The Kliczko - Valuyev duel of two transports

The really heavy weight championship.

Can Peter beat CEC-TL0-X with his tube digilampizator transport ?

Sept 2010 by Lukasz Fikus


Oh I love coming back to Manhattan and see New York changing for better and better. To see crack dealing deli stores replaced by Cafe Italiano with young people drinking cappuccino with their mac books pro open.
New York is a wonderful city, they serve you 4 inches of ham inside a sandwich at Katz Deli, they give you a parking ticket in less than 30 s after wrongdoing parking. Calvin Klein jeans pile up in heaps at Century 21st,  the three years old babies play in the sandbox with the bicycle helmets on - just in case. Hiring a Limo is actually cheaper than the yellow cab. At 6 am more people jog in the park than I ever saw elsewhere, never mind the horrendously early hour.  The city where EVERY street is washed with water and a brush 3 times per week and people have at home more vinyl records than the entire rest of the world combined.

It is also a city, where someone can have two CD transports - one CEC-TL0-X and one Audio Note CDT-5 and keep them both, to play one or another depending on the mood.  Well, they are not German dentists, they are Wealthy Americans. I had a privilege of testing both transports with Lampizator DAC in the context of "The Most Everything" system that money can buy.

Starting with the CEC, it is their 19 K statement product - created just to make more people buy the TL-1X . I don't think that they actually REALLY hoped to sell any 19 K$ transports. But they did.

I know very intimately the TL1 and TL1X and the zero is electronic wise  the same. It is just a sanyo CD player. A good one.
Mechanically, the zero has same mechanism, a lesser puck, similar to the one from TL1-nonX. But the chassis is a class of its own. So heavy, so pretty, so cleverly suspended on soft suspension - that it is really a drooling object of desire.
I would recommend TL0 if you can catch one for say 5000 US$ second hand.
Summarizing, CEC TL-0 is arguably one of the best transports ever made, and due to the "belt legend" it is considered a choice of analog sound fanatics.

The second contender is the latest toy from Audio note UK - they basically read my page and liked my experiment with digilampizator and applied it to their CD2 Pro transport. And voila: here comes CDT5 from Audio note. They claim - it has analog, tubey sound and a price to match DAC5 and Ongaku.

Well, lets see.

Audio Note Transport CDT Five v.s. CEC-TL0-X from Sanyo.

The comparison was made using mostly classical music,  doing the A-B-C sequence where C is a turntable. Some jazz and folk music was used too.

The experience of this test is far too hard to describe with my poor vocabulary (too fine differences) but I will get to the point.

CEC is very good, it is impressive, it has wealth of details, good pace, good 3D stereo. It is a joy to operate as well.
The Audio Note is a big and heavy beast, compared to CEC - it is a godzilla. It has probably the best display I ever saw on any CD player, save for the Revox 426.
Its top loader mechanism is a Philips CDM PRO which I am not a big fan of, but nevertheless it is good.

The A-N Five at first seemed less interesting. Not boring - but less interesting. It was like a modest and shy gentleman. Not jumping forward too much, keeping low profile.
But after a couple of rounds, since we nailed the main difference - the verdict seemed evident: Audio Note is better in the connect-the-dots game. It is more liquid, more coherent, it makes the orchestra like a unity of  - well - an orchestra, which plays muuuusic. The CEC is like an impressive show of the individual instruments sounding great.
If you want to close eyes and find yourself teleported to Vienna Staadtsopera and if you fancy to shed a tear at the end of Madame Butterfly - The Audio note is for you.

If you prefer to listen to the Bad Plus or Amon Tobin or Exploding Plastics, and above all - to Miles_Gurtu - the CEC is for you

Personally, I prefer still the sound of my Squeezebox for 200 US$ and for the rest of money saved, I could buy a small house in Goa and spend every winter there in the hammock. Definitely a better option ;-)

But I digress again. If I was hard pressed to choose - I would go for the Audio Note for the better sound, easier to replace mechanism, better display, and better pride of ownership. I bet it will have better resell value as well.
If they only sent me some good wine for my invention of digilampizator - I would wholeheartedly recommend their player to everyone.
(and by the way - the owner of this system took my Lampizator DAC).