Musical Fidelity MX-VYNL phono stage review

Weak and sinful person that I am, I went ahead an indulged myself and bought a Musical Fidelity MX-VYNL phono stage. Note that I'm using it in an LP to digital (CD) mastering studio signal chain, which of course is rather different from a conventional "living-room" setup. My TT is a VPI Scout Signature powered by an SDS power supply and fitted with a Shure M97xE cart with a JICO SAS stylus. The TT to phono stage interconnects are Mogami Neglex Quad Audio Cable w/ RCA connectors, all others are XLR balanced. The signal goes straight from the MX-VYNL to a Mytek ADC sampled @ 88.2 kHz/24-bit word. The output of the Mytek goes both to my DAW via Toslink/SPDIF and also directly to a Mytek DAC for monitoring and then directly to my PSI A-21 monitors. All AC is balanced by Equi=Tech. In short, it's a top quality pro mastering system with a very short signal path.

OK, now that that is out of the way, on to the MX-VYNL itself. WOW!! A truly remarkable piece! Much quieter even than its nearly silent processor. I'm located less than a kilometer from 2 FM transmitters, so RFI has always been a concern and challenge. The fully balanced design of the new MX-VINL has completely eliminated the tiny but perceptible FM interference that I had been dealing with. (That was a major factor in my decision to buy the new unit. Needless to say, I'm utterly satisfied.) What's more, the unit itself is simply silent. The specs are SNR A-wtd -101 dB! I'm not equipped to measure it that closely, but I'll believe it.

The build of the MX-VYNL appears to be absolutely top quality. The unit is heavy, obviously well shielded, and all of the switches and connectors, most notably the RCA receptacles, are exceptionally heavy and well made. On the back, the MX-VYNL has both balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs, including switch selectable inputs, and outputs that are NOT selectable so both must be energized simultaneously. What's more, the balanced outs are said to be fully balanced. On the front it has a very well-considered selection of loadings that can be selected for both MM and MC carts, a +6 db gain boost switch to aid in level matching, and a selector for either the RIAA or IEC equalization curves. (The IEC curve rolls off infrasonic frequencies, reducing LF and rumble problems with subwoofers and amps, and intermodulation effects at higher frequencies. I like the sound.) The settings can be changed "on the fly," and the unit mutes for a couple of seconds when they're changed. A good thing. The power supply is indeed a tiny switching type wall-wart with a very long cord. It looks & feels flimsy, but switching supplies are technically better, and, at 12V/500mA DC, it will be easy to substitute an 8 D-cell battery pack if I so desire. So far, it doesn't seem to need it.

Now for the important part, how does it sound? In short, and as far as I can tell, it doesn't. I haven't yet had the time or resources to audition a great number of LPs or several different cartridges, but from what I've heard so far, and seen in my DAW using the spectral analysis, the MX-VYNL has NO perceptible sound of its own. None. It's "fast", balanced, utterly clean and has an altogether (un)remarkable sonic signature. Using my very high resolution system, I get the sense that I'm listening directly to the LP, with nothing in between. What more can one want? I can not imagine how a phono stage could (not) sound any better at any price. In short, for $1,000 US, it's a steal.
Yes, I agree with all said  except I use the RIAA eq. I prev used the M1-vynl witch replaced an Audio Research PH-3 Special phono. When I saw the new MX, I had to give it a try. I was, and am blown away by the improvement - bottom to top freq and tonal qualities are superior to M1.
Thanks for the amen! It's reassuring.

As for EQ curve preferences, RIAA vs IEC, it's mostly a matter of taste, and it's a plus that the MX-VYNL gives one the choice. The MX-VYNL's EQ curve is speced as highly accurate to the frequency extremes. On the high end, the result is that there will be no spurious ultrasonic distortion leaking into the audible range, and both the RIAA and IEC curves are identical in nearly all of the audible range. It's in the infrasonic ("subsonic" means "slower than the speed of sound," BTW...) where things get interesting. You can read the technical details here: . While infrasonic frequencies are, by definition, not audible, amplifiers and some speakers will respond to them, and the results can be significant IM (intermodulation) distortion in the audible range and possibly other problems as well. The IEC curve is a very gentle 1st order roll-off below about 20 Hz, which *may* help reduce some spurious and subtle infrasonic distortions in the entire system.

I don't know. As I said, it's a matter of taste, and very likely one's system. My setup, being a pro mastering system, is extremely revealing and essentially flat down to 30 Hz, and the differences are subtle. I generally preferred the RIAA curve with the M1-ViNL, but so far, I prefer the IEC curve with the MX-VYNL. Quite reasonably, YMMV.
I am considering purchasing the MX or the CEC PH53 (I like the phono banced concept) and i wonder about the best way for using the balaced input. The CEC ph53 presents a pair of male xlr as input while the MX a single mini xl5, 5 pin male. 
I do not like to drill my turntable and mount the same male xlr 5pin, i prefer a par of 3 pin male xlr as the turntable phono output.
Quest in how do I adapt an 3 pin XLR pair with a single 5 pin XLR? the setup looks quite messy to me
Why MF did not go with standard XLRs (money saving I think)
More space saving than cost saving, I suspect, since the mini-XLR connector is a fraction of the size of two std. XLR ins, and the MX-VYNL is quite small. But you are right, that mini-XLR is a problem. When I last looked, 2-channel XLR to mini-XLR adapter cables seemed to be rather nonexistent commercially. Like probably 99% of all TTs, my VPI TT has conventional unbalanced RCA outs, so I haven't had to directly confront that challenge. The VPI could, of course, be easily (but expensively...) converted to balanced connectors, but in part because of the lack of easy availability of the needed cabling, I haven't made the conversion. No doubt any competent technician handy with soldering (I am not...) could make the needed cable, but that issue remains as my sole and only complaint with the MX-VYNL.

BTW, since writing the review above I have used the MX-VYNL with an 8 D-cell battery pack. It works fine, but there is no perceptible difference in sound.

As for the C.E.C. PH53, I've no experience with it. Thus I really can't comment on it except to say that both on price and on paper they appear similar. However, the PH53 is apparently a significantly older model than the MX and it's from a much more obscure manufacturer. You might more easily find a PH53 at a good price used, but  beyond that, your choice.
I'm no expert in these things but just wanted to express my thanks to the initiator of this thread, lp2cd. As a result I went out and bought one of these phono stages from Superfi (excellent service) and the performance is awesome. 
When I had a bit of cash a few years ago I bought an Arcam FM system with B&W surround floorstanders  and as you would expect the digital performance was awesome and I thought of vinyl as history.
A few years later I had a rethink and maybe vinyl has it's place, so I bought a Rega P9 with a Denon MC cartridge and thought great here we go. 
Then I discovered the Arcam didn't have a phono stage and I'd blown my budget. I bought a Cambridge 640P and hoped that this might be my salvation, but it was hopeless. My ipod on a solo speaker could sound as good.
So I gave up for a while and then looked around thinking valve amp but read this review and thought maybe with a system that's loaded for digital this might work and does. I've had it for only a few days so not even sure I've got it set up properly and definitely not broken in but it is awesome. 
The purity of sound is sensational and that's just using it off the standard connectors. The silence that the originator refers to is totally the case and across all genres I've tried it's a treat, fantastic musicality.
By far the best musical investment I've made in a long, long time.
Apologies for the non-technical review but I hope this will help encourage more people to at least check this out and a big thank you to lp2cd.
I've had the MX-VYNL in my system for about 9 months now and have been extremely happy with the price/sound performance.

My question is whether any other users have tried the iFi power supply or some other alternative to the supplied wall wart besides batteries. 

Incidentally, I the MM section to be pretty much a feature swap vs the built-in stage of my Audible Illusions Pre, although it was distinctly quieter and also much more dynamic in the bass regions it was a little "drier" through the mids but with "airier" highs.

I've been running it MC at 400 ohms now for a while with a Sumiko Celebration II and the sound is everything I'd hoped for. Both the MX and the cart took awhile to break-in but eventually the sound stage opened up considerably and the roughness in the highs disappeared. It's the MC section where this device really shines.