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Cambridge - 840C CD Player

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #1 in CD/SACD Players

Posted

Pros: Great, un-coloured sound, plenty of options, solid built, doubles as a DAC, plenty of digital I/O, balanced output, fantastic DSP.

Cons: Some may find the sound a bit boring. Threatened by newer DACs so best value second-hand.

I hadn't intended to get this. I was offered it in trade for my HD-800s (plus cash), which, out of curiosity, I ended up agreeing to.  

 

I hadn't great expectations as I'd heard some less than stellar comments about the DacMagic from people who had a lot of gear experience.  However, I was most pleasantly surprised when it arrived and I plugged it into my Audio-gd Phoenix, that it shared much of the "just the music" presentation of my Audio-gd Reference 1.  More usefully, no matter how I connected it digitally, from optical straight from my MacBook Pro (usually the worst option) or via the Audio-gd Reference 3 re-clocking and up-sampling digital converter, I haven't been able to detect a significant difference in the quality of the output when used as a DAC.  

 

I'm still experimenting with settings to see if I can detect which, between the 840C and my Audio-gd units, can handle up-sampling and dither best, something made all the more difficult as turning on up-sampling lowers the analogue output volume.

 

The good sound is no doubt due to the excellent DSP which handles the up-sampling and other features, leaving the actual DA chip to do only the minimum. DAC makers are only just waking up to the critical importance of the digital input, moving away from the less than great options, especially for USB input (read: DacMagic's crappy USB input) and taking more care to get this right from the start (eg: The Ayre DAC).  

 

I have no doubt that this is one of the key reasons this CD player sounds so good, alongside the solid case and well-thought-out electronics.  The output stage, though containing a number of OPA2134 OPAMPs which, in typical cheap DACs presents a dull and lifeless sound, have been incorporated in a manner that the output doesn't sound like a typical OPAMP-driven circuit at all. Someone with more knowledge of these things will have to explain why this is, as I don't understand it well enough.

 

Ultimately, if I were to fault it, I would share the conclusions of Hi-Fi Choice's review. Some may find it un-musical, if neutral is not your cup of tea in your source components. It has a slight treble-boost in the sound, not readily noticeable without careful comparisons with other gear and it isn't anything like the very sharpest, detail-wise.  However, it does manage to be feature-rich without compromising the sound and a good investment for headphone listening.

 

From time-to-time the 840C shows up second-hand for considerably less than its retail price. That makes it a serious bargain in my book. It will slaughter the popular choices such as the Benchmark DAC 1, Lavry DA-10 and others without a doubt, but may be fighting an uphill battle with the newest Sabre32-based DACs around the same price new, such as the Wyred DAC 2 and Audio-gd units, as it is a few years old now. I've given it 4 stars for value as a result -- 4 stars new, and 5 stars second-hand.

Posted

Pros: Honest/neutral sound, upsampling, good LR and F-B depth, digital inputs

Cons: Display hard to read at any distance.

Bought in UK at reduced price £499. Bargain in my opinion so 5 stars.

 

Sound is very clear and transparent through speakers or phones. Deep bass, clear midrange, and slighly lifted/airy treble. It resolves the different instruments in the mix well. The sound is very neutral, which I liked.

 

The left to right imaging is very good but I was most impressed by the depth of the sound field on speakers. Voices do sound forward of speakers when dry of reverb. It fills the room with "surround" like sound like reverb tails and effects.

 

I have modified mine with new PSU caps and a replacement voltage regulator for the DACs. I also put sound absorbing pads (Vibramat or Anti-vibe) onto the larger areas of the casework. With all this I think it sounds even better, giving a little more detail and punchier/dynamic on drums and other transients.

Cambridge - 840C CD Player
Description:

The 840C marks the zenith of Cambridge Audios critically acclaimed Azur line up. Like all Azur products, the 840C promises unseen levels of performance and engineering excellence to the price points in question. But rather than redefining expectations in the entry-level market, the arena most often associated with Cambridge Audio, the company will reinvigorate the mid-end price sector. The 840C embraces a raft of proprietary technologies including ATFTM (Adaptive Time Filtering) asynchronous up-sampling technology which has been developed in conjunction with Anagram Technologies of Switzerland. This system intelligently interpolates 16-bit/44.1kHz CD data to 24-bit/384kHz data, through the use of a 32-bit Analog Devices Black Fin DSP (digital signal processor). This in turn feeds two 24-bit/384kHz DACs from the same company in dual differential formation. Each DAC handles just one channel for excellent stereo imaging, operating fully in differential mode for exceptionally low distortion and noise. Both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs are fitted. Two digital inputs are also provided which even allow the up-sampling and playback of other sources such as a DVD player via the Azur 840C. In addition, a recording digital output can even allow bit-for-bit data or upsampled data at 48, 96 or 192 kHz to be recorded by a suitable device. A Control Bus In/Out, an IR emitter in connection and an RS232 port are provided for easy multi-room connectivity. The RS232 protocol enables a two-way interface with third party home automation touchscreens. As with all Azur products, the foundation of the 840Cs excellence is a bespoke chassis. This comprises an incredibly thick 7mm front panel and extruded side panels, both fashioned from aluminium, which combines with a 2mm formed steel base plate and specially designed vibration absorbing feet. The result is an ultra rigid, low resonance, acoustically dampened platform for the electronics to sit in.

Details:
DetailValue
BrandCambridge
FeatureDigital outputs allow recording of up-sampled audio
LabelCambridge SoundWorks
List Price$1,799.00
ManufacturerCambridge SoundWorks
Model840C
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameCONSUMER_ELECTRONICS
PublisherCambridge SoundWorks
StudioCambridge SoundWorks
TitleCambridge - 840C CD Player
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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