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USB audio connection

The CXA USB Audio input enables the playback of audio from Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X personal computers (and some Linux builds).

When connected via a USB cable, the computer will identify the CXA as an audio device. Specifying the CXA in the computer’s audio control panel, will enable it to play audio data either stored locally on the computer or streamed to the computer via a network or the internet.

Computer Connection

Important Note: Always turn the volume to minimum, switch to another input or turn the CXA off before plugging/unplugging cables to the USB input or whilst booting up/shutting down your PC/Mac.

Note: Always use a high quality USB ‘A to B’ cable certified as USB Hi-Speed. USB cable connections longer than 3m may result in inconsistent audio performance.

The CXA is both USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) and USB 1.1 (Full-speed) USB port compatible. 

It should also work with USB 3.0 ports where the PC will simply treat the CXA as if it were a USB 2.0 or 1.1 device. 

The CXA supports two USB Audio protocols (not the same as the port types themselves):

  • USB Audio Class 1 (which works over USB 1.1 ports and supports up to 24-bit/96kHz)

  • USB Audio Class 2 (which requires a USB 2.0 port and can support up to 32-bit/384kHz) 

The default configuration is USB Audio Class 2. 

 

How to connect a Windows PC to the CXA via the USB audio input

With the CXA switched to USB Audio Class 1, the CXA will work with Windows 7 or above and accept audio up to 24-bit/96kHz.

With the CXA switched to USB Audio Class 2, the CXA needs the Cambridge Audio USB Audio 2.0 Driver to be loaded and can then accept up to 32-bit/384kHz.

1. With the CXA in Standby mode and/or the volume set to minimum, connect your PC to the CXA via a USB A to B cable.

2. For the highest quality play back, ensure that the CXA is set to USB 2.0 mode.

See the ‘Setup Menu’ section below for a guide on how to change USB mode. (The default configuration is USB Audio Class 2)

3. Download the Windows USB 2.0 driver.

See the “How do I install the latest USB Audio driver” section below, for a guide on how to download the USB driver.

4. Select the USB Audio source on the front panel of the CXA.

You can do this by pressing the Bluetooth/USB button, which will toggle between the two inputs. The USB Audio is shown by the symbol being lit orange.

5. Choose the CXA as your output speaker via your Windows PC’s sound settings.

Note: To ensure you are getting the highest quality play back possible, ensure that the maximum sample rate for the CXA is selected, up to 384 kHz.

This can be done via your Windows PC by selecting ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Sound’ > ‘Speaker Properties’ > ‘Advanced’ Tab, and selecting the maximum sample rate and bit depth from the drop down menu.

 

How to install the latest USB audio driver for the CXA61/81

To install the latest USB Audio driver for your CXA61/81, please follow the steps below:

1. Download the correct driver for your Windows operating system from - https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.com/hc/en-us/articles/207434895-Windows-Audio-USB-Class-2-Driver.

2. Unzip the downloaded folder, and double click on the application file to run the installer. This is highlighted in the image below.

USB Driver 1

3. Run the installer, and follow the instructions.

USB Driver 2

4. Allow the update to progress, click next, and then finish to complete the installation.

USB Driver 3

5. Confirm the installation by opening the CA Control Panel, and checking the driver version.                   

USB Driver 4

 

How to connect an Apple Mac to the CXA via the USB audio input

No extra drivers are required. With the CXA switched to USB Audio 1.0 the CXA will work with the native Mac OS-X 10.5 (Leopard) or above Audio 1.0 driver and accept audio up to 24-bit/96kHz.

With the CXA switched to USB Audio Class 2 the CXA works with the native Mac OS-X 10.5 (Leopard) or above Audio 2.0 driver and can accept audio up to 32-bit/384kHz.

1. With the CXA in Standby mode and/or the volume set to minimum, connect your Mac to the CXA via a USB A to B cable, or C to B cable depending on the USB ports on your Mac.

2. Select the USB Audio source on the front panel of the CXA.

You can do this by pressing the Bluetooth/USB button, which will toggle between the two inputs. The USB Audio is shown by the symbol being lit orange.

3. Choose the CXA as your output speaker via your Mac’s sound settings

Note: To ensure you are getting the highest quality play back possible, ensure that the maximum sample rate for the CXA is selected, up to 384 kHz.

This can be done via your Mac by selecting ‘Audio Midi Setup > ‘Sound’ > ‘Speaker Properties’ > ‘Advanced’ Tab, and selecting the maximum sample rate and bit depth from the drop down menu.

 

Use with Linux

For most builds of Linux with the CXA switched to USB Audio Class 1 the CXA will work with the native Audio 1.0 driver and accept audio up to 24-bit/96kHz. 

Some very new builds of Linux are now supporting USB Audio Class 2 for which the CXA should be switched to Audio 2.0 to accept audio up to 32-bit/384kHz. 

For both cases because Linux builds vary according to their creators choice of software components including drivers it is not possible to guarantee operation and Audio drivers may need to be loaded. 

'Class drivers' as they are called for generic support of Audio Class 1.0 or Audio Class 2.0 devices may be available from the Linux community, we do not supply these.

Note: It is not possible to connect a USB drive or HDD directly to the CXA61/81 via the ‘USB Audio’ input. The ‘USB Audio’ input on the CXA61/81 will only support a direct connection with a PC or Mac. You will, however, be able to use one of our network players in combination with the CXA61/81 to do this.