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Cambridge 851C CD/DAC/Pre - Anyone else getting one? (Impressions to follow) - Page 3

post #31 of 37
Very nice impressions - thank you. This sounds awesome. There is nothing better than wondering how marginal an upgrade might be, and then getting blown away by it.

I just ordered the Yulong Sabre D18 DAC instead ($699). I wish I could have went for this at the ~$2,000 price point but that will have to be next time. I was, however, tempted to sell my Audiophilleo2/PurePower solution ($1,000) and use that to get the 851c. However, I wasn't quite ready to rely only on spinning CDs, especially already owning a lot of high resolution FLAC music.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LowRent View Post

I received and installed the 851C in my system on Wednesday afternoon.  It's been playing non-stop ever since.

I connected it directly to my Cambridge Audio 840W via balanced ICs, using the 851C’s preamp section to control volume. I was spinning redbook CDs. 

Here’s a nano-review:

I was instantly dumbstruck by the two dramatic improvements over my prior equipment (Musical Fidelity M1 DAC -> CODA Technologies 05r Control Buffer preamp--also running fully balanced).  The very first impression was the immediate improvement in depth and weight in the LF.  The second was greater coherence & resolving power across the entire spectrum.  Mind you, the Musical Fidelity / CODA combo was no slouch.  In fact, I half expected to return the 851C after experiencing no improvement at all.  Overall, I would say the system was similar (don’t know if it is better or worse due to too many years in the interim) from the Theta Digital transport (forget which one) -> Theta DSP Pro Gen Va with 24/192 upsampling upgrade DAC -> CODA Technology 05r Control Buffer preamp -> CODA Technology Model 11 amp.  I ran this setup with several speaker systems at different times, but settled on North Creak Music Systems Rhythm Revelators (very similar but superior to the Proac Response 3.5/3.6—I suspect much to the chagrin of that speaker’s designer, George E. Short III—but I digress).  I suspect the biggest improvement comes from the DAC in the 851C, but there’s no way to know for sure.  The most significant take away for me is that you could buy the 851C + 840W for about the same price as any individual piece in of my prior setup.  For now, I’m simply astounded with what I’m hearing.

I don’t have any cans yet, though some are on the way.  So, sorry that I can’t at present evaluate the 851C with equipment you’re more likely to be familiar with.

I’ll write more extensively in the near future.

Edited by Sid-Fi - 8/31/12 at 8:08pm
post #32 of 37
Thread Starter 

My system is mostly computer based as well...The 851C has every input you could possibly need. You would be fine owning this unit and never playing actual CDs on it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sid-Fi View Post

Very nice impressions - thank you. This sounds awesome. There is nothing better than wondering how marginal an upgrade might be, and then getting blown away by it.
I just ordered the Yulong Sabre D18 DAC instead ($699). I wish I could have went for this at the ~$2,000 price point but that will have to be next time. I was, however, tempted to sell my Audiophilleo2/PurePower solution ($1,000) and use that to get the 851c. However, I wasn't quite ready to rely only on spinning CDs, especially already owning a lot of high resolution FLAC music.
post #33 of 37

Yeah, I just assume its USB input wouldn't be close to the Ap2/PP. From everything I have tried and read, high end spdif/usb converters are well ahead of the best DAC built-in USB sections. It wouldn't be surprising that this $1,000 solution can better the USB input section of nice DACs. Haven't tried comparing with a source as high quality as the 851c though so who knows for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post

My system is mostly computer based as well...The 851C has every input you could possibly need. You would be fine owning this unit and never playing actual CDs on it.

 

post #34 of 37

I can't speak directly to USB based sound quality (but may be able to in the near future).  I'm still investigating computer based audio, and am eager to try it. I need to know more about the various hardware options and accompanying pros/cons.  That said, I understand that Cambridge Audio has implemented highly sophisticated USB options here.

 

Whatever the case, if you're willing to sell the other equipment if you're satisfied with the 851C I think you're in a position to consider ordering one from your local dealer if he/she knows it's coming back if you don't prefer it to your existing setup or from Audio Advisor / Crutchfield (AA offers a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, while Crutchfield offers 60 days I believe).  So, there are safe options for giving it a shot if you want to do so.

post #35 of 37
This discussion has been extremely helpful. I really like the Cambridge house sound. I enjoyed my 840a so much I moved on to the separates. Now, I am in need of a dac. I want a cd player/transport largely for friends who come over and bring their music. But my main consideration is the 851c's ability to perform as a standalone dac.

I realize this is a subjective question, but what standalone dacs would you compare this to? What dacs does it best? I have had Arcam rDac, CA DacMagic Plus, Rega Dac, and an M2Tech Young. The Young is an exceptional performer, but I am trying to simplify my system due to space considerations. An excellent dac with a good transport in one box would be ideal.

So I greatly appreciate your thoughts on the CA as a standalone dac. FWIW, I prefer USB.

Thanks,
Chip
post #36 of 37

I know of a person who really wanted the 851C but didn't need the pre-amp functionality, and really couldn't afford the nearly $2K price. He ended up with a used Cambridge 740C for something like $600, and a good USB to SPDIF converter (I think he used a Musical Fidelity V-Link 192, but you can take your pick of good ones ranging from $200-500). So he ended up with most of the sound quality of the 851C, all the core functionality that he wanted (USB, Toslink, and Coax SPDIF capabilities) and none that he didn't (balanced outputs, volume control). And he paid roughly half what the 851C sells for.

 

Just an idea.  

post #37 of 37

Thanks to all for contributing. Very interesting observations all.  I have had the 851C in my main system for a few months now. I am a 57 year old luddite so I have not used it to its potential as I only play cd's having given up on my LP-12 (modded) Ittok / Koetsu rig a few years back when I discovered that I liked the sound more often than not from my cd player.

I run two players in my main system  Moon CD .5  (Moon 230D)  and now the 851C., it having replaced my trusty and very good sounding 650C. I am able to feed my Valhalla and my GCHA directly from my Bryston B135sst2 . The 650C has become dedicated to my Asgard, Magni, Little Dot Mk III and Little Dot II++. I have a variety of phones and like them all.

 

The 851C is truly remarkable, I honestly did not expect to hear that much difference between it and the Moon, but there it was.    Right across the board there was appreciable improvement with special reference to the bass, smoothness of the highest frequencies and spectacularly wide and deep sound stage image. I can't imagine any player for under $5000.00 improving upon it. True value for your money. So rare in today's market IMHO. I am looking forward in the future to using more of its capabilities, however for now, all I can say is that I am one Happy Camper.

 

I do hope to hear more from all and keep this thread alive. I have found it very informative.

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