Musical Fidelity M2scd/M2si CD Player/Amplifier Page 2

Give the pairing a track with some rhythm and they absolutely lap it up, pounding out a beat with glee and filling the room with verve and vitality. Bass lines are taut and deep, with a good level of detail captured to ensure that nothing escapes the listener's attention. True, I have heard the fingers picking up and down the fretboard of the bass on Simply Red's 'Sad Old Red' from their Picture Book album [Elektra 960 452-2] sound a little more vivid and finely etched. Yet I have also heard them sound a great deal more vague than when played through this duo.

Switching to something more challenging in the bass department only served to show this combination's true low-end strengths. The repetitive hip-hop beat underlying Primitive Radio Gods' 'Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth...' from their Rocket CD [Columbia 483695 2] is accompanied by a loping synthesiser-powered bass line. Here the M2si and M2scd stepped right into their comfort zone, strutting their stuff with aplomb.

Not only was the presentation here tightly-paced and as consistent as a metronome, but all the backing effects that begin to populate the track as it winds to its conclusion were spread expertly wide either side of the soundstage. In short, anything remotely dance-oriented had the pair instantly hitting their stride.


Utterly Sublime
Yet don't be fooled for a minute into thinking that this duo is all bang, thump and little else. Feed these components recordings that are more subtle and they rein in their enthusiastic nature perfectly, doing the music full justice. Cara Dillon sounded utterly sublime when performing 'There Were Roses' from her album Sweet Liberty [Rough Trade RTRADEPR123] and the M2si and M2scd positioned her perfectly just left of centre stage. Even more encouragingly, it was easy to hear the studio effects applied to her vocal during the main refrain of the chorus where her voice is split in two so that she provides her own backing vocal. It was also a delight to hear the supporting piano rendered so beautifully. The piano is a tricky instrument to reproduce well, but these two components did a superb job when faced with the task.

Aiding this fine sense of realism was a top end that was sparklingly detailed and deliciously crisp. The pairing definitely have a slightly forward balance, with the result that the Usher S520s loudspeakers used for the listening along with a pair of PMC Twenty5.24s sounded more up-front than I am used to. However, this was rewarding in its own way, for it meant that instruments were well defined in the soundstage.

919mfidel.remWhat's more, while it's true that the M2si and M2scd did not position images particularly far back into the distance, this did mean that everything in the main focus of the action was well defined. At all times, it was easy to concentrate on the main content of the music yet equally easy to pick up on an instrument further back in the mix.

The only occasional downside to this bright top end was that the M2si and M2scd were not especially kind to sharper recordings. The sibilants that are part of Jeff Buckley's vocal performance on 'So Real' from his Grace album [Columbia 475928 2] were occasionally just too sharp and grated ever so slightly, while the explosive cymbal strike in the middle of the track did make me wince somewhat. In order to investigate this, I replaced each of the MF units with my regular CD player and amplifier, one at a time, and it would seem that while both MF components are similarly voiced, it is the M2scd that is mainly responsible for this effect.

Match Fixing
One upside here is that the CD player may well be a boon for those with smoother-sounding systems. With the two pairs of loudspeakers used for the listening, the effect was more pronounced with the Usher S520s, owing, I suspect, to the rather more sophisticated tweeters employed by the PMC Twenty5.24s. As always, a little care when it comes to matching loudspeakers is the key.

With this caveat in mind, there is little to complain about here. The M2scd and M2si pairing romped through classical, belted out rock and rendered all the intricacies and emotion of jazz with just the right levels of atmosphere to make you want to return again and again.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The Musical Fidelity M2si amplifier and M2scd CD player are a fine pairing and turn in an excellent performance, especially given their relatively low pricing. These inanimate objects give the impression they enjoy making music and will happily make the most of anything you care to feed them. Their bright nature means careful loudspeaker pairing is wise but, get this right, and they are unlikely not to satisfy.

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