I have been using the Cambridge 851 CD player for a few years and want more.
I have too many CD's to get out of the medium. I wonder what you would recommend (from your experience) as an upgrade for the 851 which I kind of like. should I consider a new player or adding a DAC? I'm retired so I can't go with the most expensive options. Please advise. Thanks,
So many other threads that you could draw on for information.
Probably best to get a couple of DACs with return privileges, hook them up and see how much of an improvement you notice. It may not be exactly cheap to achieve an improvement that you consider significant enough.
I use an 851C as well and was pleasantly surprised how much it improved with the Synergistic Black fuses; there are two. I also run a Nordost Vishnu PC which really brought out how good this player is. No doubt a DAC could improve things, but I’d still recommend changing out the fuses first and if you’re using the stock PC change that out too before you spend money on a DAC. I also use Ayre mrytle blocks which also elevated the 851 sonically. Point is the 851 is a fine player that has more potential than in its stock form.
I had an 851C for a while and originally sought it out based on the many positive reviews and, especially,for the built in volume control as I hate most preamps. I was mostly pleased with it but found it just a bit lacking in detail compared to some others I'd heard or had. I compared the 851C directly to an Upgrade Co Oppo BDP-83SE with the outboard tubed power supply and the Consonance Droplet 5.0 cdp. I thought it slightly less resolved than the Oppo, though it was pretty close. The Oppo had some tube magic though as well as SACD & DVD-A playback so, I'd pick the Oppo over the 851C. The Consonance has tubes but has more of a lean/clean/clear sound than the Oppo but is noticeably more resolved displaying a greater degree of inner detail and just being more of an open widow on the performance. I've also recently acquired a Raysonic 228 and find it to be at least as good as the Consonance. I mention these players as they also have built in volume controls and that's all important to me as I always run my source directly into my amp(s) for the least sonic degradation. I'm all about transparency and detail. If these aren't the qualities of the 851C you prize and would like to further on, then my recommendations may not be applicable to you. Also consider these players are about a decade old so may require replacement of lasers/transports.
I’ve heard a couple of older CDPs run through both the Benchmark DAC2 and Bryston BDA-2 DACs and could hear noticeable improvements. I preferred the Benchmark sound myself and am actually watching the used market....
Not knowing your system,and assuming you’re not already using balanced power; I recommend you audition an Equitech 2Q. You may be very pleased at the quality of sound “hidden” in your present system. I use one along with MIT p/c’s and a Sound Application unit.
fuses are 2.5A 250V small / Fast 5x20mm 2.5A 250V small / Slow 5x20mm
I don’t recall which one went were without opening the lid but I think the slow blow was back on the power supply near the IEC power cord socket/back right corner and the fast blow on the S3 Servo board left of transport. You’ll know when you look at the stock fuses as the slow blow has the fatter wire.
The stock fuses are actually 2A but everyone recommends going just a little larger value so I did. I first installed the Synergestic Reds which sounded better than the stock fuses. Sound was warmer but I felt they didn’t open things up as much as the Black I installed on my Modwright preamp so Chris at VH Audio let me exchange the Reds for Blacks and this was a bigger improvement as it really opened things up. The Blacks are faster and very relaxed... sounds much closer to my Table now. Now that the Blues are out I’d spend the extra and go for those. Chris gives you thirty days to try them out so not much to lose except your time and shipping.
A good dac, especially if you add a reclocker, would probably improve the sound a lot. Check other threads and forums for dac ideas. I would probably look into Chord Qutest, Denafrips, Soekris or a 2nd hand Shiit Yggdrasil.