Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD Universal Disc Player

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Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD Universal Disc Player

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Cambridge-Audio-752BD-Universal-Player-review-front-small.jpgLet's just go ahead and get this out of the way right from the start: Cambridge Audio's Azur 752BD universal disc player is built on the same MediaTek foundation as the OPPO BDP-103 and BDP-105 universal disc players. The players boast the same video processing, the same menu structure, and most of the same advanced options. As long as you ignore the stereo audio outputs, digital audio inputs, and silk-screening of the 752BD, their back panels are virtually identical. This isn't controversial info, nor is it a new revelation, given that Cambridge's previous universal player, the 751BD, was built on the same foundation as OPPO's BDP-93 and BDP-95. Cambridge has never attempted to hide that fact. I'm merely trying to head off the "It's just an OPPO!" comments at the pass.

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This is because the Cambridge Azur 752BD isn't just an OPPO, any more than the Porsche Cayenne is just a Volkswagen Touareg. Cambridge may have built its player on the same platform as the OPPOs and with pretty much the same chassis as the BDP-103, but it has also equipped its player with a different power supply and different audio circuitry and processing, which edge it closer - in spirit, as well as price - to OPPO's flagship BDP-105. Granted, the Cambridge player lacks the BDP-105's 32-bit DAC, balanced outputs, asynchronous USB input, headphone amp, and increased girth, which puts the Azur 752BD, for the sake of comparison, somewhere betwixt the OPPO BDP-103 and 105.

If you're unfamiliar with OPPO's offerings or just sick of the nitpicking, let's talk for a moment about the 752BD on its own terms. It's a beautiful beast of a universal disc player, with support for virtually every five-inch media disc format known to man or Wookiee, except for VCD. It plays Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, HDCD, AVCHD, Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL, and BD-R/RE. It also features 4K video upsampling and, in terms of digital file playback, if the file has a dot and three letters after the name, chances are good that the 752BD will play it (unless those three letters are I, S, and O). The 752BD lacks the integrated online streaming services found in many of today's Blu-ray players, including the OPPO models.

In addition to dual HDMI outputs (either to drive two different displays or, more typically, to split the audio and video output and route HDMI 1 directly to a 3D-capable display, with HDMI 2 providing sound to a non-3D-capable processor or receiver), the 752BD sports a Marvell DE2755 QDEO video scaler for the HDMI 1 output, which will also scale any source plugged into the two HDMI inputs (one of which is MHL-capable). Add in a really nice backlit remote, which is a huge step up from the remote for Cambridge Audio's recently reviewed Azur 751R, along with all of the same Anagram Technologies Adaptive Time Filtering 192-kHz/24-bit upsampling technology built into that receiver, and you have the makings of an incredibly versatile full-featured Blu-ray player that's certain to delight many audiophiles and videophiles alike.

Cambridge-Audio-752BD-Universal-Player-review-back.jpgThe Hookup
Given the numerous connectivity options of the Azur 752BD, I took several approaches to integrating the player into both of my home theater systems, starting with a simple HDMI connection from the 752BD to the Cambridge 751R receiver presently in my secondary home theater system. I also tested a dual-HDMI setup, with video going straight to the Panasonic TC-P50GT30 in that room via HDMI 1 and audio straight to the 751R via HDMI 2 (just to make sure that it worked; no extensive testing was done with this setup). Finally, I settled on an HDMI connection to the 751R for video, with audio provided by the 752BD's 7.1-channel analog audio outputs (downmixed to 5.1 via the player's setup menus to match the Monitor Audio MASS speaker system still attached to the receiver for consistency's sake), with a custom six-channel Straight Wire Encore II bundle serving as the interconnects.

The home screen for the 752BD is laid out identically to that of my OPPO BDP-103, except for the lack of links to Netflix, VUDU, Film Fresh, CinemaNow, and Rhapsody, as well as the fact that its icons are a bit more colorful. The setup menus for both players are identical in every way, from the backgrounds to the fonts to the numerous setup options, including features that fans of constant-height projection will appreciate, like Subtitle Shift, which moves player-generated subtitles up and out of the black bars for scope films. The 752BD also includes an anamorphic stretch mode amongst its many zoom options, so those of you with ultra-wide projection screens are covered. Will you use all of the 752BD's numerous setup options and features? Almost certainly not. However, in terms of high-performance home cinema flexibility, it's nice that Cambridge Audio leaves very few bases uncovered, and the setup menu is so well organized that it makes finding and tweaking the things you want to find and tweak a snap.

For control, I tried out the included remote to make sure that it worked (it did, wonderfully, from all the way across the room), then switched to a direct IR connection from my Control4 HC-250 home controller. Unfortunately, Control4 doesn't have drivers available for the Cambridge player, and OPPO's control codes don't work, but Cambridge provides both IR and RS-232 codes on its website. I found it easier just to use the remote learning capabilities of the HC-250. IP control doesn't seem to be an option at all.

Read about the performance of the Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD on Page 2.

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