Following on from the Earl of Sodbury's excellent review of a few weeks back;
I'm now in the fortunateposition of being able to add my views to the review forum, though I'll keep this somewhat concise as Earl has covered most of the ground in a highly comprehensive manner.
First impressions are very high, a sturdy aluminium case with extruded wavy side plates give it a solid and stylish feel. The function buttons could be a little larger, together with their written descriptions, but this is not essential as all the functions are duplicated on the solid metal faced remote. The LCD display is a little difficult to read, and an option of turning it negative i.e. white letters on black background, might improve its legibility.
Delvingthrough the manual, you get the impression that the digital upsampling functions are very comprehensive, and promise plenty of tweaking and tunability, but unfortunately prove to be a bit of a red-herring. The problem being that they only function on the digital outputs, and therefore you need an additional DAC of similar ability to get the desired results.
On the back there's enough inputs and outputs available to start a telephone exchange, and the machine can act as an independent DAC, but only in full upsampling mode.
On to how it sounds, I've recently listened to a lot of cdps around the £1k mark, and there's no doubt that this machine can seriously punch above its price point, first impressions are of a very smooth detailed sound, subtle details in the music flow through the speakers giving a very balanced and forgiving sound. I'd say that they've pitched the machines tonal balance just right for the majority of tastes. This is a seriously good listen and can cope with all types of music in a managed and non fatiguing manner. Bass detail is good, but can sound a little loose at times, and lacking in the control and dynamic range that more expensive machines can deliver.
Using the player as a DAC and running my Denon tuner through it, was a bit of an anticlimax for me, as the warmth and character of the sound was replaced by a smoother - but cooler soundstage, with a clinical but nonetheless detailed sound. I'm sure the 840's reproduction is more accurate, but that seems to be the overriding aspect of its' output circuitry.
So Overall what do I like;
Smooth detailed sound.
Excellent build quality
Flexible in/output connectivity
And could improve on;
Adjustable upsampling processing on analogue outputs
Cambridge audio must be very confident to hand demo machines out to unknown forum members for review, and their trust is well placed as it didn't disappoint. This CDP can hold its own with machines twice its price, and is justified on sound quality alone, add into that its connectivity and build quality, and for most that's game set and match. So what could be its greatest rival? Perhaps a 740C for £250 less ???
Many thanks to Ed Selley for entrusting the machine to me - no animals were injured or harmed, during this testing procedure ;)