Musical Fidelity - Music to Your Ears
Musical Fidelity launched their first hi-fi product in 1982 to rave reviews.Over the next 30 plus years they have become one of the best known brands in the hi-fi industry.Their founder,Anthony Michaelson, cut his design teeth on designing and building valve amplifiers in the 1970's for another company.After moving on, having decided that his own mediocre preamp wouldn't make the cut any more he designed his own.An audio dealer friend heard it, ordered some and thus Musical Fidelity was born.
1984 brought the launch of the A1 integrated amplifier which today is considered a classic. Its rather unique design where the first 8 watts are output in Class "A" which has drawn comparisons to the sweetness of valve amplification.The combination of a generous power supply, minimalist features and a MM/MC phono stage was released to rave reviews.The A1 created a whole new class of "Budget Audiophile" amplifiers. It had a 7 year model life with several evolutions, but certainly established Musical Fidelity as a respected high fidelity amplifier manufacturer.
Other classics within Musical Fidelity's history include the 1986 release of the A370 power amplifier which some reviewers proclaimed as the best power amplifier they had heard.The A1000 integrated amplifier released in 1992 featured a Pure Class "A" power amplifier section - still in the quest for the sweetness and accuracy.Quality DAC design was the next frontier faced and conquered by Musical Fidelity starting in 1993 and continued into the Millennium with rave reviews and winning the European Network Music Player Award in 2011.
Musical Fidelity currently offers an exceptional range of high fidelity componentry with the M2Si through to the M6Si Series providing serious value for money high-end performance in integrated amplifiers,CD Players and DAC's.They also offer a high performance range of phono preamplifiers at varying price ranges. For those reaching for the sky in audio performance the M8,Encore and NU-Vista Series take the art of reproducing music to sky high levels.Musical Fidelity was purchased by Heinz Lichtenegger, founder of Pro-Ject Audio last year. Reports say that Musical Fidelity founder has retired but continues to offer his services on a consultancy basis.
Their newest amp the M2Si released in this new ProJect Audio ownership era, it is ironic that its spec is the most ‘old-school’ of the group. The claimed 2x 76W power output, is backed up by a current delivery rated at 25 Amps and an equally impressive damping factor figure meaning that, on paper at least, it has by far the greatest scope for handling challenging speaker loads and bringing the dynamics of the music to life.In its class it receives accolades for its sonic performance.
The M3Si amplifier takes a step in performance and features over the M2Si. Largely dual mono in construction, it puts out a claimed 85W per channel of Class AB power. It also comes equipped with a high quality inbuilt phono stage and onboard 24Bit/ 96kHz DAC for digital processing. Clean, detailed, sophisticated in sound, smart styling and excellent build quality all contributing to allowing the song to make a better impression.
Combining sharp looks, solid build quality and effortless performance the M5Si model offers a lot to grab your attention. In practical terms, this means that the M5Si is of relatively classic design, the preamplifier feeding dual monoblock power amplifiers ('with both channels absolutely identical, rather than just approximately so', says founder and designer Michaelson) but with a twist, as the whole enterprise is built onto a single PCB. Add to that what Musical Fidelity describes as 'excellent hunky build quality', as witnessed by an all-up fighting weight of 14.4kg, and you have an amp that manages to be purposeful without becoming excessively imposing.
Whilst not their top model phono stage, Musical Fidelity’s MX-VYNL is as detailed, refined and articulate a phono stage as we’ve heard at its price. That is a big statement, but due to Musical Fidelitys lineage and design and build quality it is based on an excellent platform. Take a look inside and you’ll find that this is a fully-balanced electronic design. On paper this promises low noise levels and improved dynamics.The MX-VYNL is beautifully made. It feels solid and features a smartly machined front panel with positive-feeling controls. As befits a product at this level, there is provision to alter cartridge loading to optimise performance.There’s also added flexibility in the form of a gain switch that increases sensitivity for lower output cartridges (of either type), should you need it.
Phono stages are an easily overlooked link in the analogue hi-fi chain. They are usually either a hidden module inside an integrated or pre-amplifier, or a small, plain box tucked away on the hi-fi rack. But after the record player, we think this is arguably the next most critical component in the signal path.
It doesn’t more than a few seconds to recognise that this phono stage is a terrific performer. You will love the way it handles vocals, delivering voice with all the solidity, presence and emotion it deserves. There’s an appealing fluidity to the MX-VYNLs sound that makes most of the competition sound a little mechanical in comparison.The scale of the sound is impressive as is the way the Musical Fidelity responds to large dynamic shifts. There’s plenty of control and composure here and it’s not bought at the expense of excitement or enthusiasm. Tonally there’s suggestion of richness in the bass and a general sweetening of the presentation, but none of it is taken to excess and mostly it just makes the phono stage forgiving of harsh or aggressive recordings.The MX-VYNL is a phono stage you can buy with confidence.
Even Musical Fidelitys extremely affordable LX2-LPS and V90-LPS models excel at their prices. Catering for both Moving Magnet and Moving Coil cartridges, especially to do so adeptly, is a rarity at this price given the extra work involved with the latter.The LX2-LPS also boasts adjustable impedance, which is again exceptionally rare at this price. Where the Musical Fidelty LX2-LPS phono stage thrives is that it delivers a more engaging performance, and one that comfortably validates the highest accolades in the HiFi press.While the V90-LPS offers an outstanding musical experience it also represents amazing value for money. You can look forward to hours of listening pleasure that is usually only delivered by considerably more expensive products.
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