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Flagship Upsampling DAC, CD Player & Preamplifier

Digital excellence

Whatever the digital source, the 851C improves it. CDs, streamed content, PC music files, all sound amazing

Our finest CD player and DAC, the 851C uses our extensive digital knowledge to become the cornerstone of your digital hub. No matter the source of your digital music, twin DACs in dual differential mode and 2nd generation Adaptive Time Filtering make the music sound as the original artist intended – extraordinary.

To make the 851C we used all our hi-fi know-how. So it has a toroidal transformer and audiophile components, and a signal path that’s been revised and tweaked for the cleanest route possible. It’s built to connect with as many sources as possible, with optical and co-axial digital in and outputs, XLR and RCA outputs, plus a USB audio input for your PC.

That the 851C is an exceptional CD player is beyond doubt. It has our high performance S3 Custom Servo for remarkable error-free data retrieval, while the twin DACs upsample data to 24-bit standard. But the 851C is also a pre-amp, so can be directly connected to a power amp or active speakers for further sonic benefits.

  • Digital to analogue converterDual Analog Devices AD1955 24-bit DACs
  • Digital filterAnalog Devices Black Fin ADSP-BF532 32 bit DSP performing 2nd Generation ATF2 upsampling to 24-bit/384kHz. Linear Phase, Minimum phase or Steep modes.
  • Analogue filter2 Pole Fully Differential Linear Phase Bessel filter
  • Digital input 1S/PDIF 75 Ohms or TosLink optical
  • Digital input 2S/PDIF 75 Ohms or TosLink optical
  • AES/EBU input XLR balanced 110 Ohms per phase
  • USB audio input USB Type B conforming to Audio profile 1.0 or USB Audio profile 2.0 (user 1.0 or USB Audio profile 2.0 (user selectable)
  • Audio outputsBalanced XLR and unbalanced RCA analogue audio outputs
  • CompatibilityUSB 1.0 16-24 bit, 32-96kHz
    USB 2.0 16-24 bit, 32-192kHz
    TosLink 16-24 bit, 32-96kHz
    S/PDIF and AES/EBU 16-24 bits 32-192kHz
    CD playback is intrinsically limited to 16-bits 44.1kHz
  • THD (unweighted) @ 1kHhz 0dBFs< 0.0004%
  • THD (unweighted) @ 1kHz -10dBFs< 0.0004%
  • THD (unweighted) @ 20kHz 0dBFs< 0.0007%
  • IMD (19/20kHz) 0dBFs< 0.0002%
  • Linearity @ -90dBFs+/- 0.2dB
  • Linearity @ -120dBF+/- 0.4dB
  • Stop-band rejection (>24kHz)> 120dB
  • S/N ratio (ref 1w)> 113dB
  • Total correlated jitter< 60pS for all digital inputs, CD playback and USB 2.0
    < 180pS for USB 1.0
  • Crosstalk @1kHz< -130dB
  • < -130dB< -114dB
  • Output impedance< 50 Ohms
  • 0dB Fs output2.2Vrms (2.2Vrms each phase for the balanced output)
  • Max. power consumption40W
  • Idle consumption8W
  • Standby power consumption<0.5W
  • ColourBlack or silver
  • Dimensions (WxHxD)430 x 115 x 360mm (16.9 x 4.5 x 14.7”)
  • Weight10.0Kg (22lbs)

Hi-Fi News (GB, )

"Frankly, the feature set of the 851C and 851A is the stuff of high-end audio dreams, but packaged in sensibly-priced components... As is so often the case with products from Cambridge Audio, what you're getting is cutting-edge technology for substantially less than high-end prices... This Azur combo took me to places I haven't been for a long time!"


European Imaging and Sound Association (GB, )

"So while the 851C DAC/player brings a quiet composure to the party, the 851A is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a muscular amp that grips the speakers and serves up tight, powerful and extended bass. In the 851C and 851A you’re getting cutting-edge technology for substantially less than high-end prices. Add the best speakers you can afford and this two-channel system will deliver a taste of hi-fi heaven."


What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision (GB, )

"There's fantastic precision in the way the 851C handles the leading and trailing edges of notes... An incredibly capable performer"


Hi-Fi Choice (GB, )

"They now compete with the very best in class when it comes to sound and are pretty much in a league of their own when it comes to features... This refined and revealing pair delivers a dynamic, clean and engaging result."

AV Max (GB, )

"The 851C truly lives up to all our expectations of being sweet, refined and simply musical. The amount of flexibility, in terms of usage, that imparts is very exciting and inviting. Be it as a CD player, a DAC or even the digital pre-amp. More importantly, the best part here is that irrespective of the mode/application that you decide to use it in, the sonic performance is absolutely consistent. Highly recommended!"

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Witchdoctor (NZ, )

"Cambridge Audio more than met my expectations... they’re both built incredibly well, they’re loaded with features, are customisable, versatile, easy to use and sound fabulous. The CD player is a knockout... The amp in particular is the best sounding unit of its type I’ve ever heard in this price range."

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Hi-Fi Choice (GB, )

851C wins Hi-Fi Choice's CD Player of the Year! "Impeccably engineered and with sonics the match of most machines at twice the price, what's not to like? Smooth and svelte sounding yet commanding and incisive, only its rivals will regret the advent of this sparkling talented new CD player."

Audio Video Magazine (BR, )

"Com excelente construção e design sóbrio, porém moderno, o Cambridge Audio 851C é um player honesto e um bom DAC cheio de recursos e entradas para satisfazer sonora e tecnicamente uma boa parte da legião crescente de usuários de media centers, music servers e computadores dedicados à reprodução musical de arquivos de alta definição da era da comercialização de músicas via internet."

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HD Fever (FR, )

"Musical, dynamic, pleasurable and sophisticated listening, enormous power, impeccable build quality, great design and ease of use - who could ask for more?"

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