Cambridge 840C, YES it is as good as the reviews

Yes, I just received this player and can honestly say this is the first time the review was spot on. This is easily the best bargain in digital audio bar none. This player is in my mind and my musical tastes as good as it gets for under $5k or maybe more with the exception of the Resolution Audio Opus 21. It is that good.

I agree 100% with the review in absolute sound....the highs are to die for, the imaging and spatial presentation is that of a mega dollar player. The only drawbacks I can find is a slight lack in definition of low bass....but I only have 15 hours on the unit!! I fully expect that to clean up over time. This thing is the real deal.........
Glad you are happy! Besides the Resolution Audio Opus 21, what other players have you owned or demo'd? Thanks.
Audio Aero Capitole MKii se, Raysonic CD128 and CD168, Marantz SA14 TRL, RA Opus 21, RA CD55, Esound, Fully modded Music Hall, Denon 2930, multiple transports and DACs from Meridian to CEC to DACs all over the place. I am sure I forgot a dozen or so others.
Congrats! Like you I was amazed & extremely pleased with the sound quality at this price point.
Arbuckle, you mentioned in another thread that you got a great deal on one. New? Where?

I also think it's a pretty amazing bang-for-the-buck CDP. I know someone looking for one and noticed recently that the MLP went up to $1599.
I got it here, bought it new for $1250 but don't think those deals will be around much.
It would nice to see what your system is. I was at Tweeter yesterday looking at the demo model and thought it looked like it was well built. I wish I had time to listen to it.


"you mentioned in another thread that you got a great deal on one. New? Where?"

Have them check out ...SpearitSound... 877-853-7425
$1395 w/ free shipping for a new one & sometimes they have demo's.

I bought mine from them, pleasant & easy transaction.
I ab'd this CD Player against the Krell SACD Standard at Spearit Sound and it wasn't even close. Compared to the Krell it sounded like what it is "a good mid-fi CD Player". I also ab'd it against the Esoteric SA-10, again no contest, though closer than the Krell. Go to Spearit Sound and audition it for yourself. They carry CA, Krell & Esoteric and are more than happy to ab CD Players. This Machine is good for the money, but it is way over-rated. The Esoteric (SA-10 & SA-60) & Krell Players retail for less than $5K and are simply on another level.
Sunset ranch,

I am assuming your demos were with redbook for all the players? Also, did you prefer the Krell over the SA-10?

Thanks, I am always interested in opinions.
Ludimagis - I got mine from SpearitSound as well. Great price and they were extremely helpful.

Sunset_ranch - I think the 840c is an amazing player for $1395, and can take on most anything twice that price. But, Harley's review in TAS stating that it's the best CDP he's heard under $5k was a bit over the top and cost him and the 840c a bit of credibility IMHO.

Be that as it may, I do think it's a contender in the under $3k range and if your budget is under $2k it's a must try.

Yes, I agree with your comments regarding the CA 840c and the TAS review. I have recently heard quite a few sub-$5K CD Players, that in my opinion, come very close to the performance of near cost-no-object CD Players, that rightly deserve the node/endorsment that TAS gave to the 840c. But yes, for a fully-balanced CD Player under $2K the 840c may be it, and possibly up to $2.9K, then the Ayre CX-7e (and Sony SCD-XA9000ES) takes over from there.
I auditioned the Cam. Audio 840C at Tweeter on a Krell/Martin Logan system. There wasn't another decent CD Player in the room to compare it against, so I asked the Salesman to hook-up the Krell Showcase DVD Player that was in the room playing a Movie. The Salesman predicted that the Krell Player would be the better of the two, and it was, by a significant margin, plus it also plays DVDs. Both Players were connected via the same make and model Balanced ICs and plugged into the same power-strip.
I believe the Krell Player retails $4,000-
Has anyone been able to compare the 840C to the Arcam
FMJ 33 or 36? I was wondering how Arcam stacks up against
equally priced CD Players.

Hi Sunset,
Based on your last post, are you saying the Ayre CX7e is a better player than the Cambridge 840c?
Yes, from my listening experience, the Ayre CX-7e is a step-above the CA 840c. Based on opinions expressed on this website (and others), this appears to be a widely accepted point of view.

The Sony SCD-XA9000ES at $3K is another excellent choice (if you don't need balanced connections) and again is a step-above the CA 840c. Nearly all Tweeter Stores carry both, so, like I did, you can easily AB them. The Sony also offers "excellent" playback of SACDs.
after living with the player for almost 6 months - it is an amazing player - i have always said - that with this player that extensive break-in is necessary to experience it's full capabilities.

I would have never realized it's potential just from a demo at tweeter, etc. regardless of how long they have had that player.

The "its the best player i've heard under $5000" that roberty harley said will probably live in infamy forever and probably sets a high bar of stratospheric expectations. Harley also if you remember about 10 years ago - gave an unbelievable review of a product called the "digital lens" which sat between your amp and cd player/dac which was suppose to be the answer to make digital an amazing experience. To me it was one of the the most over-rated products ever - yet during the review i had multiple orgasms (I wish I could find that review now- It was even more enticing then the cambridge review) and had to have one that evening and even travelled 60 miles the next day to get one - i wonder where the are now?

Taken on its own terms it's a very musical player. No doubt that there are other players - equal or better - but that misses the whole point of the cambridge - it nails the flow of music in a real special way.

I owned an 840c for about 5 weeks had the opportunity to put about 300 hours on it. It did improve with break in but in the end did not make my short list. I think that it is a great value for $1400 but not as engaging as the Ayre Cx-7e, the Opis 21 or even the Rega Saturn-all of which I felt were more musical. I will admit I am biased in my listening preferences but for the money, I really wanted the Cambridge to be at least equal or close. It would have saved me some $$$ compared to any of the other players.

Don't get me wrong the 840c is a fine player but certainly not the best under $5K. If you read TAS this month you will find Robert Harley makes the "best under $5000" claim conditional saying that it is the best under $5K player that he has heard.
I also saw Harley's response... here's the thing - this guy is Mr. Audio Biz... when he makes a statement like that, I either want to listen to one immediately (which I have) or question his credibility (which many have done) because that was quite an exagerated claim.

Truth is, I think the 840c is an excellent CDP for $1500 and a serious contender at twice that. IMO, if your budget is tight, and/or you want digital inputs, and/or you want an upsampling transport, the 840c ought to be on your short list to check out.

I extensively compared the 840c to the Marantz SA8001, and prefered the 8001.
The 840c did give more of a sense of body to instruments, but, the 8001 has a better sense of space and depth, and I can hear deeper into the recording.
The 840c, to my ears, is a great sounding cd player, but it has slightly vague imaging, and has a flatter soundstage than the 8001. It also sounds slightly more "mechanical" than the 8001.
The 840c is slighter smoother and less forward than the 8001, but I still prefer the 8001.
Hi Audio_girl,
I agree 100% with your conclusions on the 840c.
I own the Marantz SA8001 and I am very happy with it.
I also prefered the 8001 to the Onkyo DX7555,Marantz CD-5001, the Rega Apollo, and the Rega Saturn, plus it also plays SACD's.
Not bad for a less than $1,000.00 player!
The 8001 is a bargain, IMHO.
I think the player is that good. To say well you can get a player for $5000 that sounds better is like saying duh. Maybe saying best under $5k was overrated, but honestly this player is very impressive. Just pop the top and look at the parts....custom transport and all. Very impressive and sounds incredible. I stand by that and would like to A/B against the Krell and Ayre etc....

By the way, I went to hear the Krell and could not A/B it back to back to the Cambridge but it did sound good but it was a bucket of bolts. The dealer said he would not sell it to me if I had wanted it saying the transport was a ticking time bomb and I would be left with a 40lb door stop....but no, I did not want to buy it....was not worth it over the 840c! I also went into a local Tweeter to hear the Krell and when I showed up the unit froze....i.e., was dead, end of story, end of its life.

Don't believe the bashers of this player, it is a steal for the price.
The point here is that moderately priced digital sounds pretty darned good these days, whcih can but be a good thing for music lovers over-all.

I haven't yet heard the Cambridge but I did audition the Opus 21 in my system - I wouldn't want the Opus even at $1000. Just not to my liking. But Opus 21 owners love it, and they're happy and it sure sounds better than most top of the line kilobuck digital from 15 years ago.

So to each his own, audition anything in your system, and rejouce that none of us *has* to spend 7k to get good sound...although I would dearly love to own a Reimyo some day ;-)
I'm neither an Opus 21 lover or hater since I've never had one, but I'm curious what you didn't like about it?
Mr Bill, I owned an Opus 21 and found TOO detailed, if there is such a thing. The company lives up to its name RESOLUTION Audio. I found it tiresome after several months, plus the odd placement of control bottons UNDER the CD tray, and the 2 box set up seamed to be more gimickey to me than anything.
I currently have a Bel Canto CD1 and an Accuphase DP57 that I find are easier on the ears.

Associated equ:
Spendor S9
Gamut Pre
Musical Fidelity a308cr

of course your results may vary :)
Just to make a clarification due to criticism from some folks at Headfi:
The Cambridge 840C is an OUTSTANDING sounding CD player, and used to be my reference player, until some family tragedies forced me into selling off most all of my system.
I, at that time, preferred it to both the Rega units and the Marantz units, and sold all of them, except for the 840C.
I still regularly recommend the 840C to friends, along with the 8001 and the Rega Saturn.
After the tragedies, I then had to sell off the 840c, and most of my headphone and home systems.
Just recently I fianally purchased a used, fully broken-in, Marantz SA8001, at a bargain price, a used Sennheiser HD650 Equinox headphone cable, and did a trade on some Harmonic Technology Pro-Silway Mk.3 + interconnects.
Well now, my headphone system has NEVER sounded better!
I have never enjoyed my CD's as much as I am now.
I borrowed a friends 840C, and I think that the 8001 simply does more things right, and less things wrong than the 840C.
Right now, the 8001 is my budget reference cd player.
Maybe its a synergy between the Harmonic Tech interconnects and the 8001, or the fact that this 8001 has alot more break-in time than my first one, who knows?
Hope I have cleared any confusions that there may have been.
12-19-07: Tgyeti
Mr Bill, I owned an Opus 21 and found TOO detailed, if there is such a thing. The company lives up to its name RESOLUTION Audio. I found it tiresome after several months, plus the odd placement of control bottons UNDER the CD tray, and the 2 box set up seamed to be more gimickey to me than anything.

I also found the Opus 21 tiresome and used an 840C instead. The buttons are indeed fiddly and i wonder to about the merit of multiple boxes.
Has anyone compared this unit to similar priced Quad CD-P2?
I've read a review in Hi-fi world which says these two are close contenders, but gives a little advantage to Quad.
Best under 5000? well Reviewers tend to engage in hyperbole, this reminds me of Sam Tellings "best integrated ever" (regardless of price)statement for the LFD zero. Of course it is total hyperbole. I suspect partly it is becuase of the excitement any of us might get from a new listening experience, and partly that audio magazines exist to generate product buzz and sales. I used to read a review and think I gotta try this (a poster above said he drove miles to buy a "digital lens"), I myself have been gulity of the unheard mail order. Not anymore. After awhile you will care less what stereophile thinks, whether they agree or disagree, whether your gear is "recommended" or whatever. Back in the 90's people walked into stores ready to buy stuff within 5 minutes because stereophile said it's good. I imagine it still happens sometimes. I never worked in audio sales but know enough people that have.
AudioAdvisor will send you one with 30 day moneyback gaurantee. I just ordered one to compair to an Arcam 192
I demoed a 840 from a dealer a while back and thought it was quite good. However for me, I still prefer my 20 yr old CAL aria. It has been modded with better output caps but thats it.
The 840 is clearly better at resolution and has a better dac chip set. However In comparison with my cal; instruments and orchestras just sound more real, have more life. Low end extension was better with the cal, but high end better with the 840. Resolution is not the most important thing for me, realism of timbre is . I mainly listen to classical music.
To be clear I found nothing offensive with the 840, and have not tried any 5k players as that above what i would spend on a cd player. I would be quite disappointed if I could not get something better for 5K.
Giant killers don't exists in high end audio. Period. Of course a $4k CDP sounds better than the very compromized (in terms of design and execution) Cambridge. This is a fact. The concept could be priceless, but the selling price is the limitation. You could stuff a Ferrari engine into A Volkswagen Beetle. It still is a VW Beetle... with a Ferrari engine.

To put a little perspective (and humour) into this, lets consider what players were -- at one point -- under 5k.
The Lector CDP 7T,X,Y,Z. The Edge player HP reviewed, along with the Bluenote Stibbert (remember that? Vanished! Poof! Somebody threw a good spell -- Disappartus!-- at it, and it no longer graces TAS' pages), Marantz SA11s, Ayrec CX-7E, Musical Fidelity A5, Meridian G08CD (EFG), and the EAR Acute (it's cute!, but it was actually, last time it was mentioned, $5495. Alas, not quite a member of the under 5K club).
SO: does the Cambridge sound superior to all these? In that case, it must: not only image well, BUT, it must Focus (remember, imaging's nothing if you can't tell which direction the piano is facing! You Must, I say MUST, have specificity, focus and 3-3-3D imaging). It must have space (and time) and width (spreading hips??) and depth (like the Appalachians). It must have tender, delicate highs, wispy, etheral and harmonically vivid as a sunset. It must have completely perfect tempee, rhythm and boogie like Chubby Checker, and be as pure as snow on Christmas Eve. It must reveal that the first violinst wears Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear and is wearing Piaget men's cologne. On top of all that, it must be as alive as the Hills-Are-Alive- With-The-Sound-of-Music-Alive.
Who could do all this and still only be...a machine? Paris...ick...Cambridge Audio, the 840C, made by GOD Himself!
Now that we've settled all that, lets be real. Some of us have heard it, some haven't.Some of us who have heard it haven't heard ALL of what it can do, and don't have Wilson Maxx speakers, and don't listen to live music, and don't care what live music sounds like, but like their systems to sound a certain way so they don't like it but the Elixir of Life CD player is faaaaaar superior -- and they just HAPPEN to own that one.
I imagine it's a fine player, except that Harley doesn't listen to rock, so he never mentioned if it can rock, doesn't listen to vocals, so he didn't say it made Ella sound like ELLA!!! (but he does like jazz) and he hasn't heard everything under 5k. His article's pull quote, though, WAS (a bit) foolish: "The best cd player under 5K for....$1499" or whatever the exact wording was. He -- and the magazine -- set themselves up for this. I also imagine it really IS wonderful, but nobody can anticipate "everyone" and what "everyone" looks for. Otherwise, somebody would be perfect, and nothing made by man is perfect. I mean, if the Magico V3, as an example, is so lifelike as to be spooky, why buy a Revel, or, lets aim the gun squarely at Dave Wilson,why buy a WATT at all? Clearly the Magico sounds like real life, and not too much else does, according to TAS. Maybe they're right.
Still..I'm still gonna listen to an 840, and hear for myself what it sounds like. Maybe we all should, just to have a sense of what's even possible at less than 30K. But listen to live music first, so you actually KNOW what a violin, a guitar, a flute, French horn, piano or contrabassoon sounds like.
P.S....Dazzdax, you're a bit wrong about giant killers not existing in High End audio.

Try listening to a pair of Antique Sound Lab Hurricanes and then say that again with a straight face. The Hurricanes are quite dazzling amplifiers, especially back when they were $4400. Their sense of "life" was -- and is -- exceedingly high. To do better would be a very, very expensive proposition, their (very slight) darkness notwithstanding. That's why, 5 years later, HP still has them on his list. Seen anything else,other than the Goldmund Reference, The Infinity IRS, Jadis JA-200, and the Alon Grand References last that long on his list?? I haven't. And for 30 years worth of reviewing, that's a pretty short list. There most certainly ARE giant killers, but, as in fairy tales, they happen only "once upon a time..."
It is hardly surprising the the 840 Azur sounds great, since the Cambridge is using the Anagram technologies processing inside, it's bound to be good. Some of the best players in the world for the last eight or nine years used Anagram - like the Audio Aero he mentioned in his previously-owned list.
Perhaps the technology is less expensive now and is trickling down to lower priced units?
I concur, Golden ears.
I can understand the cynicism about "giant killers." 20 years ago, the most expensive amp was the JA-200, a mere $10,000. Now, they're up to $100,000+ ??? It seems absurd.

And TAS, for whom I once wrote, recently wrote up the RMAF event, and in their "mid-priced" section, they mentioned $10,000 integrated amps. They've lost their (collective) minds, although I can understand that they're simply reporting facts. Nonetheless, to say ANYTHING that costs $10,000 comes in the "mid-priced" section is absurd, although I doubt that the individual writer used that headline.
So, to have a component, that, like the Antique Sound Lab Hurricanes, which cost $4,400 5 years ago, but sounded so spectacular that HP Himself (!!!) posited that he wouldn't have been surprised to see a $20,000 price tag on them, come around in digital is bound to cause controversy, regardless of its (technological) pedigree. I've seen people compare it to the Rega Saturn and say the Saturn sounds superior. It's more of a reaction to Robert Harley's review. Like an "American Idol" contestant, people want to see him eat his words. Frankly, I don't. If he found something that can compete -- and in many, many categories -- with components $3-5k higher priced, that is cause for rejoicing. It means that there is a company who has decided that they can sell hundreds more at $1,499.99 than $4999.99, which is wonderful. It is positively appalling -- and exciting -- to see a new surge in high quality components, but MUST it cost so much more than 20 years ago? This surpsasses the rate of inflation by multiple hundreds of percent. I suppose it can be put down to R&D, but really!! -- High End is reaching levels of price gouging equivalent to the distance in height between the Empire State Building and Valhalla.
So, I'm pleased about the Cambridge.
And by the way, I bought a brand new one yesterday. For something with a mere 24 hours on it (started at 3pm yesterday, and it's now 3:28 pm), it's doing pretty damned good. And this on an Arcam FMJ 22, not the best component for microdyanmics, "sweetness," musicality and soundstaging. I purposely read while I was listening to the Mercury CD The Firebird, and I have never looked up more often, hit "pause" and then rewound. In fact, I listened to the whole symphony and it was over before I knew it. This thing is GOOD, real, real, real, real GOOD!!!