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Cambridge Audio 751BD

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Cambridge Audio 751BD
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CAMBRIDGE AUDIO AZUR 751BD BLU-RAY PLAYER

 

cambridge-audio-751bd

 

BLUE STANDARD


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.

cambridge-audio-751bd-skts

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.

cambridge-audio-751bd-rear

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.




 
Comments (3)
Tannoy Westminister
3Monday, 26 September 2011 16:53
Frank Rodgers
Hi Noel:

Can you help and tell me how to go about getting your April 2006 article on the Tannoy westminister speakers. Thanks.

Frank Rodgers


Hi Frank. You can buy Hi-Fi World April 2006 as a back issue from our on-line magazine reading service, provided by Pagesuite. Press the 'Or Read On-Line' button at top left on our website's front page. NK
Oppo and Cambridge
2Tuesday, 12 July 2011 18:14
Noel Keywood, publisher
Hi Alberto,

I am sorry to disappoint you but I have not heard the analogue output of the Oppo BDP-95 so cannot comment upon its analogue performance. I have measured and carefully listened to the Cambridge 751BD and whilst it is a good analogue player, it isn't the best by any means. That is because Blu-ray players are intended to work with AV receivers via HDMI; their analogue outputs are not a priority.
You would be better advised to buy a modern Onkyo receiver like the TX-NR609 (see our review) and use HDMI connection. If you want the very best from SACD then get a more expensive Onkyo or Marantz receiver, preferably with proper DSD convertors. I compare the 751BD with the 650BD in our forthcoming September 2011 issue.
I hope this helps you.

best regards

Noel Keywood.
Cambridge and Oppo
1Tuesday, 12 July 2011 18:09
Alberto Trujillo
Greetings Mr. Keywood,

I very much enjoy reading your HI-FI World editorials. Earlier in the year I read a review you wrote of the Pioneer BDP-LX53 and you compared it to the Oppo BDP-83 and Cambridge Audio 650BD. I have been researching both of these players to replace my current universal DVD Pioneer player, but my limited technical knowledge of digital to analogue converter chips has left me in a bit of a quandary. I was hoping I could ask for your advice in this regard. I realize that at this point these companies have new players (Oppo BDP-95 and Cambridge Azure 751BD), so I’m wondering if I should choose from the new players instead? Or is the audio performance between the new players and the older players negligible? Is the performance of the Cambridge Azure 751BD worth twice the price of the 650BD? Either way my main question is regarding the difference in audio performance between the Dual ES9018 SABRE 32-bit Reference DACs in the Oppo BDP-95 and the five Wolfson WM8740 24/192kHz DAC’s in the Cambridge 751BD. I see that one is a 32-bit versus a 24-bit. Not knowing enough about the technical difference it would seem that the Oppo DAC would be superior than the Cambridge DAC. Is that reasonable to assume or is that misleading? I prefer the design of the Cambridgeplayers, but I want to buy the player that will create the best audio playback from SACD, Audio-DVD and Blue-ray. I will be using the analog 7.1-channel surround outputs to connect to my Rotel processor. My priority is audio performance over video.
I hope this is not too trivial of a question for you, as I’m at a loss trying to decide which player to choose given the different DAC’s employed.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,
Alberto Trujillo

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