Cambridge 740c or Rega Apollo with Linn and Sonus

Hi everyone,

I live in a 2 bedrooms apartment and my current setup(living room) is a Nad C542 with Linn Majik-I int. amp. and Sonus Faber Concertinos. I am ready happy with what I have but would like to upgrade cdp to either a Cambridge Audio 740C or a Rega Apollo or any other player around the same price range. I mostly listen to jazz, classical, soft rock, voices. I would like a cdp that can transmit the emotion from a voice, not too harsh or too analytic. I prefer warmth, rich notes over detail. Which player do you think is more suitable for my setup and the qualities that I am looking for?

Used Sony XA7ES might fit the bill. Quite warm and liquid but doesn't sacrifice too much detail. Used around $700-800. Features include balanced outs, the ability to drive the power amp via its variable output and a remote volume control.
You might consider a used Rega Jupiter 2000 for about $750. Rich, detailed, liquid and warn with PRaT galore. Very involving.
The Cambridge 740C is a great piece with its dual DAC's 24bit/384 clock speed. Once it settles in, very musical without loss of detail. Also on the "Stereophile Recommended" list.
Thank you all for your inputs, I will audition each of them before deciding :)
I've had the Apollo for a while. It's very nice, very dynamic, but not the most 3D player I've had -- or tested. That would be the Arcam fmj 23, which is still a terrific player. However, having read Harley's review in TAS, maybe the Cambridge IS a better player!
Others to consider around or under $1000:

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player

MUSIC HALL CD25.2 24/96 CD PLAYER (<<$1000)

used Shanling CD-T100

used Naim 5 or 5i
I'm buying a Cambridge in 2 weeks, when it arrives. I'll enjoy hearing it cold out of the box, as I did with my Hurricane amps, which took all of 30 seconds to reduce me to awe. It would be lovely to repeat the experience again. Given the consistent praise given to the top 3 (maybe only two octaves), it would be surprising that it should not be a dazzler, since the top octaves define clarity and a lack of confusion elsewhere (unless they're too hot). About the only thing I'm expecting is that the Cambridge is, perhaps, a "lightweight" - sounding player. There have been mentions of that in reviews, although it has been counterbalanced by mention of a very good upper bass/lower midrange, which is where a sense of "body" imbues images with solidity.
In any case, I'll have an Apollo AND a Cambridge simultaneously, and that, in itself, should be fascinating. It would be wonderful to have a player that could even match a $3000 player (which, if you all recall, was what the Lector originally cost before the importer, after seeing TAS' rave review, hiked up the price [eventually] to over 4k.
It seems that now, more than ever, High End means "High Priced." I've never seen so many 30k speakers, and so many daft reviewers saying "this is a bargain, considering the cost." They're screwed in the brain cells to even say such a thing when only 10 years ago, the majority of speakers were in the $15-25K range if they were "awesome," and only 10K if they were merely "fabulous" (WATTS excluded). quickly time goes by....two weeks? Try 2 days. Bought an 840C from this site and am warming it up as we speak. Sent the Apollo back to have it checked out in anticipation of selling it if I prefer the Cambridge.
The Cambridge was not even out of the box, so it's cold, cold, cold.... For all that, one can still hear the transient response and hard consonants, such as hearing the "k" in "kick" expulsed as "kick-kuh" instead of just "kick" with the last "k" being softened. The brass has an actual leading edge now (and when doing listening using Mercury CDs, which were tipped up in the treble due to the peaky microphones) and wondering it if would sound far, the answer is: not. But hey, this is after only 1 hour. It's distinctly more articulate than the Rega, that much is apparent. I'll fill us all in more after 24 hours....
I doubt either player is much of an upgrade over the NAD. A slight difference maybe. I tried all these players, I learnt my lesson the hard way.
Rotarius, you've heard all three players? I've heard the NAD, but not in my own system, and I find it hard to make assessments using unfamiliar systems. One never knows if they have the polarity right, or grounding correct,or the power cords touching the interconnects/speaker cable, all of which can kill one's ability to determine the traits of ANY component. Plus, room acoustics mask detail that would otherwise be apparent.
What was your experience when you heard the Apollo and Cambridge players?
Gbmcleod, yes but not all at once. Apollo was lean sounding to me. Like so many other players at this price point, these are nice players but none really stand out of the bunch. I then settled for a quad cdp-2 which I liked after trying the Marantz 8001. I thought it was the best of the bunch. Recently, I wanted to get a nice dvd/sacd player so I bought the Sony 999es. Much to my dismay, the 999es was more enjoyable than the Quad. The Quad is a bit more open in the midrange and projects vocals nicely. The 999es however is more dynamic, has better bass and is equally smooth. I am now trying some DAC options with the sony. Again, replacing the NAD in this case is a sideways move.
Rotarius, I'd agree with your conclusion about the Apollo, although I'd call it less 3-dimensional rather than lean. In my system, it has other appealing aspects,such as a cleanness and low noise floor. And it does play music, not merely sound.
I'm not at all sure I'm in agreement about the Cambridge player, though. (Incidentally, I see the poster mentioned the 740, and I have the 840C, so...). It differs from the NAD to my ear, in that the NAD has a very immediate presence, but not quite the same degree of inner detail. For example, while it has great microdynamics, it doesn't quite sound as though it's being played by a person. What I mean is, it doesn't reveal the "human" touch in the way that, say, an Arcam FMJ 23, which, whatever its faults, sounded as though instruments were being played by a human being. For me, that is more important than "good bass" (not that you said this), or good highs. I want to hear music made by human beings, and many components give one great sound, but without it sounding as though there's a person attached to the instrument. It is almost as though a spell was cast on the instruments, causing them to simply "play." The Cambridge, which, at 2 days, is slooooooooooooow to unfurl its abilities, sounds as though a person is touching keys, blowing, stroking, striking, and, in general, making music. Hard to quantify, but I heard live music several days a week (piano and flute) for years, and I observe a big difference between "sound-making" and "music-making." Of course, it's too early to tell, but the Cambridge has those aspects, if one listens to live music often. I'll just need to see if it increases in that ability. Time'll tell!!!
Day 6.... The Cambridge finally, FINALLY showed some's akin to glacier movement... the presentation is relaxed and the tonality of instruments makes it easy to sseparate oboe,clarinet, flute,piccolo and bass clarinet from each other in a composition. Sounds rather unlike either a NAD or an Apollo to me, but furthur break-in (at least 48 hours more) will be allowed.
What I found interesting is instruments previously buriend or not at all apparent with an Apollo or NAD, such as in Lt. Kije, movement 1 around 2:52 - 2:56. There is an instrument doubling the strings. It's a piccolo, which I hadn't heard before -- even with vinyl. And it's presented with some air around the piccolo, not just a "sound in the back." Around 3:05 or therein, a player sneezes. I had heard this many years ago with my WATTS and vinyl, but have never heard it with CD (Not that I'd ever bothered to buy a $10,000 rig, but I had reviewed a CD player or two and never even noticed its there). Also,this is heard with the Arcam FMJ A-22, never, in my mind, a champion of low-level detail.
The most impressive thing is the timbre: this is NOT the timbre of a standard CD player. The Apollo does not have this fidelity to timbre, although it IS musical. When you can pick out instruments by how their sound is made, that's a different ballgame. Most players just make the sound and one happens to know what it is from memory (i.e., played it a thousand times before).
Lets see what else time reveals.
I don't know if this is instructive because there are probably few parts in common, but my Cambridge Azur 640C v2 was still presenting new musical perspectives after many months of playing. Sometimes I would put in a disk and go "Wow! It didn't sound like that before". More detail, smoother leading edges and more nuanced decay. Your mileage may vary... Curious that some components seem to take longer to "bloom" than others. know plenty!

It's approaching the end of the first week, around hour 150...this player is astounding!

The player's ability to breathe music makes you laugh...just for fun, I played with the spikes on the stand under the (Usher) speakers. Of course, this says something for the whole system, Arcam FMJ A-22, Transparent MM cables, Nordost Valkryja, Shunyata Phython Helix VX and King Cobra V2 power cords, Usher 718s on 24-inch stands (very solid, but forget the manufacturer), a Finite Elemente Spider rack, Shunyata Dark Field Elevators (too new to analyze) and a highly acoustically tweaked room (ASC Walldamp, tube traps (16", 16" quarter rounds, 11 inch and 9 inch as well as sound panels,with a half round on the ceiling), the flutes would bloom into space with as little as 1/4 turn of the spikes, and lower instruments (contrabassons, bass clarinets, etc.) display a halo of air around them. And musically...just mesmerizing. One HEARS the composer's vision, not the imaging, the bass, the soundstaging, the "highs. You forget about those, although you can hear that if you choose to. I wonder what they'll sound like with the Hurricanes and ASL preamp or Modulus.

I hear what Mr. Harley means when he calls it "organic." If I read him correctly, it is less nubby cotton fibers: more a tapestry of finely-woven threads. Just beautiful.

And the Apollo? A terrific player, but not truly in the same category, nor is the NAD. The NAD sounds like very good digital, the Rega is more oganic, but the Cambridge makes your head swivel, even while reading a book ( a conscious way of "hearing" without listening, the same as closing your eyes in a concert hall. One still hears everything, but, generally, amazement is not a trait when hearing live music, unless the musicians are having a fantastic night. One does not expect "better" than live, although a great hall, like Carnegie, while sitting in the balcony, CAN bring tears to your eyes).

The Cambridge 840C, even at this stage of break-in, is a rare component that beathes the (genuine) sound of music. Listening for other than that misses the point. For all that, the bass is great, dynamics very good (as Harley said, not astounding, but, as somewhat who loves microdyanmics AND fortissimo passages, I'm still in love). Imaging is good, not yet killer, although on Dionne Warwick's cut of "The Windows of The World," when she sings "when men cannot be friends/their trouble often ends/but some have to die..." the word "cannot" comes out with a full aspiration as "CAN-notttt" instead of 'cahnnot," the hard "c" of "cannot sounding like a K as in "KICKKKKK." The consonants do not get lost or softened as they do with so many sound-reproducing devices. With many players it almost sounds as though they (the singers) are "swallowing" the hard consonant down in the throats the way it would sound if one was trying to talk with one's mouth full.

At this price, it's the same as being the millionth customer walking thru the doors of an establishment and finding out you're the winner of the grand prize...

Where the Cambridge clearly betters the Apollo is in the areas of resolution and neutrality. As noted above the 840C takes that up a further notch still. HiFi News recently commented that the Analog Devices high end AD 1955 DAC's employed in the 840C are also used in the frighteningly expensive Esoteric X-01D2 product. Blimey, little wonder then that both technically and audibly the Apollo doesn't stand a chance.
I thought it was interesting that Hi Fi Choice, in its original review, talked about how fantastic the unit was, but in its "Ultimate Group" survery, the bass was picked out as 'lacking speed and control.' The reviewer, in the original review, said the bass was 'truly excellent, deep, powerful, tuneful, rhythmic and controlled." Huh? Talk about an about-face. Oh well, I haven't found that to be the case. Must be me...
Yes at least Hi Fi News is consistant. It just gave the 840C the gong for trumping products from Cairn, Roksan, Naim and Creek.
Kiwi - What exactly does Hi Fi News say about the Cambridge 840C compared to the Creek and Naim, and what were these last two company's products?
I am looking to upgrade from the Apollo, and was maybe considering the 840C, Creek Destiny and Naim CD5i. This turns out to be an even more interesting thread as each day goes by!

I haven't heard that particular Creek. You should listen to the Naim 5i since their players have a unique presentation that I find quite infectious. On the other hand the Cambridge 840 certainly will provide more detail and may sound more "natural" and "neutral" than the Naim, which to my ears sounds downright perky and bouncy in comparison. I think both these players are really good values and offer you two very distinct choices in terms of the sound they produce. I think the Naim really shines when partnered with one of their amps. The Cambridge can sound good with a variety of amplifiers because of its overall accuracy and neutrality.
05-13-08: Pat70
Kiwi - What exactly does Hi Fi News say about the Cambridge 840C compared to the Creek and Naim, and what were these last two company's products?
I am looking to upgrade from the Apollo, and was maybe considering the 840C, Creek Destiny and Naim CD5i. This turns out to be an even more interesting thread as each day goes by!


The review group test included the new Cairn Tornado, The CA 840C, The Creek Classic, the New Naim 5i (italic) and the Roksan Candy III.

In summary the magazine said

"In resolution, detail and neutrality the Cambridge Audio 840C wipes the floor with the rest of the bunch. The way it extracts information from the disc and presents it without bias or congestion is up there with players costing two or three times its ticket price..."

Not surprisingly and despite being one of the lower priced CD players in this test - the honours went to CA.

With a source it really makes sense to opt for high resolution and neutrality. The sound can be tuned later in the audio chain if you want something more warm - but you can never get back information that was lost at the source due to poor resolution. The second best player on test was the Naim. Not a bad player by any means but doesn't have a prayer of matching CA's high resolving abilities or its neutrality. The Creek and Roksan according to the mag "sound a little past their sell-by dates". Ouch.
Know and Kiwi - Thanks for the input. It is a first step in knowing what equipement to listen to, and what to listen for.
BTW, the full text of the hifi news shoot out review is on the cambridge website.
Gbmcleod - have you had a chance to use the 840's digital audio inputs? I am looking for a new cd player and this one had digital input, meaning that I could send my sonos zp80 signal to it and be able to sell my benchmark Dac1 to help fund the purchase...
Thx in advance!
The Cambridge is flavor of season. They are already starting to turn up fairly often in used. Rega has been a class leader at its price point for 5 or 10 years.

The benchmark dac is the same way. Take a look at how many you see used. Look at a hot review in Stereophile or the TAS on a piece of equipment and you'll see a lot of discussion on it and then it'll fade away and start showing up in the used section - see also Zu Adiagio - I could go on and on - Creek 5350 - Gallos - NAD - not to say these aren't good components but don't get carried away.
Very true. Those outstanding reviews tend to mean that some units get sold new that maybe should not have been bought. And then in turn cheap folks like me can scoop them up used 6 months later.
So whats new Wireless200? Every product has a life cycle - right? The Cambridge stuff has been "flavor of the season" for the past six seasons. Not bad for a entry level product - but clearly won't last forever.
Sorry, Jimmy, to be so late in responding. Haven't been in here the last 2 weeks.
Sorry , I have not tried the digital inputs. I would imagine they would be quite formidable, but I haven't had time to try that yet.
A furthur thought: people sell things not because the item itself isn't superior to what they have, but sometimes because it doesn't SOUND like what they want it to sound like. People talk about "more bass" as though it means something, when it simply means they may have no idea what a real bass instrument, like a tuba, sounds like and may therefore want something exaggerated. That's why listening to the human voice is a better way of determining sound than other types of recordings, and opera is probably best, since one can always listen to a bass singer on several amps and tell which one give the best tonality, transparency, dynamics, both - macro and - micro and focus and bloom. And they are also not overdubbed. So, hard to tell about things by what shows up on the site.
Hi all,
I'm also intrested in changing my actual cd player (nad c-542), and one of the candidates is the 840c!!

But I'm worried that it's not the best player for the music I listen the most (Sigur Ros, Portishead, Ulver, Isis, Neurosis, Rush, King Crimson, Diamanda Galas, John Zorn ecc ecc) As you can read, It's music full of electronica and electric guitar and so on... Do you think there are better solution for this kind of music?!?!

Take in mind that I've truly a very powerful and warm amplifier, so maybe it can add the groove that the cd-player miss... What do you think?

P.S. Sorry for my bad english!
I recently purchased the 740c and now have over 200 hours on it. Once you dial it into your system with interconnects and a power cord it is an excellent player with detail and clarity. The largest difference I hear in this player that sets it apart from other players is that it unravels the musical lines, other players tend to lump everything together forming a unintelligible distorted mangled mess. I love this player but wish it had a touch more dynamic slam, bass drum kicks are ever so slightly soft which leads me to wonder what the 840c sounds like in comparison. I must add that I had the Apollo several months ago and sold it, even though it uses the same Dac as the 740c it sounds like a very different machine.

The original poster has probably already made his decision by now, but for what it's worth, I have heard both the NAD and the Rega, and for my ears, there is absolutely no comparison - the Rega is the better player in every respect. I have not heard the Cambridge, so can't compare that one. I bought an Apollo after hearing it, and I have since heard other brands that cost about 5 times as much and don't come close to matching its quality.
I agree with Phill that the Cambridge's strongest dynamics are not in the bass. While it HAS bass kick, it doesn't bulge out at you - or perhaps I should say it doesn't launch a wavefront of great power at you. The 840, and from what I read recently, the 840 amp and preamp are all of the same breeding. The sound doesn't quite let loose in the way the Rega Apollo does, but I will say the Cambridge is quite a bit cleaner than the Rega, although perhaps less exciting.
It is nice to hear the musical lines separated from each other, isn't it Phill?
Used Linn Genki for about $750. With Linn black interconnects and LK20 or LK400(biwire) speaker wire.

Awesome synergy!
My 840c has maybe.....20 hours of play and while still a little 'new' is terrific. Great resolution and dynamics.
I am using the balanced into a PSAudio GCC and driving some Magnepans...
So far, everybody seems to be playing nicely together.

Also, Just as a general comment, don't worry about chipset or DAC or whatever. It is IMPLEMENTATION that counts.
2 players with same or similar chipsets/dacs can sound a world apart. player #1 uses Hi-Quality components thruout, a no-compromise PS and is fully balanced thruout. Player #2, using the same chipset/dacs has cheesy caps an indifferent PS and uses unbalanced outputs.
You've seen how this turns out.
Fwiw, I had an 840c for a month and it was competing w/ cheap dvd as transport into benchmark dac1 and ayre cx7e.
For me, a good analogy might be to cars. The 840 seemed like a luxury sedan.smooth, lots of nice features, well appointed.
The ayre remindes me of a sports car. The controlls you need are there. I feel more of the road with the ayre. I think that it might be more awareness of the leading edge of sounds (is that what people mean by attack?).
Linn synergy carries a lot of weight. Because you own a Linn Majik integrated amp I would still look for a Linn cdp with their black or silver interconnect. You will be happier in the long run.

A used Linn Genki can be gotten for $750 and a used Linn Mimik can be goten fot under $400.

Also use Linn's own Bi-wire K400 speaker cable. The balance is awesome. Then add their tuner down the road.