Is the Cambridge Audio Azur 751BD an audiophile-grade CD player that's capable of spinning Blu-rays or vice versa? Frankly, it's difficult to tell. The 751BD may be an all-singing, all-dancing 3D Blu-ray player on the outside, but it has musical DNA, with a signal-processing lineage that can be traced back to the company's acclaimed Azur 840C CD player. It's a heritage that serves the £800 751BD well.
The 751BD is a well-connected piece of kit, and substantial too, weighing around 5kg. It sports two HDMI outputs, which is good news for those without 3D-compatible home-cinema gear. One HDMI output can be hooked-up to a legacy amplifier, for DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD decoding, while the primary feed can be routed straight to a 3D-compatible TV.
Of course, if you already have a 3D-ready AV receiver, then a single primary HDMI is all you need. Alternatively, this player allows you to run both HDMIs to separate displays -- perhaps in different rooms -- simultaneously.
Other connections includes a pair of USBs (one on the front and one on the back), an eSATA port, an Ethernet jack, optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, component video and 7.1-channel analogue audio outs. The latter connection is provided to deliver high-resolution music to an accommodating amp. There's also a RS232 control interface for custom installation specialists.
The player doesn't have integrated Wi-Fi, but a wireless dongle is provided in the box.
For all its functionality, the 751BD is a cinch to use. The home screen offers music, photo, movie, network and Internet buttons. It's all very intuitive.
Conversely, the set-up menus offer a significant amount of deep control. Cinephiles will certainly be tempted to spend quite some time here tinkering. Our advice is to change the default HDMI output from PAL to multi-system. If you don't, you'll almost certainly suffer horizontal juddering on some Blu-rays.
The best video performance comes from the primary HDMI output, which is partnered to a high-spec Marvell Qdeo scaler. The secondary HDMI port is fed by a different processor. The Qdeo output has the clear edge, particularly when it comes to DVD de-interlacing and upscaling.
While the deck does a good job with standard-definition DVDs, it really gets to shine with Blu-rays. Sci-fi action film Battle: Los Angeles offers up a level of fine detail in its big close-ups that looks almost three dimensional. If you want real 3D, the 751BD makes a decent fist of playing 3D Blu-rays too.