Anaylsis Audio

 

      

          THE MAGNIFICENT C.E.C. TL-51XZ BELT DRIVE CD PLAYER

 
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Every instrument the TL-51XZ touched turned into a natural flow of string, air, brass, metal or wood that came to life in a holistic spaciousness new to my ears. A great example was Paquito D’Rivera lithely scaling his clarinet in the swirling “Brasileirinho” from Yo-Yo Ma’s Abrigado Brazil [Sony 89935]. In the hands of the TL-51XZ, I could visualize his mouth on reed, moving up and down with different pressure and the occasional metallic sound of his clarinet’s pads closing over holes. His playful interplay with Yo-Yo Ma was a delight, with Ma’s strokes on string dazzling and full of natural warmth, color and clarity. I grabbed a quick sandwich and then was transported to the wonderful sonic picnic that is Eliji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra’s rendition of Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” from Reveries [Reference Recordings 99CD]. I again heard this wonderful recording anew through the TL-51XZ, which really brought out the incredible hall space where this recording was made. Strings were portrayed with a smooth, silken quality, achieving great delicate texture and detail. The harp was another revelation: plucks on actual, natural strings, reverberating in a sparkle of hall space. The TL-51XZ excelled at presenting the players in a three dimensional space, with great natural variety in instrument textures. Piano was another clincher, portrayed in many different recording sessions with a consistency of full tonic body, lack of glare or gloss and chock full of musical landscapes to explore. One such landscape is the incomparable Danilo Perez’s vision of Monk done Latin, on his Panamonk disc [GRP Records 190]. On “Think of One,” Perez starts the tune by tapping the outer part of his Hamburg Steinway and depressing its pedals. The TL-51XZ revealed this creative beginning and let its reverberation naturally hang in the air of the recording space. Perez then literally leaps into a cascade of Latin, jazz and blues notes running the length of his keyboard. The TL-51XZ captured this energy with every concise tone and contour in place, without any gloss or artificial veiling.

The TL-51XZ also masterfully brought deep, pungent bass to my system, achieving the fine line between emotional chest stirring bass and keeping things at an un-fatiguing level, even at high volume. Playing Keith Richard’s “Words of Wonder” from his eclectic disc, Main Offender [Virgin 864992], the TL-51XZ delivered the quick, knock-out punches of bass that propel this great reggae number forward. Similarly, Victor Wooten’s deep subterranean plunges on his inspired solo disc, “Show of Hands” were portrayed with ease by the TL-51XZ, which conveyed new perspectives on Wooten’s unique style of rapid plucks and then long harmonic holds, offering lots of air and spaciousness between each stroke. Finally, I must mention the warmth that the TL-51XZ just suffuses to Lucinda William’s “Fruits of my Labor” from World Without Tears [Lost Highway 1703552]. Lucinda’s voice is captured in all of her languid bluesy feel, draped in a warm, luscious bass environment, filled with spaciousness and atmosphere. In comparison to the Electrocompaniet player, the Electro held a slight edge in the clarity of the lowest octaves, but couldn’t match the TL-51XZ’s coherence overall and sense of a complete, harmonic sonic picture. The key to the TL-51XZ’s brilliance here was again its ability to deliver musical detail from the nuances of fingers on an electric bass string or Lucinda’s perfect vocal delivery, all presented in a coherent musical whole.

If I were a bell, I’d be ringing…
Barbara Morrison and her band work this classic tune “If I were a Bell” masterfully on her stellar disc, I Know How To Do It [Chartmaker Records 14460], and her title sums up my audition of the TL-51XZ: it just does the music right. I auditioned the TL-51XZ in other configurations, with speakers like the Harbeth Super HL5’s utilizing the artful Logos integrated amp from Pathos (review forthcoming), and the TL-51XZ always worked its natural, coherent magic. The TL-51XZ sounded even better when partnered with Actinote’s CS 150 power cord and MB 130 interconnects, a synergy suggested by Pascal and Bruce that highlighted further the TL-51XZ’s dynamic prowess as well as its spaciousness and ease of presentation. Other CD players that I have spent some time with, including my old reference, the Electrocompaniet EMC-1 and Musical Fidelity’s new A5, are decent music makers with clarity and transparency their fortes, but I can’t help but feel that they are still essentially DIGITAL players, lacking the natural, analog feel, the seamlessness and ease that comes with the TL-51XZ’s essential musicality. Considering its virtues and its exceptional value at $1590, the TL-51XZ is most highly recommended to audition both at this price range and compared to players costing a whole lot more. The TL-51XZ has joined my Most Wanted Component List as my reference CD player to explore all of the nuances and musical dimensions of my favorite artists. Make way for the Pointillist view of life and art! Enjoy!

Nelson Brill

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Specifications:
Format: CD standard format (16bit/44.1kHz)
3-beam semiconductor laser pickup, Sanyo SF-P101NXR
3 digital SPDIF outputs: AES/EBU, Coax, Toslink
24 bit 356 kHz DA converter
Analog frequency range: 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 1 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.01% (1kHz/0 dB)
Signal to noise ratio: >98 dB
Channel Separation: >90 dB
Power Consumption: 11 watts
Color: silver
Dimensions: W 435x D 296 x H 98 mm
Weight: 10 kg
Standard accessories: remote control, CD stabilizer
Price: $1,590 (TL-51X transport: $1,290)

Company Information
Canada & USA Distribution:
Mutine
(514) 221-2160
mail@mutine.com
Showroom and contact for the Northeast US:
Bruce Kennett Studio
(603) 447-2338
bruce@brucekennettstudio.com