How good is phono stage in Musical Fidelity A300?

I am getting my analog setup up and running and was wondering about the phono stage in the MF A300 intergrated amp.

I have read a few different opinions indirectly about it and was wondering if a separate entry level dedicated phono stage would be a step up (Monolithic PS 1, etc).

I have a modded KAB Technics SL-1200 TT with a Dynavector 10 X 5 MC cartridge that is breaking in.

Sound is very good to my ears as it breaks in, but with my limited experience I do not have a lot to compare to.

I also may have somewhat of a cartridge matching issue with the MF A 300 and the Dyna.
I am using the MM setting which allegedly has 37 db gain and 47k ohm impedance and the Dyna is a 2.5 mv high output MC cartridge with suggested impedance of > 1000 ohms.
Seems a bit shy on driving the system and I have to turn up the volume quite a bit more than I am used to for the same sound levels.
Most people have said this is typical in analog versus CD players output and don't worry about it and this does not impact the quality of the sound.

I guess my main question is how good is the MF A 300 phono stage?
Anybody have a thought on this phono stage?

I owned this amp back when I beleived reviews by sam Tellig in S'file.That should tell you something right there.The amp has a lot of nice features, great build quality,lotta power... and sounds dead , lifeless and about as involving as reading the phone book.I went to all tubes and never looked back.The phono section worked but 10% of zero is still zero.
I feel the MF phono os not as worse as in most integrated amps, but could (and will) be bettered by an external phono-amp. However, having extended experience with the Technics 1200 (standard) I feel a better turntable would be more appropriate. Although I have to admit I don't know what the KAB mod is, so I might be out of line here, I always liked the Technics for it's rugged build and ease of operation, but not really for its sound. Something like a Rega Planar 3 is more of a taste of what analogue can do IMHO.

Sounds like you had a bad experierence with the MF A300.
I like the unit, and it's sound overall, just had no idea about the phono stage.

Satch- The KAB mod addresses the alleged tonearm lack of refinement and control issue. I am pretty happy with the table overall. Just looking for limiting factors in my setup assuming I will keep the table.
SOunds like you view the MF A 300 as typical average integerated phono stage.
>I owned this amp back when I beleived reviews by sam Tellig in S'file.That should tell you something right there.The amp has a lot of nice features, great build quality,lotta power... and sounds dead , lifeless and about as involving as reading the phone book.I went to all tubes and never looked back.The phono section worked but 10% of zero is still zero<

Why don't you tell us how you REALLY feel. Enough of this sugar coating small talk........;-}}

Well - here's the thing. What sounds good to me may sound like total crap to the next person. Obviously that's the case here because I find the A300 to be THE best value in a used integrated out there. The phono section is fantastic too - in my opinion. I got sucked into the trap and tried a Black Cube, and a CI-Audio before ditching them and going back to the, in my opinion, more involoving built in phono stage.

I am using a higher output MM though and would question using a MM under 3.5mv or a MC under .35mv with the A300.
Slate 1-

Thanks for your response. It is actually kind of hard to find people who have used the MF A300 phono stage and also who state comparisions to some external entry level phono stage such as CI Audio/Black cube/NAD/Monolithic/Bugle/Phonomena, etc.

I also am really happy with the quality of the unit overall and bought it used about a year ago. I think it sounded powerful, neutral, detailed, extended, and slightly warm driving my CD player source.

I would love to hear how you felt it differed (pluses and minuses) from the CI Audio phono preamp especially. That is one of the ones on my short list in the sub $500 used or new range (if I get an external phono preamp).

What is your turntable/cartridge setup?
The issue you bring up about cartride matching is one of the things I wonder about as noted-the Dyna at 2.5mv is kind of an "in between" match for the two settings.
As a Hi output cartridge I use the MM (37 db/47k ohms) setting and wonder if this compromises the sound at all, but do not know for sure. Maybe I would do better with a lower output MC and then use the MC setting (60 db/100 ohms), or find a higher output Hi Output MC cartridge. I do want to use an MC type cartridge.

Thanks for any additional insight you may have.
Compared to the CI-Audio, the top end is more detailed and not as bright with the built in phono-section and the bass is tighter and more controlled. Don't misread me, the CI-Audio is a great sounding phono-stage and if I needed an external phono section, it's the one I would run.

I've been thinking of a MC myself - mostly the Audio-Technica OC9ML-II which has an output of .4mv and should drive the A300 without a problem. The main reasons I've stayed away from the much-praised Denon's is that their output is so low and they track so heavy. The AT only tracks at around 1.5g - I'm just nervous about tracking anything over 2g.
The CI Audio preamp gets nice reviews at its price point and Dusty beleives it is better than the Monolithics of before.
That is a nice statement about the MF A300 if it holds its own with that unit in your setup.

As far as the low output cartridges you mentioned, on a basic level I think that either a .25mv or a .40mv can probably be driven just fine by the MC phono setting (60db/100 ohms)in the MF A300.
Using a basic preamp calculator (from the KAB USA website) for those output values, the suggested gain would be 62 db for the Denon 103r, or 58 db for the AT. The MF A300 MC setting is right in the middle @ 60 db.
I realize there are other factors in cartridge/preamp matching but the 60 db MC setting should handle either of those.

I am about 5 db shy of the suggested 42 db for my 2.5mv cartridge as the MM setting is 37 db on the MF A300.
Not ideal, but not bad I guess.

Yes, I would agree that the MF A300 allows detail to shine through, at least with the Dynavector I am breaking in.
The bass is filling out nicely also after about 25 hours of break in.

I guess I was wondering about things like noise floor, soundstage, air, etc.
No doubt one can do better than the MF A300 phono stage-I was just curious as to at what price point one has to go new/used to do so.
I sounds like the sub $500 units would not make a notable difference in your opinion.
Slate 1

Just noticed your system in your signature.
Nice. Nice TT setup also.
I actually found the noise floor to be lower using the built in phono-amp as well. The CI-Audio was quiet enough though and the difference wasn't huge. I often wondered if this was due to the added cabling necessary to run an external phono-amp.

I've used that calculator on KAB before too - it's great to have resources like that available. You're right - when playing around with buying MC's I've always found the low-output ones to calculate out better with the A300 than the high-output MC's. i.e. better to use a .25mv and the MC stage than a 2.5mv and the MM stage.

I would agree that you'd have to spend more than $500 to better the A300's built-in sound to a degree that it would be worth the expense. The one exception would be if you required more control over loading and gain.

Thanks for the compliment on the system - it's been a long running project finding equipment I really feel satisfied with and I'm on a fairly tight budget. I'm finally at a point though where I've stopped thinking about upgrading anything other than playing around with different cartridges - which is half the fun of vinyl!
Slate 1 -

Thanks for the info on the MF A300 and your experience comparing it to different external preamps.
I think I may sit tight for now.

I don't think that the Dynavector is really too fussy as far as the loading and gain, but I might just try another cartridge to compare for fun.
As it breaks in it gets a little better sounding each day.
This is a really nice sounding pickup.

Yes, the journey is the fun in this crazy hobby!
I just ordered an Audio-Technica OC9ML/II from lpgear today. I've been wanting to try one out for a while - I'll let you know how it works with the A300.

Have Fun!
Have fun. A lot of people suggested that one, the Denon 103r, and the Dynavector 10X5 as great MC values.