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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Patricia Barber
(Blue Note)
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Cirque Du Soleil
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
Prairie Dog Ballet
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Andy Timmons Band
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Ralph Towner
Time Line
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
"Arms Of A Woman"
Amos Lee
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Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Audio [Issue #21]
: Music Hall a25.2 Integrated Amp and cd 25.2 CD Player: Affordable Acquisitions
By Ken Micallef

Entrance into the realm of real high end audio has a longtime advocate in Roy Hall and Music Hall Audio. As covered in the previous Audio Files, Music Hall’s brand name radios and turntables, as well as their distribution of such lines as Creek and Epos, have made them a low cost leader. Costing $599 each, Music Hall’s a25.2 Integrated Amp and CD 25.2 CD Player continue their tradition of super bang for the buck.

Often, when friends come over to hear my Shindo/DeVore/Kuzma rig, previously skeptical listeners are quickly won over by its combination of soundstaging (the ability to create lifelike images within a listening room), power, detail, and ultimately, musicality. And that is what Music Hall products do so well. Sure, you can spend more money to realize greater resolution, depth of soundstage, and neutrality (the ability of an audio product to let the music pass unhindered by inherent colorations), but Music Hall has become a success by delivering the essence of the music as recorded to disc or LP.

Like many products these days, high end audio is experiencing a revolution in pricing due to offshore construction. Now, I am not exactly sure where the a25.2 and 25.2 are manufactured, but China or Indonesia is my guess. How else to explain the fantastic quality of these two pieces?

The a25.2 Integrated Amp features a digitally-controlled volume control in its 50 watt per channel design, a pre-amp out/subwoofer connection for home theater enthusiasts, four analog inputs, with a tape loop, and one headphone input. The 25.2 CD player is no less of a slouch, packed with components normally found in much more expensive gear. A Burr-Brown PCM 1738 24-bit/192kHz DAC (which converts the digital signal into analog) is the main workhorse of the player, coupled with a Philips VAM1202/19 transport (the CD tray mechanism) and two digital outputs: one coaxial and one optical. A single remote control will operate both units; each is finished in brushed aluminum, has an easily readable and dimmable florescent display and detachable power cord. With their dual blue digital readouts resembling portholes in a cruise ship or perhaps alien eyes peering at me from across the room, the a25.2 and 25,2 struck a balance between sleekness and functionality.

The first words that leap to mind with the Music Hall amp/CD player combo are: bold, big, brassy, and dynamic. Audio nerds often use an archaic term reeking of stuffy British living rooms (the Brits invented serious audio listening) when they feel their stereo is kicking major butt - PRAT. Defined to normal, non-obsessive folk, PRAT means pace, rhythm, and timing. The Music Hall tag team does the PRAT thing in explosive colors.

The 25.2, with its upsampling DAC, easily competes with CD players in the $1,000 range. Too often, less expensive components quickly reveal their deficiencies: muddy bass, harsh treble, drab soundstaging. The CD 25.2 avoided these gross errors by, again, delivering the essence of the music. When you have heard dozens of 3k CD players (as have I), it is easy to nitpick problems with lesser components. For $599 you can’t expect pristine treble, ultimate detail, or laser beam bass, but the Music Hall machines stunned me right out of the box with their powerful presentation.

Playing Tool’s new epic, 10,000 Days, the music leapt out of the speakers, low end instruments like drums, electric bass, and Maynard’s garbled voodoo vocals filling up the room with intensity. Donald Fagen’s Morph the Cat is a much better recording, in audiophile terms, than 10,000 Days, and the CD 25.2 did an excellent job of sorting out the myriad information on this very resolute disc. While the CD 25.2’s soundstaging abilities are rather flat, without a great sense of back to front layering, it did an overall excellent job of revealing the micro and macro details of the recording. And, it was fairly neutral. I have certainly heard more expensive CD players color the material to a greater extent than the CD 25.2.

The a25.2 integrated followed suit as an almost identical audio twin of the CD player, delivering a smooth, warm reproduction of the music that was easy on the ears and very easy to enjoy. The biggest sin most inexpensive components commit is that of a harsh, nasty treble. Playing vinyl usually eliminates that fault, while CD typically aggravates it. Though digital has greatly improved in the last two or three years, it is still all too easy to fire up an expensive CD player that will fry your ears, resulting in ear ringing digititus. The a25.2 boosted the 25.2’s already non-fatiguing, smooth character with a powerful, bass pumping performance that had me wondering if my yen for tube amplification is somehow misplaced.

The Music Hall a25.2 Integrated Amp and CD 25.2 CD Player offer high end performance for the cost of some lesser home theater separates. For audio only lovers, that is a real blessing.

Music Hall a25.2 Integrated Amp and cd 25.2 CD Player: Affordable Acquisitions

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More OW Audio articles on
Guitar Micing Ars Aures Mini Sensorial Speakers - Audiomeca Memphisto II X CD Player Front End, Front End, Front End
Diavolo Kuzma Stabi S Turntable & Omega Speakers The Art of Making Records
DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 7.1s - Duevel Shuttle integrated amp Music Hall RDR-1 Bose Cylindrical RadiatorTM Loudspeaker

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