falcoron

Musicarch 300b SE amplifier review

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Having just went through a tough few months and having to sell most of my system to clear some debts, it was heartbreaking to do so as it took me years getting to the last system i had, ART Carissa power amp and Graaf 13.5 Pre amp. YBA WD202 Dac. This was a really superb system and i was really happy with it and was a keeper, ( couldn't think what was going to better these.)

Well having sold up and getting sorted again and having a few quid was able to get going again so asked around for a SE integrated valve amp. Didnt have funds to get a pre so int would do me nicely or even a power amp with vol control. I also needed a new dac as i sold my YBA as well. So after searching and getting nowhere i got a mail from a guy called Donald who runs a hi fi dealership in Dundee called Musicarch, who sells some very hi end gear inc. Audionote, Jeff Roland, audio physic, wadia, antelope, eclipse ect ect. So all nice gear.

He offered me a trial of his new project;

He has a couple of friends who (now retired) used to work as senior eng for the BBC and did a lot of work on early valve gear. Together they have made a 300b SE power amp with vol control, a 300b SE pair of monoblocks, a 2a3 PP pair of mono blocks and a new pre amp.

Donald said "If your looking for a good SE power amp with vol control i have a demo here we have designed and are now ready to market" He told me " have a trial and see what you think, and if this amp is not as good as you've heard up to £10k then full refund no questions asked". So, why not, whats to loose? I get a nice new amp to try and no outlay if its not for me. This Guy i must state now is the best dealer i have ever met, he didn't know i was from Northern ireland and had offered free personal delivery by himself to my home wherever i was in the UK. When i told him where i was based he said, no problem! when are you at home? i will get the ferry over and deliver it to you, set it up and we can have a nice day listening to it. OMG! where would you get it? just so happened that week i was told to go to Carlisle with work and when i told Donald i would be on the mainland that week he was on holiday in the south of England but he had the amp with him as he was doing a demo down there, so he offered to drive up and deliver to me in carlise! What a guy!

Anyway he came up delivered to me at my hotel and we had a really nice chat about hi fi life interests and his amps, he had the 2a3 monos in the car as well and they look lovely with a nice bit of wood on the black chassis all finished to a high standard. He also left me a brand new wadia 121 (as i told him when we chatted before this i would be looking for a dac as well sometime) he said try that and if you like it keep it and pay me, if not return it and i will see what else i can hook you up with once you tell me what you didnt like.

So what's the amp like? bloody stunning! i honestly have never owned an amp that sounds so well. It is very understated looking, plain black slim chassis with 4 huge Hammond trannies, actually like the plain jane looks now after owning some very bling looking gear ( Art and Hovalnd) Inside is very sparse with lovely kit in there, Black gates Millls ect. but oh the sound, it is only 8 watts per side but i have yet to hear it run out of steam it just gets louder without loosing the sound quality, and what sound quality it is, liquid is a description you read about all the time with valve amps and to be honest i wasen't sure what that really meant, well i do now! its pure uncluttered detail with no nasty sibiliance, no grain or hardness, warm but not overly so that it all gets mussy, no siree! its detail and soundstage are fantastic as is the top to bottom seamless nature it has. Musicians are firmly in place and you can pick out individuals in the listening space in front of you, I am seriously over the moon. I am listening to stuff that is badly produced and although you can still hear that when comparing to the well recorded stuff its somewhat better than i have ever heard it.

Some folk say that what you hear with Audionote amps is distortion but one that most people like, I dont know if thats the case or not but hell, i like the Audionote sound and have demo'd some of their serious amps, i have really wanted a meishu 300b for some time and have auditioned it several times and loved it but alas i could never afford. I would put this amp up against a Meishu anytime and firmly beleive this would come out on top.

Donald is finalising the new pre amp he has commissioned to build and when its ready and passed muster he will lend me that so i cant wait to try it. I have had some very serious pre amps in my home over the past few years and still think the Hovland HP100 is top of the pops so will be interesting to hear the new Musicarch and compare to my memories of that superb pre.

Only caveate i have is that my Open baffles although very sensitive seen to get on with higher Watt amps, its still very very good but i heard this Musicarche amp with my mates AN-e's and the difference was not subtle it was mind blowing! so second hand AN-E speakers will be on its way soon.

In conclusion ( sorry for the ramble)

This is the best amp i have ever heard in my home and one of the best i have ever heard at any price.

Donald of Musicarche is the Best dealer i have ever had the pleasure to meet and deal with, he offered me a product that far exceeded my expectations and delivered a service that i have never had or been offered before, a genuine nice bloke and over the past few weeks i have forged a new frienship with and im really happy i did. The Wadia dac is also a cracker and is staying put.

I strongly urge anyone looking for a new valve amp or pair of mono's or a pre to give Donald a call and give the Musicarch a really good try out.

Really flexable solution as you can spec to suit.

this is waht is advertised on his web page.

Can be supplied with or without volume control

Upgraded tubes available to order

Single ended or balanced inputs as required

Adjusted to suit any loudspeaker impedance

Lifetime warranty (excluding tubes)

some pictures.

IMG_5315_zpsce3d090a.jpg~original

IMG_5327_zps99782f1b.jpg~original

IMG_5323_zps9f30d1a8.jpg~original

IMG_3809_zpsfe1a99de.jpg~original

Thanks for reading

Ron

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Wow Ron, it seems like the trials and tribulations of the past few months were all part of the bigger plan for u and ur gear :)

Really pleased u have come out on top mate and surpassed ur own expectations for a system rebuild.

I wholeheartedly agree with what u say about Donald, he has been a friend for a few years now and is an absolutely top guy, one of the very best!

I can't wait to get my pair for demo, just gotta wait on the engineer who is a little poorly and in hospital today down here in Plymouth, my thoughts go out to him and like u say the preamp is due soon and by all accounts a belter also.

Nice review!

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Thanks Danny,

What mono's are you getting, the 300b SE or the 2a3 PP?

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More or likely dem both sets of monos and the power amp as it has the volume control and is more minimal

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cant wait to read your thoughts. i love mine and as i said im keeping.

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Having had dealings with Donald from Musicarch in the past, all be it on a smaller scale than yourself Ron, was always met with enthusiasm and a passion for all things hifi, and would always go out of his way to help.

An absolute gentleman and one of life's rare individuals that you are glad you've met.

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Too true chum, great guy and all the better for meeting him. Great sense of humour too!

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More or likely dem both sets of monos and the power amp as it has the volume control and is more minimal

Danny,

Did you get to hear the amps yet?

Donald came over with all his amps and the new "MOJO" pre amp which is astoundingly good. I have ordered one but dont know how im going to pay for it LOL!

Its really really fantastic! best i have heard in a long while, and at £1750 and a lifetime warranty its a no brainer for me. looks lush to with a nice bit of wood on the side cheeks. L

et me know how you got on PM if you prefere

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