio CXC original or V2?

So I currently have an Oppo BDP 93 and a Schiit Bifrost Multi DAC. I keep reading over and over that the Cambridge CXC transport is the best in its price range, but I’ve seen little about what DAC’s pair well with it. My preamp is an ARC, SP9 MKll, and my amps are Acoustat servo’s. I’m also not opposed to keeping the Oppo and trying a different DAC.

New, used. Price TBT.

Thanks all.

Hmmmmmm..... Cambridge?
"What’s the best DAC match for the Cambridge Audio CXC ?"

Only you can answer this question. To be fair, you may not like the sound of which DAC someone here may suggest. You`ll have to listen with your own ears.
I think the Cambridge is better than the Oppo.  Definitely warmer/smoother.
There is no such function as "pairing" a DAC to a transport. That's like "pairing" a turntable to a phono pre.
Sorry to disappoint you.
If you ever do see it, baloney.
Thanks elevick,

With me having a tube preamp and tube outputs on my amps, do you think it might end up being tooo warm? The Bifrost is pretty cold, so it seems to work well with my setup, but if I get a CXC, is there a DAC you’d suggest I try?

All the best.

So fuzztone, you’re saying all dacs sound the same with all transports? Not one sounds better or worse with any transport? I guess all phono carts sound the same with all tone arms or phono preamps??


You’re correct, the final decision will have to be mine, but I was hoping to narrow the list down to maybe four or five to try to listen to by hearing the experience’s and suggestions from others on the forum.  Kinda like elevik saying the transport had a warm sound of its own.  
All the best.

I would suggest an Audio Mirror Tubadour III or MHDT Orchid  DAC.
I am surprised that you find the Bifrost "cold".
Let’s back up a bit.  What would you most like to improve upon over what you have now, and what aspects of sound reproduction are most important to you?  You’ll get much more useful and targeted recommendations if you can specify these crucial things. 

a good cd transport will deliver a solid, noise free (electrical noise, not mechanical noise) bitstream to the dac through whichever connection method it provides ... so the notion of ’matching a dac to a transport’ is not super critical if both do their jobs in transmitting and receiving the digital bitstream for conversion - many many good dacs can work suitably well with a decent cd transport

that is why knowledgeable people are asking what are you trying to improve... the dac is the ’voice’ of the digital front end...
My CXC is connected to a Bel Canto DAC 3 by an Oyaide DR-510 coax cable and then a Raven Audio Blackhawk LE amp and Nola Boxer S1 speakers. For me, the combination sounds exceptional and the Bel Canto's excellent ergonomics and flexibility are a bonus.
Agree w/ others. There's no matching question here. It's a question of the kind of sound you're looking for and the way you achieve that given the various factors in play in your room, system, etc.

That said, here's my experience: I have tubes -- tube preamp, amp. I don't want over-coloration but I want dimensionality and accuracy but not too aggressive or forward in the upper mid, treble.

I bought a CXC transport and tried it with: an Audioengine D1, a Peachtree DAC*IT, and an MHDT Orchid Dac. The Orchid was the best, and got even better when I rolled a Tesla tube into it. I did comparisons of these (relatively inexpensive DAC's) against the Orchid and the difference was significant. I have heard many good things about the Tubadour III, also. But that's really the limit of my experience. I would bet good money that if someone plunked down other good Dacs in my system and blindfolded me, I might not really know what to choose; but against the less expensive DAC's I owned, the step up (to the Orchid) was a real advance.

The Bifrost brightened everything including how the bass sounds.  By doing this it de muddled the bass a bit (which I like), but I’m not crazy about the rest.

All the best.

Thanks sfar,

I start researching Bel Canto DAC3.

All the best.

To DACs mentioned that would 'smooth out' the brightness while maintaining, likely improving,  resolution are the Orchid and the AM Tubadour. Both great DACs for the money. I own the AM. 
hilde45 and jj,

My thoughts were pretty simple. What DAC’s are people using with the Cambridge transport and why. 
All the best

Thanks mensch,

I’ll start reading about the Orchid and the Tunadour.

All the best.


jim - people are asking you what type of sound are you looking for

all dacs recommend will work fine with your cambridge cdt

there is a leaner. brighter, more 'transparent', rather (good) solid state sounding school of dacs

then there is a more dimensional warmer, fuller more analog school of sound in dac voicing, more tubey if you will (even if they use tubes)

many good dacs in either school
To answer your question, I am using a Heed Abacus DAC with my CXC. It sounds very good to me. Bought a Wireworld digital cable for $100 and it seems to work well, although I haven't compared it to anything else. 
If you really want to smooth things out, get a Border Patrol.
A not-unrelated question is this:

Of the Dacs which meet your (a) price point, (b) possible sonic preferences, which are (c) available to try out in your present system? As many point out, it's very hard to make snap judgements about audio. It helps to live with something for a little while. If you had two Dacs which were both reasonable candidates, get them both into your home on trial and take some time listening to them. It's better than buying quickly, selling, buying again. Just a thought.

I’m looking for a warm, even sound.  What do I mean by even?  The Bifrost seems to have its focus 25% on the low end, 60% on the high end and 10% on everything else.  I’ve had two other less expensive  DAC’s that were only noticeable on the high end.

 I hope this makes sense.

All the best.



Border patrol looks interesting and they have a 14 day return policy.  I’m not sure if that applies on this side of the ditch, but I’ll check.

All the best.


 I agree 100%.  That’s why I asked the question here. With so many of the brick and mortar stores no longer open, I’m hoping to narrow the list to a few.  Shipping costs and return policies will unfortunately have to play into my choice as well.

All the best.


I’ve never heard of Heed Audio, I’m sure there’s hundreds of companies I can say that about, but I will definitely check them out.


If you're in Britain you should look into these.
@curiousjim - There are several very positive reviews of the Heed abacus on You Tube. 

I’m looking for a warm, even sound. What do I mean by even? The Bifrost seems to have its focus 25% on the low end, 60% on the high end and 10% on everything else. I’ve had two other less expensive DAC’s that were only noticeable on the high end.

lets dive into this a bit

my experience with the schiit bifrost (multi bit version) was that it was very midrange/midbass centric... deep bass was rolled off, highs were somewhat laid back but in my system, lower treble had a sibilance which was bothersome to my ear - my streamer and coax digital cable were good ones, am confident it was not jitter creating the sibilance with the bifrost ... for example, i plugged in a schiit gungnir mb -- deep bass was stronger, midrange less forward, mid bass less bloated, treble was more airy but no sibilance - overall a more linear more spacious sound

as you describe the bifrost sound, i would ask if you have the cambridge cdt in hand and your description is of the bifrost being fed by it... or was it by another transport? what input? what cable? what cable length?

hate for you to spend more $ on a supposedly better dac and still have the high end be so prominent still... there may be something more fundamental with your digital front end

do you have another source in your hifi? like a turntable? does that also sound 'treble centric' as you describe the sound of the bifrost?  also, was your bifrost the multi-bit or the plain-jane version?


 I have an Oppo BDP93, 1/2m AQ, digital or an optical cable(don’t remember brand right now) to  the Bifrost Multibit dac. AQ, 1m Colorado ic’s to an ARC SP9 MKll.  AQ, 1m Colorado ic’s to my servo amps, to Acoustat Model X speakers. I don’t have the Cambridge yet.  If it’s not going to make much of a difference, I might just switch the dac.   

jim - check your digital cable... if it is a coax cable, you should replace it with one that is 1.5 m in length... shorter spdif electrical digital cables may be prone to ’reflections’ of the digital waveform, which can lead to jittery sound (harsh and gritty) - if it an optical cable, get a real glass cable (length not key if it is less than 2-3 meters - https://www.uniqueproductsonline.com/gltodiopca.html or http://www.lifatec.com/toslink2.html - getting the cabling right is good hygiene and will help any transport / dac combo you may upgrade to

i don’t know much about the oppo’s as transports, maybe others here can comment... i suspect it is at least OK

as for dacs, i would suggest mhdt (any model) with a we 2c51 upgraded tube, ayre codex (optical or usb input only), metrum amethyst or neko audio d100-2 -- all are very natural sounding, with warm tonality, excellent bass, treble is smooth, not at all prominent or aggressive


Thank you! 
 I know my optical cable is NOT glass, so there’s an easy place to start. I’ll also ask AudioQuest what they recommend for the digital cable.
 And I will also contact MHDT Labs.

All the best.

So I’m looking at Lifatec for a toslink cable.  What do you think?


All the best

I use a Lifatec toslink cable between my DVD player and DAC. I think it is great and not overly costly. 

Also have glass toslink made by a company call GLASS. It was recommended by someone on this site. I bought it off ebay. Even less costly. The cost made it easy to 'buy to try'.

That said I would use the coax output over toslink if possible, 1.5 meter (as jjss49 stated).

Thanks mesch,

So you think I’d hear more of a difference with1.5m digital (rca) than I would from switching to an all glass Toslink? I currently have a AQ, .5m.  Is there a brand you guys think sounds better, or can/should I stick with Audioquest?

All the best.

Had the Schiit Modi 2 (with a 4490 chip board upgrade, not the Multibit), and an Oppo BDP-103.  Got rid of the Modi and changed out to a PS Audio Stellar DAC preamp, which improved the Oppo a bit (was still using its internal DAC, however), but then I got the CXC and then there was a noticeable difference in clarity and detail, which I wasn't really expecting.  Got rid of the Stellar and got a Freya+ and a Topping D90 and later a Denafrips Ares II and enjoyed them both a whole lot more, but they were different.  There's a lot of good DACs out there for under 1k and you'd be hard pressed to find a better transport under 1k, but it does come down to a matter of taste for the DAC after you get past the $100-$200 threshold. The CXC does not play anything but Redbook CD's so if you have SACD's you're out of luck.

speaking for myself only, i cannot hear a difference between the glass toslink (i have 2m wireworld and a 2m lifatec) and a 1.5 m Cullen or Empirical coax... when connecting between various streamers and DACs accepting both options

but i would say, if you are ordering a lifatec glass cable, know that it is relatively fragile (it is thin flexible lightweight minimally jacketed cable), you will need to be careful with it... i believe a good 1.5m rca cable would be more durable
Much has been discussed on this forum regarding coax vs. optical connection with the majority finding coax preferable.  There are also discussions on the science regarding length of coax cable, with  very short or 1.5 meter being optimal for most cables. Neither issue is likely true under all circumstances. I chose to go with the consensus on this one and have been happy. I run both so as to connect two sources to the same DAC having only one of each type input. The primary source gets the coax cable. And, as jjss49 indicated the coax is more durable. With glass optimal do not use tight bends in the cable. 

Thanks guys,

A new 1.5 will be ordered this afternoon.

Stay safe.

Hey bikerbw,

Thanks for your reply.
 I have over a thousand cd’s and 12-13 sacd’s,  so changing to a transport that doesn’t play them won’t be a game changer. Oh and I‘ve been thinking of getting a second system in the future, so the Oppo isn’t going anywhere for now. 
All the best