As you’re reading, we have a hunch that you’re an early adopter. This means you’ve probably got a number of disc players knocking about: Blu-ray, CD, HDCD, SACD, DVD and, if you were particularly unfortunate, HD-DVD.

This can all get a little complicated, so Cambridge Audio wants to put an end to your multiple box, extravagant power-consumption misery with the Azur 650BD.

A great first impression

As well as all the formats, the 650BD will handle eight-channel decoding of all hi-def audio, and has 1GB of memory for BD-Live access as well as two USB 2.0 inputs.

The casework is hefty, the remote comprehensive (though unlit and a plasticky imitation of the original metal Azur Navigator) and the on-screen menus crisp and coherent. Only the lack of wireless connectivity (the ethernet port is for wired connection only) prevents a nap hand.

Review continues after the break…

Blu-ray performance is mighty impressive. The 650BD loads discs a sight faster than most, and the lustrous colour palette, bright contrasts, smooth edge definition, assured motion handling and torrential levels of detail are admirable.

A scene combining complex patterns with slow panning can provoke a smattering of picture noise but, set against everything the 650BD does well, that’s just nit-picking.  

Other aspects of home-cinema performance are just as good. Whether it’s sending undecoded audio to a receiver via HDMI, or taking care of hi-def soundtracks on board, the 650BD sounds punchy, expansive and exciting, with nicely judged bite at the top end and a nice, articulate midrange. It upscales DVD to 1080p with few alarms, and makes the most of Dolby Digital or DTS sound.

Music to our ears

DVD-Audio and SACD sound clean, potent and spacious. It’s the even-handedness that makes the 650BD’s really enjoyable here.

Even stereo CD playback isn’t badly compromised – we’d have liked a bit more focus, but for detail retrieval and midrange bite, this has little real competition.

The 650BD isn’t a ‘universal’ player in the way the £5,000 Marantz UD9004 is (it’s not a master of every format it can play), but its price and competitive performance make it one of the most capable affordable disc-spinners around.

Stuff says... 

Cambridge Audio Azur 650BD review

Not the best Blu-ray player at the price, but certainly one of the most versatile