Sunday, 19 January 2014

Magnet MA400S - BBB... Beautiful But Beastly




 

I am kicking off this year review runs with a product close to Malaysia.... A Magnet MA-400S Limited Edition power amp... a design from neighbouring country Thailand.... courtesy Victor Pheh of HiFi Creations.... A BIG THANK YOU to Victor for his trust in my review.

And of course... out of eagerness to listen to this amp, the unit was delivered within 2 days of confirmation to review. It came with a Magnet power conditioner.....but I will leave that for a separate review.

Truth be told.... I didn't know what to expect of this product. Doing some research and browsing on the company's website (Magnet Website)...It looks that Magnet takes it seriously when it comes to corporate image as well. The company actually has been around for over 20 years now where the founder, designer Khun Pongtorn Malakul Na Ayudhya takes pride of his approach of handcrafted amplifiers.

BUILT

Weighing a monstrous 25 KG, I had the concern of setting it up on my own. But surprisingly enough, the way it was packaged, it was easy for even 1 person to unpack and set it up. One plus point is how the internal components are positioned such to evenly distribute the weight over the whole unit. It is not one of those design which is heavier at one end which can catch you off balance while unpacking it.

Solidly built aluminium chassis with a well thought design of curved edge for the heat sink fins... no concern of cutting yourself during handling. 

The front fascia is a clean design with a power button and a blue LED....soft to the eyes at night.

In the rear panel, the banana plugs on my IXOS 604 biwire speaker cable can snugly fit the speaker gold plated binding post (2 pairs to allow bi-wiring). There is also a gold plated ground post.

The RCA input is also gold plated and my Cambridge Audio RCA interconnect fit nicely into it.

Now... for the XLR balance input, it comes with a unique design protector cap.

The inputs are switchable between XLR and RCA. The switch is an old school type click switch.


The unit comes with a thick and sturdily built power cable with a US receptacle plug.

Its 10/10 in my books when it comes to built quality. 

SPECIFICATIONS

This power amp uses a Full Complementary Symmetrical Push-pull and direct coupling with JFET differential input circuit and output 200 WPC into 8 ohms. Its an AB design amp.

It has both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs which can be chosen with a flick of a switch.

It offers 2 pairs of speaker binding post so that you can bi-wire your speaker if you wish to do so.

There is also a remote loop to allow the unit to be turned on or off when receiver or pre amp is turned on or off. One trigger cable is included with the amp.

There is also a built in fuse to protect the amp from overloading. And yes.... a spare fuse is also provided. 



THE SET UP

1. Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC preamp/streamer/DAC connected directly to the MA400s using Cambridge Audio RCA IC

2. Sony XB930E CDP connected via Cambridge Audio coaxial cable into the M1 CLiC

3. IXOS 604 bi-wire speaker cable into ProAc Response D18

THE MUSIC

1. Eva Cassidy - Wayfaring Stranger and Wade in The Water
2. Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger
3. Because We Believe - Andrea Bocelli
4. Classical Music from French radio station - Classic and Jazz
5. Mariah Carey - Hero
6. Getz and Gilberto - Girl from Ipanema (Hi Res FLAC)

THE SESSION

I kicked it off with Eva's sweet and luscious voice. First thought was.... This is something different. The high frequency sounded elevated as in it was taken up a notch. Not an ear pinching level but its some how a little bit too clear and sounded digital. The guitar plucking in the intro of Wade in The Water was giving me the shivers as it sounded too clear and digital. The vocals were however quite upfront and sounded airy. The Wayfaring Stranger sounded livelier with the melodious guitar and keyboard sound. Quite a first impression it gave me.

Now, I thought of giving the unit a bit of a kick. Went in Maroon 5. Now this was a very good experience as the bass on this track especially in the intro part, was very authoritative and commanding. It does lack a little bit of punch and control but it still made me start tapping my foot....and my head started to nod to the beat. Now, thats what I call a unit that has that one element to move you. And this was played at a moderate mid level volume.




None of my review will be complete without my beloved Andrea Bocelli. This is when the amp really excel. The overall presentation on this track provide me with a very big and spatial sound. It delivered a powerful performance with quite a balance between highs, mids and lows. Andrea's vocal sounded crisp and deep. The music accompanying his vocals sounded uplifting and full of emotion. This is where I think this amp forte is; vocals and classical/opera-ish music. This was further confirmed when I put on a random classical piece from the famous French internet radio station Classic and Jazz. Played it loud and this amp just smiles on delivering such powerful performance through my ProAc D18 speaker. I am not much of  a classical music fan but I must say, one can be influenced into listening to classical music when listening to this amp. I wonder why not many exhibitor puts on classical music during the annual KLIAV show.



Mariah Carey's Hero was presented with a tad more bass than I would like it. Not overwhelming but it made her vocals seems a little bit 'mellowed'. The bass on this track was also a little bit dispersed instead of tight. The overall sound still sounded airy and that is what I usually like. 

Playing Getz/Gilberto hi res piece through this amp reveals quite a detail presentation of this track. Even at lower volume, it still provided me with quite refreshing sound. The different layers of music/vocals  in this piece can easily be delivered and noticeable.

CONCLUSION

BBB....Beautiful but beastly... Beautiful built quality with such a beastly speaker driving performance. Dont worry if you want to drive your speakers hard with this amp. It can deliver enough power for most speaker set up. It also does not run hot even without air conditioning your room.

The amp performs best for classical, vocals and jazzy music. For rock and bass heavy music, one might find that the low end a bit muddled. It might be my speakers but they do not sound muddled when driven by my MF amp. 

I now have a big admiration towards Asian hifi products after good experience with Magnet and also Kingrex products. Would like to be exposed more to designs from this side of the globe as well.

This unit can be purchased and demo-ed at HiFi Creations. Contact Victor on 012-2962799.

It is retailed at RM12,800.











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