Musical Fidelity X-A1 plus X-A50 Integrated Amplifiers

X-A1 plus X-A50

User Reviews (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8  
bigal120   Audio Enthusiast [May 26, 2003]
Strength:

Uncoloured sound and detail quality of build

Weakness:

none at the price

If you are looking for a value for money bi amp set up this is the one to choose. The bass control is great and the mid range is very detailed and clear sound stage is amasing for the money!!!! My setup Ecosse cables meridian 507cd spendor fl 8 speakers

Similar Products Used: Naim nat 5 arcam 75
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Vladimir   an Audiophile [Feb 26, 1999]

Musical Fidelity A-1

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
shad   an Audio Enthusiast [Aug 13, 1999]

I had a x a-1, x ray and was resonably happy although with volume to high or low did have reservations, Last month i was given an hour with a pair of x a-50's the increase in the amount of detail was so apparant you could hear subtle triangles in the background in one piece. the volume did not hinder the quality nearly as much and the thumping bass of a couple of dance tracks had my floorboards dancing.absolutly great. i,ve heard £1000.00 gbp amps no where near as good.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
paul   an Audio Enthusiast [Sep 21, 1999]

i have this setup driving a pair on tannoy revolution r2s. can't complain atall. the sound is absolutely wonderful.

main source is a marantz cd63 ki mkii.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
MFR   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 10, 2001]
Strength:

Detailed and well developed soundstage. Deep, powerful, punchy and musical bass. Very clear and natural midrange.

Weakness:

None

This combination really lives up to all the hypes that have been posted here.
As many reviewers here have said, when used alone the X-A1 is lacking control over the bass. When bi-amped to the X-a50s, this problem is solved and you are rewarded with much more details to the music. The soundstage gets bigger and instrumental separation benifits from the increased clarity. The extra power also gives better dynamics with full emotion of the music been cleverly captured.
The highs sound really sweet and revealing yet not getting too bright (unless a poor recording is used). The vocal is well projected and sound very natural. And finally the bass is well extended, deep and controlled.
For those owning the X-A1, I strongly recommend adding these power amps to your set up. It might be the best upgrading that you have ever done to your system!!

Components used;

Marantz CD6000 KIS
Musical Fidelity X-A1
Musical Fidelity X-A50 x2
Mission 773e speakers
Van Den Hul D102 III (Cd player-XA1)
Ecosse Reference 'The Composer' (XA1-XA50s)
SonicLink AST200x2 speaker cable.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Keith Lee   an Audio Enthusiast [Sep 20, 1998]

Review:Musical Fidelity X-A1(50W Class A/B integrated amplifier) GBP480
Musical Fidelity X-A50 pair (50W monoblocs) GBP499

Configuration:
Bi-amp. X-A1 driving tweeters. X-A50 driving midrange and woofers.

Equipment:
Marantz CD63-SE
Acoustic Energy AE109 (floorstanders, 91dB,2-way obviously)
Audioquest Ruby interconnects all round
Jaycar flat spkr cables. No frills highest quality multistrand braided.
Existing amplifier - Musical Fidelity A1-Signature Class A integrated

Music: (in listening order)
Tony Braxton - Secrets 1996
Diana Krall - The Early Recordings 1993 [jazz vocal, piano, bass, drums]
Jennifer Warnes - The Famous Blue Raincoat 1991
Women in Blue No. V - Blue Note 1997 Sampler [jazz, folk, contempo]
Annette Lowman - Annette Lowman 1995 [pure jazz vocal trio]
One Voice Various Artists 1996 HDCD [a bit more country/folk]
Passing Open Windows - A Symphonic Tribute to Queen 1996 Sony 20bit SBM
Sheila Jordan - Lost & Found 1990 [pure jazz vocal, piano, bass, drums]
Blue Lights - 20bit all-tube Male vocal audiophile recording. [blues] Aaron Neville - Warm Your Heart 1991
Aaron Neville - To Make Me Who I Am 1997
kd Lang - Ingenue 1996
Nat "King" Cole - Love Is the Thing 1996 re-issue on DCC Compact
Classics 24K Gold CD

The X-A1 has 5 line-ins, a tape monitor, a pre-out, and a separate external power transformer module. After first seeing the NuVista press prints, I then encountered the X-A1 when it sat on the shelf looking exactly like the NuVista preamp. Looking for new amplification myself, I finally managed to listen to the X-A1 alone. Since this is a review of the combo, I’ll just state briefly my encounter with the X-A1 on its own merits. Hooked up first in bi-wire configuration, the X-A1 impressed me from the start. I was looking for improvements in the mids and highs over my own amplifier. I found them alright. Seperation between left and right channels were so much better. Each instrument in the jazz ensembles were well painted in a music landscape before the listener. The highs can be described as sweet and not screeching for attention - which is the way I appreciate music. Personally, a good vocalist gives me thrills over any other forms of music - regardless what style or accompanying music. So naturally I’m more and more touched by jazz singers. Anyway, the session lasted for a whole evening. I could not stop playing my other CDs as well. When a piece of equipment brings that out in a person, it goes to show there must be something right about it. Most enjoyable as well was the way it allows you to follow the individual instruments being played - especially the jazz drummer with that ‘brush-like’ stick. At the end of the day, what’s the conclusion to this GBP480 listen? Well, I honestly must say the mids and highs are just how I like them but the one area lacking a little oomph is the bass. I just found it a tad lacking in that extra kick I’d like with the ability of the AE109s to dig down low. Other negatives? I have this one issue with the fact that the absence of relays in the switching circuitry means that when turning the selector knob, scratchy sounds emits from the speakers. I have this feeling this doesn’t seem to bother the majority of listeners out there. Hmmm .. No one has really brought it up as an issue. I’m just concerned about the long term reliability in cases like this. The advantage I have found from other listening experiences is that the absence of relays is normally as a result of no provision for a remote control. And this in my experience is the only way the manufacturers have been able to achieve that ‘sound’ on equipment not costing above the GBP500 mark. By opting for direct contact switches, the signal paths are simpler I suppose.

Okay, getting there ... With my conclusion above you can see how the X-A50 came into the picture. In short the whole thing was a damn cracking enjoyable listen. I think I may have found something special. I enjoyed the experience so much I can still feel the excitement and the sound images in my head. I heard it all evening on a Saturday (solid 5 hours). Before I go further I must say that earlier in the day (Sat), I had borrowed the Marantz PM66-KISignature integrated amp. No doubt everyone has heard about this amplifier and so I had to give it a go. You may think what a weird comparison to first listen to the Marantz then the more expensive combo of the X-A1 and X-A50s, let me just say that I was looking for an amplifier and couldn’t live with myself if I hadn’t listened to the PM66-KIS - what with its golden guru touch and remote controlled and all! After all, here in Australia, there is only a difference of AUD$100 between them, the X-A1 being higher in price. The Marantz impressed me as well with its presentation! Damn, since this made it all the harder to choose. How come you say when it costs less and comes with a remote? It had however a more ‘commercial’ sound - the highs being a little bit emphasized for my absolute liking. I’d go as far as to boldly say that when I put on the Holly Cole ‘I Am Only Sleeping’ track (Women in Blue) and jacked up the volume a little, the Marantz hardened up on me!! I like this song and many a time its nice to jack up the volume but I couldn’t bear the presentation then. But when the same track was played with the MF combo, the song turned a new leaf. Maybe the track was badly recorded I dunno, but the combo certainly showed more control over the plucked bass notes. The Marantz does dig deep I must say to produce better bass lines than the X-A1 alone. The Marantz could be said to be a very exciting listen from the word go but after 5 hours listening I wondered whether I could live with the sound for the next 5 years. Hmmm ... there is no pleasing me huh. For the price, really, there is nothing wrong with it. Marantz certainly have done their homework. So for those of you who have it, keep it please! Its an excellent partner to quality gear. But I wanted more, more definition and more sound for my money until that point of diminishing returns. I still haven’t found it with the X-A1 nor the PM66-KIS. Willing myself to cough up more bucks, I headed for the combo to see what returns could be attained.

Since I have already given away a bit above, there’s no hiding the fact that this combo is cracking. The bass depth and definition is absolutely marvelous. The bi-amping certainly helping. And the midrange and highs were sweet and very very open with good spread. Again the bi-amping route taken returning its promise in elevating the frequency levels without them getting in each others way. I was very happy. On the Women in Blue CD, the last track After Hours by Dianne Reeves opens with this huge resonating bass line which eluded the X-A1 but shoots cleanly through the sofa from the X-A50. That is how much difference there is. On the Diana Krall CD, there are lots of brush drum solos and they all sound so musical not like some drum exercise on its own. Another track - "Straighten Up and Fly Right" has this burst of bass, drums, and piano together which is just pure rush and I’m always keen to hear how different amps treat it. By far this combo certainly wins in the musicality, and realism of ‘being there’ stakes. It really got me going - wanting to listen to more and more CDs. I just couldn't get away. Its bass definition and control is superb - I swear its the monoblocs in bi-amp mode. It has no remotes, no relays, only direct switching so paths are straightforward and clean. And the transformer to the X-A1 is external, call me silly but I think it pays off. I could easily follow individual instruments in the music - really fun stuff. Nat "King" Cole is my all time favourite vocalist. Seductive, fluid, and natural - he never needs to shout, yell or burst his temples to belt out a tune and holds it there - mesmerizing the listener. Played through this combo, I am just thankful I managed to get my hands on this special DCC Compact Classics re-issue GZS-1104 (it says 24K gold CD! It’s looks are gold!). The detail on this CD is a-ma-zing! Heaven.

In terms of price difference, however, there is quite bit. The Marantz is AUD$1499 while the MF combo is AUD$1599 for the X-A1 and AUD$1499 for the pair of monoblocs. So at twice the price what's the conclusion? What I believe is that to get that extra oomph and definition in all frequency registers, one has to fork out the extra bucks to achieve it. The X-A1 allows that upgrade path with the pre-outs and the Marantz doesn't. So utilising the MF upgrades gives that extra completeness to the presentation and the final picture. With the Marantz, one is given that one presentation and no more options. So which would you choose - I think conclusively save up and go MF! What about the lack of remote on the MF you ask? All Marantz product comes with remote. Yes, it is tempting and convenient. And I can tell you it has been a difficult time for me looking around for amplification that has the remote and 'the' sound. But I have not found one. I guess its keep looking and listening or buy in now. The key thing here is that if going for the X-A1 you must plan to upgrade to the X-A50 at least and you’ll have a special piece of kit - take my advice. The combo is in a league of its own. I’d rather sit back and soak in spine tingling music than admire a remote if that’s the trade off. I’m not saying remotes are bad, but there are certainly some trade-offs be it price or sound quality. If money is really tight and ‘no more upgrades for you!’ then no problems - go Marantz in this particular case. You get a remote and a sound that’s exciting it’ll give you a heart attack!

So considering the facts, the emotions, the musicality, the highs, the lows, the mids, ... I’d recommend highly the X-A1 and the X-A50 combo tops all the way. Improvements? Well, I hate to say this but I just heard the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista tube remote controlled pre-amplifier!!! Fascia exactly like the X-A1, it retails at AUD$3000, or GBP1200. Holy s**t! But let me end here and not spoil it for all.

Other amplification equipment I have heard in no particular other:
Audiolab 8000S
Copland CSA14
Copland CSA28
Arcam Alpha 9
Krell KAV300i
Marantz PM66-KISignature
Marantz PM17
Musical Fidelity X-PRE
Musical Fidelity A220

Humble Regards,
Keith Lee
At this point of my listening endeavours - a straight 5!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Carl   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 11, 2000]
Strength:

Style (if you like it!), clarity, power!

Weakness:

Technically, none

Setup:
X-Pre (no volume)
modified empty X-case with ALP volume pot with motor drive and remote(the X-Pre volume pot was just not up to it).
X-10D
X-A50 (x4)
Trichord Genesis CD (with Clock3)
Credo 305 2way speakers
All Geortz connectors/cable

Started with two X-A50's which was fine. Warm with lots of mid and tops but when driven hard lacked bass. Rudolf Kraske from Credo suggested I bi-Amp (which I did) - dramatic improvement in bass drive and soundstaging - more 3D depth.

For the price... you just can't get better.

Similar Products Used: X-A50 (just the two mono blocks)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bren   an Audio Enthusiast [Mar 21, 1999]

It was almost twenty years that I had been using my old, but faithful, system of a Sansui AU217 amp and Acoustic Research AR25 speakers. Input source for most of that time had been a Rega Planar 2 TT which served admirably. With the advent of CD, I acquired a cheap and functional Pioneer multiplay (6 CD) unit about seven years ago which served my needs. All was well.
Alas, my AR speakers got damaged in a move, and it was the impetus that I needed for a major upgrade of the system. After a lot of research, both visual and aural, I decided on MF XA-1, MF-X Ray and a pair of Mission 752Fs. An excellent choice which will meet the needs of most music enthusiasts. One failing with this system was the lack of a deep, refined, controlled bass. Otherwise I had no complaints. After all, the 752's have a limited box volume and its unreasonable to expect them to give something they weren't designed for. Or is it?

From contacts on the Net, I gleamed that the bass picture could benefit from the addition of the XA-50 mono blocs by going for a bi-amp mode. To cut a long story short, this is what I did. What happened? I got a totally different soundscape. Most noticable was the depth and definition of bass which was added. Secondly, soundstage precision increased noticeaby. Finally a cleaner HF and mid range was evident. All these comments are based on subjective listening and should be taken as such. However, in my case, the IR£499 spent biamping the Missions with the XA-1 (HF) and XA-50s (LF) was excellent value for money, given that I could have spent twice that upgrading my speakers and not have achieved such a satisfying result.

In conclusion, the XA-1 and XA-50s can enhance the performance of speakers designed for bi-amping. Combine it with the excellent clarity of the X-Ray and you have a superb system you won't be thinking of upgrading for some time.

Bren



OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-8 of 8  

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