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My quest for better sound (751BD)

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duaplex's picture
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I have my Cambridge Audio 751BD connected via the Analogues to the multi-channel in on my Pioneer LX83. So I wanted to share what I found and perhaps some others can share their experience with us too.

The research
Upon phoning Pioneer, they advised me to set all my speakers to large (on the AV) as this would allow the analogue signal to be passed through multi-channel without the Pioneer decoding anything. Apparently if the speakers are set to small, the Pioneer still takes over. So I have now configured the distance and trim settings through on the 751BD (setting them to small for movies and Large for Music), the Pioneer settings remain large. It seems odd to me as there is no mention of this in the Manual and I spent ages reading it yesterday, which leads me to believe that either the rep was wrong or it’s an oversight not to include such info?

Results - Music
Music playback using Dark side of the Moon SACD - At first I thought it was pretty average, nice sound, crisp with high treble and well controlled Bass, I could see that the player needs time to burn in…. Then I decided to flick to my Pioneer and play a FLAC file… WOW I never expected the difference to be so huge, the sound from the Pioneer (connected to my PC via HDMI) was terrible! I always thought it sounded amazing, but how wrong was I now that I have heard a better source playing the music!
So I then ran the FLAC file through the 751BD and the improvement was there, much sharper, more punch, vocals were distinct, the instrumentals were amazingly clear and this was the same FLAC file on the PC, just to make it fair.

Video – Blu-ray
I had to increase the gain on the sub by 10DB in the multichannel setting (AV) and using 80HZ as a crossover left the PV1 a little subdued (751), now most people would say its integrated well and sounding sweet, which it is. But I prefer to be able to feel the bass punch through me! So at 60HZ crossover the sub suddenly came alive and delivered! Blu-ray sound quality through the 751 is more detailed and watching Spiderman 3 where the Goblin smashes Parker through the glass window was flawless, every bit of glass felt as if it flew past me. It was thrilling! Remember all settings are on the 751, not the Pioneer.
For those wondering about Picture quality, I felt the quality was exceptional especially when tweaking the sharpness settings. But I’m sure you could achieve the same picture quality with a decent player like the Pioneer 450. The demo of the player certainly indicated so.

DVD up scaling
I slapped on star wars the remastered theatrical release and picture was pin sharp, if you walked into my room and I told you it was the Blu-ray version, you would have been fooled for a moment. So I decided to then put on an older DVD version. This time the original theatrical release of the same movie. It was watchable and again pretty smooth, not as good as recent DVD releases, but I would not complain if I had to watch that movie in that quality, yes it looks a little grainy, but I would take that version of the film over the recent releases any day, in fact I questioned whether I even needed my Blu-ray copy!

Conclusion
Those looking for a high end player and for those who are having doubts about what it will give you, I say stop worrying. Go and get one and use the Analogues for your surround and music. You will not be disappointed. If you are not going to use analogues then as you know a budget player is fine with a HDMI cable, after all nobody buys an Oppo 105 or 751 to use solely with a HDMI cable. For me this was a decent upgrade and money well spent as the Wolfson DAC’s (5 of them) produce a better experience than my LX83 connected through a HDMI cable to a standard Blu-ray player and PC. Perhaps not surprising to some, but for me it was a real experience. Not bad for £549 Wink
That was my experience…. 

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Panasonic 65" 3D TV (P65VT50), Pioneer LX83, CA, Azur 751BD, PS3, Water Cooled Xbox 360 (Modded), Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sky HD+, i7 PC overclocked with Nvidia 780 GTX, CM8 Fronts (Bi-Amped), CMC Center (Bi-Wired), DS3 Dipoles, PV1 Sub. Van Den Hul M.C. Snowtrack >Halogen Free< wiring, Chord Active Silver HDMI's, Cabridge Audio AUD700 Analogues Interconnects, QED Signature Subwoofer cables, Chunky Monkey custom oak AV cabinet.

bigboss's picture
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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Great post! How is the sound compared to Oppo 105?

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duaplex's picture
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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Thanks BigBoss  Smile

The 105 is an imrprovement on the 751. When I had a demo i was realy impressed with it. The player can sound a little harsh at first, but with some tweaking and volume control you soon find a happy medium.

If i had the money I would have gone for it.  But at £549 for the 751BD I could not justify the extra cost.

I woul love to bring home the 105 for a demo to see how it performed side by side.

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Panasonic 65" 3D TV (P65VT50), Pioneer LX83, CA, Azur 751BD, PS3, Water Cooled Xbox 360 (Modded), Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sky HD+, i7 PC overclocked with Nvidia 780 GTX, CM8 Fronts (Bi-Amped), CMC Center (Bi-Wired), DS3 Dipoles, PV1 Sub. Van Den Hul M.C. Snowtrack >Halogen Free< wiring, Chord Active Silver HDMI's, Cabridge Audio AUD700 Analogues Interconnects, QED Signature Subwoofer cables, Chunky Monkey custom oak AV cabinet.

GSB
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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

I get the same low volume(if you can translate!)when i play a blu-ray sountrack using the analoges,using them just for music now.

By the way Duaplex my 105 took a wee time to run in then the sq changed quite dramaticaly(i was also running in speakers)

Great post by the way mate...i'm bookmarking it so that i can refere to it at weekend when i get chance to put into practice what you have found out.... excellent!

beauty, eh

 

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duaplex's picture
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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Love the 105, If I could have bought it at the time I would have jumped on it! I guess one day I will buy the 106 or 107 by then Smile

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Panasonic 65" 3D TV (P65VT50), Pioneer LX83, CA, Azur 751BD, PS3, Water Cooled Xbox 360 (Modded), Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sky HD+, i7 PC overclocked with Nvidia 780 GTX, CM8 Fronts (Bi-Amped), CMC Center (Bi-Wired), DS3 Dipoles, PV1 Sub. Van Den Hul M.C. Snowtrack >Halogen Free< wiring, Chord Active Silver HDMI's, Cabridge Audio AUD700 Analogues Interconnects, QED Signature Subwoofer cables, Chunky Monkey custom oak AV cabinet.

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

 

I wanted the 105 just to cut down on boxes...now i'm after an integrated amp ohhh sure

 

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

This is the problem, once you step down this route you just keep going.  I purchased the 751 thinking it would be the end and I would be happy with the Music side of things.  While I am very happy, I can't hlep but feel what a poweramp would add to the equation..... Then you start looking at things like the Primare Smile

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Panasonic 65" 3D TV (P65VT50), Pioneer LX83, CA, Azur 751BD, PS3, Water Cooled Xbox 360 (Modded), Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sky HD+, i7 PC overclocked with Nvidia 780 GTX, CM8 Fronts (Bi-Amped), CMC Center (Bi-Wired), DS3 Dipoles, PV1 Sub. Van Den Hul M.C. Snowtrack >Halogen Free< wiring, Chord Active Silver HDMI's, Cabridge Audio AUD700 Analogues Interconnects, QED Signature Subwoofer cables, Chunky Monkey custom oak AV cabinet.

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

I just want to get the best out of what iv'e got shifty

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

poke, prod go on, upgrade!

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Duaplex - this interesting. I'm gunna have a fiddle tomorrow & see how it affects my Apex. 

 

 

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

duaplex wrote:

poke, prod go on, upgrade!

I'm not upgrading...i'm adding...i think shifty

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

atkins4725 wrote:

Duaplex - this interesting. I'm gunna have a fiddle tomorrow & see how it affects my Apex. 

 

 

Give it a go atkins, I would love to hear the results.  

As a matter of interest for others, I am using the Cambridge Audio AUD700 for my Analogue interconnects.  Costing £50 a pair and about as far as I will go with analogue interconnects for now.

 

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Panasonic 65" 3D TV (P65VT50), Pioneer LX83, CA, Azur 751BD, PS3, Water Cooled Xbox 360 (Modded), Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sky HD+, i7 PC overclocked with Nvidia 780 GTX, CM8 Fronts (Bi-Amped), CMC Center (Bi-Wired), DS3 Dipoles, PV1 Sub. Van Den Hul M.C. Snowtrack >Halogen Free< wiring, Chord Active Silver HDMI's, Cabridge Audio AUD700 Analogues Interconnects, QED Signature Subwoofer cables, Chunky Monkey custom oak AV cabinet.

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Hi duaplex,

I am curious about what differences you hear between the 751BD using the analog connections vs using the HDMI and letting the Pioneer do all of the decoding. You mention that the FLAC playback from your PC was poor, but did you test the FLAC on the 751BD over analog and digital from one source?

In my experience the HDMI cable itself can made a huge difference in SQ especially (in fact almost exclusively) when PCM audio is concerned.  I upgraded from a fairly good 24k 1.4 spec cable to a WireWorld Chroma 6 between my HTPC and Yamaha RX-A1020 and the difference was huge.

I have spent some time researching and configuring the PC for good audio playback using ASIO or Wasapi drivers and specialized software. On my latest amp there are only subtle differences between the three DAC's I own that I equate more to brand character than any deficiences.

The Yamaha RX-A1020 | Asus Xonar Essence STX | Arcam rPAC

If you could give that Pioneer vs Cambridge Audio DAC test a spin I would love to hear your findings.

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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Hi Duaplex,

 

interesting post.  I'm very pleased with my 751 too and similar to you I use the analogue output (mainly as I only use a stereo system and internal decoding/analogue out is the only way to get HD soundtracks). Nevertheless I think it sounds excellent and indeed on the odd occasion that I play music through the 751, I haven't been able to tell any difference between analogue or optical into my active speakers.

Have you calibrated the picture yet? That's something that I found made a huge difference, especially tweaking the sharpness up a couple of notches - I got a DIgital Video Essentials calibration disc and that made a huge difference, especially as the picture settings on the 751 allow adjustments and a range of adjustment not possible on my Tv alone.

all the best.

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duaplex's picture
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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Rob.S.Esquire wrote:

Hi duaplex,

I am curious about what differences you hear between the 751BD using the analog connections vs using the HDMI and letting the Pioneer do all of the decoding. You mention that the FLAC playback from your PC was poor, but did you test the FLAC on the 751BD over analog and digital from one source?

In my experience the HDMI cable itself can made a huge difference in SQ especially (in fact almost exclusively) when PCM audio is concerned.  I upgraded from a fairly good 24k 1.4 spec cable to a WireWorld Chroma 6 between my HTPC and Yamaha RX-A1020 and the difference was huge.

I have spent some time researching and configuring the PC for good audio playback using ASIO or Wasapi drivers and specialized software. On my latest amp there are only subtle differences between the three DAC's I own that I equate more to brand character than any deficiences.

The Yamaha RX-A1020 | Asus Xonar Essence STX | Arcam rPAC

If you could give that Pioneer vs Cambridge Audio DAC test a spin I would love to hear your findings.

Didn't perform that test because If you use a HDMI cable from a bluray player to the AV, the internal Dac is bypassed and sent straight to the receiver for decoding. The only way to have the Bluray Player decode the sound is to use the Analogue outputs.  So my test was conducted using the same source material over a HDMI cable (PC to AV) and then over the Analogue (player to AV). 

About the HDMI cables, the ones I use are the Chord Active Silver versions, so they much like yours. I will for the sake of testing connect the HDMI cable from player to AV and give it a test for you, after all why leave that stone unturned Smile But I expect it to be no different as the player will play no part in decoding and simply pass the signal along.

Overall the sound is much better, more crisp and defined over the Analogue. 

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Panasonic 65" 3D TV (P65VT50), Pioneer LX83, CA, Azur 751BD, PS3, Water Cooled Xbox 360 (Modded), Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sky HD+, i7 PC overclocked with Nvidia 780 GTX, CM8 Fronts (Bi-Amped), CMC Center (Bi-Wired), DS3 Dipoles, PV1 Sub. Van Den Hul M.C. Snowtrack >Halogen Free< wiring, Chord Active Silver HDMI's, Cabridge Audio AUD700 Analogues Interconnects, QED Signature Subwoofer cables, Chunky Monkey custom oak AV cabinet.

duaplex's picture
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RE: My quest for better sound (751BD)

Dan Turner wrote:

Hi Duaplex,

 

interesting post.  I'm very pleased with my 751 too and similar to you I use the analogue output (mainly as I only use a stereo system and internal decoding/analogue out is the only way to get HD soundtracks). Nevertheless I think it sounds excellent and indeed on the odd occasion that I play music through the 751, I haven't been able to tell any difference between analogue or optical into my active speakers.

Have you calibrated the picture yet? That's something that I found made a huge difference, especially tweaking the sharpness up a couple of notches - I got a DIgital Video Essentials calibration disc and that made a huge difference, especially as the picture settings on the 751 allow adjustments and a range of adjustment not possible on my Tv alone.

all the best.

Ironically I have just ordered the DVD you mention, I have messed about with sharpness but I will try the DVD too and report the results.... getting excited again!

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Panasonic 65" 3D TV (P65VT50), Pioneer LX83, CA, Azur 751BD, PS3, Water Cooled Xbox 360 (Modded), Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sky HD+, i7 PC overclocked with Nvidia 780 GTX, CM8 Fronts (Bi-Amped), CMC Center (Bi-Wired), DS3 Dipoles, PV1 Sub. Van Den Hul M.C. Snowtrack >Halogen Free< wiring, Chord Active Silver HDMI's, Cabridge Audio AUD700 Analogues Interconnects, QED Signature Subwoofer cables, Chunky Monkey custom oak AV cabinet.