Musical Fidelity B1 Amplifier
The sculptured matt alloy fascia is flanked by black plastic side cheeks and carries three rotary controls - volume, input selection and independent record-out selection. Inputs are provided for both MM and MC cartridges (switched on the case rear), alongside five line sources. The construction quality is very good indeed, using complementary BC550/560 devices (selected for their small signal parameters) in the disc headamp.
Dual-channel TL082 op-amps are used in the line and disc stages, the latter using shunt-feedback for RIAA equalisation. Complementary BD139/BD140 drivers are used in the integral power amp, feeding quasi-complementary, paralleled 2N3055 devices for the main output stage (four per channel).
Auditioned via its CD input, the B1 offered a very starkly defined sound. Bass lines had convincing weight and well-rounded solidity, while percussion enjoyed a delicacy and airiness untainted by the merest hint of smearing. All felt it provided a very definite and purposeful sound, building a convincing musical performance within a broad and deep soundstage.
It was the B1's exceptionally deep and controlled bass that particularly caught our attention, contrasting with a slightly harder midrange. Overall the presentation was uncompromising, detailed, ruthlessly revealing and an able partner for MF's Reference loudspeakers.
Slightly more sedate though no less detailed, via MM vinyl disc the music was served by a solid and tactile bass that was nevertheless notably less extended than that via CD. More important, the sound was both measured and exceedingly well balanced. Yes, there was a slight cloudiness compared to the line input, yet it still managed to appear very consistent even as the music became complex.
Regardless of the intrigue surrounding the evolution of the Musical Fidelity B1, current samples offer skin-of-the-teeth excitement without sounding either particularly muddled or overbearingly powerful. At £200 it represents excel lent value; heartily recommended.