I have listened to it at a local shop for about two hours total driving Quad L series and some Totems with the the A5 CDP. I thought it was very sterile. There weren't any glaring flaws just sterile. Many better options at the $2.5k price range. IMHO.
I have to disagree wit Eldarado's post.
The MF uses simpler amplifier circuits which result in sound that is more musically transparent and expressive. For me, it is one of the most pleasant sounding amps that I auditioned. (Classes, Krell, Jolida).
I'm still breaking my unit in, but it's better every week.
Maybe, but the inquiry was about the A5 CD player, not the amp.
I own both. The a5 cdp and the amps.
A5 is Extremely good. I spent an hour or so A/B testing the A5 against the Cary 303 and the Arcam 33 and the A5 was by far the most musical.
System was MF's KW Integrated into JM Lab Micro Utopia BE.
I simply dislike Arcam's forward presentation. THAT sound is sterile to me. The Cary was nice and more musical, but again, much more forward in presentation, sitting me right on top of the performers, which isn't to my taste.
The A5 was at least as detailed as the other CD players, but not shrill or harsh at all, and with a much more laid back presentation-- the singer was against and behind the back wall, which I prefer. It wasn't until after I finished listening that I learned the A5 had tubes in it, but it made complete sense.
For comparison, I went into a "higher-end" room at the same shop and listened to the same music through MF's KW SACD player into Unison tube monoblocks into some incredibly esoteric full range floorstanders. The sound was breathtaking and was the first believable rendering of an orchestra in a hall I've ever heard, but the A5 maintained some of that magic when I went back to the prior room, and didn't have the benefit of full range speakers.
I'm getting an A5 as soon as I can afford it.
I had the A5 CDP with the kW500 and B&W 802D speakers and I did not have the same great experience as the poster above.
When I first received it I also had a Classe CDP-100; in my short time comparing the two I thought the A5 was very slightly better so I kept it. After some time I found I was not pleased, CD playback was cold and sterile. This led me to purchase the Meridian G08, which I acknowledge is much more expensive, but this player bettered the A5 in my system in every way, a few examples being, deeper and tighter bottom end, better high frequency extension, more open and 3D... YMMV
I'm suprised to hear that you found a Tubed CD Player, "Cold and Sterile." I also thought it was much better than the Classe CDP. The Meridian, I cannot say that I have listened to this player.... but have heard good things. I am REALLY curious about the MF KW SACD player. Anyone heard it?
I guess we each have to trust our own ears and go with what makes us happy. I'm keeping all my A5 items.
Tubes are no guarantee of a warm and fuzzy sound.
The A5 to my ears is indeed better than the new 303-300 .It brings out a lot of fine detail in the cd's, and has amzing dynamics on those type of passages.The only cold chills this player gives are goose bumps.For some reason, previous MF players become highly sought after.This thing is less expensive, and WAY better than any before it, and I owned a TV and a 308cd.
How is the A5 different from the 308, besides the obvious tubes?
I have this CDP and really like that it is not sterile at all. It throws a great soundstage and all around is a very nice sounding player. I couldn't audition the Audio Aero Prima or Lector players that I was also considering but the A5 put an end to the search.
I now have the A5 and IMO this is an extremely good machine. Once it is on for a few hours sterile is the last word that descibes the sound. There is almost nothing to complain about. For reference, I owned many machines in the past several years and each had much to complain about. Here are a few: Cary 303/300 Simm Equinox Marantz SA-11 Naim CD5/Flatcap Esoteric DV-50 ARC CD3MK2 Wadia 860X. The A5 delivers a well balanced sound, deep far back soundstage, excellent dynamics, very good extension and definition into the highs/lows, very good imaging, fast and quite transport.......hard to go wrong with this one.
Has anyone (besides Stereophile) compared the A5 to the Trivista? I loved the Trivista in a short demo in my system and am considering the A5.
What DAC, if any, would you recommend as an upgrade for the Musical Fidelity A5 cdp? Would a mhdt Paradisea+ offer an improvement? Any other suggestions?
First of all, my opinion about A5 CDP is that it is good player but not the best in that price range. I consider Naim CD 5x, Copland CDA 823, Lyngdorf CD-1 and some others as better choice for similar amount of money.
For my taste A5 doesn't have enough substance in its reproduction. It is very neutral, fairly analytical, but somehow lacks to deliver emotional tension ...
Concerning the question about external DAC for A5 ... I am not quite sure that this is a very good idea. You are paying for a maschine that has quite complex output stage that you than do not want to use. If you are not convinced with the sound of A5 than maybe the better idea would be to go after MF DM 25 combo. It is more expencive and it is better (whether this difference really pays-of in terms of price difference - I really do not know)... but the alternative would be to go for another CDP. As I already mentioned, there are some better maschines on the market for similar amount of money ...