My quest for better sound (751BD)
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.
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!
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
That was my experience….