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This review first appeared in the June 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Cambridge Audio 751BD in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Cambridge Audio.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacuła
CD player
: Ancient Audio Lektor Air
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, Miyajima Laboratory Waza
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III with Regenerator power supply version II
Power amplifier: Tenor Audio 175S, Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom version
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro
Interconnects: CD-preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp-power amp Wireworld Platinum Eclipse
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2
Audio stand: Base
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD player, Pro Audio Bono platform under CD player
Review component retail in Poland: 4590zł

Dust hadn’t yet settled after my review of the Cambridge Audio Azur 650BD player in the May 2011 edition of Audio together with a group of similar players. Now I received intel that the company had a brand-new Blu-ray machine. As a sign of the times it had to be a 3D player thought the format’s future due to the glasses required is doubtful. More important was that the 751BD should be universal to play Blu-ray, DVD-Audio and Video, SACD, CD and even HDCD discs. The deck has a built-in decoder for all of those which can be switched off. What’s more it can work with other data sources like pen drives or hard disks. There’s even an e-SATA port and audio/video can be retrieved from NAS discs.

The most important bit is what the machine can do with such signals. Both audio and video paths benefit from splendid DSP. A SHARC Q5 programmed by Anagram Technologies handles audio. This chip was already used in the Azur CD 840C and DACMagic converter. Now the London-based company owns the chip outright as to have full control over all its applications, they have acquired its parent company Anagram. The chip allows choice over one of  three digital filters and 24/192 upsampling of all signals which is how they appear at the audio converter chips whose extrapolation circuitry was defeated to not duplicate the work of the DSP.

Nobody taking a glance at the back plate or a peek inside will need to be told that this deck is built in the same factory which manufactures for Oppo, one of the biggest specialists for multi-format players. Any Internet search eventually identifies the actual manufacturing plant as Winbase. The 751BD is actually a kind of premium version of the BDP-93EU which Oppo manufactures in China. According to Adam Shaw-Cotterill, head of marketing for Cambridge Audio, all their previous DVD players and one BD were manufactured there. Later CA bought from their Chinese partner certain projects which are made on a different production line because the British company specified certain changes to Oppo’s core platform. The most important of these is the large audio PCB. In the Oppo signal processing for all channels is handled by a single CS4382 chip without prior DSP. Cambridge runs individual Wolfson stereo chips for each output pair.

The second item is drive control. According to Adam, Cambridge changed its servo software by recoding it and for cosmetics also glued a black plastic cover over the transport section. For video Cambridge made no changes. The chip still is the fantastic Marvell QDEO 88DE2750-BIF-2 which upconverts from DVD but due to Cambridge Audio’s long-standing relationship with chip maker Mediatek, certain improvements to it were made by request.

Sound. Recordings used in the review - Stereo Sound Reference Record. Jazz & Vocal, Stereo Sound, SSRR4, SACD/CD; Stereo Sound Reference Record. Popular Selection, Stereo Sound, SSRR5, SACD/CD; Brian Eno, Craft On A Milk Sea, Warp Records, FLAC 24/44,1; Carol Sloane, Hush-A-Bye, Sinatra Society of Japan/Muzak, XQAM-1031, CD; Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90028, HQCD; Coleman Hawkins, The Hawk Flies HighRiverside/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2030, SACD/CD; Depeche Mode, Violator, Mute, DMCD7, Collectors Edition, SACD/CD + DVD; Ella Fitzgerald, The Cole Porter Song Book, Verve, 537 257-2, Verve Master Edition CD; Frédéric Chopin, The Complete Nocturnes, piano: Gergely Bogányi, Stockfisch, SFR 357.4051.2, 2 x SACD/CD; Jim Hall Trio, Blues On The Rocks, Gambit Records, 69207, CD; Jim Hall, Concierto, CTI/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2012, SACD/CD; King Crimson, In The Wake of Poseidon, 21st Century Complete Edition, Universal Music Japan, UICE-9052, HDCD; Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch, 524055-2, CD+DVD; Peter Gabriel, So, RealWorld/Virgin, SAPGCD 5, SACD/CD; Roxy Music, Flesh+Blood, Virgin, 847439, HDCD; Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 036, K2HD; Sting, Sacred Love, A&M Records, 9860618, Limited Edition, SACD/CD; Suzanne Vega, Close-Up. Vol 1, Love Songs, Amanuensis Productions/Cooking Vinyl, COOKCD521, CD; ZZ Top, Eliminator, Warner Bros., R2 238204, HDCD+DVD.