Cambridge 840c vs. Bryston BCD-1 vs. Ayre CX-7e

I’m looking for a new CD player in the $1500-$3000 bracket. As my Sonic Frontiers Line 3 preamp definitely sounds best when run fully balanced, I’ve narrowed my search to a player with balanced out.

Besides the much discussed relative merits of the Cambridge Audio Azur 840c, Bryston BCD-1 and Ayre CX-7e, I’d welcome opinions on the following two specific questions.

(1) As my budget maxes out at 3K, would it be better to:

(a) get the Cambridge and splurge on 2 pairs of up-to-date balanced interconnects (possible candidates include: Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference II; PS Audio xStream Resolution Transcendent; Synergistic Research Alpha Sterling Discrete)? or

(b) get the Bryston or Ayre and stick (for the moment at least) with my (original version) balanced AudioQuest Emerald cables?

(2) are there any other balanced-out players out there in this price bracket that I’ve overlooked and should be considering? (For instance, the Cary CDP-1, though it doesn’t seem to have been as well received as my other three contenders.)

Thanks to all.
Stick with the IC's you have and invest as much as you can afford in the CDP...

The BCD or Ayre are both good choices but I would also consider stretching for the Consonance Droplet 5.0 which I believe is close to $3000.
forgot to add the Primare CD31...

It gets decent reviews as well!
Thanks Know_talent!

So, besides the three mentioned in the thread title, other balanced-out CD players in this price bracket that I'm aware are:

Cary CDP 1
Consonance Droplet CDP5.0
Primare CD31
Raysonic CD-168
Vincent CD-S5

What am I missing?

Any thoughts on these?
Can't comment on a direct comparison or what would work in other systems, but in its first 2 weeks in my system, the Ayre CX-7e has been fantastic. A night-and-day improvement over my last player (a Meridian).
At just about you price range in the used market would be a Resolution Audio Opus 21 with GNSC mods (probably have to stretch your budget by about $300-400). This is an excellent player and should be considered certainly above several of these other players and in-line with some. I would put this more in line with the better Ayre players. Since I have not personally listened to the Raysonic, I better not comment on that unit, having heard good things about it (mostly by dealers on this site).
The 840c was not really close to CX-7, much less the 'e' version
did you own both the 840c v.2 and the cx-7, what lead you to this comment?
I have the 840C here now and have had the Droplet, and Ayre in the past. I did not like the droplet much at all. but would still take it over the 840. IMO the Ayre is the best of these three. I also owned the M5 for several months, I would rank it and the 840 in the same league, but different sounding. The M5 being a little less resolving but more powerful and warmer sounding.
In your price range I would consider either a used Modwright Denon 3910 or Exemplar denon 2900, or 3910. Both these players do everything the others do best and then some. No balanced outputs on them though.
I had the ayre in my system for a long time, but the 840c has amazing specs. Not to mention is years newer, and cheaper. Id like to hear the 840c.
I eventually bought a Bryston, after auditioning cdps from Arcam, Cambridge, Naim, Primare, and Rega. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hear the Ayre.

The Arcam FMJ 37 was probably the most analytical of the bunch. It impressed on first auditioning, by really separating out very distinctly everything that was going on in a complex recording, but as one listened on, it became clear that it could be fatiguing over the long haul. Timbrally pretty neutral I would say.

The Rega Saturn struck me as middle of the road, clean, but ultimately a little "polite".

The Primare CD31 and Naim CD5x were both good, very listenable units, relatively warm and well-rounded (good timbral qualities), players that one could no doubt live with long term, but which ultimately didn't distinguish themselves, didn't stand out from the pack.

The Cambridge Audio Azur 840c was my runner up. I went back and forth a couple of times between it and the Bryston. It was neither too analytical nor too warm, very balanced, good timbrally, lots and lots of air. Instruments floating in three-dimensional space.

The BCD-1 has many excellent attributes, but what struck me most (or what struck me first), was its authority in the bass. I'm guessing that this has to do with how Bryston handles the output stages. It is in another league compared to all the other units I've mentioned. It gives the music an incredible robustness. As I listen mainly to large-scale, nineteenth-century, orchestral music, this is a particular plus for me. When the massed double-basses really dig down deep, they really dig. (Think the opening bars of Mahler's 2nd.) This in turn gives the rest of the reproduction an excellent base (no pun intended). Very fine player also in terms of neutrality, timbral rightness, soundstage, imaging, etc. I heard none of the "dryness" I've occasionally seen mentioned in reviews. Perhaps the 840c nosed it out in the "air" department, but after considerable back-and-forth auditioning, the BCD-1 was a clear winner.

I think the Cambridge and the Bryston are excellent units. I'm sure the Ayre is too. Beyond that, it's more a question of system synergy, and what qualities are particularly important to you as a listener. As usual, horses for courses.
Seams like Bryston masters bass response, itss the same as in my 9bsst amp
I would not, personally, put the Droplet ahead of the Cambridge unless you like fuzzy sound. I once reviewed the Droplet, and found it warm, fuzzy and not terribly pure sounding, as though all the instruments had a halo around it. I noticed one of my colleagues also wrote about it for Soundstage, I believe, and noted the same thing (maybe we had the same model). This was around 2005.
The Cambridge is considerably purer sounding, perhaps to the point of being less forceful (purity, something the Goldmund Mimesis 9 amp had in spades, sometimes means "it doesn't 'let go'" of the sound. The Cambridge is slightly restrained, but I haven't tested it in balanced mode, where it was said by Robert Harley to have more muscular bass. For all that, the treble on the Cambridge has a purity that is NOT boring: it is tonally lovely, without being technicolor. In fact, I hear the amp more than the CD player, and I had a Parasound JC2 for a few weeks, but couldn't get around the lightweight sound of it and the Cambridge combined, even with ASL Hurricanes, which means the two preceding components were pretty lightweight indeed!
I don't recall liking the Droplet very much at all, due to the murkiness of the sound. Too mushy for me. Perhaps the Droplet got updated after the reviews, which were back in 2005 and doesn't sound mushy now.
Sorry, I'm a bit confused. How did the Droplet get into this string? I was comparing the *Bryston* to the Cambridge....
>>How did the Droplet get into this string<<

fuzzy and murky thinking

I had Cambridge 840C in my system for a while, and I could hear this 'sheen' in the treble that bothered me. It's definitely a smooth player, but needless to say, I couldn't live with it. I've met a few people who also heard the same with their 840C...
the cambridge kills it all except for low bass..kris
Sorry for the late response Sthomas12321, I don't think there is a .v2 840c (yet), the one I was using was current.

It did not stay in my system too long as the HF were unacceptable and really unlistenable in my system. While they were extended I found them to have a piercing nature that was extremely fatiguing and the soundstage was not very coherent in comparison to either the Ayre or the musical fidelity that I had.

The CX-7e version is a setup from the CX-7, which I found to be somewhat rolled off in the HF but even so worlds better then the 840c. The CX-7e does not suffer that issue and is truly a great cdp...

Chris Kline
Tel Wire
I have the 840c in a fairly 'bright' system, using PSAudio integrated and Magnepans. The balanced on the 840 DOES help low end definition. And I went 'cheapo' on my 1st set of Balanced cables.....a quick trip down to Guitar Center for some Mogami studio / instrument cables.
As is usual, the RCA shipped with the CA is near-worthless.