Cambridge Audio announced their new flagship, audiophile-grade network music player / DAC / Pre-Amp for $1800. The new Azur 851N is designed to be the world’s best digital music streamer for those who want to play their digital music with no compromise on sound quality. Capable of playing all popular formats up to 24-bit/192kHz studio master quality files, the 851N intelligently upsamples all incoming audio to 24-bit/384kHz for the best quality possible.
The 851N shares the Azur philosophy of combining specially selected, audiophile grade components in an all-metal, ultra-rigid chassis. A superb new 4.3″ (11cm) colour screen for displaying album artwork and new Cambridge Connect Apps for Apple and Android also ensures that the 851N delivers an effortless and pleasurable user experience.
Superior connectivity, support and powerful upsampling
Connected either wired or wirelessly via UPnP over a home network, the 851N will effortlessly find and stream music stored on computers, laptops and NAS drives. Additionally three USB inputs allow direct playback from USB HDDs and memory sticks. Class-leading input connectivity includes two TOSLINK optical inputs, two S/PDIF coaxial inputs, an AES/EBU input and asynchronous USB audio.
Asynchronous USB audio allows playback of up to 24-bit/192kHz audio files direct from a connected computer or laptop, with the 851N effectively acting as a high-quality external sound card.
The 851N also features Apple Airplay and support for an optional BT100 aptX Bluetooth receiver for instant and effortless streaming from any smartphone or tablet to play back users’ favourite apps and services in stunning quality.
RCA and balanced XLR analogue outputs, as well as a digital AES/EBU, TOSLINK and coaxial outputs, allow connection to a wide range of high-performance Hi-Fi components, and the RS-232 port enables integration into custom installations.
Capable of handling all popular codecs including WMA, MP3, AAC, HE AAC, AAC+ and Ogg Vorbis and lossless 24-bit/192kHz FLAC, ALAC, WAV and AIFF files, the 851N can play virtually any file from a digital music library. There is also in-built support for leading streaming services including Spotify Connect, Pandora, Rhapsody, BBC iPlayer Radio, and of course Internet radio.
With Spotify Connect, subscribers to Spotify Premium can play all their Spotify music and playlists in far superior quality and control the 851N with the powerful Spotify app.
No matter the file type, no matter the source, the Azur 851N will sound fantastic thanks to the unique second-generation Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF2) audio upsampling. The AFT2 system intelligently upsamples all audio inputs to 24-bit/384kHz to draw out extra detail and virtually eliminate the jitter inherent to digital inputs.
Running twin Analog Devices AD1955 DACs in dual differential mode ensures the very best digital to analogue conversion. Left and right stereo channels are processed separately for maximum fidelity, accuracy and stereo separation.
Audiophile grade components, including a high-end digital preamplifier and large toroidal transformer, powered by a fully linear power supply guarantees true class leading performance and a product that deserves flagship status.
Furthermore, the internal digital preamp is driven by a high spec, custom-coded 32-bit Blackfin DSP which keeps the audio signal in the digital domain for as long as possible, limiting analogue signal deterioration and noise. It also ensures that the 851N is much more than just a network streamer, but a high-end digital pre-amp too, making it the ideal partner for the Azur 851W or an existing power amplifier.
Importantly, unlike many digital pre-amplifiers, the 851N does not use bit reduction for volume control which would result in serious quality degradation. Volume is instead controlled by the Blackfin DSP to preserve signal integrity and overall sound quality.
Enhanced user experience and all-metal construction
A brand new, more powerful processor enables 24-bit/192 kHz streaming over Wi-Fi and also allows for a much more user-friendly interface. Whether using the superb 4.3″ TFT colour display, or the completely redesigned Cambridge Connect Apps for both Apple and Android devices, control of the Azur 851N is effortless.
In-keeping with the rest of the flagship Azur 851 Series, the 851N has been beautifully designed and built to last. The all-metal casework and ultra-rigid chassis have been precision engineered for audio performance and longevity.
Availability & Pricing
The Cambridge Audio Azur 851N Network Music Player will be available at the end of Q1 of 2015 for $1,800.