Musical Fidelity X-pre/X-A50 Amplifier

While on the subject of the "bestest" amplifiers, in the category of "the most unusual amplifier" "the triplet of amplification" from the English company "Musical Fidelity" undoubtedly leads the pack by a margin of the whole body (or rather of three bodies + "a little body" of the supply unit) from the other models. Judge for yourself - have you ever seen the amplifier in the form of ... barrel? And even turned to the side and with a tube preamp, which is supplied by external DC source? And at the same time by really trivial rectifier, made in the plug?! You will say, "there are no such amplifiers". But, yes - there are - and here they are, in front of you. Both the pre-amp and two power amplifiers are the members of a new X-series of Hi-Fi components, which "Musical Fidelity" sent in the world in standard cylindrical cases with the diameter of 100 mm. In this series Musical Fidelity gives not one but nine statics. You may assemble the whole audio system from the components of this series, if desired. Structurally, all of these devices have the look of black horizontal cylinder, the side surface of which has ribs of cooling heatsinks and two bars of bearing supports on the side of the construction. The faceplate of all the components is a shining and metallic and is mounted to the body by two profile screws with hex crest. Speaking about "barrels", different components have different panels depending on their "filling". While completing the system, the components are installed next to each other, on the stand. In principle, they can be installed upon one another in the form of such a block of barrels, for which special plastic sleds, putting on legs-bars, are provided.

The guests of our today's test were: a vacuum tube pre-amp X-pre and two monoblocks with output power of 50V per each - X-A50. An external adapter of mains voltage (12 V/0,5 A), made in the plug, is used to power the pre-amp. Inside the "barrel" there is an amplifier on the dual triode for each channel. You can connect up to 4 signal sources to the input of the pre-amp, their selection is made with a help of miniature switch-beak on the front panel. The same beak allows you to control volume level of the amplifier.

The monoblocks X-A50 weigh much for its relatively small sizes and has twice as much length than the pre-amp. Each of them has its own built-in autonomous power supply unit, so you should connect all of these devices separately ("every man for himself"). There are high-class screw terminals for the connection of speaker systems and great gilt input RCA connectors on the back wall.

Gathering a three-component amplifier from these so unusual devices, we proceeded with to audition. We were surprised - the sound of Musical Fidelity turned out to be lively and cheerful. Is it due to the use of a tube cascade in the pre-amp or not, the amplifier's sound was airy and stunningly detailed. To make claims to the depth of stage and localization of musical instruments was impossible. Tonal balance was very good too, these amps sounded surprisingly musically and purely. However, despite of all the showiness of sound of high frequencies, they still were noticeably compressed and had a noticeable loss of dynamics. Although the amplifier's sound is generally "correct", it still is slightly tedious and a bit unnatural. But for such an unusual construction and with such small sizes, generally it is an outstanding achievement. And here is also such a funny design... In short, if an unusual design of this amp and the credibility of the Musical Fidelity "brand" attract you and you buy this triplet, then later you won't regret at all.

Musical Fidelity X-pre/X-A50 Amplifier photo