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Black Upsampling CD Player/DAC/Pre-Amp

  • Hi-Fi Choice magazine has been at the forefront of audiophile journalism for over 35 years. Its tagline,
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  • This high-end output connects compatible devices using an XLR cable. The main advantage of this is to reduce unwanted noise by introducing a 3rd pin with
Hi-Fi Choice magazine has been at the forefront of audiophile journalism for over 35 years. Its tagline, "passion for sound", reflects a desire to find the latest and greatest products.
This high-end output connects compatible devices using an XLR cable. The main advantage of this is to reduce unwanted noise by introducing a 3rd pin with "grounded" shielding.

(For more features refer to the specification table below.)



All our web prices are valid in-store


This page is intended to demonstrate the incredible value of our 6 Year Supercare. Under recent legislation, we are obliged to point out that you obviously do not need to purchase an extended warranty at the same time you purchase your electrical goods and are entitled to shop around. We have been encouraging our customers to do just that for years because, not only are our prices significantly cheaper than our competitors, but just look at what else we include:

Free loan machine (Subject to availability. Only if taken back to store)
Should you encounter a problem, just ask and you'll be provided with a unit to ensure you're not without music whilst your equipment is being fixed.

Like for like machine if unit is unrepairable
If, for any reason, we are unable to repair your unit, we'll replace it. Naturally, models do change so, while we can't guarantee that it will be the same model, we do guarantee that it will have equivalent specifications.

Free routine service / Maintenance checks
have your unit serviced as often as you wish, free of charge, during the 6 year period. (Normally excluded from extended guarantees).

45 day cooling off period
If you're not happy with our 6 Year Supercare package just ask for a full refund - no questions asked. After 45 days, providing no claim has been made, you can also terminate the agreement and receive a pro-rata refund.

If you use the policy in the 6 years, you'll have saved yourself tens and perhaps hundreds of pounds. If you don't use it... IT WON'T COST YOU A THING!*

* Simply return your unused Supercare policy within one month of the expiration date, and we'll refund the price of your warranty.
Buy Now Pay Later
LOWEST PRICES GUARANTEED!We'll beat any genuine advertised price,
even from the web & give you up to £100!

We're confident that our prices are amongst the very keenest out there, so we've made it as easy as pie to qualify for our Price Beat. Richer Sounds also guarantees to beat web prices, and Price Beat is even valid for 7 days after purchase, so if you've seen a cheaper price, let us know, and we'll happily beat that price by up to £100!

Products must be brand new, boxed, carry a comparable guarantee and be in stock at time of purchase. Richer Sounds price used to compare will be net of any voucher / trade in discounts.
T&Cs apply.

"The newcomer is a rich and sophisticated sounding machine that delivers remarkable tonal depth from a good recording." Hi-Fi Choice Magazine.

The highest quality CD performance

If you've a treasured collection of CDs and are keen to keep increasing your collection, the Cambridge Audio 851C will get the very best out of the format. At the heart of the 851C is a 32-bit Analog Devices Black Fin DSP (Digital Signal Processor). This feeds two of its AD1955 24-bit DACs in dual differential formation, each handling just one channel for excellent stereo imaging. What you hear is an exceptionally unforced, natural sound. Instruments and vocals 'breath' with emotion and depth, the sound has colour, texture and fluidity for an uncanny a sense of realism.

AFT2 audio upsampling
The 851C also has an Anagram Technologies AFT2 24 bit/384 kHz up-sampling circuit. Up-sampling conventional CDs 'stretches' the format to give the highest resolution possible. It also aids standard 24-bit/192kHz recordings with a faster sampling rate for less jitter. Up-sampling gives a smoother, more relaxed sound quality with added detail. You'll also notice enhanced depth and a more natural quality without the 'edge' that can afflict digital music. You'll hear every detail, including the odd cough, squeaky chair and flutter of sheet music; in short, it's like being there for real!

Tailored sound
As we all prefer slightly different nuances of sound quality, the 851C comes with Cambridge Audio's triple filter system. Select from Linear Phase, Minimal Phase or Steep modes and you can subtly alter the sound quality. You might even find certain types of music sound better with a particular filter engaged.

A DAC for all your digital sources
The Cambridge Audio 851C not only has digital outputs but also comes with four digital inputs. What this means is that you can connect up sources via a choice of optical/coaxial for inputs 1 and 2 and XLR or USB. So pretty much any digital source with a digital output can have its sound improved by being connected into the 851C.

Digital pre-amp functionality
The Cambridge Audio 851C is not just a top quality CD player and DAC; it's also an impressive digital pre-amplifier too! Use digital inputs 1 and 2 to connect up your Blu-ray player, games console or any other source with a digital output and use the pre-amp to select the source and alter the volume/balance. Connect your PC or media device by USB, as well. Once processed, the signal is ready to go straight into a power amp or active speakers - making for a, very high quality minimalist system.

Extensive damping
Using a full metal casing with rounded edges, doesn't just look and feel good, it helps the sound, too. The case is rigid and well damped, so it won't resonant unhelpfully. The thick aluminium front panel acts as a shield against electrical interference from sources such as dimmers and RF devices. All these details combine to create a hi-fi component that not only looks stylish but also offers exceptional resistance to both mechanical and electrical interference.

Reinvigorate not just your entire CD collection but also all your digital sources - the Cambridge Audio 851C is a powerful tonic for a tired system.

Expand all features

Connection Features
Optical Digital Output
Does it have an optical digital output? Optical digital output for digital recording or using with an upgraded DAC (Digital to Analogue Convertor)
Coaxial Digital Output
Does it have coaxial digital output? Coaxial digital output for digital recording or using with an upgraded DAC (Digital to Analogue Convertor)
Number of USB sockets fitted. These can be used for connection of media players, wi-fi dongles and other accessories
XLR Balanced Outputs
Balanced XLR outputs offer a professional grade connection with minimal interference
Coaxial Digital Input
Does it have a coaxial digital input? This allows the unit to also be used as DAC (Digital to Analogue Convertor) for other components
Optical Digital Input
Does it have an optical digital input? This allows the unit to also be used as a DAC (Digital to Analogue Convertor) for other components
Green Credentials
Eco Friendly Features
Power Consumption - Standby
This is the power used in watts when the unit is switched off but still powered at the mains and ready to be turned back on.
Power Consumption - Normal Use
This is the power used in watts when the unit is on, using standard settings. Note, different manufacturers use different methods to arrive at this figure. In some cases only the maximum power consumption is quoted
General Features
CD Memory
Does it have a programable track memory?
Remote Control
Is Infra-red remote control included?
CD Text
Is CD text included? Will show text on display with suitable discs
Size of unit (W x D x H) mm
430 x 360 x 115
Weight of unit,unboxed, in Kg
Disc/format Type Playable By This Product
CD Number of Discs
Number of discs the player holds
CDRW Playback Compatible
Will it playback re-writable copied CDs?
MP3 Playback
Will it playback MP3 music files?
SACD Playback
Does it play SACDs? SACD stands for Super Audio Compact Disc. SACD improves upon the 16 bit/44.1kHz resolution of CD by using Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology. This 1 bit technology has a sampling frequency of 2822.4 (64 times higher than CD), giving similarly high resolution to 24 bit formats such as DVD-Audio. Special SACD discs are required.
CAMBRIDGE AUDIO AZUR 851C is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 6.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional quality. The product is everything I expected it would be. Expensive but you get what you pay for. Great sound thru my old (but also expensive in their day) Trio amplifier and Kef AB104 speakers. Great product knowledge and service from Richer Sounds too.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good looking, detailed delivery. Nice and substantial, good looks (silver picking out the features on a nice black background) and great remote. This picks out all the details and delivers them to the rest of the system effortlessly. Every CD I put on is like listening to something completely new as it picks out information I have never heard before. Marvellous.
Date published: 2016-04-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Expensive machine with OK performance Following an inheritance I had decided to spruce up my hifi. First to go was the amp, to be replaced by The Cambridge Audio Azur 851A. With its array of analogue inputs both balanced and unbalanced and record output this suited my purpose and the difference in sound quality was immedietly noticed. Much more punchy and detailed than my old Rega. Next to go were the speakers to be replaced by some Kef LS50s from another retailer. Lastly my old Denon CD player was starting to fail to play some CDs so I guess the laser is on its was out. I borrowed the demo Cambridge Audio Azur 851C from Richer Sounds Romford. Not only a CD player but also D/A converter with an array of digital inputs, not cheap at 1200 quid. It did sound good through the amp and speakers but so did my old Denon. In fact I could detect no difference between each machine. I was grateful that Richer Sounds Romford refunded me the cost of the 851C.
Date published: 2016-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delighted with this machine! I purchased a 851a amplifier in August & was keen on the matching c/d player. Came for a listen of this player on 5th December & ordered one after being suitably impressed. At £1100 this is not a cheap unit & the finish of the unit is anything but cheap. Very sturdily built & beautifully finished, so how does it sound? I had a Cambridge 640c player that I had brought from Richer sounds in Oxford a few years back, I thought that sounded good. The 851c was 3 times the cost of the old one, but it sounds (in my opinion) stunning. I have listened to some music that has genuinely made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. So much detail that was lacking before. The saying 'you get what you pay for' as never been more apt.
Date published: 2015-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Detailed high quality sound The clarity and detail that this CD player reveals was apparent when I first heard it in the shop demo room. It has really added to the overall sound of my hifi system.
Date published: 2015-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Huge Step Up From 840C System 840A with Mission 773e with QED Revelation Cables and Silver Anniversary Jumpers. My 840C died so the only like for like replacement was the 851C. When I collected it from the Sheffield store, the Manager, Stuart said that it would "blow me away". I was a little sceptical, and on first listening I was a little underwhelmed, but after I had burned it in I realised that he wasn't kidding. It feels that I have bought an entire new CD collection, on each one I am hearing things that I have never heard before. I have also hooked up my SKY HD Box up to the 851C with an optical interconnect and the audio is so much better that it was with the 840C. The soundstage is wide and detailed, and less laid back than the 840C was, more like sitting in the front row of a concert than at the back of the hall. Bass response is also fuller yet more detailed. Speaker positioning is also far less sensitive to produce a great soundstage. The 851C has raised the bar by a good margin.
Date published: 2015-05-22
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Prices valid in store (all including VAT) until close of business on 29th May 2017.
(some of these web prices are cheaper than in-store, so please mention that you've seen these offers online)

Please note: 03 numbers are NOT premium rate numbers | For more information click here

RRP = Recommended Retail Price. RRPs are based on information supplied by What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine, manufacturers, Hi-Fi Choice, Home Cinema Choice, Google, Which? & Pricerunner. Further information is available on request.