Cambridge Audio 751BD - Sound quality

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Both through the Marantz SR8002 receiver and a Creek OBH-22 feeding Quad II-eighty valve amplifiers to World Audio Design KLS9 loudspeakers (and Usher S-520 Surrounds with the Marantz), the 751BD was a tidy sounding CD player, if not a ground shaking step ahead in silver disc playing, at least of the CD variety. As with other Cambridge players I heard little difference between the filters and although our tests revealed clear differences in pre and post ringing with a raised cosine pulse, it was difficult to detect real life benefit. I slightly preferred ‘Steep’ for a little less sheen and a darker, purer tonality but differences are small. So don't expect too much from the presence of these filters; whether pulses pre or post ring is what engineers obsess about! I find harder roll offs at 16kHz, as in Chord's DAC64 and the new Audiolab 8200CDQ, more subtly useful.

As usual, between analogue, HDMI and S/PDIF (optical) feeds I preferred the latter for pure clarity, at least working into the Marantz receiver.


Both DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD in highest definition 24/192 form were successfully read from Blu-ray music disc and sent out in native form or converted internally to PCM our checks showed, using 2L’s ‘Divertimenti’ disc that carries both, in addition to PCM. Results were impressive, but of course decoding takes place in the receiver in this situation. With 24/192 you get intense filigree detail and crystalline clarity, if not the silky smoothness of SACD; PCM always has a harder quality, even at maximum resolution.


I played a wide range of music from 2L at 24/192 resolution and the 751BD gave a full bodied and dense sound field with more texture than ordinary AV purposed Blu-ray players, helped by the ability to switch off displays on the player, as you can on Marantz receivers in Pure Direct mode.


Spinning live concerts like John Meyer’s well recorded ‘Where The Light Is’ (24/96) reinforced the 751BD’s solid sound, with plenty of heft to kick drum at the start of ‘Vultures’ and a clear bass line stepping along in the background.  The Who ‘Live at Kilburn’ is technically not  HD but a wonderfully restored time-piece from 1977 with high quality analogue video and audio for the benefit of an invited audience and the 751BD did a great job in getting the band’s energy across, Pete Townshend’s crashing guitar chords and John Entwhistle’s bass line at the start of Baba O’Riley thundered around my lounge impressively. The ‘751 told me data rate was a mere 47Mbps by the way, close to the limit for Blu-ray! The player’s firm digital grip on audio and good picture quality gave great results from this DTS HD Master Audio encoded video.

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.

Alberto Trujillo

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