Cambridge Audio CXU Blu-ray Player Review

alain dupuis

Novice Member
It would be fair to say that this Cambridge is (again) based on Oppo current product line with the main difference being the DAC. Its not a bad thing at all considering that the Oppo are really state of this art products with stable hardware and firmware. It would be interesting to compare the 105D and the CXU to gauge the pro and cons of each implementation.
 

gactm

Member
I think it would be unfair (again) to say that certain Cambridge Audio players are based on Oppo’s product line. A more carefully look reveals that both Cambridge and Oppo share the same Mediatek chip set/OEM kits.
 

alain dupuis

Novice Member
I haven't got a chance to open the Cambridge but from the connector layout at the back of the unit, between the RJ45 on the left to the RS232 on the right, it is quite probable that the machines share the very same board, which is a bit more than sharing a chipset. They most probably share the same drive. I agree that whatever else should be Cambridge's own design: power supply, digital inputs, DACs, op amps. Please note that my comment was not to criticise Cambridge. Considering the cost of developing new digital electronics, I strongly believe that it is a very good decision to select reliable assemblies from reputable vendors on areas where it is difficult to make a noticeable difference, in that case the digital board supporting the video, and to focus the resources where it counts, the analogue audio area. The saving can be passed to the customers so we get better stuff at a more affordable price.
 

johnjay

Well-known Member
1080p or not, I doubt we will ever see an UHD-BD player utilizing this class of components. There is many a top-class system that this will belong in.
The rear panel looks like the Oppo 103 save the stereo RCA outs...
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
1080p or not, I doubt we will ever see an UHD-BD player utilizing this class of components.
I don't understand your basis for that opinion? Presumably Oppo, Denon, Arcam, Marantz, Cambridge Audio and others will continue to make their kind of high end offerings when they go UHD. I doubt this Cambridge is any last chance saloon and the timing of its release seems way off.
 

johnjay

Well-known Member
So you see UHD-BD making it as a physical format for the next what? few years or so... Sorry I doubt there will be a BD format left soon. I don't see a lot of company's investing in UHD-BD the way streaming is currently taking over. I hope I'm wrong as I prefer the disc format for purer PQ & SQ, but I don't see the format lasting a hell of a lot longer alas...The UHD-BD format can easily go the way of HD-DVD if enough people don't buy into it.
Have Oppo, Arcam et al released any news or details of a UHD-BD player?
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
Have Oppo, Arcam et al released any news or details of a UHD-BD player?
But we are right at the beginning, nobody has even brought a player to the market and there is no disc yet. That doesn't imply most manufacturers wont produce these players. Far from it.

The UHD format is established and a reality so even if it does not last, which is debatable, we will see those discs next year and presumably manufacturers at all levels will cater to that. Including the high end manufacturers.
 

dazm41

Well-known Member
So you see UHD-BD making it as a physical format for the next what? few years or so... Sorry I doubt there will be a BD format left soon. I don't see a lot of company's investing in UHD-BD the way streaming is currently taking over. I hope I'm wrong as I prefer the disc format for purer PQ & SQ, but I don't see the format lasting a hell of a lot longer alas...The UHD-BD format can easily go the way of HD-DVD if enough people don't buy into it.
Have Oppo, Arcam et al released any news or details of a UHD-BD player?
Just because the high end boys have not released any news yet dont mean they won't release any new players i can't see the likes of oppo standing by and letting the likes of panasonic, sony and samsung who have confirmed box. Out soon
 

johnjay

Well-known Member
Ive heard of the upcoming Samsung & the Panasonic before that, but haven't heard of any Sony UHD-BD player thats coming out soon. All I have heard is Sony Pictures are affiliated. But I would be surprised not to see a Sony player in all fairness...
Would anyone like to near-guess what a high-spec player like this Cambridge would cost being a new format, incl. HDR etc?
I wouldn't hold my breadth to replace any of our Oppo bdp-103 with an Oppo UHD player anytime soon 2017/2018? So streaming will have gotten even bigger by then. We have all heard of Oppo's interest in media players.
The movie disc format is dying out. How long have UHD TVs been around for now?... Oh wait the BDA has been waiting on finalising specification...Yeah OK.
DVD is still the biggest disc selling format among the public.
 

johnjay

Well-known Member
That doesn't imply most manufacturers wont produce these players. Far from it.
we will see those discs next year and presumably manufacturers at all levels will cater to that. Including the high end manufacturers.
I have expressed my doubts here, mainly about UHD-BD high-end players, not a £200 Sony, Samsung or Panasonic. But I would love to be as sure.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
DVD is still the biggest disc selling format among the public.
That's true and in no way has that stopped high end manufactures making bluray players. Whilst streaming has become more popular the imminent demise of the physical disc appers unlikely. The imminent arrival of the new format lends weight to that.

To me it seems highly unlikely that Samsung, Panasonic and Sony would make UHD players and Denon, Oppo and Cambridge Audio wouldn't? When they come to refresh their high end ranges in 2016/2017 it would be bizarre if they were still 1080p and ignored the newer, higher quality technology. That would go against how they market themselves as offering something extra and higher quality above the common or garden players.
 

dazm41

Well-known Member
for me i would love one the big high end makers cambridge or oppo ,sony ,denon ,maratntz,to include in there streaming capabilities a interface like kodi or put kodi on it why why can't they .untill then i will stick to my dedicated streamer HiMedia Q5 4K3D.
 

johnjay

Well-known Member
To me it seems highly unlikely that Samsung, Panasonic and Sony would make UHD players and Denon, Oppo and Cambridge Audio wouldn't? When they come to refresh their high end ranges in 2016/2017 it would be bizarre if they were still 1080p and ignored the newer, higher quality technology.
I never even hinted to the fact that manufacturers would continue to support 1080p over UHD in the coming years. Thats another issue altogether & its obvious 1080p will not be on the manufacturers to-do list of any spec on any players in the future, it will drop down the ranks like 720p or 576p.

I simply expressed my doubts as to how much they are prepared to invest, quality components wise, in next generation players. I will say it again I have my own fears about the physical disc surviving against streaming services with HDR & digital copies that people can now add to their own collections. The PQ is getting there streaming wise but sound is still bog standard multi-ch surround Dolby Digital Plus in Ireland & UK. We can go back & forward all week, you have your opinion I have mine. No big deal.
 

sbonell

Standard Member
I find it baffling that there is no mention of the 752bd in this review. Isn't the simplest way to look at the CXU as being the 752bd successor? In that regard a comparison of what has changed or is better might be in order. Apart from the new "CX" design so that it won't have an aesthetic clash for people who've bought into that product line and Darbee, I can't spot the difference.

Perhaps the audio performance is now much better. They've certainly not addressed the oft-levelled criticism of a lack of Netflix and iPlayer (doesn't bother me by the way).

The comparison of their back panels below is somewhat telling I think. So, what exactly would we be getting for an 80% increase compared to the current (and previous- January) selling price of the 752bd?


 
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johnjay

Well-known Member
Dedicated stereo outs...Other than that its the back of a bdp-103...
The quality of stereo reproduction also depends on the quality of the power amp distributing it relative to the extra 2ch outs.
I think it is worth holding onto a bdp-103 or any decent BD player until Oppos next 'UHD-BD player' over this Cambridge by a mile imo.
Provided the streaming format hasn't completely overtaken UHD-BD by then.

Part of emerging UHD BD article, from WIRED:

"The bigger hurdle to 4K Blu-ray adoption, of course, is whether physical media carries any weight to begin with anymore. Unlike the first transition from DVD to Blu-ray, when digital downloads were still a nascent business and stacks of discs were the norm, this move comes at a time when the concept of owning a shiny movie-playing pancake feels as antiquated as carrying around a pocket calculator".

Surely the article isn't taking AV enthusiasts opinion into consideration, but the masses that bring in the main bulk of profit. Kids & the "who cares it looks & sounds good to my ears" brigade... Provided they can get access to the storage & bandwidth they would need to stream anything like the quality UHD-BD will provide.

Lets hope disc content comes ample & quickly in 2016. Although with all the studios behind it, newly released movies should be fairly rampant.
I really don't mean to seem so negative about UHD-BD Vs Streaming, but it feels like an age getting here.

Here's to the success of UHD-BD:beer::beer:Fingers crossed... on both hands!:smashin:
 

sbonell

Standard Member
Don't disagree with you, but I don't have a BDP-103 or good BD player to hang on to. My point was really that I find it striking that neither Whathifi nor Avforums thinks that comparison to the £400 cheaper 752BD worth even mentioning. You can take a look at the CA spec sheets as well. Apart from the fact that CA have not published test data (THD, S/N etc) I can't see any difference in the specs except for Darbee in place of Qdeo/Marvell.

If there is a difference it would seem eminently important in a consumer review to say what it might be to justify the price difference.

Would it be unfair to say that this is a cynical exercise in using new branding and aesthetics to try to knock out the same player at a premium price?

Stuart
 
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johnjay

Well-known Member
I understand.:)
But WHF S&V are well known for steering customers towards certain products. (esp "vastly" superior performing HDMI cables Vs. performing HDMI cables) :D
AVF, on the other hand are a trustworthy review site, covering most or all aspects of a product.
The Darbee addition to the Oppo 103 also commanded & still does, a higher purchase price...
Personally I didn't think too much about it anytime I seen it either as a lone Darbee or on the Oppo.

Also rebranding is a fairly regular occurrence now & some manufacturers have the gaul to make some buyers think they are buying a superior product, maybe because they cannot afford to construct a whole product themselves, so just put their high-end name on products.
Some avid fans will even believe their favourite brand name on old electronics means they are better & will argue it to the last. I am not saying some companies don't improve things like superior caps, power supplies etc. Maybe Cambridge Audio use their own power supplies, DACs etc & might be superior to Oppos, I'm not sure...

Nobody though will ever forget the Lexicon $3k Oppo BDP fiasco & they even used the guts of a $400 player, while getting untested THX approval. So nobody can deny it happens, but at the end of the day it's up to the buyer themselves to pay unnecessarily more. Again though, they may just pay it for aesthetic reasons. The AV world of today...:)
 

sbonell

Standard Member
Maybe Cambridge Audio use their own power supplies, DACs etc & might be superior to Oppos, I'm not sure...
I agree. I take WHF with a pinch of, but was surprised by the AVF review not addressing it. Note that Darbee only put up the Oppos by £100. A travesty that they did this also IMHO. One suspects that there were problems with continuation of the status quo (Qdeo) rather than Oppo thinking that customers just had to have Darbee.

I would love to know whether there is any difference in the CXU vs the 752BD (they are certainly different to the Oppos and certainly the analogue audio is reportedly different between Oppos and CA as a result (received wisdom mainly).

What would be interesting to know in the context of this review is whether CA have made any changes for the CXU. There is nothing in the published specs or marketing material to suggest they have.

Stuart
 
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johnjay

Well-known Member
Sometimes in this category you get what you pay for...Sometimes this is not the case & there will just be no explanation or reason why... It's just expected people will follow their brand even if it means overpaying from a manufacturer's point of view.
But you're absolutely right, the spec should be revealed openly & full reasons why one machine can cost so much more than another of similar spec/performance.
 

sbonell

Standard Member
Depending on the disc, yes. To be sure (since Bluray amazingly is still relatively new to me), I just went and slapped in the THX optimiser disc and ran some of the audio tests. The 752bd reports 96kHz/24 bit on the tests which are identified as being encoded in this way on the THX disc. They are in linear PCM uncompressed. I assume of course that the CXU will perform at least as well.

My (less than expert) view however is that the upsampling has nothing to do with this capability. The 752bd is basically able to decode up to 192kHz/24 bit (which would come only from a media file source as I understand it - not a disc), but it also upsamples all bitstreams to 192 kHz/24 bit as part of the conversion to analogue audio. This is "better" than decoding straight from the 44.1kHz or 48kHz say which you would get on CDs, DVDs or in fact some (many?) Bluray discs.

Here's where my understanding starts to peter out, but I'll have a stab. I believe that the principle advantage of up-sampling is to do with audible artefacts from the digital to analogue conversion. These occur at 1/2 the sampling frequency. So artefacts at 1/2 44.1kHZ will be at ~22.05 kHz. Because this is just on the edge of the audible range, filters which make sure we can't hear them are more difficult to design. Either they get expensive or if they are more affordable, they may impact the audible range too.

By upsampling, the audible artefacts are shifted to 1/2 192kHz - i.e. 96kHz. Filtering out these is much simpler and can be done without impacting the audible range.

No doubt there's a lot more to it; there must be or else why would we need three types of filter on the 752bd with different user selectable compromises?

My point is really that whether or not we can hear audio which has been encoded at 96kHz/24 bit from a Bluray has nothing to do with the upsampling.
 
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johnjay

Well-known Member
I agree. I take WHF with a pinch of, but was surprised by the AVF review not addressing it. Note that Darbee only put up the Oppos by £100. A travesty that they did this also IMHO. One suspects that there were problems with continuation of the status quo (Qdeo) rather than Oppo thinking that customers just had to have Darbee.

Stuart
I can't rate the QDEO high enough concerning off-air HDTV PQ & The BDP movie PQ on a good quality disc conversion. Great on DVDs too.
I love the rich looking PQ in Cinema mode on the PJ also. Very good network/media support...
It's a fabulous all-round player imo.
 

skraboutcha

Novice Member
Hello all :),

I've just bought a cambridge cxu & a cambridge azur 551 rV2 as av receiver.
This is my first HC install and... I have a (maybe silly ) question:
The CXU has hdmi output and it has also 7.1 channel analogue audio output.
The receiver has cdmi input and also 7.1 audio direct in.

Do i simply have to connect the cxi to the azur with a hdmi cable?
Or is it better to connect with an cdmi cable for the video AND with cinch cables for the audio (from cxi analogue audio output to azur audio direct in)?

Many thanks :)

++

Skraboutcha
 

gactm

Member
Hi, just have a look at audio output connections, page no. 11 in the cxu user’s manual – reference. There are three possibilities:

1. Separate Analogue Stereo
2. Digital Audio
3. Analogue 2 ch/5.1/7.1

In addition, read at page no. 27, recommended audio format options.

Analogue audio (2 /5.1/7.1 channels) is intended mainly for audiophile listening (DVD-Audio, SACD and BD-Audio discs) given the 5 x Wolfson WM8740 24/192kHz digital to analogue converters within cxu.

If I were you, I’d give a trial to the above-mentioned connections and decide based on findings and personal preference.
 

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