Musical Fidelity XA-1 Integrated Amplifiers

XA-1

Integrated class A/B amplifier 50w/c

User Reviews (18)

Showing 1-10 of 18  
Mark   AudioPhile [Jan 20, 2013]

The sonic aspects of the XA1 is hard to fault. No it doesn't have the ultimate extension in either extremes but there is something right about its sonic presentation. The midrange is near perfect with its open and transparent nature hinting more highend tube than budget solid state. It's also a little odd to read some reviews suggesting lack of bass because my experience is just the opposite feeling the amp is warm with plenty of punch and low end especially given its relatively conservative 50wpc specs. Although my unit has been in storage for some time now... I recently dusted it off and have been using it in a rather modest setup driving a pair KEF XQ40s and a MF A3.5 CDP as the source. I feel there is nothing really lacking with a lively and open (tube-ish) presentation. It's able to communicate all of the little nuances to draw you into the music. Bottom line... this is a sweet fun little amp that's capable delivering the best of performances.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jeff Green   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 04, 2000]
Strength:

Sound.

Weakness:

Not powerful enough for truly inefficient speakers.

I am currently in the market for a 6-8k system.
I bought this as a gift for my girlfriend, and after leaving it in her apartment for about three weeks, we brought it with us to audition speakers.

It is an incredibly musical, wonderful amp, only limited by a less-than-herculean current delivery (it is quite powerful and well built within reason). The only speakers which were truly too inefficient for this amp were the little MBLs(323s, 81dB sensitive).
This amp has made me question my decision to go for a home theater amp, because none I have heard under $3000 were as enjoyable.
I can't say that none were as nice as I don't make an effort to evaluate the neutrality of components, but leave that to measurements. I simply loved them.
She is now taking this amp to Paris along with a pair of small Dynaudio audience speakers (and I ordered the X-A2, I can do home theater when movies get better).
I just can't give it a five star overall rating because I have heard better(in a $25000 system)

Similar Products Used: NAD,Creek,Adcom,Rotel(model numbers were something).
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Dusan   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 04, 2001]
Strength:

Nice open sound, warm, at all kinds of volumes

Weakness:

No remote

As you can read in the reviews a lot of people say the amp is underpowered.
I agree that the 50 Watts the amp can deliver might be a bit low and you will mis that "Punch" in the low/sublow area of the tune your playing.But as for any problem there is a solution... the X-AS100, a 100 watt per channel Dual Mono block.
It might be a bit X-Pensive but its worth every penny!

Anywayzz to get back to the X-A1 it is a very Musical amp and will surprise you everytime you listen to it.
The clarity is amazing,mids very good and the base allways low, the amp really makes you Enjoy the music.
Absolutely a wicked amp!
And they reactions are alway nice because of its strange looks people are always wondering what that strange thing is you have in your living room.

For now i'm just using the X-A1 with B&W DM603 S2 (Henley hsp100 Interconnect with Ixos 613 Super Strand 4mm speaker Cable) and a Denon cd player (The dcd 460)
The CD Player and the speaker cables are going to be out of work soon becuase i'm planning on buying the X-Ray and the X-AS100.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
GanjaTron   Audiophile [Sep 01, 2000]
Strength:

Neutrality, imaging, looks sexy to some

Weakness:

No remote, looks ugly to others

I was in the market for a new system and checked out a couple of amps in the shop. I noticed the X-A1 together with the X-RAY sitting on the shelf but immediately shrugged them off as some silly compact system that was all looks and not much else. Boy, was I wrong; I stand corrected. :^)

The sales droid flipped through a few amps until we stopped at one which caught my attention: clear and articulate, yet smooth, even through the pair of rather mediocre speakers they were using. The droid had a hard time convincing me it was those little cans on the shelf. What a surprise!

I auditioned the X-A1 / X-RAY combo over the weekend with my Mission 752's. What struck me was the detail the amp delivers. I'm a bit wary about analytical equipment, which generally doesn't sound musical at all and fatigues you in a jiffy. The X-A1 is a refreshing exception.

Musical Fidelity walks a thin line between warm and cold with the X-series. In a nutshell, its sonic signature (if any), can only be described as downright neutral. MF has achieved a satisfying compromise between clarity and musicality (true to their name). It has the cleanest grain free treble I've ever heard. It really shines with acoustic recordings. A hard act to follow in this class!

In the end I bought the slightly more powerful X-A100R. Sounds pretty much as the X-A1 as far as I can tell, but you get a remote! :^)

To get the most out of it, I leave it on *constantly*.

Similar Products Used: X-A100R
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Alex Bouras   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 03, 1999]
Strength:

Quality of build and sound, upgradabilty via MF XA monoblocks.

Weakness:

No remote!

For the price this has to be one of the best built amps around, from the milled alluminium casing to the seperate power supply.

The sound quality is also good. The amp has weighty base and clear midrange/ treble.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Gene   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 05, 2001]
Strength:

clean musical sound

Weakness:

no remote, not much bass, seemed slow

I gave this a try because of great reviews and Musical Fidelity's reputation for great music-making. The sound was clean even at loud volumes. Highs and mids are quite good, but the lack of bass is inexplicable and unsatisfying. It makes the amp sound a tad bright and robs it of it's ability to convey rhythm.

The Audio Refinement Complete is much better, has a remote, and I paid only $100 more at Audiogon.

Sonus Faber Concertinos
Panasonic DVD A-310 (doubles as CD player)
DH Labs interconnects
Analysis Plus speaker cables

Similar Products Used: NAD T750 receiver
Creek 5250
Audio Refinement Complete
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
Kelly Holsten   an Audiophile [Jun 05, 1999]

The Musical Fidelity XA-1 came recommended very highly in the press and on a few webzines. My girlfriend was in the market for a new integrated amp and I narrowed the search down to a couple of integrated amps that were from normally reliable companies. At the time, she opted to leave tubes out due to the appeal of maintenance free transistors.
We decided on the XA-1 over the Creek 4330 based on hearsay. Do to a sorry location, we were unable to actually audition the amps before purchase except by using the 30 day money back guarantee from Audio Advisor.

After getting the XA-1 (for only $499 at the time), I was immediately impressed with the excellent build quality. This thing REALLY IS built like a tank and very well made inside out, especially considering the price. I hooked it up to my ProAc mini towers via Transparent wire and her new Rega Planet (just broken in) CD player.
I let the unit burn in for about a week before really listening to it critically.

Well, it did exhibit a fine sense of transparency and detail for a unit costing so little. This is a pretty articulate little amp and very very quiet. The treble seemed pretty extended, and the bass, while not going to subterranean levels, was well represented and pretty articulate as well. What then was the problem?

To be honest, this little amp just did not make music. While it did seem like a fine deal for the money, ultimately I felt it did not draw me in to the performance. The amp became rather hard when stressed and there was no real soulful quality to the midrange. This really surprised me since I had read the exact opposite! My companion at the time agreed. I decided to switch to Fried Q5 speakers and audioquest cable to see if the results held. I was sorry to find they did.

I really WANTED to like this little amp and still think it provides quality reproduction of a recording. If, however, you are looking for something that has soul and makes music, then perhaps you might look elsewhere.

She ended up purchasing a used Jolida 302B tube integrated. This amp was found for only $490 and I have to say it's an EXCELLENT little amp that has some faults but makes glorious music with extended treble and a magically midrange! The bass and transparency was further improved my going to Svetlana EL34 and NOS input tubes. So far, reliability has been great!

I would like to thank Audio Advisor for taking back the XA-1 with no questions asked. That is an invaluable option for people without the ability to listen to the equipment BEFORE they purchase.

kh

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
Drew Caselli   an Audiophile [Jun 19, 1999]

I have had an XA-1 for a few weeks now, and it has been burning in slowly. I bought it along with the X-Ray CD player, which is quite a marvelous item. At first the sound from the two units was a little slow and overly smooth, somewhat reticent and laid back, about what I'd expect from good solid state eqpt. But on a postive note, there was nothing at all annoying about the sound. After 3 weeks of solid burn-in for both units, I can say that their sound has changed quite noticeably, and for the better. Without going into a myriad of audiophile lingo, it is suffice to say that the sound produced by these units is something I could live with: it's open, detailed, musical, has great soundstage width (although not depth), great articulate bass, and most importantly, does nothing actively wrong.
Personally, I find sins of omission far more tolerable than sins of commission, and any audio piece that actively irritates me in any way is automatically dismissed from products I'd own for any length of time.

Quite frankly, I bought these two pieces for looks, mainly for an unobtrusive yet funky living room system I'm putting together (prob w/the Gallo Micros), and figured that if they even sounded half decent I'd just live with them. I was very surprised to find out how good they are. I hooked them up to my Aerial 10Ts, which are ruthlessly revealing speakers, in place of my normal $35,000 front end (Forsell CD transport, AudioNote DAC, VAC preamp and amps). Sorry if this sounds like bragging, but I'm just trying to demonstrate the magnitude of the cost difference between what I usually listen to and the MF combo. And as I said before, I could live with the MF gear. No, it's not as good as my usual system, but it makes music at 5% the price. The XA-1 itself is the real surprise here: $600 for an integrated that can drive the Aerials to satisfaction.

As for the previous poster who complained about non-musicality, I can suggest several explanations:

1. perhaps the amp was not broken in long enough - it did go thru a long "slow and sludgy" period

2. Cabling is EXTREMELY important. I've tried many different cables with this combo, and most ranged from bad to mediocre. The Highwire I ended up using makes them sing, as did some Bryston cables I found lying around. The rest of the cables I tried (various Monsters, some AQ, Levinson, some cheap yellow cable that came with my VCR...) were not satisfying, and made the sound edgey.

The fact that the XA-1 amp can reveal the subtle distinctions between cables is a testament to its resolution. After living with these units in place of my normal system for the past 3 weeks, I've come to the conclusion that whatever speakers I end up using with them in the living room won't be good enough....

I'm not sure how to rate this amp - absolute, or price dependent. I guess since price should not be a consideration (I've heard some really awful staggeringly expensive gear), I'll choose absolute.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
RYAN   an Audiophile [Jun 19, 1999]

After listening to the XA1 for about two weeks I have pretty much decided it's not the amp for me. It has all the features I want and none that I don't want and the sound is very open, articulate, detailed, and has some real capabilities but the problem is that the sound lacks the warmth and realness that I had read about and was expecting. I wouldn't go as far as to say the sound is tube-like because it lacks these two important factors. I have found that the only amps that are really capable of sounding real rather than sounding like a stereo are tubes or higher-end solid state amps. My source isn't the greatest (NAD 514) but it has a nice,smooth, analog sound that is almost completely lost with this amp; Plus my speakers are very detailed and revealing (KEF RDM 2s) showing off the amp's often bright sound, whereas I thought the XA1 would be the perfect mate for them based on my readings. Don't get me wrong. I still think it's a nice amp, it has some nice qualities to it (build especially, and some aspects of the sound),but if you want your music to sound more like it's supposed to (lifelike) you'd be better off looking elsewhere. Hi-Fi Choice's panel even noticed the lifelessness. I'm sure this amp will suit alot of people very well, but for those who have been spoiled by the sound of tubes and higher-end solid states, don't bother with this one, you won't fall in love with it.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
Juha Ovaskainen   an Audio Enthusiast [Jul 20, 1999]

I have been a happy owner of XA1 for about two months now. The Change frommy NAD 302 budget class amp was very big indeed. Sound is detailed, open and
trebles in particular are beautiful. Bass is not as powerful but suits my needs
and listening room. Amp does smoothen the sound of harsh rock productions but it´s positive capabilities outweigh negatives by a large marigin. Have to test
it in the future with XA50 monoblocks and see what happens. But right now I´m a
happy music listener. CD Rotel RCD971 (HDCD), Loudspeakers Mirage 1090is, Interconnect TaraLabs 22 and speaker cables Supra Ply 3.4 biwired.


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 18  

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