Silvmoon, I have a system similar to yours. I have the MF A300, A3CD and a pair of nautilus 805 with a rel strata iii subwoofer, and recently added a Bel Canto DAC2 so the A3CD acts as a transport now. Well, before adding the DAC2 I also had the same felling about my system being somewhat thin and bright. After adding the DAC2 I think things improved significanlty in other areas and the sound became smoother in the treble and a little weight was gained, but it still sounds a bit thin even though I have the sub, I find the sound exactly as you describe in those instruments (i.e piano, cello), so from your comments I'm starting to suspect of the A300. Hopefully someone can share any experience about the A300 vs. the A308 or other integrated that is significantly better in this regard.
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Assuming for the moment that we could reasonably agree on what is full/thin/bright/smooth/thick in terms of sound, I think the culprit may be your speakers. The one constant in both my 2 channel reference and 2 channel HT systems for the last 4 years has been my speakers ... Acoustic Research 302 Classic Speakers (full range; 3 way; 10" woofer). Back in 1995, these were Stereophile Class D speakers that were known for their musicality.
In my reference system, I have gone from an ADCOM 545 Amp/ADCOM 500 II Preamp & Tuner/SONY SCD 555 SACD Player to a Musical Fidelity A3.2 Integrated/SONY SCD 555 SACD Player to a Musical Fidelity CD PRE 24/Musical Fidelity A300 Amp. The system has only become more musical, warm, and notably refined sounding with each change. When I compare my 2 channel HT set-up which is a NAD C320BEE/SONY SCD 555 SACD Player to my reference system, the HT system is still musical and enjoyable, but noticeably less refined and not quite as deep sounding.
I also have a similar home environment ... a coop in Queens with neighbors above and below me that could hear a mouse doing a #1 on cotton. So, when I read of Sean and some others playing their systems to plane take-off volumes, I just laugh ... my volume control just about makes it to 8 o'clock, let alone 11 o'clock.
I have never been a big fan of B&W's ... just OK to me ... not quite right in the treble and not quite defined enough in the bass. But that's me. I also thought that B&W's had the reputation that they needed to be played loud to sound their best. So, maybe the solution is in finding speakers that sound good when played low. EPOS is reportedly one such brand.
The 308 is supposedly the solid state Tri-Vista ... so soundwise you will be seriously upgrading from the A300 ... but the A300 integrated was supposedly warmer sounding than the A3 integrated.
Hope this helps.
I can only share experience with the A308, and the A3 integrated amps, as those are the only ones I've owned. I had the 308 with two different speakers. First with the B&W Signature 805's and second with the Revel F30's. It was a great match for the B&W's. They seemed to go together very well. The bottom end was good, midrange was excellent, and so was imaging. The highs were not too bright, and the system seems to be very musically satisfying.
I have a strong feeling that you are going to notice a large difference stepping up to the 308. It is not the solid state version of the Tri Vista namely because it does not use choke regulated power supplies. Although, it is a true dual mono design. A very hefty amp at 55 pounds give or take. Build quality is as to be expected from Musical Fidelity. I'm thrilled with their integrateds. My next step is to try the Nu-Vista integrated. I'm very excited to try it based on my past experiences with MF integrateds. I have never used any plinius gear, but I do know it comes highly recommended. Lately, it seems like you can get a 308 for a very decent price. Somewhere in the ball park of 1700-1800. Worth every penny if you ask me.
My apologies for the erroneous reference regarding the 308 Integrated and the Tri-Vista. It is the 308 separates that employ choke regulation (ergo the CR designation) and draw upon the technologies of the Vistas. BTW, Musical Fidelity has just redesigned their website, complete with manual downloads and reviews, if you are interested.
Your observations are pretty interesting. At the May 2004 NYC Audio Show, Musical Fidelity's representatives were recommending pairing the MF amps with Thiel speakers ... to the point of claiming that quite a few MF personnel owned Thiel speakers. In fact, they showcased the new kw500 amp with the Thiels 7.2. The sound was OK, but not $20 grand OK ... percussion was not impressive at all. I felt that MF could have demo'd their amps with much better results with different speakers ... trade show acoustics notwithstanding.
Thank you everybody for great responses. Let me add one more information.
Over the weekend, my audiophile buddy visited me. He came with a tube pre (forgot the brand) and DIY tube amp. The tube pre/power added a significant amount of texture to the sound and the thin sound became pretty thick. However, both of us agreed that the thicker sound was not as accurate as the sound A300 made. Pleasing for sure, but I didn't think I wanted to replace A300 with the tube combo. (Of course expensive tube combos may change my mind...) The tubes made "extreme tube sounds" to quote my friend and the tightness of the base mostly disappeared. (Mind you, A300 does not control base that well, but the tubes were a lot worse) My friend's suggestion was to add a little bit of tube touch, e.g. tube CD player to add texture to the thin sound.
It seems that the CDM 9NTs can make thicker sound, although they tend to feel like a little bit bright (due to metal tweeter and non-rolling high frequency response). A300 is very good amp for the money, smooth, muscal, warm, and relatively neutral, but as Bunker suggested can sound thin. These statements are based on my experiments and I may be wrong.
Please share your experience with A300/A308, or other MF amps!
Ok Here you go again...
I listened in dealer room A300 with A3 Cd Player connected with Van Den Hul The First IC. Speakers were B&W 600-line, I do not remember the number but they were the biggest in the line. I could not say one negative word about this set-up. I really liked the sound. It was full bodied, rich and pleasant. Well ok, it might not be the last word in detail, bass extension or top-end ariness but still I found it very nice and pleasing.
I had not a chance to compare A308 in the same set-up. However I had it over a weekend in-house. That was bad, I tell you. Maybe Thiels 2.3 are just too hard load for A308, I do not know.
In my opinion MF changed the way they want their electronics to sound. Before it was organic, romantic and forgiving. Now they are for fast, detailed presentation.
I have owned a 308 integrated for some time. I suggest that you not bother stepping up unless your speakers synergize well with the MF signature sound which to my ears is neutral to lean and very clean. The 308 has all the juice and plenty of it aimed at the midrange and higher. It is a bright sounding amp, warm it is not. I stumbled into speakers which happen to work beautifully with it just before I was about sell it. These speakers are JM Electras 936s, have double 8 inch woofers and are front ported so they needed a very tightly controlled bass input. The MF 308 drives them nicely without chuff or boom the top end is clean and detailed without being hashy or hard. The last time I listened to the big Thiels, I was not thrilled with the way they handled power up top niether were my auditioning partners. The treble fell apart at volume and I would say therefore its not the right combination, even if you don't play them loudly.
Well, I have a A308 for 3 years whith Sonus Faber Grand Piano, and a Denon 3910 DVD. The bass is thin, the system is too bright. I don´t like my sound. Even whit my Rel Strata III, I don´t like the sound. I have a Michell Turntable Gyrodec SE, and the bass is better, but the sound still analic. Now I have my oldest NAD 317 replacing the most expansive Musical Fidelity and the Nad have a better sound. Why? I don´t Know. Sinergy? Probably. But I suspect Musical Fidelity isin´t that good at they clayms to be. Like my english!! My advice is to go to something else.
An old thread brought back to life.
Noticed you have not upgraded your system yet or have not updated it.
A few words on the A308 Integrated and the CDM9NT. This goes back to December 29 2003 so the memory is a little fuzzy. As a combination I feel that components compliment each other very well. Both are very articulate and alive. I upgraded from B&K seperates and found the bass to be more robust and the highs more fluid. I did alot of upgrades and changes to the system in the following 2 months all for the better.
After looking at your system I would try different cables. My suggestion would be Synergistic Research Kaleidoscope Phase I active IC's and SR Signature 10 active speaker cables. I feel that this should round out your bottom end giving you more bass extension and maby smooth out the highs.