Cambridge Audio 751BD - Sound quality

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Cambridge Audio 751BD
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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.



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