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Naim CD5 XS CD Player Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players
Written by Andre Marc   
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Article Index
Naim CD5 XS CD Player Review 
Listening Session
Conclusion

U.K. based Naim has had a steady following since their inception in the mid 1970's. They have been a constant on the high end audio scene and are known worldwide for their broad product line that includes amplification, CD players, loudspeakers, cables, DAC's and Music Servers. They are also known for making long-lasting products as many Naim legacy products are a decade old and still strong. Naim is also known for only discontinuing products if they feel the design can be improved upon; not for marketing purposes.

Naim is famous for being quirky, for lack of a better term. For years their components were produced with only DIN connectors.  Instead of the usual phono or XLR connectors, they believed in the superiority of the DIN connector. They also prefer customers utilize an all Naim system. They finally relented a few years ago and Naim components now offer standard methods of connection. Naim is also known for superb power supplies and highly regarded case work; available only in black.

Naim just introduced their XS series of upgrades to a few of their components, including preamplifiers, amplifiers, CD players and tuners.  Under review here is the CD5 XS, an upgraded CD5x, introduced in 2004. In that six year time span, the CD5x was well reviewed and I decided to purchase it several years ago as my reference. When available the CD5x retailed for $2995.  I later upgraded the player after I auditioned the Flactcap 2x external power supply. When I got wind of the CD5 XS, I immediately set out to arrange a review sample.  I also thought it would be quite interesting to compare a component to its direct predecessor, an opportunity reviewers don’t often get.

Front panel view

Changes & Upgrades:

According to Naim, the CD5 XS uses technology and developments from costlier Naim players up the line; the flagship being the stratospherically priced CD555.  Naim says the unique swinging door transport that any Naim user will be familiar with is borrowed directly from the CDX2, roughly double the cost of the XS. Naim also says the transport is “a low inertia, resonance-controlling device that ensures rigid coupling and mild damping without adding to the task of the drive servomechanism by increasing rotational inertia.”

One of the main reasons I was most interested in reviewing the XS, is Naim boldly states, in references to its XS series of updates, that the  “CD5 XS CD player has probably seen the most changes on the journey from its CD5x predecessor. Almost every element, with the exception of the mains transformer and the disc mechanism, is new or significantly revised. Fundamental elements including the critical analogue circuitry have been updated to extract yet more music from every CD. Also new in the CD5 XS is the inclusion, for the first time on a Naim CD player, of a transformer coupled digital output that provides the choice of digital or analogue signal output.

Yes, you read it correctly, Naim now offers, for the first time, a digital output from one of their disc spinners. For many years Naim stuck to their guns in saying that they saw absolutely no need for a customer to output a digital signal from one of their digital players. Naim had taken great pains to insure they were designed correctly for superb analog output. Their thinking may have changed as they have just introduced their first DAC, called the Naim DAC.

The digital output is defeatable as either the analog output or digital output is usable at one time. Naim had a very good position in the past claiming that a digital output was a compromise and could be detrimental to overall performance. Yet not so as the current product landscape uses modern circuit layouts and low noise chips dominate the marketplace.

To make things even more interesting, Naim has decided to include only a 75 ohm BNC connector for digital out. The more common Toslink and Coaxial digital connections are not present. Naim is working under the premise that the BNC the best possible digital audio interface, if engineered correctly. It should be noted that many high end Digital Audio Converters, including the new offering from Naim, offer BNC as a connection option.

The XS also includes a brushed aluminum face place attached to the classic black Naim chassis.  The brushed face plate is nice, but admittedly, it is hard to notice since the midnight black Naim uses as their color of choice obscures this cosmetic enhancement somewhat.



 

 
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