azur 540c new or a different used cdp for 350?

Hi all,

I'm a pretty big newb when it comes to high-end audio, but music has played a huge part in every day of my life. I'm finally starting to build a system I'd like to really sit and enjoy, and that would last me quite some time. I'm also a grad student, so disposable income isn't something I've got a lot of. Any of you that can provide some advice would be greatly appreciated.

Right now I'm starting from the source, as my current stopgap (a sony discman -- gasp!) from when my last cd player died is starting to die as well.

I had been looking at a cambridge D500SE, but am a little shy about it due to concerns about build quality -- a fair number of people seem to have had issues with that series. Trelja pointed me in the direction of the Music Hall MMF25 as a solid contender that could probably be had for somewhere around $300.

On a recent visit to a local store, I was pointed to the new cambridge audio line of cdplayers. The Azur 640c is probably out of my price range, but the azur 540C sounded pretty good to me during a short audition and can be had for around $350.

My concerns with buying used are that I'd be buying sight unseen and would have no recourse if something were to go wrong, or if it were to be finicky when playing the few cd-r's that I have. My concern with buying new is that I could likely find a much better sounding player for about the same price if I bought used.

My concerns with spending $300+ on a cdplayer (chump change to all of you, but try and remember if you've been poor...) is that running it in my current system will negate any of the improvement I should get from a good sounding player. It's running through a Sony str-av770 receiver that I bought with lawn-mowing money about 15 years ago, which is powering a pair of Rohrer hand-made speakers (ribbon tweeters!) that I got from an audiophile at a garage sale a few years back.

So my question to all of you experts, is if there are other used cd players that I should look at in this price range, or if the CA azur 540c is worth it at $350. Or, alternatively, if you would tend to spend less on the cdp and instead sink money into a good used integrated amp or speakers.

Any advice? I'd just like to feel like I spent my money wisely and bought the beginnings of a system that I'll love listening to and will grow with me.

Thanks so much.
You are starting to build a new system, you've got to start somewhere, so a new cdp seems as good a place as any to start. You are right about your current receiver limiting your appreciation of a new cd players potential. However, if you had a new integrated amp or receiver and a substandard source, you'd still be in the same situation. You will add components as resources allow, look at this as a longer term project. I think that at this price point, the Cambridge players are a very decent product. If there is any way possible to swing $400, look at for a demo 640c. They go through the clearance/demo section regularly for about $400. The higher quality dac and other components will pay off in better listening when you can upgrade other components. AudioAdvisor also offers a 30 day, no hassle return policy, so you can try something they sell and risk ony being out shipping charges. I am using a 640c as a transport to drive an Assemblage 2.7 Platinum dac, and am very happy with the sound. I opened up the 640c to apply some vibration damping sheets, and was impressed with the build quality in general. Appreciably better than earlier generation Cambridge models. If you want to try something other than Cambridge, NAD is another high value brand to consider. A used Music Hall, as Trelja suggests, is another possibility.
I'd consider a new Technics SL-PG4, if you can find one, for around $120. Made in W. Germany and uses a very good DAC. SaturdayAudio Exchange ( has the NAD C-541i for $299. You could also buy an inexpensive Toshiba DVD/CD player for around $60. Another possibility is to buy a used CDP. NEC CB-500/650, 4-DAC Technics CDP's are great players which can be bought for peanuts on E-bay. You really do not need to spend a fortune to get a great sounding CDP. Be sure to use really good interconnects. Excellent for the $...Tara Labs Prism 33i, Wireworld Oasis 3, AudioQuest Quartz to name a few. Good Luck!
Look into a "new" Nad521BEE $300.00 retailnew w/warranty.
Bjorn Erik Edvardsen, NAD's principal designer.Leaves you some money for cabling.This is solid budget champ.
You could search the net for discounted one,good luck.
Krennert, I am glad to see you are pursuing this, and the Cambridge C540/C640 players are a good place to start.

My friend, who is somewhat of a dealer as part of his other audio business called me one day solely to absolutely rave about the Cambridge C640. I described it here on Audiogon

To make a long story short, it is a fine player, and the C640 REALLY represents tremendous value at the $529 price point. However, the MMF25 is simply a clearly superior CD player.

Good luck in your acquisition!
I second the NAD C520BEE CD player. I've seen them used on A'gon for $175 and they are really excellant CDPs for that kind of money.

Paul Green