Cambridge Audio 751BD

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Cambridge Audio 751BD
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Does this new player from Cambridge Audio set standards?  Noel Keywood applies the tests.

(a more comprehensive version will appear in our September 2011 issue, comparing it with the 650BD).


The Cambridge Audio Azur 751BD plays Blu-rays and DVDs, but is also strongly purposed as a simple stereo analogue CD player, one of good quality. It has stereo outputs on the rear, where the 650BD does not. Bolstering its stereo credentials are selectable audio filters that affect the sound at these sockets. This player plays DVD-As and SACDs and outputs DSD or PCM over its HDMI line to a receiver.


It can be used as a stand-alone SACD player but PCM must be selected in the SACD set up menu to get sound at the analogue stereo output sockets. Also on the play list are HDCDs and all DVD and Blu-ray music coding formats from Dolby and DTS, including the highest quality DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, both used in high quality movie sound tracks and even in dedicated music Blu-rays, such as those from 2L of Norway. These streams can be sent out undecoded (i.e. bitstream) to modern receivers or transcoded down to PCM to older ones, over the HDMI line. But again those who simply want better quality analogue stereo will get it at those stereo output sockets, high resolution digital audio being mixed down to high quality analogue stereo.


There are electrical and optical S/PDIF digital audio outputs and with these 751BD offers a very low jitter digital signal our measurements showed.


Also readable are USB ‘memory sticks’ with read-only sockets on front and rear, and the unusual addition of external Serial ATA connector so a computer disc containing video (or audio) can be connected. Cambridge say only WMA and MP3 music files can be played, not AAC from Macs. I should also mention that the handbook is comprehensive, succinct and easy to understand, unlike those of Far East players. This is likely to make quite a difference to getting the best from the player as there is a lot going on here.


An ethernet connection is provided, and a wi-fi aerial for wireless connection. I set light to my wireless router long ago so connected up by reliable, secure and fast wired link. It saw my Netgear router with a DHCP handshake without difficulty. Software update is possible and the hardware MAC address is declared so you can identify the player on a network.


Cambridge say only WMA and MP3 music files can be played over the network from a server, not AAC from Macs; I found WAV played too. Unfortunately, the player locked up a lot on my wired network and had to be reset often. As Onkyo receivers pass these tests with difficulty I suspect the 751BD could be better. Cambridge told me they are awaiting new software.

I could not get it to see an external 2TB, NTFS formatted, eSATA connected self-powered hard drive either, but Cambridge say they have experienced no problems here; this could be a disc formatting issue. It did however read WMV test clips over my network, but the network's data rate could not support MPEG video which stuttered then crashed the player. Because a restart takes 30 seconds this was time consuming.



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