Musical Fidelity revives classic A1 stereo amplifier

posted on Monday, 7th August 2023 by Steve May

High-end  Hi-fi 

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The Musical Fidelity A1 integrated amplifier, unveiled at the Munich High End 2023 show, is a nostalgic nod to the brand's iconic A1 amp released in 1985, albeit with a thoroughly modern spin.

Proudly displaying an instantly recognizable industrial design, this new model seamlessly blends the vintage charm with contemporary technical excellence.

Staying true to the original A1's legacy, this new generation amplifier preserves the essence of its pure Class A electrical design, sparking memories of an era when music charts featured the likes of Dead or Alive and Lionel Ritchie, while making strategic updates to suit today’s users.

A peek below the hood will reveal a fully symmetrical, discrete pure Class A technology design, delivering 25W of power to an 8Ω load, and handling up to 25A of maximum current output.

While these figures may appear modest compared to some modern amplifiers, we’re told the A1 is more than capable of driving more demanding speakers, thanks to its unique ability to slide into Class B operation, providing temporary extra current draw when needed.

Performance traits are said to be warm, full, and devoid of harshness.

Taking inspiration from the 1980s blueprint, the A1's transformer design has been upgraded with more efficient dual-mono split-rail windings and premium components. These enhancements are said to improve stability and heat management, while independent power supplies for the left and right channels further elevate power handling and stereo imaging.

The low-noise preamplifier circuitry remains faithful to the classic A1, but again benefits from modern touches. The front-panel DIRECT control allows users to bypass the Gain stage, reducing gain by approximately 10dB. This better suits modern high-gain source devices, providing a wider volume dial range for increased flexibility.

The A1 also adopts a new ALPS RK series motorised potentiometer for the volume dial, enhancing accuracy and reliability.

Connectivity includes five RCA stereo inputs, fixed-level and variable outputs, and a high-quality built-in phono stage. This integrated phono input supports both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges, with automatic impedance-matching for MC cartridges. Vinyl fans will doubtless appreciate the low-noise design and convenience of direct turntable connectivity.

The Musical Fidelity A1 sells for £1,499. Distribution is via Henley Audio.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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