Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 800.2 Integrated Amplifier

hfnoutstandingThis latest nuvistor/bipolar hybrid integrated marks a return of Musical Fidelity's traditional 'no-nonsense belter'. Difficult speakers? This amplifier will drive anything!

The conclusion to our review of Musical Fidelity's original Nu-Vista 800 integrated amplifier [HFN Nov '14] announced: '16 years from now, we'll remember it!'. That was the gap between the manufacturer's first Nu-Vista product, the 1998 Nu-Vista Preamplifier, and its then-new integrated descendant. Yet while our reviewer was so enamoured of MF's tube/solid state powerhouse that he imagined it flying the hybrid amp flag for years to come, it turns out the Nu-Vista 800 was not to last quite that long.

The arrival of the £10,999 Nu-Vista 800.2 is not, however, evidence that Musical Fidelity feels its predecessor had ceased to impress. The explanation is more prosaic: the Nu-Vista 800's OEM-sourced front-panel display was discontinued 'at very short notice', forcing the Austrian-based manufacturer to choose between either discontinuing the amplifier itself or redesigning it. Hence why the 800.2 is remarkably like its forebear, both in terms of aesthetic design and specification. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', applies here, with the addition of 'but we will need a new display'.

Display Resolution
Those familiar with the Nu-Vista 800 will notice the different, more modern-looking display here and its option of a VU meter presentation. This is the same display debuted on the company's recent Nu-Vista pre/power solution [HFN Mar '23]. That system, the four-box PRE/PAS, has separate PSUs for both amplifiers, sells for over £40,000 and claims a 300W/8ohm power output. This is a figure matched by the 800.2, should you be tallying up watts-per-pound…


Built as two mono amps, with two transformers and PSUs, into a single chassis, the 800.2 has one pair of 6S51N nuvistors [right] and five complementary pairs of Sanken output transistors per channel [top and bottom]

The 800.2 also has a gently reimagined aluminium fascia, with both ends now disguising the amp's efficient side-mounted heatsinks rather than showing them off. The layout is almost identical, however, with rotaries for source (left) and volume (right), a few control buttons, and an IR window for the alloy remote.

Like the PRE/PAS, the 800.2 has gained a button – 'Lighting Mode' lets you cycle through eight different combinations of illumination for the 800.2's display and the LEDs that light up both its base and its quartet of nuvistor valves. This isn't a new trick, but the functionality was previously under a 'Display' button, which is now dedicated to switching the display off, changing between dark and light themes, or removing the VU meters. Musical Fidelity suggests dimming everything, but I rather enjoyed the light show, particularly the way the valve illumination switches from orange to blue once they've warmed up.

Ramming home the fact this integrated isn't reinventing the wheel is a rear panel which, apart from the absence of the copper plate that once surrounded its inputs, is identical. Two sets of speaker binding posts handle bi-wired systems, while analogue sources can feed four single-end RCA inputs (one with a switch for HT bypass mode), or a balanced XLR. Line and pre-out RCAs complete the set.

Time To Rewind
Naturally, Musical Fidelity hasn't just introduced a new display for the 800.2 – it also features rewound transformers, which the company claims results in 'lower standing flux, so they are less sensitive to DC on the mains'. As for the technology that gives this amplifier its name, the story remains the same: the 800.2 uses nuvistor valves, first developed by RCA in the 1950s, in its fully-balanced input and driver stage, and beefy Sanken transistors in its output stage, in what is effectively a dual-mono amplifier in a single box.

Musical Fidelity (Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH)
Supplied by: Henley Audio Ltd, UK
01235 511166