Cambridge Audio Azur 740C CD Player Review


Sep 19, 2006
Cambridge Audio Azur 740C Review

  • Very good performance in areas of detail, imaging and bass extension
  • Excellent midband neutrality
  • Great flexibility from digital inputs
  • Slightly naff display
  • More mechanical noise from the transport than we'd like
Even if you've no use for the digital inputs, this is still a must-hear option in the admittedly busy 500 market


Twice now we've had the pleasure of reviewing Cambridge Audio's high-tech Azur 840C CD player. At 750, it offers superb value. So what might we say about this newcomer, which at a mere 500 appears to equal the 840C pretty much feature for feature?

Like the 840C, it employs some nifty digital signal processing courtesy of Anagram Technologies to effect upsampling to 384kHz. There's nothing magic about upsampling, but it is a useful technique; and the higher the better, because it makes the analogue filtering that follows less of a headache. In addition, correctly done, it can be a useful extra protective measure against the transfer of jitter from the transport to the analogue output.

One difference between the 840C and 740C models is the DAC chip, which is in this case a slightly cheaper model from Wolfson. As with the Analog Devices chip used in the 840C, it is configured to bypass its internal oversampling filter and despite the slightly lower specification, it's likely to exceed the performance of most other parts of the record/replay chain. Another difference is that the 740C has no balanced output, and we gather that the analogue filter is slightly simpler.

That still leaves a lot in common. Significantly, the 740C also features two digital inputs, making it usable as a DAC with the potential to enhance the sound quality of any device featuring digital output at any of the standard frequencies. Like all the Azur range, it's neatly put together in an all-metal case and, apart from the slightly old-fashioned display, looks very much the upmarket business in either black or silver.

Cambridge Audio will have to excuse us if we don't say that this player wipes the floor with the competition; it doesn't, but that's not because it's badly - or indeed, at all - lacking in any area. We've seen many 500-ish players in the last few years that put out a highly admirable performance, and this merely adds to their number. But if pushed, we'd certainly place it at (or very close to) the front of the pack.

Comparing notes from our experiences with the 840C, we found plenty of common ground, but were most struck by the 740C's agility and rapidity of response to changes in dynamics and musical textures. This in turn is evidently due to excellent tonal neutrality, and ironically that may even be an area where it slightly excels the 840C, though there's little in it. In absolute terms, though, this is a very neutral player that combines bass weight, treble extension and an absence of midrange coloration.

Where it does seem to lag behind the 840C - by a small margin - is in stereo image depth. We had no concerns about this with the dearer player, but the 740C does pull images a little forward compared to the best references we've heard. As with the 840C, instruments are not always as clearly defined in space as they can be by the very best players, but nothing at this price can embarrass the 740C in this area.

Once more like its bigger brother, the attention to detail and accuracy may seem a touch bland if you're in favour a spiced-up approach to hi-fi. Overall, though, this is an excellent CD player that should be of interest to anyone who appreciates the finer things... bar those who just like spending money! Bearing in mind that as an add-on DAC it can already justify itself if you've DAB, MD and so on, it's one of the most self-recommending bits of kit we've enjoyed lately.


Cambridge Audio Azur 740C Review
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Any actual first hand reviews ?? What Hi FI, Av max and most print /online media etc seem to like everything :D
Any actual first hand reviews ?? What Hi FI, Av max and most print /online media etc seem to like everything :D


Cannot say about the Azur 740C, but I have heard the Azur 540C (though not for an extended period of time) and its very good. SQ and reproduction were faithful to the original that I had heard numerous times before. I am searching for the right word here... but SQ was "peppy" and "lively" on the Azur 540C if that's the right choice of words to describe SQ.
Any actual first hand reviews ?? What Hi FI, Av max and most print /online media etc seem to like everything :D

I own a 740c. Bought it in the beginning of November. You will get details of the purchase procedure in a separate thread in the "What should I buy" section.

I will post a more detailed review (as much as possible by me) in this thread or in a separate thread in the coming days. The burn-in period is still not fully over, I feel. I have so far done just more than 100 hours I believe.

Here is my brief impression on it: Simply remarkable for its price! SKS Kolkata asked 45K, ultimately I bought it for 42K. Right now because of the USD/INR exchange situation all prices have gone up. The list price in India for 740c is 50K now, I believe.

I compared it with CA azur 640c v2, Marantz 6002, Cayin tube CD (forgot the model, priced 50K), Creek Evo CD and Nad 542. This field of extremely capable CD players in the price range of approx 25K-50K could not come anywhere near the expertise of the 740c. I tend to believe this is NOT an over-statement.

I also wanted to compare it with Marantz 7001 and 7001KI and the Arcam CD73. The Marantz pieces were not available for auditioning and the Arcam I could not hear in the same setup (by the way the abobe comparisons were all done in the same setup of amp and speakers).

The details, the dynamic response, resolution, soundstage of the 740c all are commendable. It may be by far be the best player for CD players upto its price range and be able to compete with a few above its price range. This is the feeling I got at the time auditioning and I still maintain it. BTW, I auditioned it twice each time for an extended session, to get rid of any subjectivity or bias.

You can also use it as a very good DAC. it has a pair of digital (both coax and optical) inputs.

If I get around my work a little bit, please wait for my more detailed review.
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Dear Saurabh,

I am also from Kolkata.... was also planning to buy a good CD player like Azur 740c. Heard fm SKS as well.... I have two questions ?

1. Does upsampling really helps as far as hi fi is concerned ?
2. What kind of speaker pair would you recommend for Azur 740c ? Or waht speaker pair r u using ?

Hi Prasun,

You may have confused the names. Saurabh I think is from Delhi. I am from Kolkata. And as I have written above, I have the CA 740c CDP.

The upsampling/oversampling issue is a controversial one. I would say why go into a theoretical discussion, please do not pay much attention to it. Listen to the sound it produces. Compare with other CDPs up to this price range (and perhaps a bit above it) with the same amp, speaker and cables. And then decide. This is what I have done.

The speakers are to be paired with the amp, not so much with the source, although obviously it does not make sense to have poor quality speakers when you have a decent source.

What is the set-up you already have? Or are you planning to get a full set-up of stereo separates?
Dear Asit,

Thanks a lot.... Sorry for the confusion....

I will go by your advice of listening to it.... Actually I have a Onkyo DV-SP501 DVD Player, Yamaha RX-V2700 AV Receiver, with Bose 201 X 2, Bose 161 X 4, Bose VCS-10 and Wharfedale Sub SW150 -- as a AV setup. This I also use for listening to Audio CD. I was planning to buy a decent dedicated Stereo setup. Was evaluating Cambridge audio 340A SE and 740C with a pair of good speakers (or since I also have Wharfdale Diamond 9.2 Bookself speaker set, I may use these as well)

I was planning to buy a decent dedicated Stereo setup. Was evaluating Cambridge audio 340A SE and 740C with a pair of good speakers (or since I also have Wharfdale Diamond 9.2 Bookself speaker set, I may use these as well)

Hi Prasun,

I did not quite understand your choice of equipments, because the CA 340A amp and the WF Diamonds are quite entry level, while the CA 740c CDP is a bit above that level. I would let others comment, but my personal impression is that you will NOT get the best out of the CDP by pairing it with the 340 amp the Diamond speakers.

Can you explain a bit more what you are trying to do under what kind of budget and what are your musical preferences? Then the experts in this forum can really help you. I would also put in my 2 cents and on any Kolkata-specific issues.
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