Country of origin : Japan
CD Players ● CD Transports ● DAC
Definitive Audio is the authorised UK distributor for C.E.C.
Trade enquiries welcome.
In an age where CD is commonly considered as being in its twilight years, sales are in decline and performance has supposedly been surpassed by ‘high-res’ file formats, it is amusing and perhaps a little ironic that Philips 16-bit Red Book CD is enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity among discerning listeners and manufacturers.
The law of natural selection means that the only true CD players left in the market place are from companies who have had the courage of their convictions all along, continuing to build and evolve their designs over the past forty years.
C.E.C is one such company. Established in Japan in 1954, they originally marketed their own-brand turntables and tonearms as well as supplying OEM analogue components to an extensive portfolio of third-party manufacturers. With their sensibilities firmly anchored to analogue values, the advent of the Compact Disc focused their gaze on optimising musical performance from a format principally engineered for versatility and cost-effective mass-market appeal.
As with an analogue replay system, unwanted vibration is a limiting factor – to this end, in 1991 came their first dedicated belt-drive transport.
C.E.C has continually developed unique solutions to the challenges of digital music replay to very great effect, often deploying and re-interpreting long-established principles of mechanical rather than electronic engineering.
Among the most striking examples are the suspended sub-chassis isolation systems and a substantial main bearing – the like of which is more commonly used in analogue turntables, as is their belt-driven and weighted fly-wheel design for the laser reading mechanism.
Many music lovers who have chased-the-dragon of high-resolution file/streaming replay and found its grand promises wanting, have returned to 16-bit 44.1kHz Compact Disc and found to their surprise, a tonal density, drive, and satisfyingly simple musical communication which is all too frequently discarded in the hi-res bathwater.
Now, some forty or so years after the inception of Compact Disc, C.E.C transports define the performance benchmark for digital replay – simply superb performance with all the virtues we associate with analogue. Used in combination with any of the plethora of free-standing DAC’s in the marketplace – personally we tend, though not exclusively, to favour NOS designs – these C.E.C transports have won many admirers, reviving CD collections and dramatically illustrating that musical performance from digital formats ain’t just about the numbers.
Roy Gregory on the TL5, one of the new generation of C.E.C transports.Review
The TLO 3.0 is the high watermark, as it ought to be, being the daddy of the range with a price tag to match. On the other hand, the latest generation TL5N and TL2N feature simpler, elegant drive mechanisms and have inherited ‘trickle-down’ technology from the flagship. Both pack an extraordinary punch; a delight to use and beautifully made, these more modest designs deliver a quality of performance that is amongst the best in the industry, irrespective of price or size, demonstrating that less can indeed be more.
The trick of introducing a new model which it outperforms its predecessor, and typically at a lower price point, is a hard one to pull off, yet one which C.E.C seems to have mastered, while retaining Japanese production.
Manufacturer’s website: C.E.C International (Europe)