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Cambridge Audio Azur 840C CD player - round 2

S

s2000db

Guest
Following on from the Earl of Sodbury's excellent review of a few weeks back;

http://www.hifiwigwam.com/forum7/11072.html

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

Terrific VFM

And could improve on;

Dynamic range/punch

Adjustable upsampling processing on analogue outputs

Conclusion

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
wink.png


 
E

earl of sodbury

Guest
Nicewrite-up Dana - definitely adds a bit of balance to my gushings!
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif


Interesting how much your system showed-up the differences between this and other CDPs - even the Stello was more obviously different than in my setup.

churz, eofs

 
S

s2000db

Guest
earl of sodbury wrote:

Interesting how much your system showed-up the differences between this and other CDPs - even the Stello was more obviously different than in my setup.
I'm sure that the bare wall had something to do with it -
biggrin.png


Looks like the 740 series is a goer, they've announced it on avreview.com and seems to be a cut down version of the 840 with the same innards but perhaps less functionality/connectivity, CA's site hasn't yet been updated though, but at £500 could be a real winner.

Thanks for your input Paul

Cheers Dana

 

Tons of Fun

Wammer
Wammer
Apr 26, 2006
3,524
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93
Concrete cow funland
AKA
Ed
s2000db wrote:

Looks like the 740 series is a goer, they've announced it on avreview.com and seems to be a cut down version of the 840 with the same innards but perhaps less functionality/connectivity, CA's site hasn't yet been updated though, but at £500 could be a real winner.
The 740's don't have the XLR's that the 8's do but are otherwise the same in terms of inputs and outputs. I had a 740C running alongside the 840C in my own system over Christmas and there is little to choose between the two unbalanced. The 740A isn't an
laugh.png
unit like the 840A- it is in fact the absolute logical extension of the 640A with the 840A control interface.

ObviouslyI'll have a set to be sent out into the tent in due course
smile.png


 
S

sq225917

Guest
New to the boards so i thought i'd start by adding a few words about the 840c.

i've had mine for a couple of months now and have found it to be an excellent cd player, balanced, well mannered and utterly musical.

but i do have a few comments that may be of benefit to potential buyers.

they take ages to break in fully, mine needed over fifty hours on repeat from new until it finally settled down,maybe building up the capacitors or just general bedding in, i'm unsure exactly what but it sounded rough for the first few days.

though the casework is visually impressive and i don't doubt that the cd mech energy sink works, application of a stethoscope also told me it was ringing like you wouldn't believe. infact the whole underside of the case was found wanting in the vabration department.

but here's the good news, application of a an entire pack of dynamat to the underside of the lid, beneath the transformer on the inside of the case, all of the bottom panel inside the player, along the internal sidewalls and most importantly on the webbing of the alloy energy sink nipped this in the bud. completely.

it's now the most quiet cd player i've owned, over and above the Marantz cd 17KI it replaced, and it has had a huge impact on the only area of the player that i could point at and ask for any better peformance,the bottom octaves.

kick drum has taken on a whole new snap that simply wasn't there before, it goes lower, tighter and with more authority than before. double bass has taken on a more natural woody tone than before and i'm amazed at the differnece in an already exceptional cd player that the overuse of 'sticky brown crap' has delivered.

if you have one, do yourself a favour, take the lid off, damp it,and the rest of the casework, it's not a subtle difference, and make sure that you apply it to the verticle web sections of the energy sink, this is where i found it had most effect. you'll need to remove the transport to access this area, but you'll thank me for it. (unless you break something of course).

simon

 
E

earl of sodbury

Guest
Nice one Simon - I've had similar experiences with other CDPs, so have no doubt this sort of treatment is very useful indeed!
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif
Glad you're enjoying the player.

 
S

s2000db

Guest
Hi Simon, and welcome to the forum...

Glad to hear that you're enjoying your cdp, and yes the modifications that you mention are well documented by others on the board as yielding improvements - I must say that I don't have the nerve to open up newpiecesof kit and throw in assorted bits of clobber to improve it, though might be tempted once the gtee has expired.

It would be interesting to find out if Cambridge themselves have tested these types of modifications and whether they've discovered any improvement. Calling Tons of Fun (Ed) can you shed any light on this please?

Look forward to hearing more from you Simon, also please fill in the rest of your profile so we can see what you're partnering it with..

Cheers Dana

 
S

sq225917

Guest
Back again...

So, having ahd the unit a good few months now the screwdrivers and soldering irons have been unleashed on it.

swapped the block rca's for nextgen silvers and silver 5n hookup wire- no difference at all.;-(

After extended listening against other players well outside of its range, i began to notice where it's weaknesses were, as much as you could expect from a player costing 1/2 the price of anything i compared it with.

There's a definate hint of glare or digital hash right at the top end and it could be a little more 'involving' musically, small points for sure, but now i'm aware of what it could be like....

So it is out at the fixers.. for a tentlabs clock board and power supply, tentlabs shunt regs and some upgraded op amps and general tweakery.

once it comes back i'll let you all know how it went.

 

Tons of Fun

Wammer
Wammer
Apr 26, 2006
3,524
72
93
Concrete cow funland
AKA
Ed
sq225917 wrote:

Back again...So, having ahd the unit a good few months now the screwdrivers and soldering irons have been unleashed on it.

swapped the block rca's for nextgen silvers and silver 5n hookup wire- no difference at all.;-(

After extended listening against other players well outside of its range, i began to notice where it's weaknesses were, as much as you could expect from a player costing 1/2 the price of anything i compared it with.

There's a definate hint of glare or digital hash right at the top end and it could be a little more 'involving' musically, small points for sure, but now i'm aware of what it could be like....

So it is out at the fixers.. for a tentlabs clock board and power supply, tentlabs shunt regs and some upgraded op amps and general tweakery.

once it comes back i'll let you all know how it went.
Our feeling is to skip the clock mods as the 840C reclocks on the DSP board so changing one doesn't seem worth it.

 
E

earl of sodbury

Guest
Op amps
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif


power supply
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif
:^
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif
:^
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif


selected cap and resistor upgrades
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif
:^

damping on the disc drive
thumbs_up.gif.3c8ee62eda0e86146178ab30b9facd86.gif


damping on the clocks and DAC chips:^

like Ed said - I'd leave the reclocking well alone

 
S

sq225917

Guest
well i put myself entirely in the hands of the mod-man, so i'll let you all know.

 
S

sq225917

Guest
surely you could have done better for a transport,the cd mech is nothing special.

 

HectorHughMunro

Wammer
Wammer
Oct 29, 2006
5,628
1,642
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London, , United Kin
It's not bad with the upsampling on. Unfortunately you can only catch 24/96 because of the limitations of the RCA interface.

CD mechs are rarely anything special anywhere these days. Just look at Meridian now versus their early 5 series.

I quite often use it's own DAC (with the upsampling turned right up) and it's interesting how close in quality it is to my TAG AV32R BP192 at 24/96. I do prefer the TAG DAC but only just now the Cambridge has been burnt in.

It does other useful things too. Because it has multiple outputs, I can share one CD player between several systems.

 
S

sq225917

Guest
give it a while to run in,they do benefit from a protracted burn in, and also consider damping the case significantly, particularly the webbing under the cd mech, the side panels and the lid.

the change is not subtle,

 

SSM

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 20, 2005
17,311
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HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Tons of Fun wrote:

The 740's don't have the XLR's that the 8's do but are otherwise the same in terms of inputs and outputs. I had a 740C running alongside the 840C in my own system over Christmas and there is little to choose between the two unbalanced. The 740A isn't an
laugh.png
unit like the 840A- it is in fact the absolute logical extension of the 640A with the 840A control interface.
That's a bold statement. The 740C is sonically akin to the 840C in unbalanced mode; and the 840C is claimed the equal of many machines in the £2000 bracket.
shock.gif.7732780fe7e208b945ce79ca96402fca.gif


I look forward to making the 740C's acquaintance. That it is slimmer than the 840C, and still have provision for digital inputs, is another plus point. CA seems to have every segment of the market cornered, these days.

SS

 

Tons of Fun

Wammer
Wammer
Apr 26, 2006
3,524
72
93
Concrete cow funland
AKA
Ed
SSM wrote:

Tons of Fun wrote:
The 740's don't have the XLR's that the 8's do but are otherwise the same in terms of inputs and outputs. I had a 740C running alongside the 840C in my own system over Christmas and there is little to choose between the two unbalanced. The 740A isn't an
laugh.png
unit like the 840A- it is in fact the absolute logical extension of the 640A with the 840A control interface.
That's a bold statement. The 740C is sonically akin to the 840C in unbalanced mode; and the 840C is claimed the equal of many machines in the £2000 bracket.
shock.gif.7732780fe7e208b945ce79ca96402fca.gif


I look forward to making the 740C's acquaintance. That it is slimmer than the 840C, and still have provision for digital inputs, is another plus point. CA seems to have every segment of the market cornered, these days.

SS

If I don't admit it somebody else will
smile.png
. Oh and the 740C is the same height give or take a mm or so

image00016rh5.jpg


Its just shallower;

image00017df9.jpg


pics coutesy of the 1 pixel camera on my phone.

 

harv

Wammer
Wammer
Jan 5, 2006
1,640
84
93
deepest S.London, ,
AKA
erm... guess
SSM wrote:

Tons of Fun wrote:
The 740's don't have the XLR's that the 8's do but are otherwise the same in terms of inputs and outputs. I had a 740C running alongside the 840C in my own system over Christmas and there is little to choose between the two unbalanced. The 740A isn't an
laugh.png
unit like the 840A- it is in fact the absolute logical extension of the 640A with the 840A control interface.
That's a bold statement. The 740C is sonically akin to the 840C in unbalanced mode; and the 840C is claimed the equal of many machines in the £2000 bracket.
shock.gif.7732780fe7e208b945ce79ca96402fca.gif


I look forward to making the 740C's acquaintance. That it is slimmer than the 840C, and still have provision for digital inputs, is another plus point. CA seems to have every segment of the market cornered, these days.

SS
Tons does the 740c rundifferent Dac chips to the 840c :?one of my friends is most interested but he seem to believe that there are differences under the skin other then the XLR's or is that what you mean by
laugh.png
71_71.gif.90e48c720ca56a2d2fa0532dd3380cc7.gif


 

SSM

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 20, 2005
17,311
64
0
Tipoca City
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
71_71.gif.90e48c720ca56a2d2fa0532dd3380cc7.gif
Well, shallow is always good.
biggrin.png


The amateur techie in me was expecting the 740C to share the 640C v2's slight roughness in the upper registers since they use the same Wolfson DACs, but with more detail resolution. But it's supposedly closer to the 840C sonically ("fine-resolved treble", EofS gospel). That's good news:eek:j: and perhaps a vindication of the upsampling process.

SS

 

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