those amps need a lot of break in, wait 3 months and I think the sound will transform to being much smoother. I do not believe bass is the strong point on MF stuff in general.
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I own the MF A3CR amp and pre-amp combo. Lots of play is in order to "break-in" the amp. Though longer is better, you'll definetly hear maturity within a month. I started driving Thiel 1.5's with AP silver oval and if that smoothed out, so will your sound. As I upgraded from a Marantz CC65SE CD player to a Sony SCD333SE to a Cary 306 and to the Cary 306/200 now, the A3CR accommodated. I think your CD is probably contributing to the grain?
My speakers are now Merlin VSM-M and all cables are Cardas Golden Cross. The Golden Cross cable will tone down the brightness and grain. Experiment with cables if still not pleased after a month. I realized an incredible improvement with a topline PC too!
The Thiels are rated to go down to 42 and always sounded good to adequate in the low end with A3CR power. Merlin's with BAM go to low/mid 30's. I get some staggeringly low and accurate bass notes into my 10 x 12 listening area now from the Merlin A3CR combo!
This amp is surely not a thunder god, but does almost everything well to excellent considering cost! Though I'm ready to upgrade both MF components to better match the Merlin's incredible abilities, my sound is very smooth and musically satisfying. This amp deserves it's Stereophile class "A" rating.
Hope it works out for you.
Being as you're not trying to break-in the speakers, you don't need to have it loud. I'd keep the speakers connected and maintain a signal flow from any source i.e. CD, tuner, etc. Your objective is to just keep the amp warm and juice running through it. Personally, I'd use the repeat on CD with the Cardas burn-in disc. This disc has various noise tracks to assist burn-in and full frequency spectrum tracks that supposedly de-mag the system. I beleive it works and was recommended in the TAS mag. a few back. There's some cross polarity thing you can do with the speaker wires, but I'm not sure exactly how that works. I think that's a trick to assist speaker break-in as it draws more juice, but lessens the volume? Good luck.
I've had the A3cr since last Oct. I think it started to break in at 40 hours and toook about 100.
I still think when it has been off for 3-4 days it needs a couple of hours to loosen up. This is the feeling I've had with it in the past few weeks. I wonder if long term ownership will prove this weakness I percieve to be a reality.
Grainy? No way. Not in my opinion. Maybe your CDP or DAC or dirty wire connections. M-F is smoooooooth. Maybe too smooth.
I may offend some here with this post, but am only relating what i heard with the A3cr amp and pre combo. After one month of extended use--- NO BASS- no grain, extremely transparent and quick. The MF pre lacked quite a bit of information compared to two other pre amps i tried with the MF amp (Electrocompaniet 4.7 and Rogue 99) Soundstage widened considerably adding either to the MF amp. This may be a nice combo with Maggies, for me, out the door they went FAST.
Stuff used to evaluate the MF
Custom tube Dac.
JPS Super FX ICs & Super 2s Magnan Vi Nirvana SL
AP Oval 9s
ALL JPS power cords and the mighty Power AC did little to help the Enemic MF amp.
Thanks for your replys......I know the A3cr is supposed to be very smooth, that is why the grain is really worrying me. Could it be that the amp is so transparent that it is revealing the faults with my digital?? I dont have the 18B yet, but am hoping when it arrives it will really help things out.
Another note, about a year ago, we had a power surge and my cd player kicked on and played an entire CD at full output. At that time I had my Marantz hard wired directly to the amp and used the variable out as my volume control. With this darn cd player, whenever it is started up, the volume goes to max, and the thing starts to play automatically.....thus, when the system was left on while I was out..we had a surge and presto! (my only savior is that I dont think the max on the player equals the max on a preamp--so it may not have been that bad)
After this, I had done extensive testing on the speakers and never noticed any change..no blown speakers, changes in sound quality etc. So to make a long story short, I dont think the grain is from blown tweeters, as I can even hear the grain at low volumes with my new setup.
I am hoping it is a combo of 1) A3cr resolves so much that it is revealing my 2) crappy digital source (that hopefully will be remedied with the new DAC when it comes in) and 3) the amp needs more break in.
Any thoughts?? Thanks for all the help!
Platsolos, I politely tried to suggest that the major source of your trouble is most likely your CDP. After reading your last post I'm convinced. Yes, the MF is a very revealing amp that will show upstream characteristics. I'm confident that replacing your CD, letting it break in, and perhaps ditto for cables will provide the sound you're expecting.
Without trying to offend Dennisj, the MF bass is more than adequate for what it is and costs. It's an accurate bass that is presented, though as stated before, not a power-bass authority. Many are accustomed to bass boom and mistake that for low frequency power. Tighter, more accurate bass does not always have a muddy and exaggerated bloat that can be mistaken for bass power. Many factors can influence this perception such as room characteristics, recording quality, source, cables, etc. My listening room is equipped with ASC traps and Echo-Buster panels throughout. These do a great deal to improve the sound by taming room resonance modes. Especially the low frequency modes that develop in corners. The bass is tighter and better defined with the traps, but the A3CR had good bass sound prior to tube trap incorporation. When called for deep bass on the recording, the A3CR will deliver in my system and small to midsized room.
As in everything else, musical tastes vary greatly. That's why Ben & Jerry's has umpteen-hundred flavors and the audio world follows suit. Cherry Garcia for me please!
My Musical fidelity HT600 has a phenomenally quick dynamic range. When bass kicks in rapidly, as in an orchestra the 600 delivers fantastic bass quickly, so I'm wondering what's up with these lack of bass observations. The A3cr is the "daddy' of the HT600 and should kick a decent amount of butt. Something tells me the problem is not the amp, but lies elsewhere as some others posters are suggesting.