Blu-ray Players

Cambridge Azur 650BD Universal Blu-ray Player



Installation was pretty straightforward. I connected an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable to my wireless bridge and a set of RCAs for the analog output. The menu is very similar in arrangement to the OPPO BDP-83 so I was instantly familiar. The player has a quick setup when it’s first turned on where one can easily select the output resolution, aspect ratio and the audio format. I had to access the main menu to set 24p output. Turning on the network access was a snap and the player found my network instantly. I checked for the latest firmware and found that it was current.

The menu is quite extensive and covers every conceivable option. It is logically laid out and everything is very easy to find. There are six major sections: Playback Setup, Video Setup, Audio Format Setup, Audio Processing, Device Setup and Network Setup. Playback Setup covers basic ergonomics such as language, auto play, angle, PIP and SAP marks and parental control. You can also select the default layer for SACD and video or audio mode for DVD-A discs.

Video setup contains all image related controls. The first selection is Picture Adjustment which is a set of options for brightness, contrast, hue (tint), saturation (color) and sharpness. I did tweak the brightness down one click to properly render the Pluge pattern on my Spears & Munsil test disc. Next is Primary Output where you can select the HDMI or component connection. Like all Blu-ray players, component output is limited to 1080i from any copyrighted material. If the on-disc Image Constraint Token is activated, the limit is 480p. Aspect ratio choices are 4:3 Letterbox, 4:3 Pan & Scan (vertical stretch), 16:9 Wide (4:3 material is stretched) and 16:9 Wide/Auto. This last choice will show all content in its native aspect. TV System lets you choose between PAL and NTSC for compatible displays. Output Resolution choices range from 480i to 1080p; or you can choose Source Direct to let an outboard video processor or your display do the scaling and deinterlacing. You can also choose Auto if you wish the 650BD and your display to negotiate the best resolution. I recommend forcing the correct setting for your display rather than leaving this on Auto. Not all TVs will report the correct information back to the player so you risk running below optimal performance. Option six is 1080p/24 output which can be on or off. This only works for Blu-ray discs. 24p conversion for DVD is not supported. HDMI Options brings up a submenu where you can choose YCbCr 4:4:4 (my choice), 4:2:2 or RGB for the output color space. Finally, you can toggle a screen saver on or off.

Audio Format Setup covers output for Blu-ray/ DVD and SACD. You can turn Secondary Audio on or off. It this is on, you will get sound for PIP content and menu click sounds. The downside is the two audio tracks will be mixed internally and output as compressed DTS 5.1. This negates the advantage of any lossless codecs. HDMI Audio choices are LPCM or bitstream. Choose bitstream if your receiver or processor decodes the newer formats. Choose LPCM if you have an older HDMI-compatible model. SACD output can be toggled between PCM or DSD. If you choose DSD, you must have an appropriate receiver or processor that supports this; few do. When I tested with my Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver, which does, I heard no difference. If you use the coax or optical outputs, you can also set these to LPCM (downmixed to 2-channel) or bitstream. Finally, you can choose an LPCM sampling rate limit of 48, 96 or 192 kHz.

The Audio Processing Setup menu gives you speaker configuration and a dynamic range control which can be on, off or auto (with appropriately flagged discs). The Speaker Configuration is a standard bass management setup with downmix mode options. Speakers can be set to small or large and when set to small, the crossover is a fixed 80Hz for all channels. Distances are entered in one-foot increments and the level trims are adjustable by .5dB. This menu need only be used if you output audio via the 7.1 analog connections. Digital output will be bass-managed by your receiver or processor.

Next up is Device Setup. Here you can display the current firmware version, turn on automatic notification, initiate an upgrade via CD, USB or Internet, turn on HDMI CEC for control with other compatible devices, dim the front panel display, select an OSD mode, manage BD-Live storage or reset the player to its factory defaults. The final menu is Network Setup. If you set the IP Configuration to Auto, the Azur will find your network configure the settings and connect itself to the internet. You can of course, configure this manually if you wish.

I did encounter some unexpected results when I did my first test using the Spears & Munsil Blu-ray Benchmark disc. The intro clip is supposed to play the sound of a forge with crackling fire and a hammer hitting an anvil. Instead, I got an extremely high-pitched hiss which sent me scrambling for the mute button. I quickly found that I had to set audio output to LPCM to get proper sound regardless of the codec used. Since this can often be a situation where two components simply don’t work correctly over HDMI, I switched out the Anthem D2v processor for an Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver which has HDMI 1.3 compliance. Problem solved. I was able to bitstream all codecs through the Onkyo.