The Music Hall MMF CD25 is the best CD player/DAC you can buy for less than $2,000. “A real Arcam beater” – or for that matter, anything else. Don’t believe it? Check out the review below.
This unit has the Underwood / Parts Connection 1+ upgrade ($870 + shipping), which the “6 Moons” review reports is equal, or better, in some respects, than the highly acclaimed $1,700 Cairn (see the complete review and description at: http://www.underwoodhifi.com/6moonscd25.html.
I’m using it as a source for my Musical Fidelity X-CAN v3 headphone amp, and Sennheiser HD600 phones, which really reveal the quality of the source and the recording.
The build quality is truly incredible with great fit & finish – heavy aluminum, with quality electronics and components, silver wire and solder, and gold-plated connections. The transport tray has the look and feel of true quality - is solid and works smoothly, as does the matching aluminum remote. And, there is no delay in the cuing.
The sound is truly incredible - big, powerful, dynamic, analog sound. Bass is clear, well defined, tight, punchy, and extended; mids are clear, well-defined, and fairly warm; and the highs are clear, well-defined, bright, and not overly harsh. The image is fairly open, airy, big, wide and deep - reflecting the placement of the performers in the environment of the recording (studio, club, auditorium, or whatever). Instruments and voices sound natural, with all the details, subtleties and nuances of the performances (i.e. breath / air / saliva of the vocalist, wind of the sax / trumpet player, squeak of the fingers on the strings, slap of the fingers on the wood, details of the brushes, rasp of the bow, mellow timbre of the horn, stops of the piano keys etc.). The overall impression is of an accurate, dynamic sound with impact, and very revealing of the recording and source details (whether bad, or good). The bass and mids are not overly "warm" and the highs are not “harsh.” Dianna Krall, Ramsey Lewis, David Sanborn, Miles Davis, George Strait, or Pavarotti - all sound as if “you are there” with them.
WOW!I spent a lot of time listening and researching dedicated cd players,new my budget was going to only allow me something used,so I needed the most for my money,sound and quality.I think I did good,this has been the best upgrade in my system so far,it sounds like a just spent another $1000 on speakers,I have midgrade polk towers,man do they sound good now,I started with a good powerful amp...good upgade,then a modified preampamp,seam to wake up the speakers a little,better upgrade,then the music hall mmf25...best upgrade so far!I almost bought a cambridge azur 640,it was basically splitting hairs between the two,the cambridge is a newer model,I guess a little more modern,I really wanted a Burr Brown dac...and the music hall had it,but you cant go wrong with either!
I just helped a friend make the big step up from standard audio (an Aiwa bookshelf system) to the true high end: Martin Logan Scenario speakers and the Manley Stingray integrated amp. Wonderful clarity and resolution. Unfortunately, the weak part of the system was the CD player which happened to be a California Audio Mark II with some kind of upgrade that brought the total price to $1800. It was being sold used for $450. A bargain? Not really considering that it was harsh, muddy, and had a significantly constricted soundstage compared to my good old EAD 7000 DAC with EAD 1000 transport (both long out of production.)
I had truly expected the newer Cal Audio to beat my old EAD. So much for the placebo effect in high end audio. The dealer then recommended I try the MMF 25 which he had just obtained new. So here are the results of my listening test on it:
Soundstage: excellent, very broad, triangles and bells easily heard at the far edges of the field. Equal to my EAD combo
Sound: slightly more constricted than the EAD; but really quite good. None of the muddiness that the CAL audio had.
Balance: again, not quite so refined as the EAD but very pleasing to the ear. Nothing to miss if you’re not comparing. It is musical and moving.
Overall I’d say it’s performance came within 15% of the EAD, which cost me well over $3000 including upgrades. I think this is a very fine unit. Given the price, it’s quite wonderful. It’s going to my friend with high recommendations. (He would never spend as much as $1000 on a CD player.)
I notice it has two digital outputs (toslink and coaxial) so I suppose it would be possible to use it as a transport and add a DAC; but I doubt that many people buying at this end of the price range would ever want to do that. And given the excellent sound, there’s not much reason to.
I will have to agree with the majority concerning this transport. What an excellent piece of machinery. My previous CD player was a Mission PCM-7000, purchased in 1987...yes it never stop playing wonderfully. I decided to try the MMF-25 more because of their reputation; I had never heard one of their CD players. Out of the box, I was amazed by it weight. This transport is heavy and large. After hooking it to my Sunfire system, I wondered if I was going to be disappointed. Not to worry, the music was full, lacking nothing in the way of reproduction. I felt so blessed that I got far more than my monies worth. Paired with Kimber Kable "Hero" series interconnects, this player performed like a Diva.