Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the sexiest hi-fi we've seen all year. The Denon CX3 consists three Denon units: the DRA-CX3 stereo receiver, the DCD-CX3 CD/SACD player and a pair of SC-CX303 speakers. Together, this beautiful setup will cost you a shade under £3,000. We've had this in-house for some serious play time and we can report it sounds as superb as it looks.
Both the CD player and the receiver are reassuringly heavy, with build quality as exemplary as you would expect of such a costly miniature hi-fi. Specialist circuitry and electronic design, complete with fully gold-plated I/O connectors, have been implemented with the promise of superior performance as a result. Each speaker is housed in a 30mm-thick, cherry-wood finished MDF cabinet, each featuring 13cm DDL cone woofer units and delicate dome tweeters.
Denon's reputation is upheld by the quality of the CX3's construction and elegant integration of high-quality components. But does it perform well? Yes, of course it does. Would you put a nearly £3,000 system on the market if it didn't? What is important to note, however, is that while the system delivers sound crisper than an icy knife edge, it's not suited to every style of music on its own. While bass is superbly balanced and clean, hardcore fans of drum 'n' bass may find they want even larger portions of bass.
Where the CX3 excels is with classically recorded rock, orchestral performances, acoustic recordings, operas, anything driven by pianos and vocals and anything recorded at Abbey Road. We also got great results from a lot of modern stuff, too. A few tracks from the classic Red Hot Chili Peppers album Blood Sugar Sex Magik had an undeniable punchiness and power through the CX3, and reminds us of what made this funktastic album so good in the first place.
The combination of the CX3 amp and speakers delivers such a undeniably clean sound that a recording's detail is reproduced in ways a vast number of people will simply never have heard. If you can afford the complete setup, it's a worthy reason to delay that operation or push back your loved one's vital blood transfusion.
To get even more uncomfortably turned on, click through for a plethora of close-up shots of this beautiful system. -Nate Lanxon