Stereophile Class Recommendations for Cambridge

I took a look at the latest Stereophile Recommended Component List today and saw something that I consider quite interesting. In the digital player section under the Class B rating, Cambridge Audio has two players that made it; the 740c and the new 650c.

I've never heard either, but read plenty of reviews and comments on the 740, so I know its held in high regard. That said, if a company is offering a number of cdp's at various price points, shouldn't, in a perfect world, the performance of a product get better as you go up the line?

Maybe my interpretation is wrong, but what does it mean if they're both considered good enough to be in Class B? Do they sound the same? Is it time to upgrade the 740c? Or is the 650 performing way above its price range.

At the end of the day, I know the proof is in the listening, but I was just wondering how everyone perceives these ratings by the "esteemed" Stereophile Magazine. i know that I use it, along with other review mags, at least as a guide to determine what I wish to audition.

Please share
I would put it this way - the 740C is slightly better than the the Cambridge 650C (or older 640C for that matter), and on a little better than the Cambridge DacMagic that has the same DAC and processing as the 740C, but not as good a case or power source as either CDP. Both are good bargains, particularly if you are after detail with decent timing. And my experience is they show well when placed in systems with electronics, speakers and wires costing a lot more. Whether they both deserve "Class B" rating is purely a subjective judgement on the part of Stereophile's staff. I tend to agree with them more often than not in their appraisals, but there is an occasional skunk at their garden party.
Think of it like school grades. The 740 might have "scored" and 89 and the 650 an 80. Both "B's," but one still better than the other.
This paradox shows that they just pick stuff based on reviews and multiple votes. They don't plan it out ahead of time. I am certain they don't worry if two items get in the same class.
My only complaint with the guides, is they never do any comparisons with prior years stuff. So to find out what of current vs old as a better value is more alchemy and guess-timating than anything else.
The rag that has it down in MY book is AUTOCAR. Now THERE is a good magazine. They review new cars, but have sections devoted to used cars too. Fabulous. In case you never heard of it, it is British. If only Stereophile or Absolute Sound had such a regular feature!! Maybe if AudiogoN advertised!!!!!! in them, they could start a section like that. COOL.
it is very difficult to respect the Class Recommendations since gear is system dependant to begin with

the Class Recommendations have to be taken with a grain of salt...

I agree with Gherreral also
Phil hits the nail on the head.I would up the amount of salt though!!
High B vs. low B makes sense to me, and Phil you are right, a lot of equipment is system dependant, unfortunately. So here's another question, is there such a thing as a component that will sound great regardless of what gear its matched with, and if so, wouldn't that be the ideal component to have in one's system?

as I ponder these questions and think back to previous auditions of various pieces of gear, I now wonder how much of an effect another component had on the one I was actually listening to? Hmm, it's now making me wonder just how good some speakers, or amps, or pre-amps, or sources are on their own.
03-18-10: Philjolet

03-18-10: Philjolet
it is very difficult to respect the Class Recommendations since gear is system dependant to begin with
Your words are at the core of why reviews in the audio press and even recommendations here have only so much value in the real world of building a system with one's own unique components and matchups. It is the matching that can make an excellent individual high end component shine, while that same component can seem sub par in another fellow's audio system. It's a large reason why the classifieds are filled with many good to great audio pieces.