To Hans Wetzel,
I read your review of the Musical Fidelity M6 500i and wanted your advice on whether this amp will work well with the Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond loudspeakers. Also, will the matching Musical Fidelity M6DAC be much better than the M6CD, which has a DAC built-in? Is it night-and-day, or worth looking into? My goal is to put together an easy system that is easy to use for my wife. I have Focal Electra 1027 Be speakers, but have lusted for the 802s. I also considered the newer Electra 1038 Be by Focal, but like the looks of the 802 Diamond. Can you give a good opinion of the M6 500i with both speakers?
Thank you. If I dream, I will get the Focal Scala V2 Utopia -- will the M6 500i be good enough for that speaker if I was to get them?
The M6 500i is a peach of a product, short of the remote. It has more power than you should ever need, and would be just fine when paired with any of the speakers you mention -- Scala V2 Utopia included. It has an inviting yet expansive sound that I think anyone would appreciate. It isn't the last word in resolving ability, but it's still quite good. It's also worth noting that just because you have an expensive pair of speakers, you shouldn't feel compelled to spend a lot on the rest of your system so that it's somehow "balanced" in terms of component cost. Cost frequently does not correlate with sound quality in the high end. That said, the M6 500i is an easy recommendation, and despite not having listened to it in over a year, I found myself just last week fondly thinking about it.
As for the sound quality of the M6DAC versus the M6CD, I can't really say. I'm not familiar enough with Musical Fidelity's line to comment with any authority. What I can say is that they have a reputation for producing equipment that falls on the warm-sounding side, electronics included. I would bet both products are resolving, but so are a litany of others these days. Digital has come a long way, and one can get crazy high performance for not much money. There are plenty of other companies who offer startlingly good sound for around the same price. Arcam's FMJ D33 comes to mind, as does Ayre's QB-9, Hegel's HD25, and Benchmark's DAC2-series products -- though there are many more that probably warrant consideration. If you're set on staying with Musical Fidelity, and can forgo a Compact Disc player, my recommendation would be to just grab the M6DAC.
On the 802 front. They're splendid looking speakers. They sound great. And back in the day, they were one of the best speakers you could buy for the price. I'm not so sure that the current version is as resolving as some of its competitors in the marketplace. Regardless, you know exactly what you're getting when you buy a pair. Given that, your strong affinity for them, and the fact that they will produce quite the sonorous sound when paired with the Musical Fidelity amp, I say make the jump and don't pay a second thought to the Electra 1038. While I'm confident the Focals are at least as revealing as the 802s -- possibly more so -- they don't have the same pomp and circumstance. The Musical Fidelity / Bowers & Wilkins tandem will look and sound great 25 years from now. Go for it. . . . Hans Wetzel