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The Music Mirror

[Italian version]

Product: VOX CD-5 CD Player
Manufacturer: Industrie AUDIO VOX® - Italy - Tel. +39 (0)571.675005
Approx. price: 750 euro/$
Reviewer: Stefano Monteferri
Reviewed: November 2001

Mirror effect on the CD AUDIO VOX® CD-5

We had the chance to talk about the AUDIO VOX® industries for the, indeed positive, review of the integrated amplifier Plastic 25, quite unusual for its aesthetic and for its unconventional design and crafting philosophy. The chance to talk again of this young Italian brand comes, this time, from the CD Player VOX CD 5, an entry level model, which, even being in the price range in the lower mid market segment, does not forget to declare its audiophile ambition. Well, looking at it, even inattentively, should be just enough to catch immediately the almost complete absence of controls on the front panel, something that makes you think that most of the resources, within the approved budget, have been spent to obtain the best music quality minimizing the fancy functionalities.

The Technique

The unit is entirely metallic (completely non magnetic aluminum and steel), and the CD player cabinet, at least in the one that was given for the review it is mirror finished (that will be available on request). The finishing of surfaces differentiate itself for a special polishing of the aluminum parts, that gives a special aesthetic class, with a "mirror effect" that is quite evident. The new models will use a more conventional polished black Plexiglas front panel, the same used on the amplifiers with elements realized in polished aluminum.

The front panel design is very clean, the mechanics is placed centrally, just above the clear intense blue display, with an almost complete absence of buttons and controls, a part the rocker power switch (I've been informed that the new models are now produced with the power switch placed on the rear panel for a better design of the front one), and a couple of small buttons side of the display. The left one changes the status of the unit from "stand by" mode to the full operative one, so to keep the unit in the adequate operative conditions and to get best possible musical performance. The right one, controls the open/close of the cd tray. There is no way to start the CD player a part from the remote control, that allows also to use the common secondary functions: stop, skip, fast forward, pause, random access and programming. There is also the output level control that let you use the player directly with a power amplifier without volume control.

The rear panel appears, if possible, even more clean of the front one. There are only the analogue RCA outputs and the useful IEC socket for the power supply cable, which you can change easily with a better one. The new models do also have the digital coaxial output, useful to connect an external converter, and a fixed analogue RCA output, surely more appreciated by sound "purists" in respect of the variable one (it was a pity we could not use it during the listening test).

The unit uses a D/A Bitstream conversion stage.

The Sound

The first feeling is to listen to an open and bright musical balance, unexpectedly thick, with high and midhigh range being the main players, something quite unusual for the class level of this unit and which, even if not showing a special harmonic and elegant quality, do have however the advantage to be clear and liquid. The midrange timbre gets natural and fluid like, also in relation with a midbass range that does not seems overblown, while being indeed very moderate. The bass range seems to follow the attitude of the higher range, and while marked by a recognizable agility, appears somehow light and not well extended and powerful.

Introspection and detail are at a good level, but is clear that at those price levels, it is pure utopia to expect a reproduction of details with clearness and a strong attitude for chiaroscuro. So our CD 5, while perfectly comfortable with small ensembles, shows some limits with the larger one, where the complex orchestral textures are hardly displayed with a high degree of discerning. Those characteristics are often found also in higher price machines, and this cannot be really considered a limit of the unit.

The sensation is that the macrodynamic is somehow moderate and mellow, and the impact results not hard at all. This is also determined by the bass and midbass arrangement I was speaking before, the final result is that with some music rather strong, where force and punch are fundamental elements to enjoy the reproduction, it would be better to have some more identity. Things are better for the microdynamics that is reproduced in a more clear and resolute way.

Three-dimensional image is well represented, stable and with a tendency to place all elements in the soundstage behind the loudspeakers, with a small front projection of the players. Those elements are rather well focused, while slightly dispersed in borders in the part placed laterally of the loudspeakers. Space between instruments is not especially dark, while rather contrasted, enough to make the reproduction space less and legible.

At the same time I had in my house on of the amplifiers of the same producer, the Plastic 25, which has been recently reviewed, and I got the clear feeling that the two units could have the right quality in order to realize a significant joint synergy, and I did not miss the chance to go through a proper "integration test".

What comes out is that the tonal balance of the VOX CD-5 is the perfect mate for the amplifiers of the same producer, and the midhigh range so thick and bright counterbalance what has been identified as the unique venial limit of the Plastic 25. In the contrary, the thickness of it on the midbass integrates at its best the agility and moderation of the CD on the same frequency range.

The benefits resulting from this marriage are quite evident when analyzing the soundstage reconstruction of the system, that is finally able to express itself in a more convincing three-dimensional way, thanks to an overcame "forward" effect, that is able to bring more frontally, spacing them from the background, the more substantial and material elements.

At the end I've got once more the evidence on how important can be the right combination of different components, to reach the best possible joint synergy, and then, the best results within the available budget for the composition of the well playing audio system.


I would have liked to have at least, among the controls on the front panel, the "play" button, just in case that the remote control could not be found, could be damaged or had dead batteries.

Sonically, I’d rather preferred just some more dynamic impact, and a bass range a little more extended and present.


The price range around 1 and 1.5 millions liras, following my personal experience, it seems a rather critical field where is difficult to reach a reasonable balance. Clearly when speaking about CD player miracles are almost impossible, in different way of what can happen with amplifiers and loudspeakers, where intuition and design skills are much more important.

The producers, which are not large players in the electronic industry, in rather budget project have to buy mechanics, converters and what else is needed, in a quite low price range. At the end they have a reduced range of possibilities on the components in which one can normally choose with more freedom, like the power supply stages or the analogue output.

In my view the choice of the AUDIO VOX® industries has been the one to allocate the resources towards the optimization of the features of music reproduction which would permit the best connection with amplifiers of the same brand. It came out a product with a clear cut style, surely good, but with sound pitch that should be truly taken in consideration when this CD player is connected to an existing audio system.

A wishful thanks goes to Industrie AUDIO VOX®, and in special to Maurizio Aterini, for its kindness and readiness.

© Copyright 2001 Stefano Monteferri - https://www.tnt-audio.com

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