Review: Music Hall mmf cd-25 CD Player

Category: Digital

I have been trying to build a system that will give me a real, open, warm sound... on a budget. No easy task. I love to hear a realistic timbre on instruments, especially piano, and I cannot listen to that strident, digital sound that infects so many solid state pieces of equipment, especially cd players. For quite a while I had a Cambridge cd4se, and for it's cost it was a real gem. But when it came to strings, loud brass passages, cymbals, high notes on piano, it would lose that natural sound, and become somewhat brittle. My searches took me through the Marantz cd6000ose, very competent and extremely dynamic, but too over the top and unrefined. Then I extended my budget and tried the new Rotel rcd-1070. I had an rcd-951 a few years back, and I never found it too involving, but I'd heard that this was closer to the highly reviewed 991, so I thought I'd try it. To me it had the same uninvolving sound as the 951. Which brings me to the Music Hall MMF cd-25. It's been in my system for four months now. It is definitely the most well rounded budget player that I have listened to, and has hdcd to boot. Audiophile recordings are treated extremely well, and hdcd recordings sound great. I prefer good hdcd recordings to xrcd's, but there are some bad hdcd recordings, and I've never heard a bad xrcd. I can now say that my cd player is not the weakest link in my system, which I felt it was before, and that is saying a lot for a $450.00 (what I paid for the floor demo at my local dealer) component. If you remove the lid, you'll find quite a high quality piece of equipment, and it is quite appealing asthetically, with a remote adjustable blue led display. The remote is sci-fi ugly, and the random feature is quirky as hell, but these are small gripes. Personally, I haven't heard a better player until you get up into the Wadias, a whole different price range. Highly recommended.

Associated gear
8 watt modified tube kit from Arizona Hi-Fi, Audioreview DIY kit speakers, TMC white interconnects, Mapleshade golden helix speaker cable.

Similar products
Marantz cd-67se, Sony xa20es, Cambridge cd4se, Marantz cd6000ose, Rotel rcd-1070
Glad to hear your enjoy the Music Hall CD player. I own one
myself, which I bought this past February. I use mine in an
all McIntosh set-up with Thiel speakers; and feel that until
you go above the 1K mark it's a difficult to find a better
CD player.
I tried out both the current and older versions of the
Rega Planet before I got mine; and think the Music Hall has
a slightly warmer sound. I also did not like the Planet
CD players because of their top loading system - which sort
of reminded me of old top loading VCRs. (A technology that
has come and gone!)
Of interest to anyone who might be considering the Music
Hall CD player - right out of the box this CD player is easy
on the ears - and improves with time!
You probably already know this, but the MMF-CD25 is made by Shanling, the same company that makes that beautiful CD-T100 tubed player.
The MusicHall mmf cd-25 replaced my old faithful Marantz cd 63SE about 6 months ago. I love the MusicHall. It is warmer and more musical than the dated but excellent for the money Marantz. I do miss the volume control and timer switch on the remote however.

I can't compare the MusicHall to more expensive units, but for the price I paid, I am pleased.

I researched a few CDP's before settling on the Music Hall. I listened to Nad 521, Cambridge Audio d500se and the Rotel rcd 961. I think the MMF CD25 beats them all in terms of clarity, dynamics, and imaging. It has tight bass, good rhythm, and very good imaging. The only one that came close was the Cambridge Audio. Listening to an acoustic version of Hotel California the MMF CD25 easily played the highest guitar notes cleanly and accurately, while the Cambridge sounded brittle. That sealed the deal for me.It is also built like a tank. It weighs 17lbs, has an aluminum faceplate, and has 2 sets of digital outputs It is not the smoothest player around (the amount of detail it conveys might be fatiguing for some) and vocals sound a bit thin, but overall its the best player for the money ($450).