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DandyCobalt's picture
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Cambridge Audio BD751 vs BD650 personal review

Now that the BD751 is available in the shops, I thought I would start a new thread with feedback on its performance.

Today, I had the chance to compare the new 751 against my existing BD650, courtesy of Damian at RS in Maidstone, which has a great demo room.

Armed with a challenging set of discs, Damian and I spent an hour and a half doing a head-to-head of the two machines, with DVD, Blu-Ray, SACD,  Blu-ray audio and then stereo. The rest of the setup was a Pioneer LX-83 a/v receiver (though all settings on the CA were set to PCM/LPCM so that the 751 was doing the digital to analogue conversion part), an LG LCD screen (42" I think) plus a KEF 5005 surround system for film and Tannoy Revolution floorstanders for stereo.

First , we hooked up my BD650 - RS don't have any left (although, intriguingly, the remote control for the 751 also has "BD651" on it, so expect a replacement soon for the 650?)

The discs we then used were:

- Wayne's World DVD (Region 1 NTSC version) - to check multi-region and upscaling ability

- The Dark Knight Blu-ray

- Moody Blues SACD (On the Threshold of a Dream)

- Audio Blu-ray: (Ole Bull - one of Andrew's favourites, and one he used to test the 650 when it first came out, I think)

- CD: Cee Lo Green and Elton John/Leon Russell 

After running them through the 650, so that we had a benchmark, we then repeated the exercise with the new 751...

Video 

DVD - yes, it automatically played the region 1 disc, but the image/upscaling was very similar to the 650 - no discernable difference (but was good to start with)

Blu-ray - Wow!!!  The picture with the 751 was much sharper, almost 3-d like in terms of the depth of the image and the sharpness of the characters. Also, there was no judder, as the camera panned across, such as in the opening zipwire parts. The images and blacks of the buildings at the start were better. The difference between the two machines was, in our eyes, very significant. 

Multichannel Audio (SACD, Blu-ray audio and soundtrack)

Multichannel - definite improvements across all the formats. Whilst the Tannoy speakers were quite bassy (compared with my usual CM8s) there was significantly better definition of the different levels and instruments 

Stereo audio

As RS had a separate set-up for the stereo side of things, we hadn't had a chance to put the 650 through the system first. Therefore, the 751 was demo'ed by itself. It was difficult for me to judge, as the speakers and rest of system was very different to my own at home. Damian noticed that it seemed better from his experience than demos with other machines.

So we called it a day.   The verdict of us both was that (compared to the 650) the 751 produced significant improvement in picture quality for blu-ray, although we couldn't see it with the DVD I'd used. For multichannel audio - again, a significant improvement over the 650.

Finally, the presentation of the 751 is very similar to the 650, but with a more upmarket feel, a better aluminium front (I think?) and the loading mechanism is much smoother. All menu screens seemed the same as the 650, so I felt completely at home with the new model. 

Oh, I bought the 751!  Just started playing it at home, and it is excellent. I will experiment with the stereo side of things over the next couple of days. 

Thanks to Damian at RS - an educational and enjoyable a/b test for us both !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RE: Home cinema

Nice review - I too live in Maidstone. The newer premises Richer Sounds is soooo much better than their last hovel - great set up.

Will be interesting to see how the WHF review team think of it now.

However, you have got in there 1st so nice one.

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RE: Home cinema

Great review Dandy - thanks for sharing it with us. 

I'm torn between the CA751, Oppo 95 or Arcam BDP100 for a musically optimised Bluray machine. Although the Arcam is short on features and apparently has a fair few bugs. Quite easy to find one of these second hand already.

 

Enjoy your 751. 

 

Regards

Rod 

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RE: Home cinema RE: Home cinema

 

Great stuff. Laughing

Look forward to your stereo review. Tongue out

 

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RE: Home cinema

Nice review DC, thanks alot as I have a CA 640R amp and have been looking at the CA universal player for a while but have to now consider the newer model...also very interetsed in their new media streamer...will be very keen to hear how that is reviewed by the WHF team....as well as how you feel about your new machine in stereo...cheers !

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RE: Home cinema

hifianorak wrote:

 

I'm torn between the CA751, Oppo 95 or Arcam BDP100 for a musically optimised Bluray machine.

Enjoy your 751. 

 

Regards

Rod 


All three of those scheduled to go into a Group Test of universal players in our issue that's on sale 30th June.....

In the meantime - and because it arrived too late to go into our next issue (on sale 2nd June) - we'll run the First Test of the Cambridge '751 as an online review. We want a good while with it before we publish the review, though, so don't start clammering for it until early June!

 

Group Marketing & PR Manager, Computers Unlimited.

Brands represented include Astell&Kern, Audioengine, B&O Play, Canton, Flexson for SONOS and SONOS

TWITTER: @ClareNewsome

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RE: Home cinema

Thanks Clare - looking forward to reading what you think about them. I must admit that, as a domestic punter, it is really difficult to judge new kit in isolation from my own familiar system.

If I hadn't used the 650 as a comparison first, then I would not have been able to know that the 751 was (in my eyes/ears) an improvement. That's why WHFSV reviews, using your reference equipment, are so valuable to us readers (I think my own gear list is testimony to that Smile.

Also, the limited distribution of different brands (CA is only through Richer in UK) makes demo'ing and comparison very difficult for many of us. Particularly as very few RS branches have proper demo facilities.

Out of interest, am I right about a new "BD651" as written on the 751's remote control?     Seems odd that CA would otherwise leave a gap in their range, that they've done so well in so far.

Looking forward to your review and comparisons!!

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RE: Home cinema

Thanks Clare - Just the group test of universal players I was looking for and suggested!!

A difficult dem as others have commented (CA Richer Sounds only - Oppo online and limited dealers), so this is one particularly useful supertest. Also be interested to see what you make of the glitchtastic Arcam BDP 100 with the new firmware in place.

We hang on your every word! Don't forget two channel performance please, as I often prefer to listen to music Blurays/DVDs in 2 channel via a hifi dedicated amp.

You are the Jim'll fix it of the hifi mag world!

 

 

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RE: Home cinema

@ Dandy: I'm very surprised you did not any difference with DVD's. Are you sure you were using challenging discs? With the QDEO chipset that should be (by all other Oppo 93 & 95 reviews) deliver big improvements in DVD playback over players without dedicated scaling/artifact hardware.

@ Clare: It will be good to have a BD Uni player test. But sadly the Arcam isn't a universal player is it? I don't think it knows what to do with my SACD and DVDA discs!

And Clare can we have some clues as to how easy it is to play music from external storage using just the unit's LCD to navigate if that's possible please. For audio playback duties it would be good to know that you don't have to turn on your telly everytime you want to play music - so limitations of navigating via the small LCD displays would be of interest.

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RE: Home cinema

Yep, the Arcam's more limited - but if it's one-stop music/movie player for CDs/DVD/Blu-ray you're after, it may be on your shortlist....

And yes, we'll see how they work when not attached to a TV!

Group Marketing & PR Manager, Computers Unlimited.

Brands represented include Astell&Kern, Audioengine, B&O Play, Canton, Flexson for SONOS and SONOS

TWITTER: @ClareNewsome

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RE: Home cinema

Dazmb wrote:

@ Dandy: I'm very surprised you did not any difference with DVD's. Are you sure you were using challenging discs? With the QDEO chipset that should be (by all other Oppo 93 & 95 reviews) deliver big improvements in DVD playback over players without dedicated scaling/artifact hardware.

@ Clare: It will be good to have a BD Uni player test. But sadly the Arcam isn't a universal player is it? I don't think it knows what to do with my SACD and DVDA discs!

And Clare can we have some clues as to how easy it is to play music from external storage using just the unit's LCD to navigate if that's possible please. For audio playback duties it would be good to know that you don't have to turn on your telly everytime you want to play music - so limitations of navigating via the small LCD displays would be of interest.

Dazmb, I would have thought that the NTSC DVD of Wayne's World that we used would have provided sufficient test vs the already good 650BD, but we honestly couldn't see any. Perhaps another disc might show better differentiation.

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RE: Home cinema

This is all very helpful, thanks to DandyCobalt for starting the thread -  I currently have an Oppo DV-980H so want any Blu-Ray machine I replace it with to be a universal player as I have a large collection of  HDCDs, SACDs and DVD-A's. Look forward to seeing which machine comes out on top. It is noticeable that there are a trickle of  650BD's appearing on eBay...  Smile

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RE: Home cinema

I've now fixed up the 751 in my home system, and have listened to SACD and CDs (the new "Rome" one by Dangermouse/Jack White/Norah Jones - well worth a listen, btw) plus Jeff Beck's latest - and the sound is excellent. I've also changed my X Powers to be mono to the front CM8s, and I can honestly say that I won't be changing or upgrading for the foreseeable future - very pleased with the sound, and looking forward to going through my CDs again.

We also span the whole of Dark Knight last night through our Sony HW15 projector, and very pleased with the video performance to the big screen from the 751. What a great film!

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RE: Home cinema

DandyCobalt wrote:
I've now fixed up the 751 in my home system, and have listened to SACD and CDs (the new "Rome" one by Dangermouse/Jack White/Norah Jones - well worth a listen, btw)

Funny you should mention that I was listening to them talk about it on Front Row the other night, it's good then? How many tracks are White and Jones on?

Anonymous
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RE: Home cinema

Does the 751bd feature any sort of network streaming at all?

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RE: Home cinema

The_Lhc wrote:

DandyCobalt wrote:
I've now fixed up the 751 in my home system, and have listened to SACD and CDs (the new "Rome" one by Dangermouse/Jack White/Norah Jones - well worth a listen, btw)

Funny you should mention that I was listening to them talk about it on Front Row the other night, it's good then? How many tracks are White and Jones on?

6 tracks with them on. A modern take on Ennio Morriconi (including the pocket watch) - quite absorbing listen.

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