Review: Musical Fidelity A-220 Amplifier
Clearly Musical Fidelity has a way with high end integrated amplifiers. The Musical Fidelity A 220 is an extraordinary example of this fine type of integrated amplifier.
Produced in 2001, the A 220 is a cutting edge design operating in Class A output at 50 Watts RMS per side into 8 ohms and can double that to 100 Watts per side into 4 ohms, and can easily drive 87 dB speakers with uncanny ease.
There are very few integrated amplfiers that operate in Class A output stage, but due to thoughtful design, circuit boards and parts usually found only in upper end components. Large torodial transformer and craftsmanship and build quality that is seldom seen at this price level. The Musical Fidelity A 220 is a UK Made unit, and not some off shore made unit bearing the Musical Fidelity name. No this isn't a mil-spec type of product. With that being said, it is far better built than a vast majority of integrated amps in the market place today.
When released the retail price was $1,000.00 and was and remains one of high ends true values. Present resale value is $540.00 and at that price is one of audios great used value.
The cosmetic appearance is visually stunning with its semi gloss back finish and large volume and input selector knobs, that are trimmed in gold. This is a without question a luxury finish integrated with the liquid sonics of Class A out put.
The inputs are Phono,CD,Tuner,Aux,Tape,Video and a Tape Monitor push button. Very unsually to find a phono section today, but the MF A220 has one,it is for MM or high output MC. Worked very well with the Denon DL 160 MC cartridge it was reviewed with.
On the back there is in addition the inputs a set of pre outs, so another amplifier or subwoofer can be used, nice touch there.
Volume and Input selectors have that solid silky feel and operate silently and with out noise of any kind. Plus each knob has a lighted red LED, so one can easily see volume and input settings from across the room. Also a red LED lights above the power switch.
This is a heavy unit and should be placed on a solid resting place. Due to its operating temperature nothing should be placed on top of the unit. The heat sinks extend all the way from the bottom of the cabinent to the top of the cabinent. Do not block these openings as the amplifier needs to vent the heat through these openings.
The A220 is a new development of the A2 concept with a higher power output giving increased dynamic and drive abilities.
Class A output stage This gives the highest quality sound available
Two pairs of output transistors per channel Excellent load driving characteristics, consistent performance with a wide range of loudspeakers, high reliability
Sophisticated fully symmetrical circuit Ensures the music is amplified perfectly under all circumstances.
Massive stabilty margins The A220 is stable into any load whether capacitive, inductive or resistive. You can depend on the A220 to faithfully reproduce any signal into any loudspeaker.
High current delivery The A220 is rated at 50 watts into 8 ohms and will comfortably deliver 100 watts into 4 ohms.
Very large internal heatsink Allows Class A operation without excessive heat. It should be noted that the A 220 is not a pure Class A amplifier, but is biased heavily into Class A. By the size of the heat sinks I would say they can only take about 25 watts of Class A output. This is more than enough Class A output with 87dB speakers in a moderate size room. This review, the A 220 was in a 10' x 12' room, driving Alon Model 1 speakers.
Sophisticated printed circuit board layout with great attention paid to earthing and supply eddy currents Absolutely consistent sound, stabilty, reliabilty and longevity. It also means rock solid imaging.
Listed Below are some of the LPs and CDs used for the evaluation of the A 220.
Bob James - Hands Down (Columbia FC 38067)
Hiroshima - Self Titled - (Arista MFSL1-525)
John Coltrane - Blue Train - (Blue Note BST 81577)
Wes Montgomery - Bumpin' - (Verve V6-8625)
Rickie Lee Jones - Self Titled - (Warner BSK 3296)
Wynton Marsalis - Live Blues Alley - (Columbia PC2-40675)
Eric Gale - Forecast - (KUDU Records KU 11)(CTI Records)
Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington Jr - (Blue Note BT 85106)
Earl Klugh - Finger Painting - (Blue Note MFSL 1-025)
Larry Carlton - Friends - (Warner 23834-1)
Sadao Watanabe - Autumn Blow - (Inner City IC 6064)
Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute - (Warner BSK 3193)
Santana - Zebop - (Columbia FC37158)
Pat Metheny Group - American Garage - (ECM 1-1155)
Frederick Fennel - Cleveland Symphonic Winds - (Telarc 5038)
Paul Desmond/Jim Hall - Complete Recordings - Mosaic(MR6-120)
Ben Webster At The Renaissance (Contemporary Records OJCCD-390-2)
The Royal Ballet Gala Performances (Classic Compact Discs CDSCD 6065)
Peter And The Wolf - Boston Symphony Orchestra (Sony SK 64079)
Jurassic Park Motion Picture Soundtrack (MCAD 10859)
We Get Requests - The Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve 810047-2)
You Won't Forget Me - Shirley Horn (Verve 847482-2)
Sneakers Motion Picture Soundtrack (Columbia DIDP 078100)
On Every Street - Dire Straits (Warner Brothers 26680-2)
Trio Jeepy - Branford Marsalis (Columbia CK44199)
Paris Jazz Concert - Louis Armstrong (RTE 1001-2)
Braveheart Motion Picture Soundtrack - London Symphony Orchestra (London LC0171)
Patriot Games Motion Picture Soundtrack (RCA 07863 66051-2)
Hook Motion Picture Soundtrack (Epic EK 4888)
Highlights From The Plugged Nickel - Miles Davis (Columbia CK 67377)
As you can see by the list above, a wide variety of music was used for this review. The A 220 played these selections with great ease and the sonic signature is a total joy to listen to and never felt any listening fatique whatsoever. The A 220 has a wide sound stage,great imaging, with astounding depth front to rear. But what is really great about the signature is that the A 220 is just liquid, with a transparency to the music, that is not often heard at any price level.
The system consisted of a Rega P3 turntable with RB 300 tonearm, Denon DL 160 MC phono cartridge,Onix XCD 88 CD Player,Yamaha T 1 Tuner, Sony Mini Disc decks Models 501 and 480. DH Labs Power Plus power cables used on the A 220 and Onix XCD 88 and Audioquest RCA Interconnects for the line stages. Standard Rega phono cabels for the phono input. Speakers are the Alon Model 1 using the Alon Black Orpheus speaker cabel in bi-wire configuration.
Very nice to see a phono section in the A 220, that is not often found in this digital age. Plus the phono section is what one would expect from a company such as Musical Fidelity.
Power output: 50 watts per channel, 8 Ohms (17 dBW)
100 watts per channel, 4 Ohms
THD: 0.01% at 1kHz
Frequency response: 10Hz - 20kHz +1dB
Inputs: MM Phono, 5 Line
Input sensitivity MM phono: 3.5mV 47 kOhms
Input sensitivity line inputs: 300mV 47 kOhms
S/N ratio line inputs: -77dB unweighted,
-88dB A weighted
S/N ratio MM phono: -65dB unweigted,
-73dB A weighted
Power consumption: 350 watts
Dimensions: 17 x 4.5 x 14 inches (W x H x D)
Height includes feet, depth includes terminals
Weight: 30 pounds
Standard accessories: IEC type mains lead
The Musical Fidelity A 220 is a finely crafted musical instrument and should be associated with like components. It has an effortless and seamless presentation,with great definition and clarity as only Class A out put can deliver.
So if you ever wanted to get into a great integrated amplifier with the sonics of Class A here is a fine example that will deliver the promise of high end sound,plus it won't break your bank account.
But just as important, the A 220, one does not have to make any excuse for and can easily be the center piece for years to come in any two channel system.
Have listen to a lot of integrated amps over the past 47 years such as Classe,Sim Audio,Bryston,NAD,Rotel,Denon,PS Audio, and a great many others. In my opinion the A 220 is the one to seek out. Due to its Class A out put biasing the signature of the A 220 exceeds those listed above. This is not to disparage the above listed products, as they are very fine integrated amps, but the A 220 just to my ears sounds better than those above.
If a finely crafted integrated amp is on your short list, then the A 220 should be at the top. One can seriously worse in this area by not choosing the A 220. While they don't come up all that often for resale, seems that people that have them, keep them, to me speaks volumes on the A 220 overall performance.
This was a recent trade in for some other gear I had. Recently posted a review on the Musical Fidelity A 2, which has proven to be a solid winner. But nonetheless this person wanted go go separates route. Has been up and operating 24/7 for 21 days now. In my opinion another solid winner from Musical Fidelity.
The A 220 is a stellar musical performer that will satisfy the most jaded audiophile mavens among us.
Rega P3 w/RB 300 tonearm,Denon DL 160 phono cartridge,Onix XCD 88 CD Player,Yamaha T 1 Tuner,Sony Mini Disc decks 501 & 480,Audioquest Interconnects,DH Labs Power Plus A/C power cable