Cambridge Audio CXU review

Universal disc player that impresses on quality, but where's Netflix and WiFi?

Cambridge Audio CXU
Universal disc player that impresses on quality, but where's Netflix and WiFi?

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When it comes to serious home cinema devices, like a universal media player, you want it to cover all the bases. And when you're paying out such a significant sum for the privilege that's not an unreasonable hope.

But then there are some products which compensate for anything they're missing. The Cambridge Audio CXU is one of those. Where it might miss out in terms of overall connectivity, making it seem a little behind the times technologically, there's no doubting its incredible audio visual credentials.

We liked

It's images, film soundtracks, and most of all, music that impress on the CXU. It's all very hard to fault on its core duties.

The remote control is also worth praising; its sleek, black aluminium body matches the CXU, with clever design continuity and an easy to use layout. The cherry on top is that it's not only backlit, but illuminated in red to help preserve night-vision in your theatre blackout.

Another nice touch is that the USB slot on the front of the machine will refuel a smartphone or tablet, which is not a bad idea given that you're going to be sat beside it for a couple of hours … and possibly far longer given the sheer quality on offer.

Cambridge Audio CXU

We disliked

This may be a hugely impressive deck, but there are a few tiny niggles about the CXU that could be corrected.

While the backlit remote control is excellent, the slight drawback is that the illumination lasts only a few seconds before it deactivates. It's also not the quickest to exchange commands with its mothership.

However, the main gripe about paying such a high price for the CXU has got to be that it comes with just YouTube and Picasa apps, and doesn't even offer Wi-Fi. The lack of connectivity is a little surprising, particularly as one of its competitors in the 'universal' disc player space, the Oppo BDP-105D, includes the likes of Netflix and BBC apps, while the Arcam UDP411 offers a simple control app for the iPhone.

The CXU could certainly benefit from some kind of app to oversee its music streaming; that it's all done on the player's front-panel is too manual. Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay would be nice, too, as would support for 4K MP4 files.


The CXU is aimed squarely at both home cinema perfectionists and audiophiles after a do-it-all machine. As such it barely puts a foot wrong, though the absence of the likes of Netflix, Amazon Instant and the BBC iPlayer – when its competitors have those apps – makes it seem old-fashioned.

So too the lack of WiFi and manual music streaming, though does a superbly built, pitch-perfect performer need such frivolities?

While it excels with Blu-ray and even DVD, the CXU's handling of music in all its guises and formats is exquisite. It may not be the smart hub it could have been, but this universal machine has core quality like you've never seen – or heard – before.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),