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These mechanical differences of Naim's CD5si have obvious advantages. The ubiquitous ejecting drawer gets mechanically ass-whopped whilst suspended decoupling in conjunction with the puck serves up low-resonance steady revolutions which should delight the laser reader to more easily follow the pits. Control is via four frontal commands (previous, next, stop and play) or the included remote wand. This adds things like track programming and the potential sonic uptick of defeating the powerful green LED display which is well legible even from across the room.

I kicked off my audition with Radiohead's Kid A or more specifically the cut "How to disappear completely". It's primarily a song for convicted fans by ending as off the cuff as it begins harmoniously. In my circle some errant knaves dismiss it as 'cat's cacophony'. Who needs enemies with such friends? The number moves on a 6/8 beat and gets rhythmically brushed against the grain by persistent on-eight bass. Drums and acoustic guitar maintain the core pulse, a few real and artificial strings join in and finally a rare instrument called Ondes Martenot, an electronic hybrid of keyboard and string instrument capable of unusual tone modulations and glissandi. And lest we forget, there are Thom Yorke's suffering pipes. Over the CD5si, two things were immediately apparent: what for this price range was shocking stage depth and superb detail magnification. First to stage depth.

The triplet-busy acoustic guitar is mixed primarily to the left, its slightly delayed reverb to the right. With the Naim that alone already conjured up bona-fide three-dimensional space. Percussion doesn't enter until the second refrain when it appeared at stage rear more than one meter behind the speakers. I should add that this space didn't feel artificially stretched but exceptionally believable and realistic.

Relative to detail magnification, further music samples suggested this as the player's core competency. Again this cut is quite complex with its guitars, strings, synths, song, drums and heavy reverb all of which the CD5si sorted out effortlessly. Towards the end for example the Ondes Martenot and strings become more and more dominant to overshadow all else yet the acoustic guitar remained steadfastly embedded at stage left as did its counter-channel reverb despite being utterly drowned out by the rest on pure amplitude. Exactly how the CD5si managed this feat isn't easily described. I ended up thinking this exemplary sorting prowess to not be a tonal but dynamic function. Somehow the deck managed to let quiet and loud coexist peacefully side by side. This warranted a closer look.

To follow Radiohead's wint'ry melancholia called for happy tunes next and the Doobie Brothers' Listen to the music with its pumping bass figures, slightly ahead-of-beat powerfully grooving drums, squirrely guitars and saccharine pleasure refrains. My listening notes, twice underlined, said 'rhythmically loaded'. This deck veritably bursts with playing fever and dissects the spread into appetizing finger-food morsels like "ah, rhythm guitar at left", "wow, that snare cracks like a whip", "groovy how that bass pumps" to present it to the inclined listener nearly like a revolving carousel in constant motion. If that's one metaphor too many, I'll rephrase it.