Musical Fidelity kW 500 Integrated Amplifiers

Musical Fidelity kW 500 Integrated Amplifiers 

DESCRIPTION

  • Vacuum tubes in the preamp stage
  • Unique 6112 mu-vista tube
  • A mil-spec built for ultra-high reliability and long life
  • Iron-fisted control
  • Separate chassis matching

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-8 of 8  
[Apr 17, 2008]
drw50
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Beautiful resolution, great speed, awesome bass and dynamics, tube warmth, top notch build and reliability, low heat, limitless headroom and power, shames seperates costing the same.

Weakness:

Will become shrill and hard at high levels, but I think all amps do this when the the listening space is overdriven. Sounds bad with bad recordings.
Comes with a seperate power supply making this integrated amp a two piece unit.

I upgraded from the Krell 400xi to the KW500 over a month ago. The improvement in resolution, imaging, speed, and a solid sound stage was easily picked up. The 400xi sounded good with adequate bass and decent resolution, but the bass and percussion did not have a realistic impact or speed which made some music sound slower and less involving than it should. The KW500 pretty much erased this problem and made percussions sound crisper and cleaner with hard hit drums or symbols startling you when before they were just background noise on the Krell. The improved percussion allows the artist's intended rythym for the music to come out alive. What really hurts the 400xi is its limited resolution and slight darkeness which the KW500's tubes cleaned up in spades. Subtle details that were smoothed or muddied over by the Krell were finally revealed with the KW making the music more life like and 3 diminsional. The KW revealed beautifully the brillliant multiple string layerings on the 9th symphony Molto Vivace movement to the quiet subtle inflections of Joan Baez singing on the Farewell Angelina album to clean dynamic guitar strumming from Led Zeppelin and Van Zandt. This higher resolution balanced with tube warmth makes listening to reproduced music so much more enjoyable. Notice I haven't metioned the brute wattage power the KW happens to have because it doesn't come to mind. The KW applies the power discretely as to not overpower the music at reasonable listening levels and help preserve resolution by never sounding strained. If you turn the volume too high, the sound will sound hard and harsh, but I that that is the case with probably all amplifiers.

Similar Products Used:

Ear V20
Cary 300sei
BAT 300x SE
Avatar Super
Krell 400xi

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 26, 2007]
hifipal
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

If you are looking for NATUREL sound, DETAIL, SOUNDSTAGE ,WARMNESS OPEN sound and IMPACT??????
Well You will have to try that rig! IT's fantastic ! You will easilly forget his 500 watts of power !

Weakness:

None so far !

Best amp. I ever heard so far on my Von Schweikert VR 4 Jr. speakers . Very nice amp., beautiful finish, easy to use, seems to last forever and built like a tank!

Similar Products Used:

M.F.Trivista 300, Macintosh 6900.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 16, 2006]
Mike Anderson
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

In my opinion, the combination of powerful dynamics, rich detail, and strong bass is what makes the sound of this setup so intriguing and enjoyable. I simply cannot wait to hear how this thing sounds with the new 3.6/Rs after some break-in time. I think it's going to be a real treat.

Weakness:

Not that it matters to me, but this contraption is massive. I'd be worried if I was putting it on anything less-than-extremely-sturdy. Also some people will think the remote is too flimsy for something this expensive; I don't care myself. At times, the sound could be too bright if you don't take care to position your speakers or treat your room properly. The only design change I'd like really to see: The addition of a pair of balanced XLR inputs. I just can't imagine why an amp of this caliber doesn't have them already.

BACKGROUND: I've had the Musical Fidelity KW500 for a couple weeks now. I've been playing it exclusively through a pair of Magnepan 1.6QRs. (I'm awaiting delivery on a pair of 3.6/Rs, and bought this amp specifically for that reason.) The speakers are bi-wired through a set of Speltz magwire "anticables." The amp has four speaker terminals on each side specifically for bi-wiring, so I decided to just take advantage of them and not worry about the minor addition in cost and whether this really improves the sound noticeably.

The signal source is a Benchmark DAC1, fed by a Slimdevices Squeezebox 2 run digitally through a Behringer DEQ2496 equalizer for room correction. About 95% of my music collection is ripped in FLAC, and it's heavily weighted towards electronica (but NOT techno), with a healthy dose of modern rock, punk, jazz, funk, classical, and a little bit of everything else under the sun.

My room is about 15' x 20' with wood floors, an area rug, and a fair amount of furniture. I tend to listen at fairly high volumes most of the time, thanks to a cool wife and neighbors.

THE UNIT: In summary, it's a hybrid integrated amp with about 500wpc at 8 ohms. The preamp is tube driven with military-spec tubes that are supposed to last a lifetime.

The amp is constructed in two pieces: The power section has its own separate housing, and it connects to the main unit via three umbilical-type cords (one for the preamp, and two for each side of the power amp). Together, both sections weigh 100 pounds!

The fit and finish on this equipment is simply unsurpassed. I've owned Musical Fidelity gear before, and I've certainly found it to be well-constructed, but this thing is just ridiculous. I'm not kidding; it is built like a ****king tank. I understand most of MF's stuff is manufactured in Asia now, but this line is still built in Britain. I believe it. This thing could have survived a few dozen Nazi air-raids and then some.

The volume knob on the front of the main unit is about 3.5" in diameter, and turning it feels like rotating the dial on a 500-pound Acme safe. Each section has two large, black handles(?) on either side of the front that don't really work as handles, so I don't know what purpose they serve, other than to make it look tough. (Maybe you can rack-mount it somehow, but it's hard to imagine, quite frankly.)

The appearance won't win any beauty pageants, unless they're held in East Germany ca. 1970, but I don't mind it personally. The only semi-attractive parts are the lit-up feet on each unit. They start out red when you power up, turning to amber after 6-7 seconds, and then to electric blue after warming up a half hour or so. They're kind of gimmicky, and I personally can't tell any difference in sound between the amber stage and the blue stage, but I'm sure some people will take special satisfaction in know their music is playing at the right color.

SOUND QUALITY: In my opinion, and in my setup, the sound quality is absolutely astounding. This amp will clearly not be to everyone's tastes. It is *extremely* aggressive with dynamics and transients. Many listeners will undoubtedly prefer a more laid-back, smoother, more "musical" sound. But personally, I have never heard anything so attention-grabbing and realistic sounding. This is music that grabs you by the ears, and forces you to listen. And I love it!

The tone is perfectly neutral and crystal clear. Initially, it seemed too bright at times, but I was able to work with speaker placement to ensure it didn't become unpleasant with mid-treble-heavy music like horn sections, etc. I suspect I was simply getting some badly placed reflections off the walls, furniture, etc. Now it sounds absolutely perfect.

The level of detail from this combination of amp and speakers is like nothing I've heard. I constantly find myself doing double-takes when a certain sound seems "right there" in front of me with an uncanny degree of realism. The soundstage is wonderfully wide and deep, despite the fact that I'm unable to position the speakers optimally because of how the room is laid out.

The bass is the best part. It is extraordinarily rich, utterly satisfying and downright earth-shaking given the limits of these speakers. Standing between the speakers at loud volume, I can feel the floorboards flexing beneath my feet. People had told me not to expect more bass out of a more powerful amp. I expected them to be right, but now I've concluded that they are simply wrong. This thing actually makes my 1.6QRs punch like a welterweight. They sound distinctly un-Maggie-like in this department. They aren't quite like JBLs, but for the first time, I can really feel the bass substantially, like I could never feel it with other amps driving these speakers.

Before this amp, I'd been driving the 1.6QRs with a Pathos Logos with 220wpc @ 4 ohms. I thought for sure that was plenty of power, but now I don't think so. I've heard many people say Maggies need loads of power to sound their best, and for my tastes, they're absolutely right. Some folks say you can drive Maggies with a few high-quality watts from a tube amp, and if what you want is a pleasant, musical smoothness at low volumes, then that's fine for you. But if you want serious dynamics and attention-grabbing realism at loud volumes, you really need serious power.

Similar Products Used:

Musical Fidelity A3.2 integrated amp

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 07, 2006]
SARGE
AudioPhile

Strength:

BUILT LIKE AN ARMOUR TANK,OUT BOARD POWER SUPPLY,VERY DURABLE MIL-SPEC TUBES IN PRE-AMP STAGE,510 WATTS 8OHMS/770 4OHMS WILL DRIVE ANYTHING YOU HOOK UP TO IT,SOUND QUALITY SECOND TO NONE,AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY THE OWNER AND BUILDER IS A MUSICIAN/MUSIC LOVER/AUDIOPHILE.

Weakness:

LIMITED EDITION SO IF YOU DONT HAVE ONE (HAPPY HUNTING)

THIS IS MY THIRD MUSICAL FIDELITY INTEGRATED AMP AND THE BUCK STOPS HERE.THIS IS A VERY AMAZING AMP AS FAR AS SOUND QUALITY GOES,TREMENDUS AMOUNTS OF POWER 770 WATTS INTO 4OHMS.I AM USING THEM TO PUSH A PAIIR OF MARTIN LOGAN PRODIGY'S,NO PROBLEM. EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION THAT WAS RECORDED GOOD OR BAD WILL BE RETREIVED AND REVEALED THRU THE KW. NOT ONLY GREAT SOUNDING TUBES IN THE PRE-AMP STAGE,BUT ALSO VERY DURABLE WHICH IS GOOD BECAUSE I LEAVE THE AMP ON PRACTICALLY 24-7 TO KEEP IT IN THE RIGHT THERMAL CONDITION, READY FOR ACTION AT ALL TIMES,STAYS WARM BUT NOT HOT,WHEN RUN AT VERY LOUD VOLUMES, LOUDER THAN NORMAL LISTENING LEVELS AMP GOT HOTTER THAN USUAL BUT THE MAGIC NEVER ALTERD IN ANY WAY, IF ANY THING THE AMP SOUNDED BETTER.I HAVE EVERY CD THAT PATRICA BARBER EVER RECORED,IT SEEM LIKE I AM HEARING THEM AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME,I HAVE OVER 2000 CD'S A KW500 A PAIR OF MARTIN LOGAN PRODIGYS,A SONY SCD777ES & SONY SCDXA9000ES MUSICAL FIDELITY TRI-VISTA DAC 21, I'VE BEEN TO THE MOUNTAIN TOP I'VE SEEN THE PROMISE LAND.

Customer Service

NO-NEED

Similar Products Used:

M.F.A308 INTEGRATE,M.F.A5 INTEGRATE M.F.TRI-VISTA DAC 21 M.F.X-10V3 BUFFER STAGE/XPSUV3

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jun 01, 2006]
Gman1
AudioPhile

Strength:

Sonic qualities, build quality. Able to drive any speaker, quick with great bass extentsion.

Weakness:

2 Piece system, and a tad expensive.

Well not to put a lot of words into "Fluff" To simply put it, this is one of the best Int. Amps ever and, and one of the best I have ever heard. Been a non-snob Audiophile for many years and I acutally enjoy the music I listen to, too many people get caught up in the equipment, which sure does help, but this KW-500 is like a Sonic Tunning Fork, and every little note and detail you can pick out. If your looking for one of the best Int. Amps on the planet, look no further, Musical Fidelity hit a home run out of the park with this unit. So sit back turn on the 500 and watch the feet glow from amber to blue and then sit back and enjoy!!


Customer Service

Excellent, and able to answer difficult questions

5 star rating from me, especially if you can find discounts and or better internet pricing.

Seems like posters above got better deals than I , considering I don't see anyone posting price :)

Similar Products Used:

Musical Fidelity A308/Krell FPB/Threshold T-800D Threshold 2500

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 06, 2005]
cameronr
AudioPhile

Strength:

Clear like a pane of glass polished to invisibility. Bass down to the foundations of the house. Height and air around the female vocal like a valve amp. Perhaps too clear for some systems. But I’m using it with a big pair of Spendors that put out a huge sound that could be overblown if powered by lesser gear. Together, they produce a sound that is relaxed sometimes, smooth like the best chocolate, and dynamic like a sledgehammer at other times. They produce a sound like the best systems I’ve only rarely heard. There’s something about a really good system, a quality of the silences, the speed of the transients. I’ve read about this a 1000 times, but actually heard it on a handful of occasions. And for the first time, its here in my loungeroom. That’s what’s exciting. Someone else on AudioReview mentioned the SP100s in conjunction with the term ‘kick ass stereo system’. This is what my system delivers now in spades. Kick ass (or arse as we say in Australia). Big, deep, clean, powerful but never uncontrolled bass. Airy vocals. Crystal clear. Slam, massively fast transients, and a treble that is delicate, shimmering but never screechy. And those audiophile silences that have to be heard (sic) to be understood. Now that I own one, I affectionately think of the kW500 as the k-Whopper, as in the Kenworths of my youth. Its a mammoth, a leviathan that is built like a brick outhouse with massive power in reserve, all designed to deliver optimum performance til the end of time. Audition one. I know the brand name cachet isn’t in the ARC or ML or CJ league, but the sound is there for a bucket load less money. Its not cheap, but for the performance, I guess it qualifies as what only a seriously deranged hifi nut could call a ‘bargain’. Guess at last I’m now ready to be committed. Until then, I'll just sit back and, when the quality of the source cd is there, get quietly blown away. This brings me to the next part, the weaknesses...

Weakness:

Only one and its nothing to do with the kW... Recording quality. gggrrrrrrrrrr!! That’s the WORST part, having to live with the fact that 95% of music recording is such crap. I REALLY could better it myself with a Sennheiser mic and a 90s Sony DAT machine in the garage. But I don’t have the performers in there. Nor do I want to limit my system to those utterly dreadful audiophile jazz albums which have sound quality in spades, but mind numbingly bland and/or souless music....*sigh* ...So I listen to this system blow out Dido and U2 under sufferance (its sufferance, not mine). It must be a whole lot like owning the fastest and best handling Ferrari ever built but there are only 3 roads in the world you’ll ever be able to drive it at its limits, cos all the other roads are so crap. You know the car is quietly resenting you for making it do this. A 1000 poxes on the houses of those pop music goons!

I have stood at the top of a few mountains in Europe, and when you are at the top of say a 4000m summit, you can see all the other peaks, and their different shapes stretching to the horizon. Unless you happen to be standing on a 3800m peak like the Aiguille du Midi right under the armpit of Mt Blanc (4800m) everything else seems to be at eye level. This is an analogy I want to use to review the kW500 I have recently acquired. The kW has given me a helicopter ride to the mountain top. I’m not right at the summit, but I’m close enough to see it and know it’s literally a short walk from here. To continue the analogy, the shape of everyone’s own personal hifi mountain is different, but when you are at or near the top, you see that one is not a ‘better’ shape or noticeably higher than another, just different, as are the paths to the summit for each. But, alas, as high as the mountain is, it can never be as high as Mt Blanc, because that is where real music lives. No helicopter, no hifi component can take you there. It exists in a class of its own, unscalable. But from your mountain top, the air is so clear you can clearly see its peak in a way unattainable from the ground or even a fair way up your mountain. This belies the stories the salesmen or ‘shepherds’ told you down in the valley. Depending on which guide you spoke to, typically only one mountain got you that view, and only one path. Perhaps it’s fair to say that very few salesmen can take you far along that path, because either they’ve never climbed the mountain, or else lack the integrity to tell you that the view from many mountain tops, not just theirs, is magnificent. With my system, I have approached the peak of my own mountain. The base camp was the CD player, the speakers brought me somewhere way above midway but still a long way from the summit, and just recently I got the amp that has taken me as close as machinery can get to the top, because you can’t get a helicopter to the very pinnacle, you have to walk or climb the last distance with cables and pitons. This is the kW500 amp. It is not an amp I had to have simply because there were only 500 of them. I’m a bit tired of Antony Michaelson’s marketing ploys to be quite honest. And I had to get past the fact I really didn’t like the industrial styling. I loved the A100 styling from the late 80s but since then MFs designs havent moved me, sonically or visually. What did bring me to the party was listening to the MF A5 next to a Prima Luna II, Moon I5, Chord 2600 and MF kW500. Around the same time I’d heard a Audio Analogue Maestro Settanta sound very, very nice with a pair of Monitor Audio GR20s. The AA Maestro was up against the latest ARC 55wpc integrated and Classe integrated (all roughly in the same price range in Oz). The AA blew the Classe away, sorry to Classe lovers, one is utterly organic and musical, the other is hifi but dry, its very clear cut. But the ARC was fine in its valvey way, but of limited power, and its strengths and weaknesses against the overall performance of the AA meant that the ARC could sound lovely in the right system, but if I wanted something a bit more consistently musical, I’d have the AA. Anyhow, the Settanta set something of a benchmark for amps at and way above its official rrp of $5000. Unfortunately it was also the only one the importer was caring to bring in.This counted against it in my purchase decision because I refused to let those sort of limitations force a quick decision. So I went off looking for something to better the AA. Briefly, the Prima Luna is ok, but not in the same league to me as any of the others despite its hyped status. Maybe a 100watt version could compete. Anyhow, the Chord was lovely, yet very different to the kW. More organic, but less kick arse. Here’s where the different, not better argument comes in. My close friend (and fellow audio nut) Arik preferred the Chord but respected the MF. I preferred the MF whilst appreciating the flavour of the Chord. But at the time, financial limitations meant both were out of my league. So after deciding the Moon was very nice, but outshone by the more even-handed A5, I decided to buy the A5. Then I got retrenched the same week. Seemed like bad timing hey, but six months down the track I landed a better job, and now another dealer was having what turned out to be a massive sale on the kW. So without further ado, I bought it; one of the easiest audio decisions I’ve made. The A5 is a great amp for most hifi nuts, but its not the last amp the seriously insane nut is going to buy. And I found that while it offered a large slice of what the kW had, it didn’t have that intangible last bit which separates the very good from the sensational. And truthfully, it would not be fair to the SP100s to ‘settle’ for it. They are a very, very fine speaker as I have already noted on this site. Anyhow, the kW sound. Everything people say about it... cont

Similar Products Used:

Just after hearing the kW, I heard an ARC VT100 Mk3 second hand. Very, *very* nice. I’m not going to say the kW is better, or worse, as I have not had both in an A-B situation. But both belong in the same rarefied air space, undoubtedly. At the time of purchase, the kW was irresistably priced, whereas the ARC needed additional expenditure and research to identify and acquire a suitably great pre-amp and interconnects. By comparison, the kW is plug and play, even though it is the most complex integrated I've seen with its monstrous external power supply and chunky connector cables (supplied). Anyhow, in descending order of quality are the ones that didnt make it: Class A (to borrow from Stereophile): VT100 - not better, not worse, as mentioned, just timing of finances, and circumstance led it to miss the boat. May come back to this one in time. Chord 2600, not to my tastes, but very, very good nonetheless Class AB (better than B, not quite an A) - Audio Analogue Maestro. borderline class A. Very nice *organic* sound, nothing like a Classe, nor ARC. Low powered on paper, but oddly never sounded like 70watts, more like 140+, really only missed the boat due to its one off availability before I was ready to buy. A5 - bucket load of power, and yes you can hear the difference an absolute lack of strain makes. Power and delicacy, a baby kW. Moon I5. Not as polished as the A5 or as uninhibited by power restriction, but has a very nice but unusual character, may be fabulous with highly efficient speakers. Alas, at the time, the pre/power Moons weren't around to orbit ARC vs55 - nice slice of valve sound, but limited by power on the musically demanding bits Class B Classe Integrated - powerful, but immediately recognisable as too sterile next to the AA. Prima Luna II - yes nice and valvey but...no power for real world people. But I'd love to hear a 100 watter version. Class C my beloved Audiolab 8000a that sustained me for so long

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 01, 2005]
guidovi
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Everything.

Weakness:

Nothing.

Great amp. Very clear sound. Very real sound. It gives you what the musician wanted to give you. The best i've ever heard. Nothing to say against it. It values what it costs.

Similar Products Used:

Nothing.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 08, 2004]
mikexx
AudioPhile

Strength:

Sound and build quality. 'Pride of ownership', only 500 amps will be built.

Weakness:

Standard plastic remote. Anyway, it works well, and can be used for other Musical Fidelity gear like tuner and CD as well.

This is a fantastic amp! I had the NuVista M3 before, and i traded it in for the kW500. Although the NuVista is certainly a great amp, but the kW500 almost plays in a different league. This amp is very neutral sounding, very quiet. Fantastic 'holographic' soundstage, never harsh sounding and has unlimited power! One great thing is, that the amp sounds very, very good at low volume as well, it really sounds like a small triode amp at these volumes. Built quality is superb. And beware, this amp is VERY heavy, 27kg for the amp, and 18kg for the separate power supply. Highly recommended!!!! This is the best amp i ever heard, i'm in heaven.... :-)

Similar Products Used:

MF NuVista M3, NuVista Preamp, Pass Aleph3.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
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