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There are a few comments about PRaT on the Head-Fi thread but there are many more comments praising the musicality. There are also some comparisons in that thread between the V Dac and the CA DACMagic 2 and my read is that the majority prefer the V Dac. I have not heard the V Dac, but I do not think my MF A3.24 has "bleached tonality". I think it really depends on what type of sound you like.
The Trivista SACD player is the MF product I had, but I also noticed the bleached tonality and PRaT issue with a few other MF products that crossed my path. I couldn't put in more eloquantly than Art Dudley in his Stereophile review of another MF product last year:
"There was a colorless, almost chalky quality to instrumental timbres, such as the flutes in conductor Odd Gruner-Hegge's great recording of Grieg's incidental music for Peer Gynt (LP, RCA Victrola VICS-1067), which sounded gray instead of silver. And while dynamic contrasts seemed wide enough in a superficial, hi-fi sort of way, music remained utterly unstirring, whether played soft or loud. The experience was, in fact, a sort of a paradigm for the kind of high-end performance that seems to get the sound right but misses the music. On record after record, I heard fine imaging but little real presence, superficially good pacing but little momentum. "
I am glad this is not an issue with you though.
Good thing that apparantly MF is improving on these issues with the V-DAC.
Dudley's review was for an integrated amp and this quote deals with how it matches with a particular high efficient speaker. He likes the integrated better with other speakers. But clearly this is not Dudley's favorite integrated. On the other hand, if you read his review of the kW DM25 Transport and D/A, he raves about the sound -
"The Musical Fidelity DM25 combination is among the most dramatic home audio components I've heard in any product category: "Like a Miyabi 47 cartridge with a laser and a remote," according to the notes I made one clearheaded night. Small dynamic surges that had otherwise escaped my attention now commanded itas in violist Yuri Bashmet's own arrangement, for chamber orchestra and viola, of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet in b (CD, Sony Classical SK 60550)."
I think Fremer's review of the TriVista SACD player may point to your issue with MF.
"Whether it's because of the different sonic character of the "trivistor" tube or the Tri-Vista player's lower claimed jitter or distortion, the Tri-Vista sounded slightly richer, warmer, and darker than the Nu-Vista 3D. At first I was disappointed, but I eventually came to appreciate the Tri-Vista's smoother sound and greater resolution of low-level detail and spatial information. It was like listening to a speaker with a flatter HF response: At first it can sound dull and lacking in resolution, because the ear can confuse edgy peaks with "resolution.""
In the comparisons between the V-DAC and the CA DACMagic 2 the people who like V-DAC like its musicality whereas the people who like the DacMagic 2 like its detail. I listened to the CA 840C and as first liked the detail and PRaT, but found it fatiging over time with a disjointed analytic sound. My MF, but comparison, has a rich smoothness that I can listen to for hours. It sounds a lot like my Classe CDP 10. My guess is you would like the DACmagic 2 over the V-DAC, whereas I would go the other way. Different people like different sounds - part of what makes this hobby fun.
Being a MF Trivista owner I am aware of that review by Michael Fremer, but I dont see his opinion necessarily contradict with my own. Mike have every right to rave that the Trivista is richer, warmer and have greater resolution than the Nuvista, and you would expect so given its $6,500 price tag. Yet these fine qualities do not preclude a component from having tonality and PRaT issue at the same time. Simply they are different qualities, and since we all appreciate different things with music we also have different take on the same component. As a side note, Mike decidedly preferred the $4,000 Krell SACD Standard to the $6,500 MF Trivista in another Stereophile issue:
Compared to the rich, warm-sounding Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista, the Krell delivered a taut, Naim-like immediacy and rhythmic drive that was startling, exciting, and extremely involving. Bass control, focus, and solidity were noticeably more coherent .had a far more distinct and dimensional physical outline than through the Tri-Vista ..The Tri-Vista's rendering was somewhat warmer, and passed along more context-defining midbass, as well as what seemed to be a wider-ranging harmonic palette, but it couldn't compare, overall, to the Standard's self-assurance, rhythmic swagger, and holographic soundstage presentation .one area where I'm not exaggerating is bass control and focus. The Standard beat the Tri-Vista by a wide margin in this area, and with that upper hand came superior rhythm and pacing and thus greater musical excitement.
Mike went on to conclude his preference for the Krell as follows:
The Musical Fidelity is a wonderfully conceived and executed product, and I bought it with enthusiasm. Some might prefer its grace and warmth, but, given my musical predilections, if I had to choose one SACD player, regardless of price, I'd go for the Krell.
If opinions on MF tend to be polarized, apparently I am not alone with my reservations. Being a conservative person, my predilection is that it will do more service by highlighting potential issues. The MF components that crossed my path did seem to have the tonality and PRaT issues, but I have not heard every MF components there is and certainly not your MF A3.24. Some MF components I heard did have much less of the issues, namely the Nuvista CDP, and certainly the classic A1 amp and CDP. I am not surprised that your MF A3.24 belongs to this elite group.
My V-DAC may arrive any moment now, gathering from the reviews MF may well done it right this time and I have high hopes.
I think one problem is that Musical Fidelity has the reputation of having some great products and also having some that do not hit the mark very well. They seem to experiment more than many and sometimes they miss. Makes it hard to generalize about their sound. And sometimes their sound is just not for everyone. I am very interested in greeni's report on the V-DAC. If he likes it it is probably really worth a look. As much as I think USB is not the right direction for passing audio, it seems like it will be with us for a while. I am also interested in HDMI output from PCs, as they seem to be coming more common. Apogee has a HMDI to S/PDIF converter box which may be an option. Have not seem much about that approach but it is worth watching. I may get one of the Apogee boxes just to try it.