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CD Players

Designed to match the Leak Stereo 130 amplifier, this is something of a curiosity: a 1960s retro hi-fi styled CD player, also able to play music from USB storage, harking back to an age two decades before the CD was invented, let alone music on USB! Well, it’s almost a CD player: in fact, it’s actually a CD transport, only having digital outputs. That means it can’t be used with conventional amplifiers, unless you also add a digital to analogue converter, but it will work perfectly with any amp having digital inputs – such as the Stereo 130.

Like the Leak amp, it comes in two forms – with or without the wooden sleeve – and has those very ‘vintage’ push buttons to control disc playback, above which sit the slot-loading CD mechanism and the display. The USB input is also on the front panel, so now all you need is a wood-finish USB stick to store your music on!

As well as conventional CDs, the CDT will also play CD-R/RW discs and can handle mp3, WMA and AAC files, allowing it to be used to play a range of downloads. The CD section reads ahead of the music playing to avoid any dropouts, and is shielded from interference, while the digital output section is designed to deliver the purest possible data via the optical and coaxial digital sockets.

Sound quality

Like the Stereo 130 amplifier, the CDT manages a fine balance between retro warmth and a good dose of pep, making it as adept with late-night jazz as it is with more contemporary rock and pop – after all, Jimi Hendrix used to have a Leak-based system, though nothing like this! Of course, the sound quality of a digital-only product like this will depend to a great extent on the digital conversion and amplification with which it’s used, and it makes a fine match with the partnering amplifier.

Living with the Leak CDT

Mind you, this shouldn’t just be considered as a partner in crime for the revived Leak amplifier: with its digital outputs, it will work well with many modern amplifiers – or even AV receivers – with digital inputs. If you want to match visually with modern equipment, go for the metal-clad version without the walnut-veneer sleeve; or then again you could go full retro and try to convince your friends this was your grandad’s CD player.

Conclusion

The looks may be vintage, but the features and performance are bang up to date, all the way through to USB stick playback. And with solid engineering under the skin, this CD transport is capable of sounding very good indeed.

Listening notes

Bonnie Raitt: Made Up Mind

From the singer/guitarist’s first album for more than half a decade, Just Like That…, this opening track sets out the stall of a beautifully-produced set of songs, the warm, generous sound being perfectly suited to the retro looks and lushness of the Leak player and amp

Jimi Hendrix: Little Wing

Well, it had to be done, given the guitar maestro’s history with the Leak brand, and the CDT/Stereo 130 combination is perfect for this gentler track from Axis Bold As Love, treating all three members of the Experience with equal clarity

What the press say

Why you should buy it

Well, the obvious answer is that it looks hilarious, especially in its real-wood wrap, but also sounds great. It’s not really a re-creation – no CD players ever looked like this! – but it’s a solid performer, and is sure to be a talking point.

Video review

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