First impressions review CEC HD53N balanced amplifier
Feb 22, 2010 at 12:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

hifihead

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Posts
171
Likes
25
CEC websiteAttachment 26497

This is a review of the CEC HD53N balanced amplifier. This is my first review of an amp. This review is the first few hours of evaluating this amp. I purchased this amp from Audiocubes II. It cost $1000 and $150 for air shipping. It was shipped via EMS to the US and US postal service to my home. It took 22 days from ordering it to receiving it. It came shipped with a voltage transformer to step it down from 120V to Japan 100V because the amp is configured for 100V. The fit and finish is superb. In my opinion, the amp is beautiful to look at.

The sound. This is my first experience with a balanced amp. Therefore, I can only compare it to my unbalanced amps. I listened to the amp with some CD’s and a Roku Soundbridge. I used a Sennheiser HD650 headphone with a Headroom stock balanced cable. The bass is tighter and goes a little deeper on the CEC. The bass is not muddy at all. The midrange is detailed and smooth. The treble is extended, but not harsh at all. It has a pretty wide soundstage. I would describe the CEC as being relatively warm as far as solid state amps go. Not quite as warm as my Darkvoice tube amp, but warmer than my Cute beyond amp. The CEC has transformed the HD650 from good to really good headphones. It did this by lifting away some of the veil that the HD650 is known for.

Conclusion. I am absolutely impressed by the CEC HD53N balanced amp, even given its $1000 price. If other balanced amps have similar characteristics then going balanced over unbalanced amps is the way to go. It would be interesting if there was a comparison between the CEC amp and a couple of less expensive balanced amps like the Einar Sound amp or the Little Dot MK VII+ amp. This amp is not perfect, but I have some difficulty finding any fault, at least by comparison to my other amps. I hope you found my mini review helpful.
 
Feb 22, 2010 at 6:21 PM Post #3 of 15

hifihead

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Posts
171
Likes
25
The CEC is just a little warmer than the Gilmore Lite. But the Glite is pretty warm considering it's solid state and half the cost of the CEC. The CEC has a wider soundstage. The CEC has tighter bass and slightly more bass. Midrange is very detailed and smooth on the CEC. Vocals are more engaging on the CEC than on the Glite. The treble on the CEC is not harsh, whereas the it can be a little harsh sometimes on the Glite. Both amps are detailed, but the CEC is a little more so. I think the Glite is a pretty good value for it's $500 cost. But in no way can the Glite match the performance of the CEC at twice the cost.
 
Feb 22, 2010 at 9:03 PM Post #5 of 15

Kees

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 18, 2006
Posts
4,619
Likes
24
Thanks for your impressions.
I've been looking at this amp for a while now, I think it must have a lot in common with the Rudistor NX33 I had fo a while.
By the way: the CEC can also be used single ended. The jacks are combined XLR and TRS if I'm correct.
 
Nov 6, 2010 at 11:37 AM Post #8 of 15

photons

New Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
10
Likes
10
The CEC looks and sounds like a nice amp. I have this setup for my balanced AKG K701 headphones. All three for slightly under $1000.00 + shipping. The sound is superb.
L3000.gif

 
Apr 17, 2012 at 9:07 PM Post #11 of 15

Telstar

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 6, 2007
Posts
308
Likes
13
I just discovered this amp.
Any more owners?
 
Apr 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM Post #12 of 15

eugenius

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 2, 2005
Posts
1,551
Likes
85
Location
București
I had it for two years and it was great, I sold it because I want to move to speakers.
 
It has wonderful resolution, clarity without any harshness and the best vocals and soundstage I've heard in solid state amplifiers. The only failure is a slight lack of bass slam (but even that I suspect it doesn't have because it's not there in the recording). The bass is extremely tight and controlled.
 
Do not have illusions about the aforementioned "warmth" people speak of in this thread, the CEC is not a veiled amp that protects you from bad recordings. It is a clear, open window to the recording. Do not get it if your system needs the proverbial "warmth" put into it.
 
The extra speaker output makes it an extraordinary deal for someone who wants to build a desktop speaker / headphone rig for a computer. All you need is a pair of reasonably efficient bookshelf speakers (over 90dB/W/m).
 
There is a warning: these amplifiers have a bad volume pot (I've seen three so far that have developed noise when adjusting the volume, including mine). As I understand, the latter examples fixed that particular problem but it's not manufacturer confirmed information.
 
Bottom line is, for the price there is no better solid state amplifier I know of if you are into slower music and have a great headphone with a sound signature you like and does not need tweaking with the amplifier.
 
Apr 21, 2012 at 10:57 AM Post #13 of 15

Telstar

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 6, 2007
Posts
308
Likes
13
Quote:
It has wonderful resolution, clarity without any harshness and the best vocals and soundstage I've heard in solid state amplifiers. The only failure is a slight lack of bass slam (but even that I suspect it doesn't have because it's not there in the recording). The bass is extremely tight and controlled.
 
Do not have illusions about the aforementioned "warmth" people speak of in this thread, the CEC is not a veiled amp that protects you from bad recordings. It is a clear, open window to the recording. Do not get it if your system needs the proverbial "warmth" put into it.

I precisely do NOT want that. I dislike amp colorations, while i can tolerate those provided by speakers, as they are different in nature.
Did you by chance compare it with one of Gilmore designs, or to some other european-made amps? By memory, what u can recall.
 
 
Apr 21, 2012 at 1:31 PM Post #14 of 15

eugenius

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 2, 2005
Posts
1,551
Likes
85
Location
București
ask http://www.head-fi.org/u/80365/padam, he had the HD53N and the Gilmore at the same time.
 
I have another balanced amplifier, the Headroom Desktop, that one has great bass slam and it's not as smooth and detailed as the CEC. They are complete opposites, as much as two solid state amplifiers can be. I prefer the Headroom for modern (badly mastered and with tons of bass) music and the CEC for everything else.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top