I recently purchased for myself a nice “pre-Christmas” present a few weeks ago – an 840C. All I can say is that is really is everything that RH indicated in his review. This is the first digital source I have heard in my system that wipes away nagging issues I have had with CD since it’s inception.

Fresh out of the box, it did not impress me, but after 200 hours of break in, it came into its own. Not to mince words like the professional reviewers that seem to get paid by the word, I can sum it up is saying that it has absolutely the best refinement (borrowing RH’s words – he’s nuts on) and “seamlessness” across the entire sonic spectrum that this pair of jaded ears has heard. It has the smoothness, delicacy and air that almost rival my analog source (dare I say that? don’t quote me). It is warm, yet revealing in a way kin to SACD.

Cambridge Audio Azur 840C

Voices are full bodied and display a roundness and dimensionality that has always eluded me. It is honest in that poor recording still sound that way, but with the latest recordings it really opens up and really digs into the pits like a good line contact stylus is known to do. Compared to my old MSB upsampling DAC/Denon transport, it is an order of magnitude leap in realism. In addition to the mid and top end improvement, it carries it all the way down to the lowest reaches of the RELs.
Its strongest suit is a noticeable reduction of sibilance in recordings that I have always thought endemic to the red book medium. To drive the point home, the player really came to life when I removed the pair of NOS tubes in my preamp I had been using to tamp down the vocal and treble edge that fatigued me when playing anything red book. I’ve been searching for years for any current production tube that I could live with over the long term – but they were always were too peaked and grating. With the 840C, a couple of New Sensor reissued TungSols now sound absolutely beautiful. No more need for the WOW cable either – in are the Zus.

What really tweaks me is that I had been “dumbing down” my entire playback chain to accommodate my digital sources and in the process, created a setup shooting for the lowest common denominator. My Shure cartridge, surely no champ for detail retrieval compared to pricier MCs has finally come alive due to the fact that I got rid of all my band-aid tone controls. Today, I have a more optimized system when playing either digital or analog sources and getting the best out of each. It’s not just digital playback that got a boost, but the whole shebang.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced player, look no further.

Forch – not quite a digital convert, but getting one step closer.

by Forch on 12-20-07