IMO, they are a bit on the dry side but, not harsh. Not very musical in the systems I have heard them in. Not bad, just not my cup of tea.
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I found just the opposite to be true as Eldarado. I thought the components I have used of theirs were quite musical. (A3 integrated, A3 cdp, x150 integarted, A308 integrated) My friend had the KW 500 and I loved that integrated. Again, I thought it was quite musical. Nuetral is a good analogy as well.
I suppose we could question the meaning of dry; Stereophile has three definitions.
dry 1) Describing the texture of reproduced sound: very fine-grained, chalky. 2) Describing an acoustical space: deficient in reverberation or having a very short reverberation time. 3) Describing bass quality: lean, overdampedI could agree with number 2. The pieces I used were a bit one-dimensional. I am not convinced though that you can put all the MF products into "one box" sound wise. It seems their stuff from a few years ago is reported to be warmer than their current stuff, which is more neutral.
I have used MF equipment for about 5 years now. I would describe the MF sound as refined. I am currently using the MF CD PRE 24 (preamp/cd player) with a Prima Luna Prologue 5 power amp. Previously, I had used the same MF CD PRE 24 with both a MF A300 power amp and a MF A3 integrated amp.
If by musical, you mean warm and favoring the bass end of the equation, then MF equipment is not warm. It is also not dry sounding or analytical or favoring the treble end of the equation. It is pretty close to neutral, very clean sounding, and engaging.
Boa2,Not at all. I think we all have different points of reference, and mine applies to my ears only. Many people like Musical Fidelity gear, which is great. The more options, the better.
Some of the lines that I find to be more musical (some tube, some SS):
McIntosh, VAC, Audio Aero, Art Audio, Pass XA series, Conrad Johnson, George Wright, Audion, Blue Circle, Manley, Naim, Parasound, and others...
Again, just one person's opinion.
Back when I was very green about things audio and still believed reviews in the mags,I bought into MF gear heavily (A300 amp , A3 cd and XCan headphone amp).What a rude shock to find this stuff to be so dull,bloodless, and uninvolving.Sold it all off and took a 60% beating on A'gon and went with Cary.Now I am enjoying beautiful music.Live and learn.
I still get back to the words "elegant" and "refined" to describe the MF sound. In the CD PRE 24, I have what is in essence a Nu Vista DAC and CD transport and an A3 preamp. I am using it with a Prima Luna power amp. This is precisely the "ass backwards" way that most will set up a tube/solid state hybrid system. But, it works well for me.
I find the sound clear, detailed, and musical. If the sound goes harsh... it is because the actual CD was harsh at that point (try the Pagliacci recording featuring Bocelli).
What you will also find is that MF has its fans and detractors.
What speakers do you plan to use? This is probably as key a determinent as anything else to what you will hear. I have used MF equipment with 12 year old Acoustic Research 302 speakers and Rega Aras quite happily. I was at the NYC audio show a few years ago where the MF rep stated that most MF reps in the US use Thiele speakers with their MF equipment. Now, there was a sound to avoid at all cost. I wouldn't slam MF or Thiele, I just thought that the synergy was lousy.
I tried some of the older gear a few yrs ago. Like the A300 which was indeed some what lifeless too me. Never harsh or brittle just round and boring.Resolution and Neutrality wasn't its strong point that's for sure. The X stuff sounded just plain hi-fi too me. I haven't bothered with the newer stuff..no interest in it.
Once bought used, you can normally get your money back out of it.. if it doesn't work out. So try a used CD player or Dac or both. You'll have to find out for yourself.
Had to post here, currently have a MF TriVista 300, have done many A/B's against Krell 400 xi, modded McCormack, and McIntosh MA6500. Perfect word, at least in my system - laid back. ULTRA laid-back. Absolutely wonderful, IMHO. Krell was engaging, deep, articulate, but not real. Mac was beautiful, smooth, but too boomy, again, not real. MF sounds exactly as the source sounds, at least my Tri-Vista. That's all I can ask.