I think some thing unsual here.A lot of them on sale on the Gone now.
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The Trivista 21 is a very good Dac. It has excellent soundstaging, a very even balanced spectrum and reasonably dynamic. Definition is also a strong point. The musical flow is good and the dac is easy to listen to for hours on end. Although I hold this dac in high regard, it is not quite the equal of a dcs Elgar and, considering the cost of the dcs rig (Elgar + Purcell), I don't think one could expect it to be. The dcs also has all the strong points of the Trivista with perhaps a touch better bass response as well as overall definition. In addition, the manner in which musical notes just start, evolve and decay in free space seems to elude the Trivista delivery.
Don't take this as meaning the Trivista is a second class dac though. Actually, at it's going cost I consider it about as good a dac as I have heard. And, while mentioning the cost, be sure to contact Walter "Underwood Hi-Fi" as he has been selling the Trivista 21's at $1490 brand new. I believe Musical Fidelity has discontinued this model and it is being replaced by another or, another series (I am not real clear on this though).
My local dealer sells both Audio Note and MF. He was quite taken with the 21, feeling that it had much of the organic quality prized by the owners of Audio Note DACs. He feels it punches well out of its weight class. I have heard it, but only under store conditions. It sounded very nice, but I can't go further than that.
I bought mine new over a year ago and was delighted with the overall improvement in resolution of low level detail, in in spacious three dimensional imaging. At the time, I was driving Electra 906 speakers with the MF A3.2cr power and A308cr pre. My Arcam FMJ 23 CD served as transport.
When I bought new speakers and a more powerful amp, the synergy was no longer good, even after allowing a healthy warm-in period. The high treble had developed a sort of ultra sonic glare that I found uncomfortable; others didn't seem to notice.
Removing the DAC eliminated that problem in the new system. Taking out the new speakers with their ultra high-rez tweeter , subbing in an old pair of Totem Sttafs, and hooking up the DAC again, also worked well. Taking the Arcam out of the pic, and subbing an old Theta Data Basic transport worked best of all.
That is not particularly a criticism of the Tri Vista, but a warning that system synergy can be crucial. Everybody knows that; I had to learn the hard way.
I think this is an excellent DAC. I auditioned it against some well regarded and somewhat similarly priced units (another DAC and some one-box players, including the Arcam FMJ33). I think MSRP is $2400. Anyway, the Tri-Vista was my favorite of the bunch. Less forward than the Arcam but with good detail, and far better soundstaging and natural flow. I agree that it has an "organic" sort of quality, while still being very clean and not rolled off. I would say that it has a "middle of the concert hall" perspective and is very musical. I agree with the prior poster that the Tri-Vista is really easy to listen to. And hey, even mentioning it in the same breath as the dcs is a pretty strong compliment. I should also say that I was not using a particularly strong transport, so I don't know that I heard it at its best. If you need a DAC I'd definitely check it out.
It is, however, a "discontinued" model because it is one of Musical Fidelity's ongoing series of "limited editions" - in other words, it was never intended to be an ongoing production piece. IMO, this is a rather annoying practice that this manufacturer overindulges in. These guys seem to have an obsessive need to change model lines about every ten minutes. It's a sweet DAC though...
Panderso is right. The DAC performance is heavily dependent on the transport. With a friend of mine we played a bit with the Trivista dac. The system was: Krell kpsc-28, siltech classic qs-110 ic, krell kav-280pre, siltech classic qs-110 ic Krell kav 2550, siltech ls classic 110 (?), Sonus Faber Cremona (plus siltech powercords). Putting into the system the Trivista DAc connected to a MF 3.2 cd player as a transport, you get the typical bad cheapo MF sound of the E-series: rolled off highs, muddy bass, slow creamy sound - some like this sound, but compared to the Krell kpsc-28 it was really very bad. It was so disapponting that after a few minutes we stopped it. Than we changed the MF 3.2 to Orelle 2500 (that UFO-style transport). We got a clean crisp, transparent, quick and punctial sound, comparable to the kpsc-28. The Orelle-MF pair was a bit warmer, and richer midrange, the krell seemed to have more quicker transient responses and better micro-dynamic. But whether one liked this or that sound was really taste issue, but not difference in resolution. So, dont buy it without adressing your transport and hearing it in your system.
I've only had mine several days, though broken in. At first I had reservations, but I now am almost stunned at the realness of the sound. Images are incredible:: there is a 3D but perfectly clear, defined, round. With a you-are-there sort of recreation of the physical space in a manner I have never heard before.
It should be understood, however, that I have no experience with any of the costly DACs, not even the Levinsons.
It may not be perfect, but it will take me more listening to know. Irregardless, I consider this an exceptional piece, and until something else is found better, it stays.
Some further thoughts. You guys saying it sounded 'organic' are correct. It has a wholeness, a correctness, and a minor richness that just really sound right and sound like the real thing. I'm excited. (Remember SNL's Chris Farley as Lauri Davis? "It's exciting!"
Tubes. The trivistors probably have something to do with this. They probably deliver a good portion of the positive qualities of tubes, and an absence of the negative ones. I never thought I would praise Musical Fidelity, but Antony Michaelson is obviously much more than just a good salesman peddling attractive products if this DAC is representative of what he does.
My Trivista 21 replaced an elderly Theta G3 which had become a bit temperamental (sometime has difficulty locking onto the signal). I was not expecting major improvements but I was wrong. The biggest difference was the soundstage; it became so much wider that on the best recordings, I had effectively an all emcompassing soundstage with images spreading from the front, round the side and even to behind the listening position. You can even hear and locate echos seemingly bouncing off the rear wall on some recordings.
Resolution, timing and warmth was better than the G3 and it also had this ability to project the sound in a very natural way from anywhere between or to the outside of the left or right speakers. Needless to say, the speakers did one of the best disappearing act that I have experienced.
It is possible that my G3 was not 100%, and which I may not have noticed as it might have deteriorated slowly over time. But one thing's for sure, my G3 never had that amazing sound stage, even when new.
All in all, an amazing DAC, especially when you take into account the price.