Christiaan Punter of HiFi Advice (www.hifi-advice.com) has published the first review of the CX+EX: “This combination is, quite simply, the very best digital front end that I have heard.”
“The EX is a great Music Server and an even better Renderer. Just the same, the CX is an amazing Server. But when combined, the two perform at an unprecedented level.”
“..it took all of 3 seconds before I loudly exclaimed: “Holy Shit!” The difference was not subtle, it was huge! Wow man, everything the EX does so well was still there, but magnified [by the CX+EX Solution]. The soundstage was now even larger, both wider and deeper and even more enveloping, the delivery more powerful, with even more impressive dynamics.”
Cristiaan’s review states his findings very well, but we wish to add some clarifying comments that we think will help to understand how the CX and EX relate to each other, and how they work together in the CX+EX solution to really lift the bar.
All Music Server playback requires three steps: a Server app, a Renderer app, and a DAC stage. The optimum solution is to have three independent devices with each performing one of the tasks. But below a certain price level, it can be better to include the Renderer in the same device as the Server (as we do with both the CX and the EX), or to include the Renderer in the same device as the DAC (as is done when your DAC has an Ethernet input).
The optimum hardware for the Server app is quite different from the optimum hardware for the Renderer app, and this is why the EX and CX are different, and why they are both our best devices. The lower-priced EX is an excellent Renderer with a very good but low-powered Server capability. The EX excels in musicality. The higher-priced CX is an excellent Server with a very good Renderer capability. The CX excels at transparent detail resolution.
The CX+EX Solution is to run the Server app on the CX and the Renderer app on the EX and connect the two with a short, high-quality Ethernet cable. The CX+EX Solution not only combines the transparency of the CX with the musicality of the EX, the synergy further improves both of these qualities. There are no easy shortcuts without trade-offs. To get the best audio quality, both the Server and the Renderer need to be of very high quality.
Antipodes does not make a lower-priced two-box solution for the simple reason that the one-box EX or CX provide better sound for the price, plus provide you with a simple upgrade path of adding the other model later to reach the CX+EX Solution.
Read the full review here: