Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl 2 Phono Preamp

hfnoutstandingPreviewed at the UK Hi-Fi Show Live '23, Musical Fidelity's much anticipated Nu-Vista front-end components – a DAC and phono preamp – see the latter leading the charge

Visitors to Henley Audio's room at the UK Hi-Fi Show Live at Ascot's Grandstand back in Sept '23 will already have seen three new items from Musical Fidelity, all partnering the Nu-Vista PRE and PAS amplifiers [HFN Mar '23]. The new M8xTT turntable [HFN Dec '23] has already premiered in these pages and this is followed here by the Nu-Vista Vinyl 2 phono stage and Nu-Vista DAC, both priced £9999.

In contrast to the UK-designed amps, the DAC and phono preamp both hail from Heinz Lichtenegger's long-standing technical partnership with Slovakian company, Canor. Neither product is exactly a shrinking violet and both contrast with the diminutive 'Box' series of partnering brand, Pro-Ject. At 22kg the Nu-Vista Vinyl 2 is big. Very big. It wouldn't fit into my rack shelves, and dwarfed my Yamaha M-5000 power amplifier [HFN Aug '20]!

At Your Discretion
That said, the Nu-Vista Vinyl 2 isn't simply big for the sake of it, for there is a deal of technology hosted inside that increasingly familiar-looking aluminium enclosure. The circuitry is balanced throughout, promising superior sound quality and enhanced noise rejection, but there are inevitably more components required with extra demands on real estate. Moreover, in common with other MF products, ICs give way to discrete components wherever possible, the company stating that IC op-amps 'do not tend to sound so neutral, dynamic or vivid'.


PSU transformer [top left] feeds HT supplies [main PCB] for the two pairs of nuvistor 'tubes' [right] per channel in addition to the discrete, three-stage transistor circuit surrounding the passive eq section [far right]

The preamp's internals comprise three distinct amplifier stages that contribute to the eight MM/MC gain options on offer. RIAA equalisation is achieved by passive circuitry laid out in two separate blocks, and the Nu-Vista Vinyl 2 also offers Decca and Columbia EQ curves. Musical Fidelity's traditional 7586 nuvistor valves act as a final, fully balanced buffer stage. Four devices are used per channel, with each side laid out on a separate PCB.

Power is provided by a low-noise PSU circuit fed by an encapsulated toroidal transformer. The IEC input socket is industrial grade and incorporates a DC blocker and EMC filter. Each channel has its own power supply regulation while the separate, higher voltage supply for the nuvistors is further filtered and regulated. However, there is (or will be) the option of powering the unit from a partnering Nu-Vista Uni PSU – said to be coming later in 2024. This will bypass all the AC supplies in the Vinyl 2, adding further filtering and regulation for the promise of even better performance.

The outboard PSU sockets are clearly marked on the Nu-Vista Vinyl 2's rear panel. Here you'll also find four inputs – two on balanced XLRs and two on unbalanced RCAs – plus balanced and unbalanced outs that are unswitched, so can be used simultaneously. Operation of the unit is simple and intuitive, aided by a front-panel display bigger than your average smartphone. The left-hand rotary selects the input, while the right steps through options in the menu, in conjunction with 'Enter' and 'Back' buttons below it.

Born To Be Mild
Each input can be set to MM or MC and this, along with the gain, loading, response curve and subsonic filter settings, is stored and remembered. For MM, gains of +40dB, +43dB, +46dB and +49dB are available, along with load capacitances of 50-400pF, in 50pF steps. The input impedance is fixed at 47kohm. For MC, the gain options are +60dB, +63dB, +66dB and +69dB, with loading offered over 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 400, 800ohm, 1kohm and 47kohm. Unusually, the subsonic filter has two settings – 'Mild' and 'Standard'. The former setting corresponds to the IEC standard of a 6dB/octave roll-off at 20Hz, while Standard sharpens this to 18dB/octave.

By way of housekeeping, the menu also allows you to switch between 'light' (white background) or 'dark' (black background) options for the display, and set a brightness level. In the lowest setting, the display will switch off and only come on for three seconds when a parameter is altered. All of the functions of the unit can be controlled by the supplied IR remote handset.

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