B&K Components MC-101 Preamplifiers

5/5 (2 Reviews) MSRP : $900.00

Product Description

Preamp with MM/MC phono

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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by hofbat a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: May 16, 2009

Bottom Line:   
This preamp outshines every other that I have tried in a variety of configurations. Others I've auditioned include several Yamaha, Anthem, Onkyo, Nikko and more. Regardless of the power amp (B&K preferred), the MC-101 produced cleaner, more natural and less harsh sound than its rivals.

My only dig is that it offers no remote capability. I've tried several B&K preamp remote-capable models but they don't come close to this unit, despite costing thousands of dollars. So, I'll have to live with that.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   Pre 1995

Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Glen a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: September 17, 1999

Bottom Line:   
The MC-101 preamp is identical to the PRO-10MC, except for the inclusion of tone controls in the 101, which are 100 percent bypassable. Actually, its the other way around. The PRO-10 MC is the MC-101 sans tone controls. Both versions, originally belonging to B&K's Sonata series of components, which were aimed at the discriminating audiophile, are discontinued but can be had on the used market. Everything about the MC-101 hints at quality. It is amazing that B&K could produce this amp with excellent quality parts and finish for the price.
The MC-101 features a nice black/blue satin finish front panel and black pebble finish on the top cover. The separate power supply, which is a hefty (for a preamp) toroidal transformer in a heavy gauge metal box (also with black pebble finish) with detachable line cord, connects to the preamp via an umbilical cord terminated with a high quality plug. The bridge rectifier and filter caps are located on the preamp's main board, on the other side of the power supply jack.

RCA jacks on the rear panel are all Tiffany style heavy gold plated types. Indicative of B&K's attention to detail, even the terminal post for grounding the phono ground wire is a substantial sized, knurled, heavily gold plated affair. Moving to the front panel, the detented volume and balance pots are both high quality Noble brand units. These and the tone control pots turn as smooth as a hot knife through butter.

The MC-101 can be used in either active or passive mode via front panel buttons. The active gain stage and tone control stage are removed completely from the signal path by activating two buttons, turning the preamp into a 100 percent passive unit. The preamp can be used with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. Gain, load resistance and capacitance matching are all accomplished on the main circuit board by removing the top cover. A switch on the main board selects either MM or MC operation. The appropriate load resistors and caps for each channel fit into tiny gold sockets on the glass epoxy main board, which is loaded with high tolerance metal film resistors, film caps and discrete semiconductors. I could go on and on but I think by now you get the picture. Now on to the sound.

The MC-101 is amazingly smooth and detailed, with a good treble. Instrumental timbre and voice are unusually realistic, although in my opinion, piano and keyboard can sometimes be a bit overly sweet. Bass is good, deep and detailed if not the ultimate in low frequency extension. This preamp throws an unbelievably wide, deep and reverberant soundstage that I find is only bettered by much more expensive units.

In passive mode, with the active and tone stages bypassed, The MC-101 is quite transparent but I find that the dynamics suffer. I prefer the sound with the active gain stage in the loop. The tone controls, while useful for occasional use in making the occasional very off-balance recording more listenable, robs some of the transparency and adds a bit of treble grit and bloating to the bass and as such, are best left bypassed.

The phono stage is a very good and detailed performer and mates well with a wide range of moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. For those who listen via headphones, the MC-101 has a headphone jack from which some amazingly good sound emanates. To get better performance from a preamp, one would have to spend two grand or more. At the prices paid on the used market, it is an even better bargain. The MC-101 is very musical and an excellent value. I give it 5 stars for performance versus value.

Associated components are: Denon DP-59L turntable, Audio- Technica AT-OC9 moving coil cartridge, Classe CDP-.5 CD player, Classe CA-300 amp, Mission 765i floor standing speakers. Interconnects: AudioTruth Lapis x3. Speaker cables: AudioQuest Indigo. Power cords: Cardas Quadlink 5 and Twinlink. Power conditioner: Chang Lightspeed CLS6400. Power source: 20A isolated-ground individual branch circuit.

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Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile

Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

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