Shame this thread for such a great piece of kit has died out somewhat. I'm here to revive it (I hope).
I finally got to hear one of these babies for myself (after months of anticipation and puddles of drool forming when I looked at it) and all I can say is it's the best digital source I've heard to date.
Unfortunately I can only compare to my 851C directly, but at this time I just recently gave back a loaner Perfect Wave DAC 2 and Transport so their memory is fresh.
To start off, it easily beats the Perfect Wave pair for me (and the Cantana costs less all things considered). The Perfect Wave was just too dry and uninvolving for my tastes. It was very detailed and a good DAC no doubt, but the Cantana is (again) easily my choice. It has a more musical, ever so slightly warmer and more full bodied sound. Not to the point of a tube component, but just enough to not seem terribly dry and boring. It's also sexier and doesn't have an (IMO) stupid touch screen.
Compared to the 851C it is instantly noticeably better. As soon as you put on anything with a SSS sound you'll notice it. Much smoother but more detailed at the same time. Sense of space is a step up and again, it sounds less dry and more full bodied without being slightly muddied by tubes.
As for the unit itself...pictures don't do it justice. Touching it for the first time was a pretty magical experience. The aluminum feels fantastic and I thought I'd hate the 'bumps' but I really like them. The girlfriend really enjoyed it, too. (wink) My favorite part is probably the display though. The 851C has a fantastic display and is admittedly probably overall more useful than the Cantana, but the Cantana's screen just adds a ton of character and it very easy to read from anywhere you can see it (which is nice).
I'm a bit frustrated that it'll have to go back soon, because I didn't get to spend near the amount of time I wanted to with it...but I can say this...I want one. I really want one...and with tax season coming up it's a distinct possibility.
I'll post pictures later.