Alesis Masterlink with mods by BPT. Add MIT AC2 pc for about 2K total. Try dif vibration footers.
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I would opt for the Raysonic, CEC, Naim, Audio Aero Prima (depending on what type of music you like) based on budget and buying new. I would avoid the Rega and I don't think the Cambridge pieces are all that good.
I would be tempted to go used and expand my list considerably for a much better, relatively late model unit. An Esoteric DV-50 would be a good choice as well as a whole slew of others. If you will consider used, you should repost so people can offer expanded recommendations on these.
I have a cambridge 640A (I believe is the model). This is the hard drive based system with the previous top of the line CDP integrated into it (at least that is how it was marketed). I use this piece regularly (primarily as a music server). I have listened carefully via its own internal DACs and also via its digital outs going into my Resolution Audio Opus 21 GNSC. The weakness of the Cambridge units (in my opinion) is that the DACs aren't anything special. For my purposes, background music via the hard drive the piece serves my purpose well, very well.
However, if this were my primary CDP, I would be disappointed with it. It is purely an also ran. Not particularly full of life, a little flat in the staging, not overly dynamic. However, keep in mind I am comparing this to much more expensive CDPs that I have run over the past year in my system (Wadia, Audio Aero Prima and Capitole and the Resolution Audio Opus 21 GNSC).
Do I think the Cambridge is bad? No, but I don't think it is special either. I think it is purely an also ran that does not deliver as well as many other similarly priced CDPs and even lesser priced one. Will you hate it? Probably not. Will you love it? Doubtful.
I think you will find that it does not deliver much notable improvement over whatever you are presently running. I guess my thought is that you can do better without having to spend more. I hope this answers to some degree my thoughts and confirms that I am not just spewing comments about a product line I have never experienced. This being said, my comments are based on the 640 as I have not listened specifically to the 840 (so perhaps I am way off base, but the 640 was previously highly regarded by "professional" reviewers.)
I looked at the Cambridge web page and discovered the 640H music server that you are using has 1 Wolfson Dac, the 640c V2 has 2 Wolfson Dacs, 1 per channel. I would think that the 640H is comparable to the old 640c CD player, the 640c V2 is supposed to be quite a bit better than the older 640c. I have not actually heard any of the Cambridge players but some seem to love them and others are not impressed, like anything else they need to work within the context of your system.
Phill, I hope I did not come across as an expert on the Cambrige 640H and the CDP plat it has within it. It does not surprise me that Cambridge has made improvements to this DAC/CDP/HD system/server. Both the CD player that was part of this device and ths device itself both received very favorable professional reviews. The CDP was touted as being better than many more expensive units (if my memory is correct). This can be said of virtually anything produced now days; however, this does not mean that it is the best in its price range or even better than most or everything below its price range.
This is my impression of my experience with the Cambridge equipment. Sure it is better than some more expensive items (but so are some $200 Best Buy units). This does not make an item "great". I think Cambridge is a good advertiser and hence they get a fair number of reviews for budget minded items. My experience with their stuff is that it is budget stuff and not necessarily noticeable better than much of the mass market stuff. Please keep in mind that I own the 640H and am perfectly happy with it for my intended use and purpose. It is not bad, it is not great. It is a solid unit that performs adequately. Take that as you may, but it is my opinion of what I have heard of this unit and also limited other experience (at dealers) with Cambridge equipment. I consider it in the same class as Rotel or Arcam, for what that is worth. I also don't think their stuff holds good value and would very seriously consider buying used.
Again, in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, I think you can do much better.
No, not at all, I was looking into the CA Cd players and was considering a purchase but I have no dealers in my area so all the feedback I can read is a big help. User opinions are all over the place, this means that some probably have remarked on the sound before break in is complete, others have probably upgraded from inferior pieces so the CA sounds wonderful to them. I read the reviews on the higher up players but I take it all with a grain of salt, the only positive is the number of positive reviews. BTW, I have read that the feet on the CA players are very poor and improvements can be made by addressing this weakness.
Phill, have you considered a used Esoteric DV 50? The only difference between the DV50 and the 50s is upgrades to the video side anyway. The DV50s seem to have dropped below the $2,000 price point.
I have not done much to try to maximize the performance of my CA. You may likely be correct in the better feet improving their units. Also, you should factor in the last three CDPs I have used that I have been happy or at least satisfied with (Wadia, AA Capitole, Opus 21 w/GNSC). All of which a many times the price of the CA. So perhaps, in comparison my expectations are not fair. On the otherhand, if you don't have a dealer or a method to listen in advance, I wouldn't jump too fast.
I honestly wish you the best results with your decision.
The problem is I'm still into vinyl and when done right and set up correctly digital is a poor cousin in my opinion. Because of the results I've had with vinyl I don't take digital as seriously so I budget a lot less for a Cd player or a Dac. I sold my Eastern Electric Minimax tube CD player (very good player) and decided to get along with a Pioneer DV-440 DVD player, that didn't last long and now I'm looking for something that is listenable and have decided to go for a CA 640, 740 or 840. I've also owned a Benchmark Dac 1 recently and really did not like its mechanical or unmusical sound. I'm going to take my time and listen to what I can before deciding on a player. Thanks for your input, I appreciate your advice.
I have owned the CA 640C v1 and now own the CA 640C v2. Several key improvements including better power supply and two DACs instead of one make the version 2 significantly better than the original in terms of smoothness, timing, resolution, low level detail and bass definition. I like this player very much FOR THE COST. Other players in this price range have different strengths, but none can touch this one in terms of information recovery. I think it raised the bar for this price point when it came out, and CA seems to be on an aggressive upgrade and product development path.
With that said, both of the 640C v1 and v2 are on the forward side of neutral and sacrifice some overall depth and width of the soundstage in favor of resolution and instrument placement. Neither one should be considered in the league with $1-$2K players, new or used, and to do so would be a joke.
Back to the original point of the thread, the 840C is a completely different animal with better DACs and other parts, very sophisticated processing algorithms and upsampling. I have heard the 840C briefly and was impressed. While the build quality on the 640C is high for it's price range - essentially the same level of finish on the $1400 840C is only ordinary, but "look" with your ears first.
In addition to the other players mentioned in the thread above, I would offer honorable mention to the NAD M5 CD SACD player. I have only heard the Simaudio CD1 once and can't offer a well developed opinion on that yet - I would say it sounded very neutral and pleasant. I have not heard the Marantz SA8001 but it is suppose to be a lot of player for the money (<$900).
My current Top 5 list between $1-$2K based on personal experience and reviews by others would be in no particular order:
-Cambridge Audio 840C
-Underwood HiFi Mini mod Shanling CD 3000 (or other Shanling)
-Musical Fidelity A5 (used).
Just got rid of a MF A5 for a Tri CD4SE (Triode Corp of Japan) and if you are after a player to compete with the more popular CA840, CD-128 and Astin Trew 3500 then make sure you give it an audition if you can get your hands on one. It has the same pickup as the raysonic and Ayon with nice caps from Auricap and Wima, has balanced connections too as well as standard and has a nice little ECC88 valve in the output stage. All that means nothing if it sounds bad! The good news is it sounds great with most types of music, it is as smooth as my old Shanling CD3000 but actually has PRaT and also draws you into the music emotionally which the Shanling didn't do for me. I'm listening to CD's that I had no satisfaction in the past and i'm getting "involved" with them. Just remember there is more than just great detail and a massive soundstage when choosing a CD player. You will know what i'm talking about when you hear that magic.
Rega Apollo, Cambridge 840C...
I have both, and find the Cambridge having noticeably more low-level resolution, plus the highs are quite eye-opening. NOW, having said that, the Cambridge is just a little bit "contained," meaning the sound does not "jump" (as Harley pointed out in his review) out at you. It does, nonetheless have quite good imaging, sounds great on double bass, cello (I have NO idea what Hi Fi Choice said when they complained about the bass, especially given the review by the person who had it for a while varied wildly with their "group test," which, by their own admission, was several songs, played back to back: hardly an extended session, with the one listener who disliked it "by the 4th record"), sounds great on brass (sax, trumpets), very moving on woodwinds (especially piccolo, which has all the "bite" a piccolo has in real life without any brightness) and the flute sounds pretty classy.
The Rega jumps a bit more, has perhaps better dynamics, but I haven't listened to the Cambridge balanced. Oh, and harp on the Cambridge, as well as soprano (and other female voice) moved my pianist friend greatly.
I can tell them apart fairly easily, unless the microwave is on (TURN IT OFF! even if you have dedicated circuits, people. I have 6 (dedicated circuits) and I can hear [the grain] in the highs so easily it's not even humourous -- and so will you) or the 2.8, 5.6 gHz phones and other devices we (most of us)all have. Turn them off, too and THEN listen!!!!! That helps. I have Versalab Red Rollers on the interconnects and find that, with all the high frequency devices we have these days, it is easier to hear a component when the system's not being "poisoned."
I still like the Arcam FMJ 23: it had killer dimensionality and "presence" with a capital "P".
After recently auditioning several CD players under $2500 and doing a lot of research (reading reviews, etc.), I would have to say that the Cambridge Audio Azur 840c (which is what I bought) is the best CD player I have heard for under $2500 (check out Robert Harley's excellent review in TAS). Also, I found the Marantz SA8001 to be an excellent performer and it's under $1000 (it got into "Recommended Components" under "A" in Stereophile's Recoomended Components too). It really shines as an SACD player but can also hold it's own with regular redbook CDs.
I had Cambridge Audio 840C in my system for a while. Although it really is fantastic, I heard this sheen or glare in the upper registers, and couldn't live with it. It's a very smooth player, though, and it may have been a lack of system synergy or what have you, but whatever. I was happy with the Playstation 1 for all this time, and still intend to keep it. Now I'm running Consonance CD120T Linear, which is bloody fantastic for the price (a little less than $1K); for my tastes, it's better than what I got out of 840C. I also LOVED Primare CD31, which could be had in Audiogon for around $1600-1700. Other than those players, I can't really think of others.