The latest in a long line of CD5 players from Naim, the current version is definitely a purist CD machine, using the same disc-spinning mechanism as the pricier CDX2, mounted in the company’s unique loading mechanism. Pull the little handle to the left of the player and the whole mechanism swings out; place the disc on the spindle and it’s held in place by a small puck using strong magnets; and swing the whole thing back in and you’re ready to play. It’s a purely Naim solution, with the advantage that the disc is optimally positioned to be read, rather than being loaded via a drawer or slot, which can introduce some margin for error.
Digital to analogue conversion uses tried and tested technology from favoured Naim supplier Burr Brown, whose devices you’ll find in many of the Salisbury company’s products, while the player also has a high-precision clock to control the digital sections, plus separate internal power supplies for this and the analogue output circuitry, and revised analogue filtering.
Controls are kept simple, with nothing more than play/stop and track skip buttons beside the green on black display, and all you get round the back are analogue outputs, on Naim’s preferred DIN socket plus a pair of standard RCAs. Designed to match the Nait 5i integrated amplifier, the CD5si comes in a slimline version of the company’s ultra-rigid non-magnetic casework, and the two can be operated together using the supplied NARCOM-5 system handset, which also adds forward and reverse scanning for CD playback.
This may be Naim’s ‘entry-level’ player, but there’s nothing basic about the way it plays music. It builds on extended by tightly controlled bass – ideal for rock music – with a detailed, clear midrange and exceptionally open and spacious treble, meaning that it brings out all the atmosphere of a recording while delivering stereo images in which each performer is precisely located. The result is a sound that’s never dull, but manages to be packed with information without ever becoming brash or aggressive – well, unless you’re listening to brash, aggressive music that is! From classical soloists to intimate jazz, big orchestras or your favourite live rock set, this really is a player to grab you and keep you listening.
This may seem an obvious buy for an all-Naim system, and makes a potent pairing with the Nait 5i amplifier, but the sheer musicality on offer here gives the CD5si an appeal to users of other brands, too: its slimline looks make it easy to accommodate, and the sound will bring pep and excitement to all kinds of systems.
The CD5si may look simple, but there’s plenty of Naim’s in-house technology packed in there, and it all pays off in an attractive, musically compelling sound that’ll lead to plenty of long listening sessions.
Antonio Forcione Quartet: Tears of Joy
Guitar Maestro Forcione was for some years a mainstay of Naim’s own record label, and his quartet’s 2007 In Concert set is a hugely enjoyable listen, surrounding his amazing guitar playing with percussion and cello in a highly-detailed sound
Foxes: Sister Ray
Louisa Rose Allen’s third Foxes album, just released, is a euphoric, upbeat, energising set of fine vocals and driving electronica, and this opening track starts things as they mean to go on. The Naim’s tight bass and bags of detail play to the music’s strengths
Dedicated CD players are becoming something of a rarity in the streaming music age, but this slender, minimalist model is something of a cracker, combining solidity of build with simplicity of operation and sound that really gets to the heart of the music