Cambridge Audio Azure vs. NAD c320bee, c740

I need to replace my 20 year old Rotel receiver, which just stopped working. I have Mordaunt Short Pageant 2 speakers of the same age and a Rotel RCD950 CD player which is more recent. I also have Grado HP1000 headphones. I would like to spend under $400 and will consider pre-owned or refurbished units. I have narrowed down the choices to the NAD c320bee, cambridge audio Azur 640a or 540a integrated amps, or the NAD c740 receiver. Is the nad c320bee significantly better sounding than the c740? (if not, I would get the receiver to have the tuner capability). Are either/both cambridge amps better than the NADs? Finally, are the headphone capabilities significantly different between these models? Thank you in advance for your input.
I bought the 640a from AUDIO ADVISOR last week.
I had originally picked it up because my CONRAD JOHNSON SONOGRAPHE SA250 amplifier is in the shop.

My first impressions after break-in were-DAMN! why did I spens so much on seperates!? The Cambridge is AWESOME!

I will stack it against the Creek, NAD, ADCOM, ROTEL, etc. ANY DAY! The 640a is worth double the retail!

The only odd thing I noticed was that the first volume increment is a little left channel heavy, but as soon as the unit is turned to notch 2 or above, everything is balanced as can be!

I like it so much, I am going to audition the 640c cd player asap!

The Conrad Johnson stuff is up for sale!

I just bought the Azure 640C. It is a huge step up to my 12 year old changer. I use an NAD C370 as my integrated amplifier. The C370 is awesome, however the new C372 is out. They are basically identical except for a slight power increase. Funny thing is I also use this system in my bedroom. I auditioned the BBE CD player versus the Azure 640C. There was no comparison. The Azur was much more detailed and dynamic. It's low level detail is amazing. The NAD sounded very bass heavy, and muddy in the midrange. I did the audition on the same receiver and speakers I have in my home so I know the comparison was valid. The NAD 370 is a stereophile reccomended product, and it shows. My new Azur 640C just took me to a higher place.
How does the Azure 640C compare to its preceeding model? I just had a chance to audition the prior model Caimbridge integrated and CD player (not sure of model numbers on either), and was fairly impressed. But the dealer isn't offering much of a discount. I've heard so many good things about the new one, that I'd hate to miss the boat by getting the older model. But, if it's pretty close, then I should be able to arrange a decent deal.

Thanks, Tom.
The 640c is still an improvement over the previous model. It just received another 5-star rating from "What Hi-Fi" in the UK.

I have heard this unit, and it compares favorably (favorably, not 100%) to the Musical Fidelity, or the new Rotel that TAS raves about (can't remember model no.?) I had a chance to audition the Rotel and the Cambridge A/B at the local dealer. I would not drop the extra $289 on a Rotel, unless I was also worried about shelf-appeal. The Rotel is a big, beefy s.o.b., but does not exceed the 640c by more than a hair. Bass definition is a bit BETTER in the 640c, but from midrange-up, the Rotel might have a small avantage.

As for the old Cambridge, you can look around on the web, and find one for peanuts.It is still quite good, but can't compare to the 640.

The 640 is my next buy, even though I own a $2000 d-a-c.

Thanks for the information. I ended up picking up a used Arcam FMJ A22 for myself (got it for a song), but I am recommending the 640C for my father, who is looking to upgrade from his old Pioneer receiver.

Hey just writing back,whats wrong with the sa250? I just bought one of these,there is no going back to Rotel Nad Cam they dont even come close to the Sonographe ,did I say not even close,you absolutely get what you pay for.I have a sa250 sono preamp,and a Arcam cd 92,The cd player I bought for 700 and it is worth every penny,anything else I listened sounded like listening through mud ,Al
Hey all I can say if your cj stuff is up for sale,you need to check out your other stuff,or stick with the mid fi,its not high end,Al
I do agree: 9 of 10 times, you do get what you pay for...

Not so much is "wrong" with the SA250. (I had a friend do some updates/fixes, and it has improved over the original, too.)

For the price, it just is not on-par with my Monarchy or Plinius equipment.

Also, at $2400 for the setup (Sc-26 and Sa-250), they are not near the value of the Cambridge 640a. We're talking about a $450-ish integrated vs. a $2400 preamp/amp here.

I'm not saying the Cambridge is a reference unit, just that it is VERY VERY good, especially at moderate volumes. It is also 100% devoid of noise, even with the knob at 90% full volume. Try that with the Sc-26 pre and Sa-250 amp (or even my $2000+, modded B&K preamp, unless it's on passive mode).

The CJ Sa250 IS much better than the CJ Sc26 preamp which I bought to accompany it. A simple,$90 Axiom passive preamp kicks the Sc-26 pre down the block. (Sorry CJ.)

The fact that Conrad chose to differentiate the series by calling it "Sonographe by Conrad Johnson" is proof in itself that CJ wished to seperate it from their Hi-Fi lines.

I will also agree that Arcam's Cd players are great! (As are most of Arcam's fine products.)

I'll have to say that the Rotel Cd 980 transport is a bargain "upper mid-fi" unit. It is also just my transport. My DAC was another $2k+ when new. My Rotel transport, though, has been heavily modded, and I will not get rid of it until it begins to smoke! It is almost there, unfortunately.

I'm not a huge fan of Rotel's preamps and amps, just their CD players (Phillips-based, basic, and good 75 ohm digital outputs).

It's funny that this thread is still generating replies! I was quite excited about the value of the 640a Cambridge back when I bought it. At $400-$500, nothing brand-new can best it. I still feel this way, but, as I said, it is not my reference! (We won't even go there...)

Joe Mazzaglia
Auricle Audio Design, NA
[email protected]
well well well well
seen it, read it, bought it
yeah i am talking about the cambridge audio 640a and 640c.
you better give your ears to it, before you try something weird, as in not getting hold of these beauties at such a beautiful price.
i am satisfied, and my ears are good enough to see...ooops to hear the difference.