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Cambridge Audio Azur 640C Version 2 CD Player Review

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When it comes to budget audio with a high end sound, there are few companies that do it as well as Cambridge Audio. As an owner of the original 640C CD player I was delighted to have the opportunity to compare the original 640c with the company’s new and improved 640C “version 2.”

The upgraded player is a single disc compact disc player with a custom manufactured drive featuring a Sony optical pick-up. Most notable is that the upgraded 640C employs a pair of digital to analog converters implemented in dual differential configuration. In this case, they are two 24-bit/192kHz WM8740 designs from Wolfson Microelectronics to improve stereo separation and create a perfectly symmetrical layout. This ensures both left and right channel circuitry operates identically. This dual differential configuration offers better signal to noise ratios and exceptionally low distortion claims Cambridge Audio.

Elsewhere there is a new toroidal transformer for lower noise and less waveform distortion, a revised LCD which provides two levels of brightness and an ergonomic navigator style Azur remote handset. To allow seamless integration with multi-room entertainment systems, a control bus input and output have been fitted, as has an IR emitter input.

Like all of Cambridge Audio’s Azur products, the 640C v. 2 sits on an acoustically damped chassis and features a solid aluminium front panel with ergonomically designed controls.

In spite of all these changes, the price has remained the same at a very reasonable $599.

I auditioned the 640c using Blue Circle’s NSCS integrated amplifier and my Soliloquy 5.0s speakers. After warming up the player I turned first to Holly Cole’s “Trust in Me.” On the 640C v. 2 I immediately found that both the piano and Cole’s vocals had a slightly more life-like presence and more refined soundstage than the original 640C.

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On Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” the separation of instruments and voices also showed some improvement on all instruments used.

The upgraded 640C also added more air and warmth to Patricia Barber’s icy cool vocals on her “Cafe Blue” album.

I also played “Your Wish is my Wish” from Sarah Slean’s last album which features Sarah’s unique voice and piano. The 640C’s improved power supply came through with deeper black backgrounds and more detail than its predecessor.

In general, I found voices sounded more natural and with very little added sibilance.

While the 640C is a fine player, especially for the price, it is of course not without some limitations. The overall sound of the player leans more towards analytical than musical with individual instruments lacking an inner warmth that reduces the impact of the overall soundstage. Even matched with the superb NSCS integrated amplifier the CD player can sound too clinical at times. It is therefore important to match it with more musical sounding equipment like that produced by Blue Circle.

The player’s treble can at times sound slightly harsh when playing particularly demanding passages. For example, during complex piano pieces the sound can become somewhat brittle at times. The bass, while an improvement over the original player still lacks some control and detail.

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Despite these shortcomings, make no mistake, this player is setting new standards in its price class and can be auditioned without factoring in its modest price.

In the end the Cambridge Audio 640C ver. 2 offers a strong introduction to high end sound at an entry level price.

Azur 640C (Version 2) features:

  • 2 x Wolfson WM8740 24-bit/192kHz DACs in dual differential configuration for improved stereo performance
  • Toroidal transformer for lower noise and less waveform distortion
  • Custom Cambridge Audio servo solution
  • Extremely low jitter
  • Co-axial and optical digital outputs
  • Control Bus input and output for seamless multi-room integration
  • Low resonance, acoustically damped chassis improves sonic performance
  • Dimmable LCD
  • Slim-line navigator style Azur remote control
  • Stylish all-metal casework with a solid aluminium front panel

Azur 640C (Version 2)

Frequency Response: 10Hz to 20KHz +/- 1dB
THD: 0.002%
D/A Conversion: 24-bit/192kHz x 2-dual
Dynamic Range: > 100dB
Channel Separation: > 90dB
Correlated Jitter: < 260ps
Digital Outputs: Optical and Coaxial
Max. Power Consumption: 17 Watts
Dimensions (W x D x H): 430 x 310 x 70mm
16.9 x 12.2 x 2.8″
Weight: 4.6 kg/10.1 lbs
Finishes: Silver/Black

About the Author:
John Bugailiskis is an audio enthusiast based in Canada.

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