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Teac CDP-1100 - CD player

[Teac 1100]

[Italian version]

Product: Teac CD-P 1100 - CD player
Manufacturer: Teac - Japan
Approx. price: 150 Euro/US $
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu

Who said that the HiFi gear should be expen$ive?
We believe that the HiFi, as a means to bring Music to the people, should be affordable for everyone, so that everyone can enjoy the joys :-) of Music.
So you wanted a cheap CD player. Here it is: the Teac CD-P1100, an incredibly cheap player that for less than 200$ (list price in Italy, your mileage may vary) gives you a complete remote control, a centrally placed transport and a sound quality that I'm going to tell you in a few lines.

Teac is a well known brand in the HiFi world and especially renowed for making some pretty good sounding CD players and excellent transports (the VRDS series) used by some Hi-end firms as transports for their hi-zoot no-compromise CD players.
I was wondering if such a know-how could affect in some way the low -end of the catalogue of the Japanese firm, without using stiff and heavy aluminium cabinets, esoteric transports and the like.
The Teac CD-P1100 gives you everything you need: a solidly-built cabinet, a central transport, an user-friendly remote control, a phones output with volume control and a pletora of functions (intro check, shuffle play, programmable sequences and so on) that the standard audiophile uses maybe once in a lifetime :-)
It is a 1-bit machine with a double-resolution digital filter and a triple laser beam.
A look at the inside reveals a well-designed layout, all the cables are glued to the chassis and the power transformer is solidly placed far away from the mainboard, at the bottom of the cabinet.
The power cable isn't detachable but the RCA output jacks are spaced enough to allow you to use even special cables with oversized connectors.
The top cover is secured to the chassis by means of 5 screws, instead of the usual 4, so that the whole player seems solid and non-resonant. Could we ask for more?
Let's play Music now!

Plug and...play!

I've tested this player both on my reference big system into my large living-room and in my second system, a budget-conscious chain into a small room where a cheap player like the CD-P1100 should feel at home :-)
I've used several interconnects to test this player, among these there were: a cheap Monster Interlink 200, an Interlink 400 mkII and a DIY cable.

The tonal balance

OK, it is a bit hard to talk about tonal balance for a CD player that costs less tha a medium priced interconnect cable...anyway:
the sound of this CD player is warm with a gentle roll-off on the highs.
If you were thinking it sounded tizzy and harsh well, think again.
The high range of this player is a little bit on the tame side, cymbals and high-frequency percussions are less lively than one could expect from a budget player.
The medium range is sometimes a little bit too forward instead, giving to the reproduction a strange effect of *presence* which seems a bit excessive, especially because it is not mated with a brilliant high range.
Despite of this tonal balance the voices are beautifully reproduced, clear and well-defined, not always amazing but still convincing and somewhat realistic.
From time to time a harsh note can be heard but it is negligible and easily forgiven, if one considers the price range.
The bass range is good, decently extended and powerful, though it lacks the impact and the extension of the best budget players around (which cost two or three times the CD-P1100, though).
Sometimes it lacks some control and you have the feeling as the bass goes here and there in your listening room, wandering aimlessly :-)
Much of this depends on the kind of table you have and on the kind of feet you use under the CD-P1100. Tip Toes or similar devices can make a huge difference. But we'll talk about this later.
So, long story short, the tonal balance of this player can be summarized as follows: bass and mid range a little bit *forward* with a gentle roll-off on the highs. A reason for this behaviour can be found in the dynamic performance of this player:


Cheap CD players are easily recognizable because of their poor dynamics, this fault being mainly due to the cheap output analogue stages.
The Teac CD-P1100 is by no means different and its sound is slow, sometimes lifeless as it comes out from a cheap cassette deck.
Well, not exactly. It gives this impression when compared to faster players, while listened *all alone* its sound is enjoyable and it reminds the feeling of some old-style tube amplifiers.
For example the explosions of the Jim Keltner's drum kit (of the ubiquitous Sheffield Drum Record :-) ) are less impressive and dynamic than usual but this player is capable to *resize* each dynamic jump coherently...everything is reproduced as it was in a reduced scale but no preferences are given to some portion of the audio spectrum.
So overall dynamics is good both in the bass and in the mid range and control is always precise, a rare virtue for ANY CD player.
For example it doesn't scream or compress the sound when the musical programs becomes complex (for example: with a big choir or a huge pipe organ). And this is quite incredible for such a cheap player.
Microdynamics is good, this player can follow each small variation with a fair sense of pace and timing, it is not fast but still coherent and enjoyable.
For example the piano is slower than usual and it seems it has been recorded in a wider room, with the mikes far away from it.
Hence attacks and staccato's are less impressive and while the right hand part of the keyboard is still realistic, the left hand is sometimes confused.
When used into the small system of the smaller listening room, the little CD player can take its revenge and its sound becomes crisper and plenty of impact. Clearly its sonic personality feels more *at home* with budget-oriented systems and small rooms where the sometimes a slow and lazy sound is mostly welcomed by aggressive little speakers and rooms.
Large rooms need impact, power and speed...otherwise the sound becomes too *relaxed* and little involving.
So the Teac, when mated with good little amplifiers (Rotel, NAD, AMC, Arcam...), inside a small room can be a clever choice for the audiophile on a limited budget.

3D imaging

If dynamics is a major drawback with cheap CD players, 3D imaging is a plain nightmare for them.
Image width, height and depth are just fair and everything appears smaller than usual. Conversely, the focus and the precision of the image is good, better than expected.
The center of the image and the contour of the singers is precise and realistic, it never fluctuates from left to right or back and forth, giving the idea of a small but rock-solid 3D imaging.
The depth of the image can be improved by using different feet under the CD player but we'll leave these tweaks to a separate article, when we'll introduce you our cool Teac CD-P1100 TLE (TNT Limited Edition). The height of the image seems normal with standard commercial recordings, for example the height of the singers seems natural.
With some audiophile recordings, where the height of the virtual image can easily reach the ceiling (and above) of your listening room, the CD-P1100 resizes everything so that, for example, the pipes of the organ in the Cantate Domino (Proprius) are shorter than I am used to *see*...:-)

Some advice

The Teac CD-P1100 isn't very sensitive to warm-in: it sounds more or less the same even after a few hours. It is ready to give the 90-95% of its performance, thumbs up for this.
Conversely it is very sensitive to placement: rubber feet, spikes and similar devices can make a dramatic difference. I recommend you to take a look at the tweaked version: Teac CD-P1100 TLE.
As for cables: it is very difficult to find an interconnect that is reasonably and proportionally priced. You can try with the Monster Interlink 200, for example, or with some of our DIY projects.
Of course the more you spend the better it gets but one should remain *realistic*: this player costs less than 200 US $ (150 $ is more realistic) and it would be ridiculous to use a 200 $ cable with it.


Now the question is: are 150 $ enough for a decently sounding CD player? Well, I'd say yes but I'd prefer to answer *it depends*.
It depends on what do you expect from your HiFi system. If you're planning to save as much as possible but still don't want to buy a compact mini-system then you should take into serious consideration this low-cost CD player: it is solidly built by a renowed and respectable HiFi firm, it is heavily upgradable and sounds pretty well for the money.
Also, if you're still using a portable CD player (thumbs down) to listen to your CDs, open your windows wide and throw it away...this Teac CD-P1100 will beat your portable in every aspect: sound, ease to use and durability.
If you're planning to test your tweaking skills on a CD-player this is the player of choice, definitely.

Affordable HiFi? Definitely yes. Will it replace your Marantz CD 67 or your Arcam Alpha? Definitely not. But do you still believe in miracles, then? :-)

Copyright © 1998 Lucio Cadeddu

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