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Musical Fidelity's new X-Series - my thoughts

gsrai

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I’ve had the new X-series comprising of X-T100 Integrated Amplifier, X Ray V8 CD Player and XXX power supply unit for about 3 weeks now so I thought it was time to share my thoughts on this system.

All the usual caveats apply the thoughts here are my own and not those of the forum, I am not employed by MF etc., etc., etc. and most importantly – this is my subjective view and any comparisons to other products are made from my own experiences i.e. I've owned them.

Right, on to my thoughts…

Build and Appearance[/b]

I think this is an easy one to answer, as has been the case with the X-Series (and most of the MF range) the build quality, fit and finish is exemplary (even though this is not built in the UK like the original X-Series) – everything is where it should be and the quality of the materials is fantastic to look at and touch
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As for the looks, I don’t think there is a better looking set up (half width or full) that is currently on sale
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(or probably has ever been on sale). Aesthetics is a very important factor for me when buying anything and it’s no secret that I adore the original X-series lozenges (own most of them at the moment), I was less enamoured with the V3 rectangle boxes and felt cheated that the lozenges had gone (even though the V3 gear did sound quite good).

The new X-series is rectangular in shape but the 2 tone finish with everything arranged symmetrically (never understood why the X150 volume dial had to be off centre
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) looks just………………………right! Combined with some discretely placed blue LED’s and you have a great modern look. Cyrus watch out
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Unfortunately, not all is perfect IMHO though as the XXX power supply is c. two-thirds the width of the amp and CD player, apart from saving money – why have you done this MF, it just looks odd
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Setup[/b]

For those of you into aftermarket powercords you’ll be a tad disappointed as the amp and CD player all connect to the XXX PSU via Din sockets so the only real powercord is the one from the PSU to the wall (I suppose you could play with Din Cables for power if you really want to
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)

Cleverly, all of the din sockets on the PSU have a different configuration so you don’t get them confused and the XXX has one spare for the forthcoming XPLORA tuner (although god only knows how the new DAC will connect up – maybe it will have a powercord as well
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).

A side effect of this power supply arrangement is that if you want the new CD player on its own you have to buy a separate XXX as the CD player does not come with one as standard for the price (you have to buy one for c.£300) but the integrated is supplied with one in the price.

The second thing you notice is that when you pick up the X-T100/Xray V8 you nearly launch them through the ceiling
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– they are that light. This is obviously down to the PSU being external so all you have in the half width boxes is the circuits and not heavy transformers.

Once all hooked up and first powered on the amp is in a stand buy mode which is probably to allow the valves to warm up. When all is well the red LED goes blue and off you go!

Having turned the kit on and off a few times I don’t think it makes a difference to the presentation of the sound with this setup if you keep it powered on or not – a plus point for the tree lovers (although it might be that I’m deaf!).

Sound[/b]

Ahhhhhhhhhh, the important bit!

I’ll talk about the 3 units as one piece for this bit as I haven’t hived off any one component to see how it sounds on its own – sorry[/i].

From the off the soundstage is immense and the warmth of the sound is very reminiscent of the Nu-Vista Preamp. Actually, I feel it is very like the Pathos Classic One in terms of relaying emotion and feeling in the music (especially strings and vocals).

My criticism of the Pathos was that emotionally you were attached but it always felt underpowered, a tad polite if you will (even at full volume). There is no such issue here, the X-T100 is only rated at 70W/Ch but it feels far more controlled and powerful than the X150 ever did which was rated at 105W/Ch (and I thought that was good) – bass comes across as very tight and crisp with highs not being harsh at all – at any volume level.

Emotion is conveyed in the most wonderful manner and vocals feel solid and ………….real.

As for detail I would say the X-ray V8 is a significant improvement on my X-ray (which is nearly 6 years old now so no real surprise) with the old cliché of “I heard things I never had heard before[/b]†coming into play. Is it better than the V3, I’d say yes as I felt the V3 was a technically good CD player but I couldn’t really listen to the V3 rig without the tube buffer as everything was too clinical or lacking in emotion. How much of this improvement is down to the amplifier is difficult to gauge but in its own right the V8 is good, the placing of instruments is precise and 3-dimensional (depth is the best I’ve heard) which makes them very easy to pick out.

Conclusion[/b]

For me the X-T100/X-Ray V8/XXX represent fantastic value for money in an exceptionally good looking design. I would describe the sound as a cross between everything I loved about the Pathos Classic One MK II Hybrid Integrated (a wonderful smooth sound at all volume levels with vocals that dripped emotion) and the power and detail of the V3 X Series. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that this Hybrid valve setup does provide a good dose of valves with some serious power. You could argue it is my perfect system (never said that before have I
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............…but this time I’m more serious than before - I think).

Anyone looking to spend c.£2-£3k on a CD player and amp should give it a whirl as I rate it higher than the A5 setup which costs twice as much.

I’ll write more as the weeks unfold (assuming there is still some interest) but for now I’m going to listen to some music
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:ale:
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:ale:
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(can’t wait for the little Proac Reference Signature 8’s to land as I’ve heard this is meant to be a great combo).

Well done MF - I'm happy
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Some piccies for you:

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k4/gsrai/XSeries2.jpg

http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k4/gsrai/XSeries1.jpg

 

gsrai

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harv wrote:

Nice write up:)... can't agree with you about the looks though. Much prefer the original X series.
Cheers Harv - I know what you mean about looks which is why I'm keeping the X-A200R and X-Ray (all boxed up now!)

 

Jezzer

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harv wrote:

Nice write up:)... can't agree with you about the looks though. Much prefer the original X series.
I agree. Must say the new x series doesn't look half as good or as well built as the original...

 
E

earl of sodbury

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Really excellent writeup Gobind, clear conicse and to the point!
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My exposure to this system has been brief, but competely accords with your impressions - for my tastes it's a genuine improvement on what went before it.

Nice one
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griffo104

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Jezzer wrote:

harv wrote:
Nice write up:)... can't agree with you about the looks though. Much prefer the original X series.
I agree. Must say the new x series doesn't look half as good or as well built as the original...
Got to say I agree with regards to the looks as well. I really don't like the new kit and seeing it next to old just shows how attractive the older X series stuff is, imo.

Nice write up though
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gsrai

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Papa Lazarou wrote:

Nice review Gobind, but "best-looking kit on sale" ..... not even close imo.
Cheers fella's.

I know what you're saying Papa but as they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and for me I love the old and new looks (just the V3 I wasn't sure of) - I knew that comment would cause some controversy but I've never been a fan of full width boxes.

 

ErikFH

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Papa Lazarou wrote:

Nice review Gobind, but "best-looking kit on sale" ..... not even close imo.
Secondend,looks are ott withall thescrews and different colour shades.Previous rectangular X-series have the mostneutral and therefore best looks.

 

Craig

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Well done Gobind., Nice review

As for the aesthetics I think it looks alright but I'm still a lozenge man, depsite never having owned any of em.

More intersted to find out how they sound.......and I'll be trying out soon hopefully.

 

harv

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Craig wrote:

Well done Gobind., Nice review As for the aesthetics I think it looks alright but I'm still a lozenge man, depsite never having owned any of em.

More intersted to find out how they sound.......and I'll be trying out soon hopefully.
Yeah I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if I'd bought the X-A1 instead of the Tag 60i... if I would have ended up with the same kit I have now:Not Sure:... it was the one that I really wanted to love
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before the demo but prefered the tag over anything else...

 

gsrai

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I'm liking this system more and more as time goes on but I keep thinking how inflexible it is for the none MF'er i.e. you gotta' buy the PSU whatever you do so there's a £300 startup cost
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Having said that the lack of wires round the back is a welcome change and I'm coming to the conclusion that the sound is definetly up their with the A5 stuff without the power.

 

SSM

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gsrai wrote:

I'm liking this system more and more as time goes on but I keep thinking how inflexible it is for the none MF'er i.e. you gotta' buy the PSU whatever you do so there's a £300 startup cost
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It also means that the XT-1000 on its own sans XXX is just a £600 unit.
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I have a query about the MF UK market, guys. Does a buyer of the basic XT-1000/XXX combo enjoy the option of trading in the XXX PSU for the larger X170-PSU at a later date? Or is the XT-1000/X170-PSU combo an available option in itself?

I reckon the XT-1000/XXX-owner is getting shafted if he has to fork out more dough for a larger power supply later.
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OTOH, in domestic settings, do you really need to up the power of the XT-1000 from 50w to 85w? (Say you got a 3 x 3 room and 87dB-ish 8 ohm speakers?)

SS

 
S

sq225917

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don't you think they've gone a little Naim with the power and connection options,trying to keep you on-brand with an additional components.

very nice sounding bits of kit though listened to them last week, and i'd agreewith you on the A5 comparisson. but then the A5CD was the most overpriced box or air ever,just a cd mech and ciggy box sized dac and output board in a huge slab of alloy.

 

gsrai

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SSM wrote:

gsrai wrote:
I'm liking this system more and more as time goes on but I keep thinking how inflexible it is for the none MF'er i.e. you gotta' buy the PSU whatever you do so there's a £300 startup cost
71_71.gif.90e48c720ca56a2d2fa0532dd3380cc7.gif
It also means that the XT-1000 on its own sans XXX is just a £600 unit.
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I have a query about the MF UK market, guys. Does a buyer of the basic XT-1000/XXX combo enjoy the option of trading in the XXX PSU for the larger X170-PSU at a later date? Or is the XT-1000/X170-PSU combo an available option in itself?

I reckon the XT-1000/XXX-owner is getting shafted if he has to fork out more dough for a larger power supply later.
wub.png
OTOH, in domestic settings, do you really need to up the power of the XT-1000 from 50w to 85w? (Say you got a 3 x 3 room and 87dB-ish 8 ohm speakers?)

SS
SSM dude
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The XXX-170 is out round about now and as I understand it there is no part exchange option for standard XXX owners which as you say means the owner potentially gets shafted. I reckon MF will have to do something but only time will tell.

I know what you mean that the X-T100could be conceived as a£600 amp but the angle I took was that the X-T100 is a £900 hybrid valve amp (which is a good price really) with a power supply that can do more than one function.

I feel sorry for potential X-Ray V8 owners as they cant use it without the XXX £100 for that CD player
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) so I reckon there is a steady market for 2nd hand XXX power supplies.

In my 25ft * 14ft lounge the X-T100 powers my proac 1SC's fine - I may just get the XXX-170 anyway but I dont feel I need it.

sq225917I think you're absolutely right - Naim loyalty route is a good comparison but I suppose you need to lock your customers in where possible

 

SSM

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Thanks GoBling;)

XT-1000 still in consideration for my summer upgrades then. Will let this one simmer first while MF works out its policy on the XXX/X-170 thingie.

Oh I got myself stuck deeper in the quicksand browsing the mighty v8 panthenon.

The X-DAC v8!
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Three RCA and one USB inputs. Choice of SS or tubed X-10D outputs. I wonder if this would make a more dramatic difference to my setup than an amp change. The signals from CDP, DVD and PC all routed into this beauty, and then routed into AVI ADM9 speakers. Could be the mother of all simple ssystems.
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