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This is were I landed after fearless and numerous attempts. I stick to the original X250  that was introduced before XA series was introduced. It is heavily biased in Class A and can reach 40-45watt peak into Class A (on the contrary .5 reaches maximum 15watt peak into Class A and .8 20-25watt peak into class A). Furthermore it has old dear american Mosfet that sounds warmer than currently used Toshiba FET. Now, it's MFA turn. At the beginning I was skeptical and thought it was a pricey little British box... But you need to familiarize with its sound signature and with its strenghts/limits, I did not want to put any electrical noise, tube, capacitor, etc. between my Puccini and the Pass X250 and it was the most natural choice. I prefer my chain with the MFA in rather than connecting the DCS directly to the Pass. MFA is capable of the blackest background I have ever heard from which music pours in an addictive way. Tonality is amazing, roundness too and dynamic do not suffer. Once you have tried it and provided your source is on the level, it is hard to depart from MFA and find a substitution. Dcs Puccini + Uclock is  the best digital source I have ever heard... And since I decided to quit with Vinyl as I grown up with CDs, I decided to invest every penny on my digital source component. I believe that source and speakers come first in order to give an authentic sound signature to your system  then it's pre and amp turn. Diablos are the most strikingly looking and reveiling speakers I heard in a relatively compact size that do magic with voices, have the right amount of bass to my ears without all the negative effects on bass from larger designs in medium/small rooms and without any added coloration from the cabinet. Simply the best! Bryston Bha and Audeze Lcd 2 are my escape when I want to listen to music during evenings or late in the nights when the rest of the Family is watching tv or in bed. They both look fabulous and have a great feeling and sound signature.  I would lie if I say that they sound as good as my main system but when I can't turn it on they are as said the greatest escape.
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Components Toggle details

    • Pass Labs X250
    I stick to the original X250  that was introduced before XA series was introduced. It is heavily biased in Class A and can reach 40-45watt peak into Class A (on the contrary .5 reaches maximum 15watt peak into Class A and .8 20-25watt peak into class A). Furthermore it has old dear Harris Mosfet that sounds warmer than currently used Toshiba FET.
    • Music First Audio Classic Copper MKII
    At the beginning I was skeptical and thought it was a pricey little British box... But you need to familiarize with its sound signature and with its strenghts/limits, I did not want to put any electrical noise, tube, capacitor, etc. between my Puccini and the Pass Labs and it was the most natural choice. I prefer my chain with the MFA in rather than connecting the DCS directly to the Pass. MFA is capable of the blackest background I heard from which music pours in an addictive way. Tonality is amazing, roundness too and dynamic do not suffer. Once you have tried it and provided source is on the level it, it is hard to depart from MFA and find a substitution
    • Dcs Puccini uClock
    Simply the best digital source I heard... And since I decided to quit with Vinyl as I grown up with CDs, I decided to invest every penny on my digital source component. I believe that source and speakers comes first to give a sound signature to your system  then it's pre and amp turn.
    • Focal Diablo Utopia III
    The most reveiling speakers I heard in a relatively compact size that do magic with the voices, have the right amount of bass to my ears without all the negative effects on bass from larger designs in medium/small rooms and without any added coloration from the cabinet. Simply the best!
    • Bryston BHA
    This is my preferred choice for the Audeze provided you use it balanced. Single ended it is not that special. A solid and consistent performer.
    • Audeze LCD 2.2 (no fazor) Rosewood
    This is my escape when I want to listen to music during evenings or in the nights when rest of the Family is in bed. They look fabulous and have a great feeling and sound signature though it is a bit closed.  I would lie if I say that they sound as good as my system but when I can't turn it on they are as said the greatest escape.
    • Wireworld, BCD, PS Audio and Furutech Cables

Comments 8

Center
Owner
Milpai, I tried 6V output from DCS. "Problem" is that both DCS and MFA sound sligthly better (in my onion) when selecting 6V output from DCS and +6db from MFA which trigger too much gain... well you basically have to put 46-40 (maximum) in my small-medium size room but in a bigger room it would be just nice especially considering it's coming from a passive preamp!
Regarding bass, well, I chose the Diablos because they have a great bass response, further enancced and augmented by the river of current coming from the Pass without any coloration from the cabinet or side effects of tower speaker designs' basses bouncing around the floor or lower side walls. To my hear this is the bass I need I would not want more. It's a bass that you sense with your ears and not with your stomach/body but this is understood considering the size of Diablos woofer but the propagation is just amazing.

artari

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Artari,
Thank You for letting me know about the volume position. Yes, I experienced the "gain" when I connected my TVC to the amp via XLR cables. Have you tried the 6V output from DCS anytime? That would probably give you more than enough gain? BTW, how is the bass with your speakers?

milpai

Center
Owner
Interesting Milpai and thanks you are right I forgot to reply on the specific point of your question regarding TVC volume setting.  So, as you may know DCS Puccini can be selected to output 2V or 6V (generally used when driving directly an amp). I opted for 2V because I listen also to Headphone and I do not want to change output level everytime. With this setting (2V output) and having put + 6db selection on the MFA (because it sounds better dynamically) my typical listening levels are between 26 and 20 (from 11 am oclock to 2 pm more or less). Please not I use XLR cables from DCS to MFA and from FMA to Pass. XLR cables typically give you more volume than RCA. I see an analogy to your system from a volume setting standpoint. thanks

artari

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Artari, thank you for the detailed comments on how you arrived at the MFA. I myself love the TVCs. I have compared mine to a active line stage at more than 3.5 times the price and I was not convinced that the active line stage offered me anything better. In fact some folks mentioned to me that I would have to spend $10k+ to surpass what my TVC currently achieves in my system. I do understand that the amp and loudspeakers have to be highly sensitive to make the TVC work fine in your system. I also believe that the source output voltage is important. Since we use digital source, this does not matter, I believe. I am sure that your Pass amps are awesome. Sometimes your don't have to chase "newer" stuff to achieve the best match in your system. My speakers are 10 year old and I still love them. I want to replace them because I want a bit ore bass. But I am a bit worried to loose their character if I were to get a new loudspeaker. I am also not too mad about cables. But last year I settled upon Clear Day cables which has improved the dynamics of my system drastically.
I am curious to know, when you listen to your music at "normal" volume, at what setting on the MFA is your volume on? Like 20, 18, 16. 14, etc. I have 24 positions on my TVC, and I listen to it on 14-15.

milpai

Center
Owner
Thanks for your kind words Milpai! It took a while to get to TVC. DCS Puccini and Tim De Paravicini showed me the way. Before I used a Modwright SWL 9 SE Signature preamp (the one with GZ34 in the power supply beside the 2 5687 tubes for signal). I had tried the Modwright with a Mcintosh 275 MKV (retubed) and then paired it with Pass X250. Source and Speakers were the same. Do not get me wrong the Modwright sounded well but was bringing to much noise and coloration. I changed the tubes many times, put top NOS Tungsol, noise remained, coloration too. Noise was taking away the true essence from my DCS Puccini and dynamics sounded artificial. This is what active preamp do in my opinion and this is something people like. Dynamics were good do not get me wrong, but not true. I want to remain true to music. And I gladly traded off some articially pumped dynamics for total absence of noise, the blackest background.
I studied a lot how to improve and MFA came to on my horizon after I read an Interview from my guru Tim de Paravicini which was key. According to Tim the major responsible for the music outcome from a given system are the transformers. Building transformers is an art. Very few Manufacturers build them... not to mention by hand (e.g. Kondo) . Think about ultra expensive Dan D'agostino, Boulder, Gryphon, etc... they all have OEM transformers... I do not know where our money go.... I took the radical decision and put the MFA between Puccini and Pass and it was the best match I could achieve. MFA is a magic tool, apparently made of nothing but in essence it can really help you to judge your single components for what they are. It add perfect impedance matching between one component and another (this is key for sound). It cancel mass loops and put a deep lens into the records and bring an overall roundness that one can only achieve with tubes with all the downsides of tubes... It is also true that DCS Puccini is fantastic digital source and Diablos are very reveiling I do not know how MFA would fit in another system, but for me it is just the most natural choice for my rig. Pass X250 instead was chosen for its sound signature (warmer than the more recent ones, more like the Aleph series) but with all the power that despite the appearance Diablos demand. Diablos are relatively sensitive 89 db and have 8ohm but demand a lot of power to move their woofers. Finally Kent English from Pass told me that X250 is a fantastic performer for 8ohm load while x.5 ax.8 series match better for lower loads. You need to know that before making a right choice depending on your system characteristics. This has helped me to save a lot of money on the amp since you can find x250 for reasonable amount of money and it is a stellar amp though people prefers the newer ones on the marketplace.... Glad you like my audio stand, unfortunately it was made by an artisan here in Italy and does not have a brand so I can not help you with a name. Finally, I put under every piece of rig high density graphite blocks, this is really beneficial. I am not mad about cables, I have decent cables. What about you?

artari

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Artari,
Glad to see another TVC user. What a beautiful system you have here. Before owning the MFA, what preamp did you have? How did the MFA improve it? Also when listening to music at normal level, where is the volume setting on the MFA? I love my TVC. I don't understand why people feel that passives are anemic. To me it seems, they have not matched their system properly. It looks like you have taken proper care to do component matching.I also like your audio stand. What brand is that?
Congratulations on the awesome system! Enjoy your music.

milpai

Center
Owner
Thank you very much, I appreciate your feedback. It was a long journey... but yesterday I was listening to Bob Dylan "Another side of BD" on MOFI SACD and I was literally too enthusiast of how it was sounding to believe it.

artari

128x128
Your carful selection of equipment shows great restraint. I dream of a system like that.

mjcmt

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