Having read and heard copious praise of the two-chassis Metronome T2i-Signature CD player ($20,600), at times accompanied by claims that it can make CDs sound as good as SACDs reproduced in two-channel mode, I was eager to hear the new one-piece Metronome CD5-Signature player, distributed in the US by Jim Ricketts of tmh audio (above). The CD5-Signature, whose somewhat plain Jane appearance conceals both a tube output stage and variable volume control that can obviate the need for a preamp, retails for a "mere" $18,000. Introduced at the RMAF, it was powered by borrowed-at-the-last-minute Boulder monoblocks feeding Zerobox 109 loudspeakers (40Hz–35kHz response for $7500/pair) via Xindak cabling.

Obviously, most purchasers of an $18,000 CD player would mate it with fuller-range speakers and perhaps different amplification. Nonetheless, the system conveyed a boundary-less soundstage, stunning depth, and a wonderful sense of space. Listening to the exquisite soprano Montserrat Figueras and the extended Savall family on their Alia Vox CD, du temps et de l’instant, I felt I was hearing a convincing representation of the church acoustic in which the singers and musician were recorded. Expect to hear a lot about the Metronome CD5-Signature player in the months ahead.