|Naim CD5 XS CD Player Review|
|Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Wednesday, 31 March 2010|
Page 2 of 3
Set up and Listening:
The 30th Anniversary Edition of the Springsteen ultra classic Born to Run was in heavy rotation at the time I received the review sample. I dearly love this album, and the new remaster brings the vision of Bruce and the E Street Band into the 21st century with the great sonic care of Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering. It also includes two excellent extras, a making of video and a complete performance by the group at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1975. The XS beautifully kept pace with the timeless song cycle committed to tape 35 years ago. It also allowed me to hear distinct differences between this 2005 release and the mid 90’s Gold Disc version, itself a superb remaster. I felt the new version had a bit more sparkle and detail, but it did not win out by much.
The XS was superb on new recordings as well. Jamie Cullum, a British pop jazz artist I adore, just released his fourth studio album entitled, The Pursuit. On it, he mixes originals, covers of timeless standards, and even modern songs, such as Rhianna's "Don't Stop the Music." Cullum's superlative piano playing, singing, and arranging were well served by the XS, with the mixes sounding vibrant, new, yet un-digital. Another disc that really showed me how nimble the XS was at serving a variety of recordings was Broken Bells by Broken Bells, collaboration between Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse and The Shins James Mercer. It is a marriage of psychedelic, indie rock and electronica. I was surprised how "live" it sounded, and not like studio patchwork. The great songwriting is the main attraction and the XS had me reaching for multiple plays of this disc.
A few final musical highlights included the new Jimi Hendrix release, Valleys of Neptune, a hodgepodge of various studio performances left in the can, and an older release entitled South Saturn Delta, a collection of odd tracks from previous posthumous releases that were finally mixed and mastered correctly by Eddie Kramer. Hendrix’s Stratocaster and Marshall’s combination had bite and presence, as good as I had ever heard, having been a Hendrix fan for a good 25 years now. His driving rhythms and late 60’s style studio productions were transported to 2010 and made to sound as relevant as ever. The XS was a fantastic conduit for the vision of Hendrix, Kramer, and the current gatekeepers of his legacy.