I believe I am a bit in the minority as many people really like this CDP, but I never liked it; I replaced it with a Meridian G08.
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I compared the A5 head-to-head with an Ayre CX7e in the same system and the Ayre had better body in the midrange and more potent bass with no brittle tendency in the highs. Imaging and soundstaging were similar in the relatively short amount of time I had for comparison. This was with Sophia 2 and a CJ CA200 (awesome amp). But the Ayre does cost more....
I am dying to hear an Astintrew A3500 but so far they aren't imported into the USA. In the meantime, I am super happy with my Audio Aero. I personally feel that it is easier to get great sound out of a CD player if there are tubes in its output stage.
I've heard nothing but good things about the Ayre CX7e. I just wish we had a dealer here in sheepland (NZ)! the price of an A5 is still dead cheap so I might still give it a listen and see how old school it sounds. It might be a nice surprise. Are there any owners out there who consider them still a worthy choice when buying a new CD player? I read somewhere that the A5.5 sounds the same and it has only just been released, so the A5 still would be great value/performance. Also how does the A1008 compare because there are some very good promotions here also?
Well, you are not alone. I never really warmed to this player either. Somethings not quite right with the PRAT.
Things have moved on. The A5 is outclassed today by more recent valve stage products which have improved resolution and timing - such as Astin Trews A3500.
The A5 is actually not in the same league as MF's older but more expensive models of Nu-vista and Tri-vista, but like Kiwi I never really warmed up to the $5,500 Tri-vista. The reliability of this player is another issue.
I recently purchased the Reference Audio Mod Oppo 980 universal player (full mod version) which at 1/3 of the price completely outcasted the MF Tri-vista.
What type of sound do you like? Laid back and relaxing or rhythmically involving? I don't remember the exact models I've auditioned, but when auditioning MF CD players, I've always found them to be very laid back players that are somewhat lean in the bottom end. While this appeals to some, I prefer a more engaging presentation.
From hearing the Cambridge 840C, it seems kind of half-way between the MF and players that I enjoy more (being Naim, Ayre and Simaudio from experience, and likely Cary from what I've read).
I guess what I'm saying here is...you need to figure out what type of sound you're after, and then determine if the MF is right for you. For me, I'd rather have an entry-level Simaudio player than a twice as expensive MF player...so price doesn't necessarily tell you if you'd like a component.
Hi Countingbackwards, I prefer the thick solid sound with full body of the value CD players (not that i'm saying valves over colour music). I had a Shanling CD3000 and loved the sound but missed the PRaT so was hoping for something that did both. The MF A5 having a valve buffer stage had me thinking it might do both better? Are there any MFA5 owners who could verify this?
I own the A5 (so take anything I type with a grain of salt) and find it to be an excellent CDP. Perfect for everyone? Heck no, and thank goodness for different tastes. But it is very resolving and the soundstaging is especially excellent.
I know this is a lame description, but I find it sort of "elegant sounding." It is not as thick and full bodied as two less expensive tubed CDP I have tried in my system, a Njoe Tjoeb with upsampler and the Jolida, both with NOS tubes. In my system, the A5 was better than both of those (perhaps not surprising given in costs twice as much); it was also a bit more shy in bass and had less body in the mids -- both of these tube players were pretty thick through the mids.
So I would not call it the most full bodied player I have ever heard, but it is highly resolving and well balanced -- again, in my system. So judging by your goals, it may not be your ideal CDP. Again, in my opinion, the A5 is a very good CDP overall, just perhaps not exactly what you might be looking for.