The Antipodes CX is an evolution of the Antipodes CORE, but the CX is made to the same specification level as our flagship DX, and so it receives the 'X-level' designation. The CX uses the same multi-chamber construction as the EX, and the new ODAPS2 internal linear regulated power supply, which together make huge gains in reducing high frequency noise of the entire circuit. The CX delivers stunning sound quality, exceeding the audio performance of even the excellent DX while also providing high processing power to handle demanding server features with ease. The reason the CX can outperform the DX is that the CX provides much more processor headroom for the server app, and therefore running the server app in the same device interferes less with the renderer app. The CX can be upgraded to the CX+EX Solution by adding an EX and the combination provides a very significant audio quality improvement over using the CX alone.
In designing the CX, we have needed to strike a balance between a number of factors. The CX is principally designed to be powerful enough to meet the demands of processor-intensive applications like Roon. But high CPU clock rates above a certain level sound bad. So the CX uses a full desktop 4 Core i5 processor, run at a low clock rate, about half of its full speed capability. If you like analogies then it is like driving a de-tuned, but torquey V8. This is able to yield the best combination of processing power and sound quality. The clock rate is set at a level where sound quality is not impaired by the CPU’s electronic noise, but by using all 4 Cores it can meet most processing needs. It is worth adding that a full desktop i5 has 4 real Cores, whereas smaller i5 implementations (in laptops and NUCs) only have 2 Cores.
In making the trade-off between power and sound quality, we were able to make sure that the CX could transcode PCM files of any resolution to DSD512 using Roon’s DSP features, without any impairment of sound quality. To achieve this, a user needs to set Roon to use ‘parallelisation’, which is their word for using all 4 Cores multithreaded. The clock rate could have been increased to provide much more power, so that DSD to DSD transcoding without a PCM step was also possible at high rates, but the negative impact on sound quality is too significant to warrant it, so we have not targeted this feature.
The CX is a unique product. It combines high processing power with excellent sound quality - something that was not possible before Antipodes Audio developed the V4H circuit. We also want to caution users to be careful about assuming using DSP for upsampling/transcoding will sound better than playing the files at their native resolution. Transcoding on the fly generates more noise interference, DSD loses immediacy compared to PCM, and higher bit-rates can improve high frequencies but reduce performance in the lower frequencies. You really need to experiment to decide what suits you and your other equipment best. The nice thing with the CX is you have the luxury of doing just that.
If you decide to play your files at their native resolution, the CX is not wasted. The greater processing headroom delivers a refined, rich and full sound that is notable for its scale and ease.
Owners of a CX can use any USB CD/DVD drive to auto-rip their CDs, or add the new P1 platform, with its integrated high precision ripper. The CX is designed so that you can add your own storage disks, and you can self-install up to 4TB of HDD or up to 8TB of SSD storage. Use of SSDs improves dynamics, high frequency sweetness and speed, and is significantly more musically engaging. If you prefer to have your storage disks pre-installed then your dealer can assist you.
Outputs are USB or direct Ethernet. Direct Ethernet means the CX has two Ethernet ports. Connect one to the network for setup and remote control purposes. Connect the second Ethernet port direct to an EX or an Ethernet input on a DAC using a short high quality Ethernet cable. The direct link cuts out noise from the rest of the network and benefits from the very low-noise environment of the CX.