D'Agostino MxV Integrated Integrated Amplifier Page 2

Denny's interpretation of 'Stranger In Paradise' is suitably tropical, D'Agostino's amp rendering it both airy and crisp at the same time. As was a signature of late 1950s open-reel tape, there's a sheen which the Momentum MxV Integrated preserved, and delivered here with a caress I normally assume to be the sole province of valves. This sounded as lush, full and rich as it has to be to convey the sense of a tropical breeze, while the clicks of the woodblocks and the caws of the birdcalls (yes, you read that correctly) were chilling in their authenticity.

Best of all, perhaps, was the sense of liveliness, which carried over to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra's Pops Christmas Party [RCA Living Stereo FTC-2022 open-reel tape]. I realise that classical snobs detest the plebeian usage of full orchestras, but that's their loss. Neither I nor Fiedler, for that matter, celebrate Christmas, but the irresistible 'sparkle' to the album even garnered praise from my wife, who wasn't in the same room.


The MxV outboard PSU offers four supplies in one, including +5V and +12V for the logic functions, ±18V for the preamplifier section and ±70V, supported by a very large toroid, for the balanced power amplifier

No Limits
Had either recording revealed anything amiss? Nothing whatsoever – especially when it came to impact. There seems a sense of unlimited power to the MxV Integrated, such that I wasn't even for a moment contemplating taking a feed from its XLR pre-outs to drive the S250 Momentum for comparison purposes. I was moving past the audiophilic conditioning that states 'Separates Always Win', as recent sessions with the Trafomatic Rhapsody [HFN Dec '23] also demonstrated. What was emerging was a display of consistency and coherence as valuable as any other area of sonic excellence.

Turning to digital, the mainly unplugged remakes of his back catalogue on Bob Dylan's Shadow Kingdom [Columbia/Legacy 19658767492 CD] are tricky ones to employ, because decades (literally) of familiarity with songs such as 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' and 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' are thrown out with the bathwater. The performances bear no resemblance to the well-known originals, so it's harder to focus just on the sound.

That said, I had played the disc enough times to feel confident about using it, and there was a reward in the way the MxV Integrated handled vocals. Those who have followed Dylan over the past 60 years have heard the changes in his voice – the same applies to all singers, from Cher to Springsteen to McCartney – and this soundtrack CD most assuredly is Dylan circa-the-2020s. Dan D'Agostino's designs have always viewed music through a micro lens, and the tiniest traces of rasp and richness underscored the more common nasality.


Fully loaded with its USB-B/optical/coaxial and Ethernet/Wi-Fi streaming module [far left] and MM/MC phono card [right], the MxV Integrated also has three balanced line ins, one pre out and a set of 4mm speaker cable terminals. Control is offered via app and BT remote [see p47]

'Snake Bite
This ultra-authentic midband paid off in spades when it came to creating a sense of intimacy, the Dylan sessions as cosy as the Boston Pops tape was grandiose. For those who value this element of sound reproduction, that of eliminating the distance between performer and audience, this latest Momentum – especially via the game-changing gains provided by the MxV upgrades – has the same seductive qualities as high-end planar-type headphones. (Which, by the way, are well-served by this amplifier's headphone socket.)

Dylan in turn steered me in another direction, moving from the take-no-prisoners Wilson Sasha DAWs [HFN Mar '19] to the Quad ESL 57s. A slip of the volume control would fry them, so I proceeded with caution, but the coherence of the Quad Electrostatics – believed by some never to have been surpassed let alone equalled – exposed even more texture in his voice. Abetting this acoustic experience were harmonica, accordion, upright bass and other 'natural' instruments, and the Momentum MxV Integrated imposed upon them absolutely nothing in the way of artifice.

All well and good, you might think, this list of silky lounge music and Dylan al fresco. Time to test the phono stage with Whitesnake's Still Good To Be Bad [Rhino RCV1 695446/603497836925]. 'Lay Down Your Love' was enough to expose the Momentum MxV Integrated's raunchy alter ego, and – luckily – I had moved back to the Wilson speakers beforehand. This track's a cappella opening is dangerous if you use it to set your playback levels because it's followed by a barrage of massed guitars. Then the bombshell.


Styled after D'Agostino's 'watchface' volume control, the BT remote covers off all the MxV's functions

Coming Together
How could I not know that this amplifier's lower registers would have reach and mass tailor-made for head-banging? Whitesnake shows greater finesse, or rather employs a lighter touch than, say, Motörhead, so it wasn't all screaming and buried meter needles. What iced this (bottom octaves) cake was the layering which gave the drums and bass their own sonic strata.

If that sounds like the flat images of Viewmaster 3D or the antithesis of soundstage or imaging cohesion, forgive my failure to communicate precisely how these layers of sound complement each other. You just know by the way it all comes together that the art of creating a flawless wall of sound isn't solely a skill belonging to Phil Spector. This amplifier rocks.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Perplexed as I am about any integrated amp at nearly £100k – and this is not the only one – it's easy to be seduced by the MxV Integrated's sheer convenience. It didn't grumble when driving Wilson Sasha DAWs, drew bass from LS3/5As I'd never heard before, and gave me newfound respect for my open-reel tape deck. So look at it in a different way if you still think separates are superior. They're not.

D'Agostino LLC
Connecticut, USA
Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
0208 971 3909