CA Azur 640C/540C v Arcam Alpha One


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As title, I love the Azur series but if its not up to beating the Arcam (which I can't sell - dad's :D ), then I won't bother. Any thoughts? I haven't heard the 640C, is it worth auditioning?

I think its an Alpha One, or just an Alpha if there is any difference, it doesn't have a number on it.



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Very recently compared 640 V1 vs 640 V2 vs Alpha 1 in both my system (Yamaha 750se, B&W 602 S3 with QED interconnect and QED Silver Bi-wire) and a friends system (CA 640 amp, Diamond 9.1s, Pacific Audio interconnect, Gale speaker cable) and I must say it was quite shocking. I would have thought 10 years of progress would have yielded significant improvements but no, not to our ears.

The V1 and V2 were very similar in style, slightly more treble detail than the Arcam but lighter on both mid and bass. The V2 was marginally more focussed than the V1 with better clarity but to be honest unless you switched instantly between sources, the differences were tiny. If the cd needed to be swapped between players then we could here no real difference. The Arcam to my ears was the best of the lot, it certainly produced the biggest soundstage and a full bodied sound.

I was starting to get the upgrade itch as my friend was buying nice new kit but if the 640 V2 really is as good as it gets for £500 or less, then I'll happily not bother.


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thats very interesting, thanks a lot. Ill see if i can get a listen to a 640 V2, but i won't rush out to it. the alpha really is amazing, i used to use a technics player and was very happy, but then i heard the alph :D


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My friend is returning both the V1 and V2 today for a refund (7 day no quibble refund if you'd like to audition at home) but not only on sound grounds, the V2 has since given up outputting on one channel. Hardly an impressive showing! And yet What-Hifi 2005 awards lists the 640 V2 as the best cd player for under £500 and further says that its perfect partners are the 640 amp and Diamond 9.1 speakers! Whats going on?!


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"The Alpha One is still a great player and will see off most sub £1000 players of today"

Its a good little player but me thinks that may be a claim too far!

Carl Stock

Active Member
Hi. :)

I have a Cambridge Audio 640C (not V2), Cambridge Audio CD4SE, DiscMagic 1, ISOMagic, an Arcam Alpha One, an Arcam Alpha Plus and an Arcam Alpha 5 Plus. The oldest of these models is the Arcam Alpha (early 1990s; based around a Philips mechanism and DAC), as the Arcam Alpha One (mid-1990s; based around a Sony mechanism and a Delta-Sigma DAC) is a newer model. The Alpha 5 Plus is also from the mid-1990s and so is roughly the same age as the Alpha One. Note that on the Alpha One player, it is literally written as “Alpha” with “One” written in a pseudo handwriting style.

When it comes to defining how they sound, it is difficult to explain. I have experience of Cambridge Audio and Arcam CD players and amplifiers. The two CD makes of CD player that shocked me when it came to hearing how different a CD player could sound were Cambridge Audio and Arcam over Sony and Philips players. It does depend a lot on the DACs and general analogue output stages, as well as the amplifier and speakers used to partner each CD player.

I really like the sound of Cambridge Audio and Arcam CD players. It is difficult to choose between them. Cambridge Audio equipment sounds livelier, but Arcams sound more relaxed, if that makes any sense! Cambridge Audio and Arcam CD players have, in my opinion, their own idiosyncrasies. However, I buy new Cambridge Audio equipment. I like also other properties with Cambridge Audio products. When you factor in the extra cost of new Arcam products over new Cambridge Audio ones, I really can’t justify the extra cost of Arcam. However, if you want to, looking second-hand can be worth it. The only way to decide is to listen, and it can be interesting to find some good CD players of both makes for sale second-hand. Ones to look out for are below. The Cambridge Audio ones are especially great value for money (in my opinion) and the Arcam Alpha 5 Plus is very good, too – very detailed but can be relaxing or exciting where necessary with certain types of music:

Cambridge Audio

1. DiscMagic 1 (there were no more after this!) – CD transport, so requires an external DAC

Partner the DiscMagic 1 with an Cambridge Audio ISOMagic and use the clock lock – it’s very good!

2. CD4SE – excellent sound! Very, very different to the CD4.


1. Alpha 5 Plus
2. Some newer Arcam Delta transports that use a clock lock that goes with an Arcam Delta DAC

Hope this helps. :) I have digressed somewhat! My apologies. :oops:


Carl :)
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