Cambridge Audio 840C

I'm looking for a near-reference audio-only balanced CD Player. I briefly listened to the 840C in a store demo. and it sounded very good, but unfortunately I couldn't compare it to anything. Has anyone had a chance to compare the 840C to a good balanced CD Player such as the Esoteric SA-60 or SA-10, Ayre C-5xe or CX-7 or Krell SACD Standard?
it does sound very good - i have owned one for about 4 months - i have not compared it either to high priced players

there was another thread - what happen to it?
I have been looking at the 840C as well. I currently have the 640C Azur V2 and I am pretty happy with it, but I am always looking for an upgrade and not sure if the extra $$ is worth it in the 840C. One thing that I do not like on the Cambridge players is the display :(
I'll have a chance to compare it to my Wadia 830 within a few days. I know... that Wadia is under $5k so it probably doesn't stand much of a chance *hah*

Seriously, I'm considering it because I'm looking for a solid transport and my Wadia doesn't have digital outs. As such, I'm currently running my Wadia analog into my Tact 2.0s pre which means it's doing a double D-A-D-A hop. That can't be good. It'll be interesting to see how the 840c stands up.
Daltonlanny recently started a thread related to the Cambridge Audio 840C, with very respective amount of inputs (the last one dated on 17. september)...

THIS THREAD SUDDENLY VANISHED FROM HERE...! If it happened mistakenly I hope forum's administrators will return it...

Otherwise, in order to see the thread, you must browsing the forum searching "Daltonlanny"
That thread suddenly vanishing is very strange indeed!
I can still access it. It's titled: Cambridge 740c...comparable to Rega Saturn?

I believe this is the url:
your right Mdconnelly - the thread is still "alive"
under that url you posted - i just posted a response there and it is working.

strange the original thread isn't here on the main page

mdconnelly,i believe is correct...i was just pointing it out to a friend only two days ago...a very good and interesting thread at that...hopefully,as more gonners buy this,more is soon to follow...
After exactly one week of burn-in, and using Signal Cable Silver Resolution Reference RCA interconnects into my personal reference HeadAmp GS-1 headphone amp/Sennheiser HD650/Equinox cable combination, and through my home system as well, this Cambridge 840c has to be the overall most awesome cd player I have ever heard! I can listen to it for hours without getting tired of its sound. I am loving every minute of going through my cd collection again, and rediscovering them, so to speak.
The sound is so smooth, full bodied, dynamic, detailed, transparent, spacious, involving, and REAL that I cannot believe it!
The highs are very extended without any harshness that I can detect, the mids are sweet, spacious, neutral, and very life-like, the bass is deep and extended.
I am VERY impressed with this unit to say the least.
Not so at first. Out of the box, it sounded sort of forward, thin, bright, mechanical, sort of metallic, and closed in. After a couple of days it started sounding too polite, laid-back, closed in, still mechanical, and sort of metallic.
This thing definitely goes through ALOT of changes during burn-in to say the least!
In comparison, my Marantz SA8001, with cd's, at first sounds more detailed, focused, extended in the highs, and punchier than the 840c, but its an illusion caused by a higher output level from the RCA outs, a sort of thinness in the highs, a forwardness, and a slight recess in the lower mids. The bass is looser and does not seem to extend as deep. The Marantz is still an excellent cd player, with a big, deep sound, but it can become edgy, and harsh with alot of recordings. It seems to emphasize string noises, sibilance, if its on the recording, and lacks the full body and transparency of the 840c. It seems to slightly emphasize detail and space, at the expense of the full body of the instrument or voice. To my ears, the sound of the Marantz is more "stressful", and not as involving as the Cambridge. Live recordings on the 840c sound truly LIVE! Instruments sound very detailed, but full bodied at the same time. Vocals sound natural and full bodied without becoming boomy, harsh, sibilant, or too forward. I personally do not notice any upper midrange lift, or forwardness at all.
Try Eric Claptons live 'Unplugged' cd for a truly mind blowing experience!
Compared to the Rega Saturn, the 840c is VERY CLOSE, EXTREMELY CLOSE, but as of now, I personally prefer the 840c.
The only real difference, IMHO, is the background is SLIGHTLY blacker on the Saturn, and images are very slightly wider. The Rega is slightly warmer, and a touch more laid-back, and slightly "sugar coats" the mids and highs. It is a very impressive CD player, buts it is very slightly too warm for my own tastes.
To my ears the 840c is just as transparent, focused, dynamic and extended in the bass and highs as the Rega, and to me the 840c sounds slightly more spacious, and more neutral.
I have not tried the balanced outputs on the 840c.
At its price the 840c is a TRUE BARGAIN, IMHO.
I cannot imagine it improving anymore with burn-in!
If it does, OMG!
I believe that Bob Harley may not have been exaggerating in his review after all.
Others out there may totally disagree with my findings, however.
Datonlanny - What a great explanation - You've said exactly what i have been trying to say for the last month about the unit. It is just a wonderful player for the money and is so rich and musically satisfying.

That doesn't mean as we know there aren't better machines out there - it just means that the cambridge has a lot going for it. I find myself saying as i've said before "Wow that sounds really good"

Is it the ultimate "live in concert - you are there - end all be all" - probably not - but compared to a lot of over-hyped dreck out there - it is very, very good - your right - you can listen for long times.
So in a you think that I would be happy if I sold my 640V2 and shelled out the extra for an 840C?
Unless you've made some effort to match levels very closely (either by voltage or SPL) between the various players you really can not make any definitive statement. Even small level differences can be perceived as something else.

You'll note that JA @ Stereophile matches levels to within 0.1dB with his preamp when doing digital source comparisons.
Well, it seems Datonlanny's other thread has gone missing again.

I just received an 840c... too early to tell how well it'll stack up against my Wadia, but one thing I've noticed is that the transport mechanism is not very smooth... there's a slight scraping sound when it opens/closes and a bit of a clunk sound. I seem to recall a thead that mentioned this but now can't find it. I suspect it was in mysteriously disappearing thread.

If you've got an 840c, can you comment on the drawer mechanism?
my transport tray is nice and smooth
My transport tray is very smooth as well.
I cannot figure out why my other thread was deleted.
I do know that I had nothing to do with it.
So how does the 840C compare to the Wadia mentioned a few posts above?

Also, how does it compare to the Naim C5i and the Rega Apollo?

I've got an 840C. I've actually posted about it on the missing thread, and this thread. Don't know why my posts have not shown up, or why the threads about the 840c go missing? Some other company trying to squelch the enthusiasm for this player?
Anyway, my drawer mechanism works well. I'm still burning in, so I haven't given myself the time for a critical listen, but the first impressions have been favorable...
wondering if this will post???
I just noticed a strange thing about my new player. Admittedly, I haven't scoured the few pages of the manual, nut does it contain any information about the display on the unit? I'm specifically looking for something that would tell me why it doesn't display the name of the CD or the names of the tracks..
My other older player does this...
Taking a look at 840's list of features, I didn't find CD-Text included... The simplest explanation why your CD player doesn't display the name of album, songs etc. Your previous player obviously had included that one...
I did an in depth look at the manual last night, and didn't find that CD-Text feature either.
Maybe they'll come out with a software upgrade? It does display the software version on the display...
I also did a little listenning. mmmm
So easy to like.
More after vacation.
Joey_v, I have not yet had a chance to listen to the 840c critically to compare with the Wadia. As a stand-alone CDP, I think the Wadia is stellar so I'll be amazed if the 840c can rival that much less beat it.

But, my reason for checking out the 840c is primarily as an upsampling transport to feed my Tact 2.0s preamp which operates in the digital domain. My Wadia 830 doesn't have digital outs so using it to feed the Tact means it must do a D-A-D-A dance and that can't be a good thing.

I'll definitely post my findings but it'll likely be another week before I do.
OK, after about a week of continuous burn-in, I did some critical listening to my 840c last night and a bit of comparison with my Wadia 830 (w/GNSC mods) although I hope to spend a good bit more time with both this weekend.

What I can say is that the 840c does live up to the hype. The top-end has definition and delicacy to die for with an equally rich and involving midrange. Very realistic and engaging with a wonderful sense of extension and ambience which definitely contributes to a sense of venue when called for. The 840c's soundstage is also wide and deep. And, all other factors aside, it is very musically engaging. I listened for several hours and never tired, although it was certainly revealing in the difference between excellent records (e.g. XRCDs) versus poor recordings. And, the edginess that I heard upon initial listen a week ago was totally gone.

I will also add that these characteristics of the 840c held true whether used simply as a transport feeding my Tact or using the unbalanced RCA outs. I have not had a chance to check the balanced out.

I then switched back to the Wadia... While I found myself missing that sweet top-end of the 840c a bit, I must say that to my ears, the Wadia edged out the 840c in one particularly important area... The Wadia presented a noticable blacker background with better defined space between voices and instruments. This contributed to a more realistic 3D presentation with more perceived depth to each instrument or voice.

Of course, the Wadia 830 w/GNSC mods places it in a price range well above the CA 840c (although still lower than the TAS $5k threshold).

Can one of you 840 users please confirm if the unit will output an upsampled(24/96 or 24/192) signal from the digital outputs while playing a Redbook CD. Thanks.
Yup, I've been using it with my Tact 2.0s which reports the format of the digital input. The 840c does output an upsampled digital stream via the SPDIF out.

And after 3 weeks of burn in the you will notice blacker backgrounds and a lot more space - im not sure if it is up there with the wadia though. Thats why i have been saying at least 3 weeks break-in it only keeps getting better. you'll see.

Smargo, that's certainly what I'm hoping. Unfortunately, I only have a 2 week eval period (bought from Spearit Sound) which means I've got to make a decision within the next 5 days.

This might sound crazy - i mean you could offer them 50 more bucks for 3-4 days of more listening especially if you are really in a quandry in terms of making the final purchase - just to be sure. You won't be dissapointed though. i know It is a true high end sound.

good luck
Has anyone had any issues with the RCA analog output jacks on the rear panel being too close together? I use Transparent cables with metal WBT locking RCA connectors, and they touch each other when connected to the jacks- no way around it. Would this be a problem to be concerned about? At times I get a very faint, high pitch feedback sound coming from my speakers. I don't know if this could be the cause of it or not, or if I should be looking elsewhere in my system for the problem??? All I know is that this problem did not surface until I inserted this player into my system. It didn't seem to be a problem for the first week or so. Any thoughts on this?

That's what I figured. One thing I noticed from CDPs (and audio electronics like DACs, Preamps, and Amps) is that the higher you go up, the main and consistent difference is the blackness and the 3D-ness of the sound.

A lot of the "wide soundstage and spacious sound" I find has a lot to do with the gain of the unit/system. And I find that I gravitate ultimately to whichever gives me the lowest noisefloor and the best 3D effect.

After all, life is in 3D. Or is it 4D? I forget... lol. :)


I have not heard the 840c but am considering it.

But, I must admit that having a 3D soundstage with good air, blackness, and edge delineation carries a lot of weight towards a good listening experience. Once the cdp shopping comparisons are done with, this all important characteristic will make or break the listening experience.

If the musical perception describing the space in the recording is missing I personally will look elseware for a cdp. I have considered the 840c and may look elseware.
I know what the 840c has above all - is musicality - that may contain elements of what your looking for. So if i have air - I have musicality - blackness im not sure - ive heard players that have great blackness and sound awful - im not sure about edge delineation - you may have to spend a lot of money for that - but the 840c does a decent job.

I just think if it turns you on when listening - there must be elements there that are very good

While the Wadia may have an edge on the 3D thing, I have to agree with Smargo about the 840c's musicality. You won't be disappointed by the 840c... and you'd have to get a bit anal when comparing to the more far more expensive competition to hear the differences. Give it a listen - you won't be disappointed. It's far better than anything in its price range that I've heard.
Still waiting on someone to compare it to the 640C V2....................
I heard it at Tweeters with Krell integrated and Focal speakers. It was very musical and engaging. No direct comparison and I do not think it is as as good as the Audio Aero Presige and Theta Jade/Gen 8 I have at home but I still liked the Cambridge 840C. It is really a very nice player.
and that may well be true -- comparing it the audio aero and theta - and after 3 weeks and even 2 months it is so wonderfully musical to listen to - i know evryone must be tired of me saying the same thing over and over - but today i had some music on that i (of all things downloaded from the internet - lossless) and it was so engaging - the player still amazes me going on 5 months.

I did the comparison between CA 640 V2 and 840. The system consisted of CA 840A integrated amp and I connected AKG K601 headphones to this amp. Both CDPs were connected at the same time and I was listening to the same discs running in both players in the same time. Then I switched between two inputs to hear the difference.

And I didn't heard any ... to be honest. It was big disappointment having in mind the technology built into CA 840. And 840 costs about twice as much as 640 V2. It may be that 840A is not good enough to show the differences, but it should be ... AKGs are excellent headphones and they are certainly not the reason for this disappointment.

Anyway, the only player that I heard until 1000 euro mark that does make a difference is Naim CD 5i.
Thank you Dejanm for that comparison, which goes to show how very crucial the circuitry and resulting transparency is of the jack that we plug high resolution headphones into, be it a well regarded intergrated, the player itself or another headamp.
True enough that the differances between the two models maybe audiably subtle, but I would still fault the lack of transparency of the headphone jack/amp if the conclusion is that there is no differance to be heard.

Although I do sincerely appreciate the comparison, and your opinion.
I completely agree with Finthen. I have listened to some great players that sounded only mediocre through their headphone jack. Dejanm, can you hook it up to a speaker system for comparison?

The headphones have been hooked to the headphone out on the CA 840A amplifier. The comments that you put guys is something that is quite possible. I was surprised myself. I took several other CDPs that were laying around (Audiolab CD8000 and Denon DCD 1500) and there were also no differences in reproduction - maybe a little bit in case of Denon.

I used during this test also Warf EVO 30 (the result was the same as with headphones) but you might say (and I would agree) that these loudspeakers are also not good enough to register major differencies between the players. That is why I didn't mention it in my first post.

But if that is true about EVO 30 and not good enough headphone output of CA 840A, that means that differencies between CDPs in a price range until 1000 euro are very subtle and that we need very good system to be able to notice it. The question is then: why should we put a CDP under 1000 euro in a very good system ? Or to put it in another way: if you have a system where the components are between 1000 and 2000 euro, probably various CDPs are not going to make a big difference, if any at all.

But it is possible that there are some other experiences - I haven't compare all CDPs that exist and it is quite possible that there are some other that do make a difference. Naim CD 5i does. So, I am not making here any generalizations based on only one test case ...
Thanks for your comparisons.

Once I thought I might get a CA 740 or 840C, but lately I've been thinking of getting a player for the long run. I've been looking at Naim. Would you mind describing the difference you heard between the CA and Naim players?

I've been thinking particularly of the CD5X or CDX2, but would be very curious as to how the CD5i stacks up nevertheless.
Dejanm, Thanks for the extra information.
Don't give up too quickly on the 840c without listening to it... I know it surprised me. The is much truth to be found in all the hype. Just be sure to give it time to breakin.
really - enough nonsense with headphone jacks - How can you compare the sound of equipment thru headphone jacks - I never could - its like trying to appreciate the colors of a rainbow - with your eyes closed.

The 840c is much better than the 640v2 - so much more involving and sweet - like mdconnelly said - its the breakin - its the breakin

Naim CD5X and CD5i just sound very musical compared to other digital sources in their price categories. Not as highly resolving as say, Moon, or Arcam, but with terrifically engaging and rhythmic output. Combined with Naim amps and decent speakers like Devore, Naim or Totem, hard to beat and hard to stop listening. I would be interested in a Naim CD5i and Cambridge Audio 840C comparison. My guess would be similar to that reported above - the 840C has better resolution and sounds smoother, while the Naim kicks it in terms of pace and toe tap-ability.
I didn't compare Naim CD 5i and CA side by side. So I am a bit precousuos. My feeling is that small Naim has excellent dynamic and is very strong in bass compartment. I listened to the system: Naim CD 5i + Naim Nait 5 + Ruark Sabre III and it was sounding vivid, fast, ... excellent for the money.

What I did compare side by side were: Naim CD 5i and Naim CD 5x. 5x is better, especially in the bass area - the bass of CD 5x is more precise. You simply hear more details and it is a bit more open. Whether it is worth additonal 1000 euros is a matter for discussion but if you have that cach, go for 5x. Later you can upgrade with external supply, which is not possible with the small one. But before you do this supply upgrade, try it first. I did try Naim Flatcap 2x but I couldn't hear much difference. Many people did though, so be a bit carefull with that additional 1000 euro (or something like that).

I hope this helps a bit ...

Thanks again for your response. FYI, I found a review on-line comparing the Naim 5i with the CA 840c (and the Arcam CD192) on this link:

You might have seen this already. This is the review where the writer says that he had, "a soft spot the size of Texas," for the 840c, preferring that unit over the others.
Just for the record, Daltonlanny put his 840c up for sale today (sale pending). In fairness, he hasn't posted to this thread in a month, so in the meantime he may have found something more attractive or decided to "go in another direction." Still, would be interesting to know what prompted the sale.
Wow, 3 went up for sale this weekend with 2 sale pending...

I imagine many were purchased shortly after the TAS review. I still think this is an exceptional CDP for the money but perhaps many were hoping it really does compete with $5k+ players. If I were looking for the very best CDP for up to $5k, the 840c would probably not make it to the top of the list. But... for what it does, it would be very hard to beat at twice it's price and probably higher if what you're looking for must include digital inputs.

Remember, many of the units sold used are re-sells. I think some users buy them used to see what all the hub bub is all about and resell them when they realize their existing cdp has better synergy in there system or realize the improvement is subtle and not worth the investment.

I for one think there is no one best piece of equipment in each price range. I think all the better pieces have their own virtues and we my like what they have better.

I'm always leery of reviews that claim "the best". We all have different rooms, systems, ears, and listening styles/tastes. And the cabling - that is another story - some act as tone controls which alter the sound.
daltonlanny said why he was selling his unit in a response that is above - saids he needs the money -

you now i don't care who is selling their unit - im just enjoying mine and i have had many cd players up to the $2000-$3000 range and this one is so musical - it may not do other things that great - but it is so damn musical and continues to be musical after 5 months of listening.

It such a good piece in my system - and there usually is a lot of hype with products that i have bought and - well this is one of the few units that stand out in my 17 years of spending tons of money on equipment.