THE NEW 851 series of audio components from Cambridge Audio (CA) are about to be released into the NZ Market. The 851A integrated amplifier will be priced at $2799 while the matching 851C CD player will cost $2499. Both units follow on from the 840 series, with refinements and additional features being added.
The 851A uses CA’s own proprietary Class XD technology to deliver 120 watts of power, and the amp features two mains transformers: one for the sensitive preamp section and a much larger one for the power amp stages. There’s a new fully balanced silicon gate volume control, offering fine 1dB adjustment steps across the volume range along with highly accurate channel matching. The 851A offers RCA/phono inputs, plus two pairs of fully balanced XLR connections. I’ve taken a look at a pre-production sample and it’s a weighty unit thanks to the massive transformer, the acoustically damped full-metal chassis and thick brushed-metal fascia. The new silver highlighting looks very cool as well on the black finish.
The 851C is more than just a CD player, rather it showcases CA’s DAC and network player expertise, so it’s a CD player, a DAC and digital preamp in one box. It features high-specification digital-to-analogue convertors from Analog Devices and on-board ATF2 upsampling technology. It offers a wide range of connectivity options (two S/PDIF (coaxial) inputs, two Toslink (optical) inputs) and the 851C also supports 24-bit/96kHz and 192kHz over USB, allowing users to connect streamers, digitally docked iPhones and iPads and computers of all kinds.
The 851C’s CD player section incorporates the Analog Devices DAC, the ATF upsampling and balanced XLR outputs. There’s also a custom-designed CD-only servo mechanism with a CA developed transport (not an OEM CD ROM drive).
Further adding to the 851C’s flexibility is its digital pre-amplifier functionality, so it can be used to control volume and balance levels when connected directly to a power amp or active speakers. This functionality is controlled using CA’s proprietary DSP (Digital Signal Processor) and gives the highest quality of digital volume control, as opposed to analogue attenuation or digital bit reduction.
Stock is on the way and both items should be available in June.