Naim CD5i (Mk II) review

The CD5i gets a lick of paint in the shape of the MkII (actually called the CD5 'i' with an italic slant), getting even more refinement and dynamics Tested at £975

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The italic 'i' mod makes a good machine even better – the CD5i MkII is the most enjoyable sub-£1000 player on the market


  • +

    As communicative and musical a player as you’ll find for this kind of money

  • +

    great build


  • -

    If analysis or sonic purity is your thing, others can do it better

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Naim's much-admired entry-level CD player, the CD5i has been replaced by this, the CD5i. Spot the difference? So subtle is the new player's italic i, some person in the company's packing department has decided to make thing clearer by calling it a CD5i (MkII), which is what it is. Officially, though, it isn't.

As is often Naim's way, this new player is all about evolution. Outwardly, it looks unchanged from the original, though much work has gone on inside. The highlights are an improved circuit layout with better quality components, a change of DAC, and some tweaking of the power supply filtering. These revisions make a good player better.

No communication breakdown
Let's get one thing clear: if you're after the purest, most open sound for the money, this isn't the player for you. The CD5i's sound is more about solidity and organisation. Not the most glamorous-sounding traits we admit, but think about what these qualities impart, and you realise how important they are.

So, while the player's outright detail resolution is at a level that we'd expect in this class, the Naim's talent is to arrange all this information in a direct and communicative way. Music – no matter how complex – makes sense through this machine. You're left in no doubt as to what the artist wanted you to feel and, when you think about it, you can't ask much more from a hi-fi.

Traditional brand strengths such as strong dynamics and impeccable timing have much to do with this, but we also think the improved treble refinement helps, too.

And while it can be critical of recording quality, this is one unit that won't sound dreadful even with rough recordings. Like any good player, it's equally at home with Jay-Z or a Mahler Symphony.

There are rivals that are better at analysis than the CD5i, but if you want something to make your music thoroughly enjoyable, start right here.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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