One word – wow. Our first choice of disc was Star Trek on Blu-ray and we were dazzled by how beautifully it handles the intergalactic visuals. CG shots of Vulcan are awash with detail, coupled with subtle, seamlessly blended shading on the tall buildings and edges you could cut your finger on.
Excellent contrast means shots of deep space are peppered with crisp, piercing white stars, while strong colours like the crew’s iconic red, yellow and blue uniforms are reproduced with punch and vibrancy. Skin tones are also utterly believable, enhanced by crisply-resolved pockmarks and wrinkles during close-ups. It’s mesmerising stuff.
Switching to The Hobbit in 3D and the wow factor increases tenfold. The depth of field it conveys during long shots of Mirkwood and Goblin Town is truly staggering, pulling you into the picture and not letting go. Everything is rendered with such clarity, depth and stability that at times you forget you’re watching a film at all.
The deck excels in other areas too. Disc loading is incredibly quick, going from an open tray to loading Terminator Salvation on Blu-ray in just 27 seconds, marginally quicker than even Samsung’s latest players (which we thought would take some beating). Star Trek fired up in just 19 seconds.
Next we took it for a spin with our Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray and it locked onto all the tricky test patterns instantly. The moving white bars on the jaggies test were completely smooth and free from feathering along the edges and there’s no flicker on the Video and Film Resolution Loss tests. We also tried out a few DVDs upscaled to 1080p and the clean, detailed picture passes muster (though watching upscaled SD is always a comedown after Blu-ray).
But what really sets the Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD apart from most other players is its stunning music reproduction. It offers some of the most lucid and dynamic audio we’ve heard coming out of a Blu-ray deck, sounding richer and smoother than a cup of Nescafe Gold Blend. So whether you’re playing CDs, hi-res discs, lossless music files or plain old 192k MP3s, the 752BD will make it sparkle.
Sorry if we’re gushing, but we’ve fallen in love with the Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD in a big way. Yes it’s super expensive for a Blu-ray deck, but we guarantee that anyone parting with £800 for this bad boy will not be disappointed.
The reasons are numerous – its build quality is nigh-on faultless, it plays every format under the sun and there are more sockets than we’ve ever seen on a Blu-ray deck. There’s also some serious circuitry under the bonnet alongside some tasty features like network file streaming and YouTube. Its Smart content won’t give Samsung any sleepless nights but that’s not a top priority for this deck’s target audience.
More importantly, its picture and sound quality are superb, making it the perfect player for cinephiles and audiophiles alike, provided your pockets are deep enough.