Teac CD-Z5000 CD-player
While some of the cheap players are overflowing with more or less useless gadgetry, more expensive models like the TEAC CD-Z5000 possess a sensibly pared down selection.
The player is rational looking with a centrally mounted loading drawer and controls fitted for basic play operations. The remote control adds functions such as programming and disc search, random track search and tape editing. Fixed and variable level analogue outputs are fitted, plus an optical digital output but no coaxial electrical equivalent.
The CD-Z5000 is an 18-bit eight-times oversampling player which uses a technique like negative feedback to reduce quantization noise and improve linearity, which are recognized weaknesses with multi-bit conversion techniques. The laser servo, which keeps the laser read head stable over the 'groove' has been worked on to avoid interference with other circuit elements, and, says TEAC, the 18-bit converter itself has been trimmed to improve accuracy at all levels.
Disappointing is the first adjective that springs to mind on sound quality. The first song tried was Bulfunk from the AR album, a fast moving and energetic instrumental, but the treble sounded thin, raw and even a little colored, which made listening some-thing of a trial. The TEAC's limitations were not restricted to the treble - the midband was also thin and sometimes edgy. Immaculate and tidy recordings, like the Chandos version of Respighi's The Birds, worked well and caused no real complaints, but more difficult material like the Stravinsky sounded frazzled and coarse through the loud sections, with some suggestion of peak compression, audible as a holding back of crescendo. There was also some loss of the distinctive ambience of the recording acoustic.
The pianola recording of the same work, Rite of Spring, recorded on the same disc did at least sound sharp and clear.
It looks as though the mid-price doldrums have struck again. The TEAC CD-Z5000 is nice enough, but despite some promising features it stubbornly refuses to outperform a range of players, some of which cost barely half as much. The Aiwa XC-700, for example, walks it for liveliness and involvement. The NAD 5425 and Kenwood DP-5030, at £200, are superior on audition.