- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 24 April 2012
The Cambridge 751BD Universal Blu-ray Player In Use
The 751BD arrived right after I installed a 122” screen and projector in my new house, so needless to say there was a lot of movie watching going on. In all respects, the 751BD performed admirably here, as I expected with its video section design. Blu-ray load times were fast, and menus were responsive in use. Seek times after making a selection did seem slower than other players, as I couldn’t quickly hit the Next Track/Chapter button continually and have it keep up with me. The only other fault I had with Blu-ray playback was the previously mentioned lack of a backlit remote, or an iOS app, for controlling in the dark.
With 3D Blu-ray content I didn’t have any issues in playback either. Watching Tron Legacy, The Lion King, and Toy Story 2 all looked fantastic, even if I am not a big 3D guy. I’ve had previous players experience hiccups on some 3D content and I ran into none of those on the 751BD. Now that Netflix has both Mad Men and Breaking Bad available for me to catch up on, I’ve been using their streaming far more. Because of this is really caught me off-guard when the 751BD only offers Picasa and YouTube for Internet streaming. With more and more content available online, and more people relying on it instead of cable TV or movie rental stores, the lack of any sort of movie or television streaming was a bit odd.
The 751BD was able to play back media that was found over my home network, despite the lack of Internet streaming. DVDs that I had converted to MKV (H.264 video and AC3 audio) played back fine, as did some other MPEG and AVI files that I tested. It also did well streaming audio from my network, which was important since it lets me take advantage of the Wolfson DACs (pictured below) as there is no DAC input. While my FLAC files did play back fine, navigating them was a bit of an ordeal since there was no search feature, and only a handful of artists or albums fit on the screen at once. If your DLNA server supports browsing by letter it will be easier, but with a large music library it can take forever to get to the album you want to hear.
The main reason you would likely buy the 751BD is for its audio playback, and for that I decided to compare it to the Oppo BDP-83SE. Both were hooked up to the Marantz AV7005 with identical RCA cables and with Pure Direct mode enabled on the processor to add as little to the signal as possible. Additionally inputs were level matched to make the comparison as accurate as possible. I began with REMs early 90’s album “Automatic for the People”, since I have two copies of it and I’ve listened to it at least a hundred times.
The two players were very close as I switched back and forth; with the main difference being the 751BD throws a bit more enveloping of a soundstage. Instruments came further out from the speakers, and the piano chords at the opening of Nightswimming seemed to surround me a bit more in the room instead of being more towards the speakers themselves. Michael Stipes vocals also reached out a bit more from the speakers, and a bit more clarity to his voice.
Listening to the recent SACD release of Pet Sounds from The Beach Boys, the Cambridge 751BD sounded spectacular. Together the remastering by Mobile Fidelity and the Cambridge were able to show off the age and quality of the original master, but still bring the music to life. The wonderful melodies on God Only Knows came to life through the speakers, with clear separation between instruments and a very good soundstage once again. The 751BD proved to be an excellent player and should merit considering for anyone just looking at a CD player in this price range as the Blu-ray playback can be considered a bonus.