C.E.C. CD5


Digital sources

The CD5's biggest achievement is that you can listen to it without getting tired the whole day. And - I believe - this is quite exceptional. How many components that make an impression at a seller are found tiring and far from ear-comfortable later at home?

Function and form

Ease of use

The C.E.C. CD5 is more like a good DAC with a CD playback function than a full-fledged CD player. The D/A conversion happens through ESS Hyper-Stream ES9018K2M chip. The DAC works into 32bit/384 kHz resolution in PCM and 28/5.6 MHz in DSD. It accepts coaxial, optical and USB cables and provides coaxial and optical outputs (no DSD here).

C.E.C. has grown on its special belt driven transports. The motor of the CD transport is decoupled from the transport block and the movement is transferred via a rubber belt. By this the EMI and mechanical noise is suppressed in the reading part. On top of that the RPM speed is regulated depending at which place of a disc the reading optics is at a given moment. The system is called Constant Linear Velocity (CLV) at C.E.C.

Operating the CD-5 is easy and the transport works fast, yet I could detect mechanical noise when reading or skipping tracks. Discs are loaded from top to a bay that is covered by sliding semi-transparent perplex doors. The discs must be stabilized by a bronze clamp. I found the look on a rotating disc inside quite disturbing - would you believe how many compact discs have the label not centered? And how many discs are not really flat and vibrate inside the player? Maybe it is better to have opaque cover on the player not to see this.

Bass management


The CD5 sounds exactly how it looks - its sound is understated, clean and natural. I could hear that the device was not built to show off but rather to play music. For the money you pay you get solid engineering and solid sound.

Clarity & delicacy


The CD5's level of detail is very high yet the player never crosses the thin line when the resolution takes over the music. I mentioned that the CD-5 is an understated player - this is thanks to very balanced sound that does not favour some octaves, rather it responsibly replays just what was encoded on discs. The sound is digitally smooth and liquid. By 'digitally' I mean clarity rather than grain or nastiness. The CD-5 is completely free of such artifacts.

As a CD player the C.E.C. performed well but I found its D/A module much more interesting, especially when I used it with external Van Medevoort CT460 transport.

Tonal accuracy

Temporal resolution

Neutrality is a nice thing but there were moments I wished the CD-5 had more passion - like with Michael Ruff's Lover´s Mask. The playback was objectively very good yet I missed spark and enthusiasm. To be fair I had to mention one thing, however. After a week of listening to the CD-5 I received Marantz SA14S1 for review. It is similarly priced device with similar functionalities. After comparison I would definitely prefer the CD-5 that is more true to source. The Marantz provided very attractive yet audibly coloured sound.

Spatial resolution

Soundstage width
Soundstage depth

The CD5 allows the user to switch between 2 digital filters. The filter can be enabled on the fly via a button on the CD-5's front panel or from its remote. The standard FLAT filter is linear up to 20kHz in the frequency domain but is less precise in temporal domain. The PULSE filter is optimized for pulse response yet it induces slow roll-off towards 20kHz (approximately 2dB at 20kHz). The roll off only takes place with 44,1kHz sampling rate - if you use higher rate then the roll-off is not present.

During my auditioning the FLAT filter consistently delivered narrower lateral soundstage that was a bit more forward. The PULSE filter's soundstage was more natural to my ears. With 44.1kHz I did not hear any roll-off in highs but I could hear a bit looser bass. With the PULSE filter double-basses or electric bass guitars became smeared and boomy. No wonder I finally settled down with the standard FLAT filtering.

Price as reviewed:85 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

High-End Audio Studio, Praha, tel. +420 224 256 844

Associated components

  • Sources: Van Medevoort CT460/DA468, Marantz SA14S1
  • Amplifiers: Accuphase A-70, Van Medevoort PAQ-CAQ-PSQ
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Cardas Clear, Krautwire Fractal
  • Loudspeakers: Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond
  • Power conditioning: Nordost Thor (modified), Nordost Valhalla, Block Audio Snakeblock



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