Region-Free Player Advice (Cambridge Audio Azur 540D)

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Kelly W, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. Kelly W

    Kelly W Second Unit

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    Hello everybody,

    My father is interested in buying a region-free DVD player in order to watch a few DVDs out of Europe.

    Here is what he's looking for:
    1. Good PAL>NTSC conversion
    2. Region-free out of the box (I don't want him to have to go through a complicated firmware upgrade process.)
    3. Playback of CD-R/RW audio CDs
    4. Good playback of NTSC discs (this will be his only player)

    He has a standard 36" Sony WEGA TV, so progressive scan, DVI Output, etc. are not needed features.

    In reading other posts on the forum, I think I'm ready to suggest a Cambridge Audio Azur 540D player, but a have a couple of questions:

    1. Do people who own this player still recommend it?

    2. Will it meet the requirements I've listed above?

    3. Where can you buy this player? I've found it on AudioAdvisor.com, but I'm not familiar with this vendor. Has anybody ordered from them in the past? There is also a local store in Austin, TX (near where my dad lives) that apparently carries it (according to the Cambridge Audio website). That store is called "Sound Mind Audio". Has anybody heard of them?

    4. The online price (AudioAdvisor) is $379. Is that price typical?

    I would also like to hear other player recommendations. I don't know anyone who has bought a region-free DVD player, so this is a whole new world to me. [​IMG]

    Thank you so much for your help!!!

    -Kelly
     
  2. James Phung

    James Phung Second Unit

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    For under $80, you can pick up the Philips 642 from walmart or compusa (I've seen it at those stores here in Austin, TX [​IMG]). It does good PAL to NTSC conversion and can be made region free with a few button presses on the remote. Many of the cheap off brand dvd players can be made region free with their remotes.

    If you are worried about quality and reliability of these cheaper players, check out the Oppo dvd player. It's quite popular upconverting dvd player. Though upconverting is not needed by you, I feel it is still a good 480i dvd player that will do PAL to NTSC and can also be made region free with the remote. For $200, its still much cheaper than the Cambridge Audio player. It's got very good customer support and decent build quality. You can get the Oppo 971 from amazon.com, extremephono.com, or straight from oppodigital.com.

    For your situation, I'd much rather go for the cheaper solutions, even the cheap $40 cyberhome 300 can be easily made region free, though I'm not too sure about its PAL capability.

    You can look up dvd players and their compatibility and region free hacks on www.videohelp.com.
     
  3. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    I have had the Cambridge for over a year and wholeheartedly recommend it. It will do what you ask and do it well. It is also a superb CD player via its analogue output. I have the same TV (the 32" model) and the PQ is excellent on my TV. Yes, there are cheaper solutions, but unless it is really too expensive for your budget, I stand by my recommendation. The price you quote is list--you can probably get it for 30-50$ less on the street.
     
  4. Kelly W

    Kelly W Second Unit

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    Thanks for the input guys. I just want to clarify some things.

    From what I understand, the Oppo player requires a code from the remote to make it region free. If you select a region, how often do you need to set it again? Everytime you turn it on, after a power failure, before playing a disc from a different region, etc.? Can you set it more than once, or is it like a PC DVD-ROM drive that only allows you to change it a few times? If you set it to region 0, will it play all discs?

    With the Cambridge Audio player, do you need to enter any codes from the remote to make it region free, or it is truly region free "out of the box"?

    How does RCE apply to all this? Have there been any cases where non-Region 1 discs have been coded with RCE? Will a RCE Region 1 disc play in these region free players?

    Thanks again for you help!!!

    -Kelly
     
  5. James Phung

    James Phung Second Unit

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    The Oppo only requires you to set the region code once. I haven't had any problems with it playing discs yet. I don't believe there's a limit of how many times you can change the region. I'm not sure if I've tested any RCE titles yet, but I'll look into it. You can also disable macrovision on the dvd player. Some region free players can overcome RCE and some can't, so it depends. RCE is also used in other regions (though i'm not sure how much).
     
  6. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    The Cambridge requires NO ACTION of any kind. It is region free "right out of the box". In the setup menu, when you select NTSC as the output format, it will automatically convert PAL to NTSC without any other programming. It is the simplest player for this purpose I know of.
     
  7. Kelly W

    Kelly W Second Unit

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    Thanks again, guys!!! You've been a big help!

    -Kelly
     
  8. Kelly W

    Kelly W Second Unit

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    I just wanted to post a quick update...

    My dad bought the Cambridge Audio player from Sound Mind Audio in Austin and is very pleased. I haven't been able to visit yet to see it myself, but he's very impressed with the quality of the machine and the quality of the output. It was also easy for him to set up (which was MY primary concern).

    He's already watching his German train DVDs and they work great.

    Thanks for all your help!!!

    -Kelly
     
  9. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Glad to hear he's happy. [​IMG]
     
  10. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Has anyone compared the PAL>NTSC conversion of the Cambridge vs. the Oppo (or other)? Reportedly, the Oppo does the conversion poorly (many on the AVS Forum recommend JVC, Toshiba, and some others as better on conversion only.

    I'm interested in the Cambridge for the good audio and for converting PAL>NTSC only. I'd really love to determine which player/chipset/whatever is best at this, and I think there are others who may also need a secondary player solely for PAL conversion purpose.
     
  11. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Kris Deering over at Secrets gave the Cambridge positive marks for its PAL>NTSC conversion. Moreover, it is one of the few players that will convert in both directions (properly set up) AND do a NATIVE output of each format (useful if you have a display device that can handle both).
     
  12. Ronn.W

    Ronn.W Second Unit

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    I don't have a Cambridge, but I have an Oppo. The Oppo did have poor conversion quality, but since the latest firmware upgrade it looks great. Can't tell the difference between a PAL or NTSC disc, actually.

    I used to set my TV to PAL (it swings both ways) and the Oppo to PAL when I watched my PAL DVDs. Since that upgrade, I don't bother. There's no need to, converted PAL looks as good as PAL>PAL does.

    YMMV.
     
  13. Barry_B_B

    Barry_B_B Second Unit

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    AudioAdvisor also has the Cambridge DVD55 for $199; this is the one I'm looking at. Its listed as "Multi-region", was wondering if this is just as good as region-free. The reply to my question from AA was they didn't have any other region DVD's to try, so all they knew was what it said on the box. Anyone have experience with the DVD55?
     
  14. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    I thought that I would update this old thread with the news that Audio Advisor is currently selling the Cambridge Audio Azur 540D for $259, with free shipping. I decided to get it after reading a rave review in The Absolute Sound magazine.

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/store/pr...20DVD%20Player
     
  15. Barry_B_B

    Barry_B_B Second Unit

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    Rickey, I was ready to jump as well until I saw the Cambridge Audio DVD89; same features but for $100 more you get SACD and DVD-A if this interests you. I love it and have still only used standard DVD so far!
     
  16. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    Barry,

    The 540D also plays DVD-A, but not SACD, which isn't an issue for me. And although it's not listed in the specs, the 540D also plays DVD-R. I haven't tried DVD+R or DVD+RW yet.

    And it does indeed play Region 2 discs right out of the box.

    So far it seems like a first-class unit.
     

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