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Azur 851E Pre-Amplifier

So little distortion, it's barely measurable.

This true analogue preamplifier delivers an incredibly pure signal. The 851E delivers so little harmonic distortion and adds so little noise to incoming signals that we can barely measure it. In preamplifiers, that's a very good thing!

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Vastly improving over its predecessors, the key to the 851E is its innovative solid state volume control that offers precise control, retains channel balance accurately at low levels and offers truly linear performance, all without introducing any distortion to the precious analogue source signal.

Above and beyond that, the 851E offers improved source connections with eight inputs, including three XLR balanced inputs for superior audio fidelity and to match the best high-end modern sources.

The 851E is designed as a truly high-end component throughout, with Terrapin impedance buffering modules to separate amplifier and signal impedance, delivering an even consistent sound across different sources; flexible and controllable trigger outputs and control bus, for integration with power amplifiers; and an all-metal chassis, designed to isolate the electronics from unwanted external interference. The end result is the best true analogue preamplifier Cambridge Audio has ever made, and an ideal companion to our 851W power amplifier.




Stunning signal-noise ratios – Total harmonic distortion for the 851E is now <0.00045% @1KHz, <0.000057% @20kHz. Signal-noise (unweighted) is <110dBr, <90dBU. Those figures are at the very limit of what we can even measure.

Solid state volume control – While the volume is controlled digitally, but the volume control is analogue. This innovative, solid state solution delivers absolutely precise and linear control and retains channel balance perfectly at low levels while ensuring the audio signal is left untouched.

Terrapin impedance buffering modules – Cambridge Audio's proprietary modules replace the op-amps commonly found in similar preamplifiers. At the critical low level gain stages, these offer far improved stereo separation and imaging – unheard of at this price point.

Integration – The 851E has a wider range of input options than its predecessors, with eight inputs including three switchable between unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR – the latter ideal for connecting to a broad range of high-end sources. Plus flexible and configurable trigger, IR outputs and control bus make it easy to connect to modern power amps.

All-metal chassis – Including extensive use of aluminium

Barely measurable distortion – total harmonic distortion <0.00045% @1KHz, <0.000057% @20kHz, signal-noise (unweighted) <110dBr, <90dBU
Innovative solid state volume control – retains analogue audio signal purity and precisions even at low levels
8 inputs including 3 XLR balanced/RCA unbalanced switchable
Cambridge Audio's Terrapin impedance buffering modules – separating amplifier and signal impedance
Flexible and configurable trigger/IR outputs and control bus for connection to power amp
All-metal chassis - this combines massive structural rigidity, careful damping and control of acoustic resonance
Remote Control – Compatible with the entire 851 range


THD (unweighted) < 0.00045% @ 1kHz
< 0.00057% @ 20kHz
S/N (unweighted) < 110dBr
< 90dBu
Frequency response 10Hz - 100kHz ± 0.1dB
Crosstalk @1kHz > 110dB
Maximum output 8V rms unbalanced
8V + 8V rms balanced
Output impedance 100 Ohms (Unbalanced or Balanced)
Subwoofer output Flat or 200Hz 2nd Order Butterworth LPF
Max power consumption 36W
Bass & Treble controls Shelving type
Max bass boost/cut ± 10 dB at 10 Hz
Max treble boost/cut ± 7.5 dB at 20 kHz
Standby power consumption <0.5W
Dimensions (H x W x D) 115 x 430 x 385mm (4.5 x 16.9 x 15.2’’)
Weight 8.1kg (17.9lbs)