Cambridge Audio Azur 851N


Fellow audiophiles,

Does anyone have any experience with Azur851N? How good it sounds? I have had Olive 4HD and Sonos in my HT setup and looking for a better sound. I do fair amount of streaming off Spotify and Amazon and got lot of music stored on my FAT32 USB drive. Azur851N looks very promising (atleast on paper). I will be pairing this unit with a Classe SSP800 and B&W 803's. Any comments or feedback is greatly appreciated.
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there is a new review of the 851N in HIFI WORLD
Dennis
I think you need to define what better means. I may think something is better, but you may hate it. Also, you don't list an amp. It would be helpful to know what it is.

I'm assuming that your goal is to get better 2 channel sound for music. If that's the case, the SSP 800 is most likely a bottleneck. At the very least, you should try to bypass it and listen using equipment you already have. I'm not too familiar with the Olive, but if it has a volume control of its own, plug it directly into your amp. If you can do this, I think its an experiment you'll find well worth your time.
Neither Spotify nor Amazon offer good quality streaming sound, with low bit rates...
I figured as much. But that's the future and seems the most cost effective way to listen to new and old songs.
I own a Classe CA-2200 amp. My goal is to get better dynamics out of digital music. The sound from Olive and Sonos is pretty dull and flat on most music. I may try some hi-res (DSD) downloads in near future. But for now, it's pretty much Spotify and Amazon.

Do you own a Azur or any other digital music player?

Thank you for your feedback.
I stream Tidal through a Sonos and outboard DAC and the sound is way better than Spotify
I do fair amount of streaming off Spotify and Amazon and got lot of music stored on my FAT32 USB drive.
Keep in mind that FAT32 is not a robust file system. For example, although it is unlikely you could lose all of the data on the drive if power were to drop out at the wrong instant while the drive is in use, and cause the file table to be corrupted.

Which makes it doubly important to have your music files well backed up, preferably on two additional drives, and with one of them preferably stored at a different location.

Also, if whatever the drive is connected to can work with a more robust file system, such as NTFS which can be used by Windows or an Ext3 or Ext4 file system which can be used by Linux, I would consider reformatting the drive to the more robust file system and then restoring the data to it from backups.

Regards,
-- Al
"07-14-15: Lalitk
I own a Classe CA-2200 amp. My goal is to get better dynamics out of digital music. The sound from Olive and Sonos is pretty dull and flat on most music. I may try some hi-res (DSD) downloads in near future. But for now, it's pretty much Spotify and Amazon."

That's not a format issue, its an analog one. The analog section of the dac is what you need to look at for dynamics. A good example of what I'm talking about, is to compare a couple of CD players that I have. One is an Arcam 33. Its a nice, easy to listen to player, but the dynamics are just OK. My Wadia 302, on the other hand, has really good dynamics. Almost on par with vinyl.

I wouldn't recommend a Wadia for you because the company has issues. But I would definitely recommend Ayre. They make some of the most dynamic digital products you can get. Also, try your system without the preamp like I recommended in my last post. Having the right preamp in your system, will also have a big effect on dynamics.
Thank you all for your feedback, much appreciated.
Follow up to my thread... I decided to keep Azur 851N after direct comparison with Classe CP-800. The Azur was hooked up to SSP-800 (balance input) and SSP-800 / CP-800 daisy chained in digital bypass mode.

After a weekend of listening, I could not discern any differences, both DAC's produced music with absolute clarity and poise. I used Tidal HIFI streaming services with AirPlay.

IMHO, Azur851N is a groundbreaking component, given its asking price. If you're in market for a DAC/Network player with Apple AirPlay, you owe it to yourself to check out this amazing unit. I am keeping mine and returning CP-800 to my dealer.
I'm thinking of getting cambridge azur 851n vs oppo 105d for audio streaming and hooked it to my audio  research reference 5se and ARC ds450 amp. 

Do guys see or experience any issues with these set up? As far as i know the 851n has a built in DAC so no need to get a separate dac right?

any inputs/alternative please

This is an old question but I added an Cambridge Audio 851N to my system about a month ago and  what an improvement. I replaced my Jolida Glass Fx DAC with the 851n. I use it as a preamp with my Jolida vacuum tube amp in bypass mode. The results are astounding. I have a few terabytes of digital music including many hi-res files [DSD-DSF] that playback via 851n the 24-192 +playback is amazing. Note the blue tooth dongle is optional 100.00 I declined it sofar no problem I use WiFi. I thought for the 1799.00 cost it should be included.
While it should be included, Bluetooth audio is so compromised I'm fine without it. The BEST it can do is 16/44.1. It can play back hi-res straight off my computer without much fuss and DSF/DSD playback straight from USB flash drives, etc. Using the digital preamp mode is fantastic, finally brought my system up to date! 
Cambridge for the money is excellent! The British know their electronics! I have a 851N! Works Well!
I have an 851N. And am completely happy with it.  I also use it as a preamp-- I had a Nuforce mcp 18a  but could not tell the difference. I have Bel Canto 500m mono blocks with Dali Mentor 6 speakers.  Also use a Marantz SA 8004 as cd transport.  Couldn't be happier with the 851N as streamer (FAT 32 USB). Sound is excellent, whether as steamer, DAC, or Spotify. 320 bit internet radio also very good sounding. I had a Marantz streamer but returned it because of a buggy user interface. The Cambridge interface has been flawless. 
@tomaswv, Can you stream Tidal Hi-Fi on 851N? I know the streamer has a built-in support for Spotify.  
I have not tried. To my knowledge there has not been a firmware upgrade for Tidal, but of course there may be other ways to get it. I keep thinking Spotify will add a high Rez service, and haven't really explored Tidal or other services. Been buying high Rez downloads now and then, but quite happy with red book and streaming off of my hard drive.  I use Spotify mostly to check out new things or carch up on bands I missed along the way.