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Naim CDX2 review

Seriously sexy, subtle and stately it may be, but will it go to pieces when it encounters the avant-garde?

Tom Waits’s album Real Gone is a difficult recording in all senses of the word. It has complex production, opaque lyrics and a dusty, grainy sound that makes it seem as if it was spewed fully formed from the deranged imagination of a chemically enhanced Californian farm boy. Which it might’ve been.

In any case, Naim’s excellent CDX2 is the kind of player you need with this material. It has the talent to cut right through to the meat of the matter, delivering a very musical experience.

It’s all about the music

We could spend all day discussing how expressive the CDX2’s dynamics are, or how much detail it digs up, but ultimately all these things only matter because they, along with numerous other hi-fi specifics – attack, speed and timing, for example – go into bringing the music to life. This Naim player gets the essentials right, making the most of any disc you feed it, irrespective of recording quality. This machine never forgets that the music comes first.

Don’t get the impression that this is hi-fi perfection, though. Some rivals at this price level produce a deeper, more layered soundstage, while others have greater refinement. But when it comes to sheer musicality, few come close to this player’s achievement. That’s why it still gets the full five-star rating.

Beef it up

Being a Naim product also means that upgradeability is also on the menu. That said, the upgrade pretty much doubles the price. The XPS outboard power supply costs a cool £2465, but it takes the already impressive performance of the CDX2 to another planet.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying go for the two-box combo or nothing. We’re just letting you know that if you buy this player, it’s class-leading as a standalone product – but should the upgrade bug strike, there’s a genuinely meaningful way of improving things.

The CDX2 isn’t audio jewellery that impresses friends with bling or bulk: it’s a seriously talented piece of kit. Naim prides itself on being able to service any product it has ever made, and has an enviable reputation for reliability. We’ve reviewed a fair few machines at this price level, and few of them make as much sense as an ownership proposition as the CDX2. If you’re thinking about buying a player in this price range, listen to the CDX2 first.

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5