What's that you say? "Seth is coming back from hiatus to write reviews for obscure, obsolete audio equipment? What?" You read correctly. I'm back, and I'm writing a review for something that most audiophiles and audioholics would not even bother listening to let alone reviewing. Nevermind the fact this thing came out 10 years ago. Let me preface by saying that this is a review of a executive stereo. This does not mean it is in charge of other stereos or has climbed it's way up the corporate ladder. This means it's a small, attractive looking stereo system that you might have in an office, on a bookshelf, or at your bedside. Executive stereos are not meant to offer full range sound that one would critically listen to music on. Now are you ready, because this might surprise you slightly. The CMT-EX1 exceeds my expectations in sound involvement from an executive system. I did say system, because as a whole (head unit and speakers) the performance is nothing short of amazing. Usually sound is severely hampered by the stock speakers. The other tragedy of the executive systems out there is many of them are not capable of supplying a full range signal to the speaker making them undesireable to use with anything but the stock speakers.* The CMT-EX1 isn't riddled with features (aside from bass boost and an artificial surround mode). One feature I could have really utilized would have been the addition of a subwoofer output. This omition is only a minor hinderance and is no where near as annoying as having a useless subwoofer output. Nothing is more troubling to me why other manufactures of executive systems go through the trouble of integrating a high pass filter in the preamp stage of the head unit, then putting a subwoofer output on it. :confused* The head unit is the most crucial part here. It's graceful design lends the eye a treat. The face is very thick glass and aluminum. The mechanism for the CD loading is among the niftiest I've seen. Upon touching the conductive eject button a small flap moves aside and a carriage moves upward. You place the disc on the carriage and touch the eject button again, or press play, and the carriage lowers the disc into the transport, the dust flap closes and the transport locks the disc in place. Sony put a lot of thought and engineering into this design of this player. The mechanics are excellent, the transport noise is low even on stand alone CD player standards, and the glass has a frosted line at the 9 o'clock position to shield the laser light from ignorant eyes. The quality of playback is also excellent as well as the amplifier noise performance with speakers and headphones (note: the headphone jack is placed on the rear so as to keep the front panel looking uncluttered). The CMT-EX1 could also be used as a transport by using the optical output.* Now on to the amp section. I just love it when an amplifier can be compact, yet effective. While the amp section is rated at 15 watts per channel I'd venture to say it could manage 7-8 watts RMS both channels driven. This is plenty for this type of system. It's a class A/B *output configuration and Sony claims the acceptable load varies from 4-16 ohms. Usually you would expect a prepackaged all-in-one stereo to specify it's compatible with one load, and ironically it's always the same load that's stated on the accompanying speaker system. It seems like someone at Sony decided to throw caution to the wind and say "why not just put an acceptable range?". I can't be any happier about that decision. The thing I like most about the amp section I've mentioned already, but let's talk more about it. Let me preface by saying I understand why most manufactures put the high pass filter inside the head module. There are several reasons in fact and they are as follows: protect the amplifier from dynamic or continuous low bass, protect the speaker from high excursion from low bass, protect the owner's investment even though they apparently can't tell they've passed the operational limitations of their equipment. Now whomever was responsible for designing the CMT-EX1 probably considered doing this but thought, "who would spend $300 on a work of art and abuse it? And if they did, is that my problem?" Thank you engineer, thank you. I could not have had you ask a better question. This well crafted piece of machinery feeds my subwoofer with a full range signal and does so cleanly and purely.* The speakers, while the weakest point of this system are far from disappointing, if used in the prescribed manor. Contrary to what's shown in my pitiful photograph the speakers sound their best nearfield with one speaker placed on either side of the main module. They each have a 3.5" midbass and 3/4" soft dome tweeters. They have surprising resolution and don't suffer from the boxy sound typically associated with compact stereo systems. The subwoofer is obviously needed, but can be blended quite seamlessly.* In summary: its old but in my opinion it's a sexy classic. Why even the best manufactures don't rival its looks and sound in this category is beyond me. I honestly feel you would have to reach B&O levels to match the quality in craftsmanship found here along with general aesthetic appeal. It would even make an excellent CD transport as quiet as it is. It doesn't stop at being made well and looking pretty, it sounds fantastic as well. It was a Good deal when it retailed for $300 and it's a real bargain if you can find one used for $100 or less. I highly recommend this product.