MUSICAL FIDELITY M2SCD & M2SI

Disc Player / Integrated Amp Test

Musical Fidelity M2SCD & M2SI Review

Many believe that prices are skyrocketing wherever you look. However, not so at Musical Fidelity, who are fighting against this allegation even after the sale to Pro-Ject owner Heinz Lichtenegger.

Michael Lang

Smart Spender’s Darling

The shift of generations is completed: company founder Antony Michaelson handed over the baton at the last High End in Munich and sold his company to the Austrian Heinz Lichtenegger, who is known as the owner of Pro-Ject. Lichtenegger has a  very similar philosophy to the Englishman Michaelson: to give as many people as possible access to good, high-quality reproduction by creating affordable products. However, that is only viable with efficient production and correspondingly high quantities. It is, therefore, only reasonable that production is carried out in the Far East but under European quality standards. The very solid case with a five millimeter thick aluminum front panel demonstrates the thoroughness of Musical Fidelity’s production. The amplifier’s volume is controlled via a comfortably firm knob of perfect size and shape – a feature that we have repeatedly looked for in vain even with much more expensive amplifiers. The buttons for on/off and input selection are equally made of metal and react precisely to light pressure. In addition to six high level inputs, one of which is switchable for home cinema operation, there are a pair of sturdy speaker-terminals that also accept banana plugs as well as a preamplifier output for connecting an additional power amplifier on the rear. The amp is therefore prepared for so-called “bi-amping”, i.e. the operation of a loudspeaker with two, preferably identical, power amplifiers.

 

However, on the other hand there are no connectors for headphones or turntables. For these applications Musical Fidelity offers separate inexpensive high-quality solutions. It is noteworthy that the M2si relies on a traditional voltage supply with powerful electrolytic capacitors and a toroidal transformer underneath its hood. The preamplifier section works in Class A and is clearly segregated. Musical speaks quite confident of a pre/power-amplifier combination dressed as an integrated amplifier in which the technology from larger series is skillfully applied in a slimmed down form. We noticed a very low damping factor in the laboratory which indicates a discreet negative feedback loop – a circuit detail, which is associated between music lovers with a particularly lively and swinging sound image, but which, in reverse, almost always increases sensitivity for speaker selection. Otherwise, the about nine kilo heavy amplifier made an excellent impression in the measurement laboratory.

The simultaneously tested M2scd CD player features just very few controls on the tidy front panel, exactly like its amplifying counterpart.

It is adorned with a bright blue and clearly readable display that even shows the title at the beginning of each track. Instead of a drawer, here the disc disappears into a slot, as in your standard car CD player. The reading time of nine seconds is not what we would call “brisk”, but it is still superior to any SACD player. In comparison to the old CD3 player, which we tested a few years back, the now direct title selection enables immediate playback of specific titles. The detour via the "Play" button is – thankfully – a thing of the past.


 

Anyone hoping for DAC functions to polish other digital sources should have another look at the price tag and realize that budget for features is limited. However, one digital output each in cinch and optical make it possible to connect an external converter. Looking at the measured figures, it was obvious that the English know how to build a proper output stage at a reasonable price: with an output resistance of just around 50 Ohm not even longer cables between player and amplifier should have a significant effect on signal quality. The converter is of the 24-bit type and exclusively takes care of PCM signals. It stood out with its consistently good measurements. For the sake of completeness it should be mentioned that the frequency response showed a deviation of maximum 1.2 dB from the ideal around and above two kilohertz – not perfect, but neither alarming. In the M2scd, too, the power supply is provided by a toroidal transformer, while the individual functional units are connected to each other service-friendly via plug connectors. They are spatially very clearly separated inside the generously dimensioned enclosure. The drive noise is very low. Obviously, money was saved only at the right places.

 

Tested with other components

In order to do justice to this achievement we were also very generous with our listening test and took a lot of time to hear the two devices individually, in connection and in comparison with other components.

To start off we tried it with the Beatles. After all, a cloudy and rainy winters day is much easier to endure with some positive music. We were surprised how uncompressed and sovereign the amplifier worked on the big Live Act 108 loudspeakers, even at levels close to the limit of reason – which we exceeded several times to drive the bad mood out of the listening room. And in fact, after we had properly appreciated "Here Comes The Sun", the mood indeed brightened up. Even more, the sky changed immediately from unpleasant grey to light blue!

The next stop was Grace Jones’ "Slave To The Rhythm", which is as old as it is timeless – in fact a characteristic it shares not only with the Beatles, but ultimately with most great music. The mysterious lady was certainly not an outstanding singer, but her albums are without exception well produced. This shone through even with the small Musical Fidelity combination, which did not have to hide itself even in comparison to the „3“ combi, which costs you 1300 Euros per device.


 

 

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