Musical Fidelity A3cr preamp vs. A308CR preamp

Hi: Could anyone guide me on purchasing advice between these two preamps, in the context of our phoncentric system. We have a Threshold S/500 amp running a pair of Innersound Eros. The source is a Basis Ovation turntable with a Denon Dl03 MC cartidge.
Why only MF for a phono centric system just curious?
I was just asking because these two units were priced reasonably on Audiogon's classified's. The A3CR appears to have garnered some nice reviews as well.
The MF A3cr power amp is as good as any amp I think I've heard. And I heard the expensive Cary, McKormack, and CJ amps in a great listening room for extended time. My friend bought the NU-VISTA MF. Read the review from Stereo Review where the reviewer heard the NU-VISTA and then bought the $5,000 seperates...only to later review the A3cr and 'unhappily' conclude it was simply better at less than 1/3rd what he paid. I understand there is an anti MF bias on agon, and I think that when a company gets too much praise and becomes somewhat 'common', like MF and B&W, audiophiles are turned reminds me of when I was young and loved a band...until everyone was playing them...and I would think that they are too popular for me and only listen to groups that weren't as well known. If MF changed their name and were a new esoteric company, agoners would be all over them.

Sorry for the rant. I think the ideal setup is a solid state power amp driven by a tube preamp. I bought a Jolida 3000 Fusion, which for $1,000, is unreal. But no phono. I believe the Jolida 3000 before the Fusion has a phono input, I know the Jolida Envoy does, but is pricier. I would highly recommend a used CJ or Classe' preamp. I've owned them both and I think that MF makes better power amps for the money, but an older CJ (which have tubes) or Classe' can be had for about the same as an A3, and I'd take a tube CJ in a second, even from the 1990s.
They are both good preamps. The 308 series is a bit newer (circa 2003) than the A3 series (circa 2000) and was considerably more expensive when released. Both preamps give you the option to use either a MM or MC cartridge.

Musical Fidelity products of that era enjoy a certain house sound. To be clear, I am referring to the A300 - A3 - A3.2 - A 308 progression of products. The house sound is detailed with a touch or warmth to it. There is a sweetness (as opposed to harshness) to the sound. Of the series mentioned above, all but the 3.2 series were described as sounding as close to tubes as a solid state unit could.

In my main system, I use a MF CD Pre 24, which is a cd player/ preamp and had a mix of A3 technology for the preamp and Nu-Vista technology for the CD player. I pair it with a Prima Luna Prologue 5 tube amp.

My comments are all made with CD/ SACD playback use. I have owned over the years A300, A3, and A3.2 components.

The 308 series made heavy use of the Nu-Vista technology and that may be a place to do some further research. For that reason, I would choose the A308 over the A3.

Sloane I agree with you about the mentality that if something is popular with regular listeners like B and W it isn't true audiophile. Obviously this is nonesense.
I owned an MF 308 integrated as my first "high end" amp. I would hardly discuss it as particularily warm sounding. It was very analytical and detailed in my systems. It did throw a big stage like tubes but any other similarity with tubes ends there IMO.
My ideal system is all tube and really believe strongly in tube output not just preamp. I know the popular conception is that a tube pre is all you need but I didn't know what I was missing with that kind of set up until I got a quality tube power amp.
hi.i have a musical fidelity a3cr preamplifier in a second system. i purchsed it 10 years ago and has been reliable without any problems whatsoever. recently i added it a current pass labs amp - to judge if a preamplifier was beneficial as opposed to cd diresct- and it certainly did something good to the sound. even though its now quite old and can be had for little money, its still good. i recall there being very little difference between the two when i listened at a dealers years back. i went for the cheaper one. my musical fidelity a3 power amps, preamplifier and cd player have performed flawlesly for the pass 10 years. that says something about the brand. for my first serious hi fi set up, it gave me great pleasure.
The A3CR sounds better than the CJ PV10L, CJ PV11L as well as the Trancendent Audio Grounded Grid Pre-amp that I've had in my system. I puchased it for $650 on Audiogon. Serious bang for the buck!
I am currently using the MF M3 Nuvista integrated in my phono only system, running the turntable into the MF phono stage. It is the best sound I have experienced in my home.
Other than that, I cant say.
Moving up the Musical Fidelity ladder, I think that the kW preamp is one of the best audio purchases I have ever made.
I hope this thread isn't too old and some of you guys can respond. I have a MF A3cr pre-amp mated with a Aragon 8008BB power amp. My Aragon is also dual mono so I get great separation. How do you guys rate the phono section on the MF? I have just recently returned to vinyl and while it all sounds great, I have been reading so much about the joys of a separate phono pre. What would I need to spend and or consider to better the MF's phono enough to justify the expense? Would a better cartridge be the way to go? My TT is a Pro-Ject Carbon with Orofon Red cart. Thanks.
The phono input on the A3 was pretty well regarded and should be more than ok for your new Pro-ject Carbon turntable.

Rich, so a cartridge upgrade would be better? I was also wondering about the ultra thin power cord and phono cables on the Pro-Ject.
If it sounds great to you, then by definition it is a great phono section. If you have money to use for experimention, I would recommend the Graham Slee phono amps. The model you choose depends on whether you use a MM or MC cartridge. As a general rule they are a great bang for your buck component.
With that turntable and cart, your phono section is fine. And probably the part of your vinyl set-up that I would upgrade last.
Thanks for responses.I will look in to the Graham Slee if it comes to that. Roscoe, What cartridge upgrade do you think would be a good match for my TT? I also am curious as to the meaning of "with that TT and cart" I'm not mad, just would appreciate an elaboration and I value the input.
I am not sure just what you are trying to improve or are not satisfied with. it sounds like you feel like tweaking something, but are not sure what to tweak. Buy some vinyl and enjoy your set-up.
Detail is great, much better than I expected. Some recordings can still be harsh on the highs as in digital, I guess I was expecting more warmth all the time. It's just been so long for me with vinyl but I can tell you that I'm way back in to it. That said I guess I want to maximize what I have.
Hi Zar:

I guess it could be the way the recordings were mastered for vinyl. You may want to share what recordings are specifically sounding harsh. Someone may agree with what you are hearing.

If it is not the recordings per se, you may be looking at a serious upgrade to your turntable/ cartridge set-up. The Project Carbon is an entry level product.

It could be just like CD players, you need to spend serious cash to make worthwhile differences. In my experience the categories for cd players tend to look like - $400, then $1000, then $2000, then $5000. Turntables are probably no different.


Rich, I always do this, I jump in to something and cut corners. So far the Carbon sounds real nice and better in many ways than my cd set up. I'm really enjoying getting back in to vinyl but sadly I was one of the idiots that ditched their records, or most of,after cd came out. It has been lots of fun re-buying choice albums. Since most of the vinyl I have been buying is used maybe that's the reason I didn't spend more on the rig. What I do want to do is get the best cartridge for the Carbon just before the point where the cart would be too good for the table. A separate phono stage as well as I have been talking about. The recording where the highs were digital like is Bad Company's first album.