Cambridge Audio Azur 851D – £1,000

David Price writes:

Somewhere around the turn of the millennium, hi-fi started getting interesting again – with DVD-Audio and SACD arriving, MP3 going gangbusters and computer audio taking hold. Then asynchronous USB conferred hi-res capability on Macs and PCs, and now easy wireless has come of age thanks to aptX Bluetooth. Cambridge Audio’s new flagship DAC is a product of all this. Packed with most of the functionality that has popped up over the past decade, it purports to be a ‘greatest hits of digital’ in one convenient package.

Product manager Sam Ellenby says it’s for, “a reasonably sizeable market of people who want to know they’re fundamentally hearing an uncoloured, unhindered reproduction of their source material.” Fair enough, but the flagship Azur 851D is an expensive box of tricks, and Cambridge Audio has traditionally been associated with more affordable kit. Which begs the question, is it good enough to get people who’d normally buy more upmarket brand names interested? The company thinks so, calling it “the last word in high-end digital-analogue conversion.”

Well it’s certainly big and heavy for a DAC, and is .....

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