C.E.C. TL 1 CD transport System
The C.E.C. TL 1 took a place in my rack alongside the $8500 Mark Levinson No.31 transport and the $2500 Proceed PDT 3 (both are made by Madrigal Audio Labs). The No.31 sets a benchmark in transport performance, and the PDT 3 is, in my opinion, the transport to beat at the $2500 level (along with the Theta Data). I thus had two serious contenders for comparison with the TL 1. At $4650, the TL 1 costs more than the PDT 3, but is significantly less expensive than the No.31.
Digital interconnects included C.E.C.'s supplied coaxial cable, an Aural Symphonics Digital Standard coaxial cable, and an AudioQuest Optical Pro 2 ST-type. When auditioning the TL 1 with the Mark Levinson No.30 digital processor, I used ST-type optical exclusively (the No.30 processor has no coaxial input; only AES/EBU, ST, and TosLink). Coaxial output auditioning was via a PS Audio UltraLink. I also auditioned the TL 1 with the MSB Gold processor (review forthcoming). All the digital processor outputs fed an Audio Research LS2B preamplifier.
Loudspeakers were Thiel CS3.6es (reviewed in May) driven by a Mark Levinson No.23.5 power amplifier. I also listened to the TL 1 briefly with Boston Acoustics' new Lynnfield Series 500L loudspeakers and Genesis III (reviews forthcoming) driven by the No.23.5, VTL 225 Deluxe Monoblocks, or a Forté Model 4. Loudspeaker cables included AudioQuest Clear, Midnight, and Sterling. Line-level interconnects were AudioQuest Lapis (balanced and unbalanced) and Diamond (unbalanced, between the UltraLink and LS2B). Power to the system (except the power amplifiers) was conditioned with a Tice Power Block and Titan.—Robert Harley