It's unusual for SOS to look at CD players, because, although most of us own at least one, they are usually adequately covered in the pages of hi‑fi magazines. However, this new Marantz unit is unusual in that it is designed to play finalised CD‑Rs and, more importantly, finalised CD‑RWs as well as ordinary CDs. Most modern CD players will play CD‑Rs, but the different reflectivity characteristics of CD‑RW discs have meant that very few consumer CD players can play them. The CD5000, however, allows a master album compilation done on a CD‑RW disc (where mistakes can be undone) to be played back, leaving your CD recorder free to make a clones on standard CD‑Rs.
The Marantz CD5000 looks pretty much like any other hi‑fi separate CD player, though it does have the option to bolt on rack ears for studio use. The analogue outputs are on unbalanced phonos, and this model also includes S/PDIF out on both co‑axial and optical connectors. A cordless remote control is included in the package and CD text is supported. There are the other familiar consumer features such as programmable and random track playback orders, and the ability to audition the first few bars of each track. There's also a fairly basic fade‑in/out option that could be useful for compiling albums.
A variable‑level headphone output is provided for general listening or cueing and, unusually, there's an output level control on the remote controller that allows both analogue and digital level adjustment — this is immensely useful for compiling an album where you need to balance the levels of some of the tracks.
In most respects, the Marantz CD5000 operates and sounds like any other good‑quality CD player, and it stands up well sound‑wise against pretty much any mid‑price CD player. The ability to play back CD‑RWs and to vary the digital output level, however, elevate it to a new level of usefulness in the studio. Paul White