Musical Fidelity M2scd/M2si CD Player/Amplifier

hfncommendedThe iconic visuals belie Musical Fidelity's recent change in ownership – so will this familiar M2 series CD/amp combination still tempt the budget-conscious enthusiast?

In these evolving days of digital music, cloud storage and online streaming, it might seem counter-intuitive for Musical Fidelity to release a line-only amplifier and 'plain vanilla' CD player. The £799 M2si integrated has no inbuilt DAC, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi and not even a phono stage, or indeed the option of one. And, peer round the rear of the matching £799 M2scd compact disc player, and the only connections you will find are outputs. Once again, it has no digital inputs, no antennae sticking out and no wireless wizardry up its sleeve. What's going on?

But perhaps this is not as strange as it first seems. These are affordable components after all, and so loading them with bells and whistles would draw attention, and more importantly, budget away from the important bits. Instead, the amplifier can simply be used with one of the numerous DACs already on the market, or one of the phono stages standing ready to satisfy the vinyl fans. Musical Fidelity itself currently has no fewer than three DACs and five phono stages on its books.

Silver Sounds
Equally, for the CD player, sales of compact discs may be waning but there are still many being sold. Furthermore, there are millions languishing in secondhand music shops, on market stalls and on well-known online auction sites. The classic silver disc is still a highly viable music source and a dedicated player should, in theory, get the best out of the format. Yes, the company could have added a basic DAC and streaming capability but it is far better to stick to a dedicated device for these sorts of things, I have found.


The result of this thinking are the two modestly priced units we have here, components that promise simply to 'do what they say on the tin'. Available in silver or black finishes, both amplifier and CD player are smartly styled and offer just the right number of facilities needed to satisfy the market they are aimed at. In the case of the M2si amplifier, this means five line level inputs – one of which can be switched to function as a unity-gain home theatre bypass – a tape loop, preamp output and a single pair of loudspeaker sockets. The amplifier also comes with a decently specified remote handset that not only controls both units but adds extra facilities, such as a muting function.

As for the M2scd CD player, access to its slot-loading CD mechanism is found on the fascia, which also sports a small display above a row of basic transport control buttons. The remote handset supplied with the amp adds track skip, search, repeat and programming functions, plus the ability to dim the display. The only thing I found counter-intuitive were the icons used for 'Track Skip' and 'Track Search'. Usually double arrows denote the button for searching within tracks while double arrows with a line at the end symbolise track skip. Here the icons were reversed.

Ready To Go...
The M2scd has standard unbalanced analogue outputs on RCAs, plus both coaxial and optical digital outputs. Neither unit offers a headphone socket, but the amplifier's instruction manual states that the tape output is the 'ideal output to connect our headphone amps into'.


Both components are user-friendly. The amplifier powers up without drama – a soft click after five or so seconds disables the muting relay and it's ready to go. The CD player's slot-loading mechanism is a very smooth operator and takes and returns the disc in a delightfully 'polite' manner.

I remember one similarly equipped player I reviewed a few years back behaving like Arkwright's Open All Hours till, virtually snatching the disc then spitting it back out at me with apparent venom!

In fact, the only quirk I found with the operation was on first start-up. The player initially informs you that there is 'No Disc' but then activates its loading mechanism to try and pull in this non-existent CD. It then switches to show 'Eject', with more whirring, before finally settling down in silence to declare 'No Disc' once more. Still, once you do load a CD, access times are good, the unit reading it and being ready to go in ten seconds.

sqnote Pounding The Beat
From the first few minutes of listening it became clear that the company's change in ownership appears not to have affected the house Musical Fidelity sound one jot. Yes, the fine details vary from unit to unit, but every MF component I have ever reviewed has had the same sense of joie de vivre. The M2 pairing is no different, sounding punchy, bouncy and beautifully dynamic. It's almost as if the M2si and M2scd enjoy making music and are setting out to make sure they please you!

Musical Fidelity (Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH)
Supplied by: Henley Audio, Oxfordshire, UK
01235 511 166