Cambridge Audio CD Player Has Died


I have a Cambridge Audio Azur 840C CD player that is roughly 15 years old. A year ago the left channel went dead & was subsequently repaired. However, yesterday the audio output completely died (no sound whatsoever). Although the unit has served me well, I am reluctant to continue to put more money into repairs of an older unit.

That being said, I have a question for those of you who have more expertise than I. Is there a discernible difference in sound quality between high-end CD players & those more moderately priced? Although I do have a high-quality audio system, I would prefer not to spend a lot of money on a new CD player unnecessarily.
Thank you so much.
Kit
kitjv
Since CA has served you well, have you looked attheir inexpensive transport?
https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/usa/en/products/cx/cxc

Using  a dac within your budget, it might be an even nicer sounding combination.

I have an aging 550C that is plugged into one of these:
https://www.denafrips.com/ares
Without it  listenable, but not emotionally engaging. I'm more of a record guy. The Ares gives CD playback a nice boost, close enough to my table system.

CD use  appears to be dwindling activity with all the streaming and NAS stuff becoming more mainstream. I personally don't see it becoming part of my system and listening habits.
Yes, there is a discernible difference in the audio quality of CD players but my experience has been that the difference in the quality of the DACs inside the players has considerably more to do with that than the transport.

So, you might approach this in different ways, buy a new player, buy a separate DAC and transport, or buy a DAC first, connect it to your Cambridge's digital output and determine whether the problem with the Cambridge is the analog output or the DAC. If it works with the external DAC you're done. If it doesn't you could buy a transport for your new DAC and also be set up to use the DAC with streaming devices.

There are a lot of very good DACs out there at reasonable prices. I recently got a Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital for $400 that sounds very nice, has an integrated headphone amp and can be used as a preamp. But there are lots of options you could explore.

I agree that putting more money into the Cambridge probably isn't a good idea.

Cambridge sells their refurbished equipment at some very good prices. Their CXC transport is excellent. Lots of good choices on new, modest cost gear...
Ha!Same thing happened to me with my nine year old CD player.The parts are no longer available to repair it.So reluctantly I've decided to go with separates-Benchmark transport and a very well reviewed but inexpensive Parasound dac to start.It gives me a baseline that I can compare other dacs to.The new components will be up and running tomorrow so I'll post my first impressions then.
Just so that I am educated on this subject, is it correct to say that a stand-alone CD player is essentially a DAC + a transport? Sorry for the remedial question.
Kit
basic CD Player is DAC and Transport,  sometimes  also include streaming and digital in/out...many believe there are inherent low jitter advantages in an all in one player...
Thank you. As soon as I decide what option I want to pursue regarding the replacement of my CD player, I will seek your recommendations. Many thanks.
Before buying anything I would, as others have suggested, determine if the problem is with the transport or the DAC.  The DAC part of this player, while over 13 years old (first review I can find is from 2006), it is still  in production and sale in CA's 851C and N.  I currently have a CA CXC running through an 851N via digital RCA cable.  I mainly play HD Tracks through the 851N, which I bought in 2015, but have a lot of music on CD and the CXC does a nice job of reading the discs. I would also mention that I purchased the CXC as a refurbished unit direct from CA on eBay. Cheers.
Is there an method to determine whether the problem lies with the DAC or the transport that I can do myself?
Chances are the transport is still good. You might get a cheap DAC that you can use to test the Cambridge.
Well, out of curiosity I turned on the CD player a few minutes ago. At the moment it's working, but there undoubtedly is an issue. Maybe heat related? We'll see.
I disagree that there's a good chance that the transport may have outlasted the DAC. Typically, mechanical transports wear out or the laser weakens. DACs being non-mechanical usually don't wear out.  By all means, check the transport with an outboard DAC if possible, but I'd bet money it's the transport.  Have you notice an tracking problems?
About 9 months ago my trusty Pioneer PD 65 (stable platter) died. I searched everywhere, including Alibaba, then called Pioneer, but parts no longer available

Being in the ~ $500 range I did a lot of research and was surprised to find Marantz HD CD 1 was full of hi-end parts. I picked one up very slightly used for ~ $400. It looks good, sounds great with all the proper outs. Im using it as a transport as my pre has a built in dac

hth
Just to follow up on my last post...as I mentioned, the CD player started to work again. However, occasionally the audio output will stop suddenly. Interestingly, if I power-cycle it on & off, it will begin to work fine again. Might this be a clue as to what is malfunctioning?
Thank you, all, for your help with this!!
Kit
CA will accept returns of broken equipment with a credit against new. I recently traded in an Azur DAC for a tidy portion of the cost of the new Edge.
Yes, CA offered me the same when I had some repair work done last year. That will certainly be an option. Thank you.
Tascam discontinued their 200iL model but it's still available at pro gear retailers. It got an excellent review and is owned by at least two reviewers at Stereophile. A used Oppo 103 would be a great choice too, as would used models from Marantz and Rega. I wouldn't spend any more money on a 15- year old CDP.
tomcarr: Thank you for the info. For no explainable reason, for the past 10 days the CD player has worked flawlessly. However, I will keep your suggestions on hand in the event the problem resurfaces.
You are very welcome. Happy listening!
Well, seems like the issue of periodically "going dead" is still plaguing my CD player. So it looks like a replacement is inevitable. If I opt to buy a DAC to see if that resolves the problem, how would I connect it to my Cambridge Audio CD player? Would doing so bypass the internal DAC in the CD player? Sorry if this sounds remedial; but this is new territory for me. Thank you.
Your player has both optical and digital outputs so you would connect one of those outputs with the appropriate cable to the input of a DAC and it would bypass the internal DAC in the player. But, since the output of the player is intermittent there's a good chance the issue isn't the DAC since it has no moving parts and the transport does. No way to know without testing, either by buying or borrowing a DAC or taking it to a repair shop. If you do want to test it yourself there are decent, relatively inexpensive DACs like the Topping MX3. For testing purposes you could use a single RCA to RCA cable for the coax connection rather than buy a purpose-built digital cable.

Or, you could be satisfied you've had many years of excellent service for your player and find a replacement. That would be my recommendation. Even if your transport isn't the problem now it will be some time in the future. It's a mechanical device that spins at very high rpm and will fail eventually, just like the tires on our car.
Thank you, sfar, for the clear explanation. Yes, indeed my player has served me well. And your recommendation to simply replace it makes sense. The question that I am asking myself is: whether to buy a new (or reconditioned) player or a DAC/transport? If I opt for the DAC/transport, I could buy the DAC first & see whether it resolves the problem with my player. If not, then I could get a new transport.
My personal view on this is to buy a nice cd player that has the necessary outs to use as a transport. Then, should the dac fail, or if you want to upgrade the dac you can play cds while you shop around

I said this before the Marantz HD CD 1 is a really good transport MSRP $500
Most times it’s the laser and transport mechanism that gives out first.Your player can’t output a signal if the laser can’t track the disc.It’s hard to decide which way to go,I can relate.You’ve been happy with your current player,so just replace it with the new or refurbished(same warranty?).If you want to add a dac down the road the new player becomes the transport.
That’s the way I wanted to go but the player I had is no longer manufactured.I was happy with the equipment I had and not really excited about a change.Shhh....I may lose my audiophile card now:-)
You're right, that's the obvious question and there's no right answer.
As with almost every question that's asked on these forums the first words of the answer should always be, "It depends."

Advantages of the one-box solution -- Simplicity, takes up less space and requires at least one fewer cable. In theory, the manufacturer has taken some care to match the two components and the total manufacturing cost is less than for two boxes. Disadvantages -- You already know the major one, if one of the components fails you're out of music. In addition, transports aren't being improved since the need for that technology is disappearing, while DACs are improving at a rapid rate, for now. It's often very difficult to find a replacement transport mechanism for a device only a few years old.

Advantages of the two-box solution -- Flexibility, being able to use the DAC for multiple sources like streaming, TV audio, etc. If one component fails you have to replace only it. Take advantage of increasingly good digital to analog conversion without having to replace your disc spinner, though there are one-box devices that have digital inputs for use with sources other than the transport.
Disadvantages -- Complexity, twice the boxes and cables. Requires a little more knowledge to integrate properly but that's an issue only once.

An important underlying consideration is that disc spinners of all kinds are an old technology as technologies go and some companies, like OPPO, are already discontinuing manufacturing of players that use them. That will only accelerate and if it survives at all it will be as a niche market with the resulting increase in cost. In a few years it will be as hard to find a transport of any kind as it is to find a SCSI drive for a computer now.




Thank you, everyone, for the responses. I certainly am well aware of the pros & cons associated with the two options. And, of course, personal preferences enter the equation.
So, the rest is up to me. It's time to do my homework & weigh the options. If I have any further questions, I feel confident that this forum is an excellent resource.
Well, it's time for me to explore whether to replace my dying Cambridge Audio CD player with another standalone CD player or with individual transport & DAC units. From all of your previous comments, I can assume that some of you are immersed more deeply in the audiophile world far than I. So I would respect your recommendations on specific brands & models of transports & DACs that pair well together.
Here are a couple of parameters I would like to stay within: (1) units that will complement the "musicality" of my Audio Research tube preamp and (2) a combined price range of $600 - $1,000. However, I would be willing to extend my price range if there is a significant increase in audible quality.
Thank you in advance for your help. Much appreciated.
Kit
Two very nice players are Marantz or Yamaha ( Crutchfield.com.)Then add a dac later.
If you stretch your budget a bit a Cambridge transport (Audioadvisor.com)and a Border Patrol dac(LTA.com) is a great combo.And a digital cable of your choosing.No affiliation with these companies,just some places to browse as you research.
I'm auditioning a Parasound dac right now that I really like except the upper midrange has a very slight glare that is bugging me.I have a new cable ordered that may clear that up,fingers crossed.Other than that one area it does everything right,silky and detailed.

+1 for Marantz or Yamaha, also the Tascam 200 
If you pursue separates, the Oppo 103 plays well with a Schiit Modi Multi, using Blue Jean 75-ohm digital coax.
Thank you, tomcarr & jtcf, for the recommendations. 
I’m curious.....will adding a dac to a stand-alone player appreciably improve the audio quality?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I only added the Schiit Multi Modi to my Oppo 103 hoping to tame a slight bit of brightness I was hearing on some recordings that were a bit hot. Very pleased with the results, but it was a gamble that I was hoping would work, and it did. This time. YMMV, unfortunately, as always...

Tom