CEC TL 2N CD TRANSPORT
" To come straight to the point : Only on rare occasions have I ever come across such an “analog” sounding CD Tansport !"
H. Obst | HIFI STARS
CEC opened a new chapter in music reproduction in 1991 with the world‘s first Belt Drive CD Transport, the now infamous TL 1. Creative mastery of vibration control techniques resulted in this landmark product, whose uniquely analog musicality has been hailed as nothing less than revolutionary in digital audio. Since then CEC has continued to improve on its designs and launched many globaly highly acclaimed and awarded devices.
With the CEC TL 2N, the breakthroughs of the previous double belt drive systems have been refined even further than we imagined possible! The completely new developed double belt drive mechanism has been installed to be fully centered on a larger aluminum chassis for increased stablization of rotation and no adjustment of mechanism height. This, while the double belt drive system with the large diameter precision flywheel stabilizer improves the accuracy of reading the music signal. The detail, richness of tone and spatial information are just breathtaking.
The concentrated application of technical knowledge, innovative capacity and decades of experience have paid off. Pride, craftsmanship, and music reproduction on compact disc have reached a new summit with the CEC TL 2N.
In order to read the signal recorded with Constant Linear Velocity (CLV) on the CD, rotational speed must be decreased as it tracks the outer edge of the disk. Usually the spindle motor controls the variation of speed. All CD players and transports place the spindle motor beneath the turntable for the CD, and the motor shaft works as the turntable center. This is called a direct drive system.
CEC BELT DRIVE SYSTEM
The advantage of the CEC belt drive CD system over the normal direct drive has been proved by the long life of CEC’s world’s first belt-drive system, since its introduction in early 1990’s. Simply, in order to eliminate the vibration and electromagnetic noise from the motors (both spindle motor for CD and feed motor for laser pick-up) a double belt-drive system has been utilized, enabling the motors to be located away from the spindle and laser pick-up. A large (Ø 12cm 380 grams) stabilizer is applied to the turntable itself, and this increases the effective mass and inertial stability, results in a high flywheel effect, and in stabilization of the disc rotation.
The proprietary CEC SUPERLINK connection system transmits music signals and synchronization clock signals separately with 4 BNC 75Ω cables, requiring no encoding/decoding process for data transmission, and using the master clock generated by the D/A converter to achieve a closed loop synchronization. The transmission system minimizes deterioration of the music signal and jitter.
Sampling frequency of CDs is 44.1kHz. This can be up-sampled to 88.2kHz or up to 176.4kHz. The High Resolution field covers even 96kHz and/or 192kHz as well.
CEC's listening tests show that 88.2/176.4kHz sounds better than 96/192kHz.
Up-sampling is not useful and feasible with SUPERLINK.
WORD CLOCK INPUT
A BNC terminal on the rear panel is equipped to input 44.1kHz world clock signal generated by an external clock generator. TL2N reproduces the servo clock from the external word clock to combine the system clock resulting in the elimination of jitter.
(NOTE: not useful with SUPERLINK.)
OTHER DESIGN ASPECTS
The shortest possible signal pass and stability of signal quality have been maintained by direct mounting of all terminals to the single circuit board. Superior Fluorescent display can be dimmed and even disconnected.
The musical cohesion, the rich detail and emotionally gripping „analogue-like“ sound is immediately apparent. No other CD drive has sounded so analogue. With the new CEC TL 2N, one can benefit from the advantages of this type of drive.
Test reports in international magazines as well as the testimony of our satisfied customers worldwide confirm that we have exceeded our musical objective :
Music reproduction at its highest level
Summary of Main Features
Playback of Red Book CD's
Top-Loading CD Bay
Dual Belt Drive System
Large (Ø 12cm 380 grams) Disc Stabilizer
44.1 kHz Word Clock Input for External Clock Generator
CE Superlink Input / Outputs
Upsampling to 88.2kHz or up to 176.4kHz - selectable
Designed, developed and built in Japan
CEC TL 2N - $6,200
CD Drive System
Double Belt Drive // Spindle & Pick-up
Audio CDs & finalized CD-R/RW
Ø 120 mm, weight: 380 g (brass)
• SUPERLINK: (BNC x 4) 2.5Vp-p/75Ω
• AES/EBU x 1: 2.5Vp-p/110Ω
• Coaxial x 1 0.5Vp-p/75Ω
• TOS x 1(optical): -21~-15dBm EIAJ
Word clock input
BNC x 1: 44.1kHz
24bit / 88.2kHz, 176.4kHz
(not useful and feasible with SUPERLINK)
AC 230/120 V, 50/60 Hz
435 (B) x 335 (T) x 111 (H) mm
Silver or Black
What they say ...
"Thank god, companies such as CEC exist ... who always come up with cutting-edge and brilliant R&D-driven innovations ... consistently leading to the most authentic CD playback sound experience.
To come straight to the point : The new CEC TL 2N drive is the admission ticket to the upper sphere of High End CD playback – and all this at a moderate price. If this isn’t a convincing statement, what is ?"
H. Obst - HIFI STARS | 2017
What was it that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry worded so beautiful in his cult book “The Little Prince”: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”. This can be modified to apply it to some HiFi devices that at a first may not look very spectacular but their inner qualities make them radiate. Although it cannot be seen, it can be heard all the better. This is how I felt at the High End in Munich standing in front of this year’s newest CD drives by the Japanese premium manufacturer CEC.
By looking at just the design and comparing it with the other relatively new drive, the TL 5 by the same manufacturer, there are barely any differences.
For over a year, this drive has given a very strong performance in my listening room. This is a common feature of both CD belt-drives developed by CEC, and we have spoken about their advantages in HiFi Stars so many times, that I will let it be this time – sorry!
However, according to the manufacturer, the latest CD drive by CEC - the TL 2N transforms musical performance into a significantly higher sphere ... on a level playing field with the CEC TL 1N that has been available on the market for many years, and which is ranked immediately after the legendary flagship CEC TL 0 3.0 in the CEC product range. This is a relatively high goal that the new TL 2N belt drive wants to satisfy.
A new CD Double belt drive system raised to another level !
It goes without saying that the manufacturer was carefully prepared to satisfy this demanding objective in technical terms. The result is a new patented double belt drive system that was raised to a new audiophile level.
The developers installed numerous novel solutions and the entire mechanism was meticulously centered, and the aluminum chassis was enlarged. Even the technology of changing the belts was simplified.
The drive mechanism used in the TL 2N uses the flywheel effect to achieve a greater level of smooth running. At the same time, the large (12 cm diameter) and heavy (380 grams) CD stabilizer improves the accuracy while reading the music signals. While conventional digital connections – such as XLR according to the AES/EBU standard, coax or the optical Toslink - need to code and decode the music data and the synchronization signals of the sampled CD, this step is omitted in the CEC Superlink. Here, four BNC-75 ohm cables transport “thoroughbred” signals so-to-speak and thus, enable optimal synchronisation with the converter.
Upsampling as an additional option
The CEC developers equipped the TL 2N drive with another new option. It makes it possible to upsample the digital output signals from the CD from 44.1 kHz to 88.2 kHz or even 176.4 kHz. In this way, it is possible to achieve a higher-resolution and more detailed playback. Furthermore, from an audiophile point of view the in-house hearing tests showed that an upsampling to 88.2 kHz or 176.4 kHz is superior to the predominantly 96/192 kHz present in computers.
On the left side of the front panel is the power button, to the right the push-button for the next track, previous track, then the button for upsampling, followed by the stop button and finally, the start/pause button. The display window with the usual information on the track number, time elapsed or how much time is left, forward and reverse etc. Furthermore, it will also display an activated Superlink connection and the selected upsampling speed.
CEC Superlink connection included
As is usually case for CEC - neat and clearly arranged - the rear side of the device: From left to right you have a connection for a separate word clock, followed by the digital outputs XLR-AES, Coax, and Toslink. This is followed by the Superlink section with the 4x BNC connectors, and finally at the very right is the power supply IEC inlet. The unit obviously includes a remote control, which also controls the upsampling in addition to the standard functions.
Transparency, quietness, ease and stability
We start with the Big Band Sound : Quincy Jones “Bossa Nova” spins in the CD tray and I immediately notice the transparency in the sound pattern of both of these technically well mastered recordings from 1962 - Phil Ramone is responsible for this. In cut no. 5, the song “Se E Tarde Me Pardoa (Forgive Me If I‘m Late)”, I have a clearly differentiated perception of the imaginary stage with the drum kit positioned to the right than what I remember from the playback with other equipment. Furthermore, an impressive quietness and stability is felt from the recording, where everything appears to be tidy and organized in a more tangible manner.
Next, a CD with recordings of the unforgettable jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan. This is often an example for the playback of tightly woven structures of sound. The track “Romance” on the recording, mastered by Bernie Grundman in 1987, generally shifts the the acoustic image of the smooth sound tapestry of the strings just a little to the trumpets and drums. I apologize for the slightly old comparison in advance, but while listening to this track, it really feels as if a veil is being lifted. The musicians keep a clearer distance to one another, and there is simply more air between the instruments.
I have waited a long time for my favourite recording of the 9th Symphony by Antonin Dvořák “From the New World” with Karel Ančerl and the Czech philharmonic orchestra to be released in audiophile form. This was made up for by JVC with a XRCD. Although the recording created on 6 December 1961 in Prague is lacking in a little opulence ... when compared to the contemporary, technically excellent recordings ... the CEC nonetheless gives the large symphony orchestra its very own width and depth and does not suppress the many details of the solo instruments.
Would this be a good time try out the upsampling option of the CEC TL 2N?
What is the point of the upsampling option ?
Please note that the upsampling option of the TL 2N does not work via the Superlink connection. I used a digital AES XLR connection to the DAC.
A first listening test ... without upsampling ..i.e. with the usual 44.1 kHz data rate results in a 1:0 score for the CEC Superlink connection. In my opinion, the Superlink introduces more sovereignty and certainty to the music scene.
Lets go a step further: In the upsampling 88.2 kHz position, I feel as though the fundamental range gained more depth. Moving up to the 176.4 kHz setting. This position results is am even greater fundamental range, and somehow everything appears to be rounder and softer, and even slightly more harmonious.
In my opinion, while listening to the CD “Bossa Nova” by Quincy Jones, the setting 88.2 kHz does not appear to yield any noticeable improvements, whereas this Big Band recording with upsampling set to 176.4 kHz seems to be smoother and rounder overall.
Thank god, companies such as CEC exist ... who always come up with cutting-edge and brilliant R&D-driven innovations ... consistently leading to the most authentic CD playback sound experience. The new CEC TL 2N Double Belt CD transport is undoubtedly one of them.
To come straight to the point : The new CEC TL 2N drive is the admission ticket to the upper sphere of High End CD playback – and all this at a moderate price. If this isn’t a convincing statement, what is ?
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