Musical Fidelity M8xi Review • The most complete amplifier!

Musical Fidelity M8xi
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Musical Fidelity has been around for decades. It always brings to market endless amplifiers, sometimes in Class A and sometimes “bridged” like the Musical Fidelity M8xi. They are the big “enemies” of our speakers, an irresistible attraction.

Mr. Antony Michaelson’s first company was Michaelson & Austin, which manufactured light bulbs (collectibles now). Musical Fidelity (MF) was founded in 1982 and is based in Wembley, London. We say yes, because for the last two years, MF has moved from London to Vienna.

Antony Michaelson handed over the baton of MF to Heinz Lichtenegger, the founder of Pro-Ject. A friendly, rather than commercial agreement between two music lovers. The course of MF in Greece is simpler, from its foundation until today it remains the same representative, Exclusive Audio.

So in the plan there is a whole series of new MF models, such as the integrated M8xi amplifier that was recently released and we test here. This is a powerful intervention in the field of sound, an amplifier designed by Simon Quarry who has been working for MF for 19 years and “has the sound” of the company.

techweekmag Musical Fidelity M8xi Review

An amplifier that draws its history from the early ’90s with the A1000 and will surely occupy many in the future. It is a dual mono design with power 550W at 8Ω (or 1.6KW at 2Ω), weight 46 kg and depth more than half a meter.

A beast, that is, an amplifier in power and mass, which uses in each channel two bridged output stages. Each output stage uses three pairs of high current darlington power transistors (Sanken STD-03) “mounted” on large aluminum coolers, right and left on the sides of the amplifier.

As before, with the result that the M8xi does not stand out for its elegance or modern look. This “weighed and bridged” topology of the amplifier output stage has been tested again by MF in the past, only here it is more sophisticated.

Also read: FiiO Q3 Review • Portable DAC And Headphone Amplifier

It goes without saying that due to bridging we should be careful with the speaker terminals of the amplifier which are floating (floating outputs) and therefore we should not connect them to a speaker with ground, such as some active or subwoofer.

At the “bottom” of the amplifier are screwed two toroidal transformers, each of which “drives” its own power supply with a capacitive “tank” of 12 capacitors (4,700μF each, six per stage) in each channel.

Therefore each side has its own completely independent power supply. These electrolytic capacitors are by Lelon from Taiwan, after all, the amplifier is also assembled in Taiwan.

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The M8xi preamplifier operates for the most part in Class A and has its own stand-alone power supply, using a wide range of precision attenuator (in the form of a 0.5dB chip) from Texas to control the level Instruments, famous for its extremely low noise at low levels.

Nearby is the DAC converter based on the Burr-Brown PCM5242 chip, which is a pure 192KHz / 24bit PCM. The M8xi does not play DSD.

The DAC has a USB-B socket (for connection to a computer) via our well-known XMOS as well as 4 digital inputs. The DAC is the only “extra” that the M8xi has, there is not even a headphone amplifier and phono stage. Besides, Pro-Ject and MF release a lot of such.

At the rear the amplifier is rich providing 4 RCA line inputs (plus two XLR pairs) and pre-out XLR and RCA outputs (fixed and variable). Here we can connect for example an external end amplifier or headphone amplifier. At the rear edges there are two pairs of speaker terminals per channel that accept coarse cable and banana, and are offered for speaker amplification.

The display dominates the center of the façade, is not large in size and shows the basics such as inputs and level. To the right and left of it we have two large rotary sliders made of aluminum, one for the inputs and one for the level. The remote control is relatively small, plastic, but highly functional.

In other words, the M8xi is two monoblock amplifiers, a preamplifier and a DAC converter under the same chassis, capable of pushing the limits of any speaker on the market. Aesthetically, the M8xi does not excel in appearance, but it looks a bit “savage” in the black finish with the white sliders, which was the test sample.

We listened to many tracks with the amplifier, from classical and jazz, to electronic and rock, he did not hesitate anywhere. It has so much raw energy, rum and available currents… that only in independent monoblocks “circulated” until today.

At low levels the noise is almost gone with the result that the experienced ear detects the “small” elements of a recording. When you start increasing the volume… there is no end, the level increases but not the noise and distortions.

I particularly enjoyed him with recordings of percussion, choirs and large groups, but also in more “sensitive” jazz pieces and vocal works, where the amplifier showed the tenderness of a giant.

Its sound is more reminiscent of brutal American monoblock amplifiers than “supposedly” refined English. All the elements we look for in such designs as: details, naturalness, redevelopment of the recording space, mastery and strong description were there.

It can display the weaknesses of your speakers… no matter how expensive. His stereo image occupied the entire listening space. It is as if this amplifier is always “armed” with much more current than the listening program requires.

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So what we hear seems to be “disconnected” from the machines and hovering independently in front of us. Yes, the M8xi is bad with our speakers, whatever they are, it will “lay” them from the beginning as it will shake their speakers to the last micrometer of their journey.

A complete amplifier!

Musical Fidelity M8xi: Specifications

  • TYPE: Integrated amplifier DAC
  • POWER: 2x550Wrms / 8W, 2x870Wrms / 4W
  • Frequency response: 10Hz-100KHz, -1dB
  • SPEECH S / N: -86dB (XLR)
  • INPUTS: 4xGrammis RCA (one is HT), 2xGrammis XLR, 2xOptic, 2xOxaxial
  • OUTPUTS: Two pairs of terminals per channel, 1xOptic, 1xOxaxial, 2xRCA (fixed and variable), 1xXLR
  • EXTRA: Trigger, USB-B (USB DAC)
  • WEIGHT: 46 kg