Musical fidelity integrated amplifier

Musical fidelity integrated amplifier DEFAULT


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There’s no two ways about it, Musical Fidelity’s M8xi is something of a monster. The integrated amplifier dwarfs most rivals when it comes to size and weighs in at a vertebrae-crushing 46kg. Perhaps the most impressive number is that it has a huge claimed power output of watts per channel in 8 ohms, which then rises to a dizzying watts as the speaker impedance halves.

The M8xi is a poke in the eye for anyone that considers an integrated amp a compromised alternative to a pre/power combination. Inside the Musical Fidelity’s huge frame – 16 x 44 x 40cm (hwd), in case you were wondering – is very much a modular design with DAC, preamp and two monobloc power amplifiers separated as much as possible with the casework.


This Musical Fidelity is a solidly built unit that’s finished to a high standard. We love the simplicity of its major controls, though the display could be a little larger to make it easier to read from a distance or at an angle. Take a look inside and you’ll find two sizable toroidal mains transformers, and obvious care has been taken to avoid interactions between the various analogue and digital circuits inside the product. It’s not as neatly arranged or visually appealing as the insides of high-end products can sometimes be, but that’s not an issue as long as it performs well and reliably. The M8xi runs warm, too, so ventilation becomes an issue if overheating isn’t to become a problem.

There’s plenty of connectivity here. The digital-to-analogue section is based around the Texas Instruments PCM DAC chip and offers five inputs (USB type-B, two coax and two optical) and, more unusually, digital outputs in the form of an optical and coax.

Musical Fidelity M8xi tech specs

Power Output W per-channel (8Ω), W (4Ω), Peak kW (2Ω) 

THD (+noise) <% typical, 20Hz to 20 kHz (XLR) 

Signal to Noise Ratio > 86dB 'A'-weighted (XLR) 

Frequency Response +0 , -1dB, 10Hz to kHz 

Inputs 4x RCA, 2x XLR, 2x coax S/PDIF, 2x optical S/PDIF, USB type-B Asynchronous

Outputs 1x RCA fixed, 1x pre-out RCA variable, 1x XLR variable, 1x coax S/PDIF, 1x optical S/PDIF

Dimensions (hwd) x x mm 

Weight 46kg

Those who judge things by specs are unlikely to be impressed by the Musical Fidelity’s relatively modest bit/kHz resolution ceiling through USB and coax. As is common, the optical input takes that down to bit/96kHz. It’s not hard to find budget outboard DACs that handsomely exceed the M8xi’s resolution limits while adding DSD compatibility into the bargain. That said, we don’t think this will be a deal-breaker for most people; this integrated will still play the vast majority of music files available.

Analogue fans have two sets of balanced XLR line-level inputs along with four single-ended RCA options. There are both balanced and single-ended preamp-out options, though why anyone would feel the need for more power isn’t quite clear to us. The list is completed by a single-ended line-out and a switchable 'AUX 2' input that can be configured to bypass the M8xi’s preamp section and feed directly straight into that muscular power amp circuitry.

It’s a bit of a surprise that Musical Fidelity has omitted a phono stage from this design, as such a circuit has become an increasingly common inclusion in recent high-end integrateds we’ve tested. There’s no headphone output either.

Of course, both a phono stage and headphone driving ability can be added with outboard units, but that’s not the point. After all, part of the appeal of integrated amplifiers is that they pack everything in one box and so excluding such functionality makes less sense in this context.


Any amplifier at this level needs a top-class system to shine. We use our usual Naim ND/ PS DR music steamer and Technics SLR record player as sources. As the M8xi doesn’t have a phono stage, Vertere's award-winning Phono-1 is pressed into service. At the other end of the signal chain we have our reference ATC SCM50 speakers alongside the Dynaudio Confidence 20 and a pair of ProAc Response D2R, just to see how the M8xi performs with different speakers.

Given the amplifier’s prodigious power output, it doesn’t come as any surprise to find that it drives all three speaker options with ease and delivers huge volume levels with considerable composure. Rarely do we hear an integrated at this level that sounds so controlled and unstressed.

We love what all that power means for the bass too. Listening to Massive Attack’s rather under-rated Heligoland set, we’re impressed by the M8xi’s grip and authority at low frequencies. It kicks hard when the music demands, but just as pleasingly delivers the notes with agility rather than droning on. Normally such a muscular amplifier would fall down on rhythmic drive, but that’s not the case here – the Musical Fidelity delivers Atlas Air with both determination and momentum.

Its midrange is good too. This region is clean, clear and rendered with a solid amount of detail. Voices come through crisply and remain easy to follow even when the music gets busy. This is not the amplifier to buy if you’re after the last word in texture and finesse – there isn’t quite the dexterity for that – but we suspect that the M8xi is still likely to satisfy all but the most critical listeners in these respects.

We switch to Mahler’s Symphony No.2 and this musical beast is right at home. It sounds massive, rendering an expansive but nicely focused soundstage. It’s an open and stable presentation where instruments are locked in position and never waver, even when the music becomes demanding.

Given the Musical Fidelity’s reserves of power, it would be surprising if dynamics weren’t excellent. And they are. This amplifier punches out large-scale dynamic swings with skill and also manages to communicate nuances with the finesse they deserve.

There’s a good level of insight here, and the ability to track low-level instrumental strands without losing sight of the whole. The M8xi is a thrilling listen with appropriate music, delivering all the drama packed into the original performance.

Tonally things are even enough to give us convincing results across a wide range of instruments. If you hear an M8xi sound a little bright and edgy in the higher frequencies it probably hasn’t had time to warm up properly or is poorly matched with the speakers. Our sample sounds pretty even-handed given a few days of use.

We try the amplifier’s digital inputs and are pleased with what we hear. Despite the less-than-stellar specs, this is a good-sounding digital module that’s broadly on par with some of the better three-figure outboard DACs on the market. We use our MacBook (loaded with Audirvana playback software and lots of high res music) and a Cyrus CDi CD player as digital sources and find the M8xi refreshingly consistent between inputs, taking into account the differing quality of the sources of course. 

The amplifier’s sound retains the lively and entertaining quality of the analogue line stages, which is more than can be said of many of the built-in DACs we normally come across. We listen to a whole raft of music from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Miles Davis to Eminem, and the M8xi never lets us down, rendering the sound with verve, insight and a physicality that is mighty appealing


The M8xi has power to burn and that shines through in its muscular and authoritative nature. You can throw pretty much anything at this amplifier and it’ll never seem out of its depth, yet beneath all that muscle is a product that has enough emotional stretch to satisfy across a wide range of musical genres. The Musical Fidelity M8xi definitely belongs on the shortlist. 



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What Hi-Fi?, founded in , is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test


Musical Fidelity

Musical Fidelity represents the best of good quality hi-fi. Built on over thirty years of audio expertise, we design and engineer powerful hi-fi separates that deliver exceptional sound, high technical performance, excellent value for money and a superb build quality.

Now owned and operated by Audio Tuning, an independent audio specialist company based in Austria, Musical Fidelity still retains its proud British heritage, with every product we design continuing to boast the natural, authentic sound that has made our name so respected across the world. Our unique ranges embrace both traditional and modern requirements. So whether you need a high-quality phono stage to improve your vinyl listening experience, require bit-perfect playback of your beloved CDs, or have chosen to embrace the increasingly popular world of wireless music streaming, we have something to offer. And for every source, we’re still proud to boast a wide range of powerful, state-of-the-art amplifiers that sound at home anywhere.

Whatever type of music you enjoy and however you want to hear it, we have something for you at Musical Fidelity.

More about Musical Fidelity

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The M3x Vinyl is our new fully discrete phono stage - Made in the EU!

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Musical Fidelity North America

Musical Fidelity - North America

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Find your local dealer in USA or Canada on our dedicated North American page.

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Musical Fidelity

The M2si integrated amplifier takes our peerless premium-amp experience and applies it to a more affordable price point. It boasts trickle-down technology from our mighty and legendary Titan flagship, plus other high-end touches such as solid metal controls. The M2si delivers 72 watts per channel into 8 ohms and watts into 4 ohms. This means the M2si will drive a wide range of speakers, even power-hungry models.

Further flexibility is provided by the M2si's excellent connectivity, which includes six line-level inputs and switchable home-theatre throughput. It features a Class A preamp stage with its own, independant power supply, coupled with a discrete pair of power amps. In effect, this means the M2si offers the performance benefits of a pre/power configuration with the compact convenience of a one-box design.

Its performance is rock-solid, it's sonically well-rounded and it's comfortable with a wide array of speakers. And it's all served up in an elegant, no-nonsense package.


Read the Hi-Fi World review.

Also read the Stereo review.

Also read the Audio Test review.

Read the Hi-Fi Choice review.

Also read the hi-fi news review.

Read the Audio Appraisal review.

Also read the WHAT HI-FI review.

Or read the Gramophone review.

Focal Aria 936 + Musical Fidelity M5si + Cambrige Audio CXN (V2)


It would be easy to dismiss Musical Fidelity’s M2si on the grounds of features, or rather, the lack of them. This is one of the most stripped-back amplifiers we’ve come across at this level. It offers the basics – a remote control, six line level inputs, including a tape loop and a home cinema bypass option to help integration into a surround system – and not much else.


You’ll be searching in vain for a phono stage, let alone a headphone output or digital inputs. Even purist rivals, such as Rega Elex-R (£) or its little brother the Brio (£), do better by including good phono modules. While a cheaper alternative such as Audiolab’s A (£) gives you it all as far as features are concerned.

Of course there’s more to picking an amplifier than just the feature count. If the Musical Fidelity’s modest range of facilities is acceptable, as it will be for many people, you’ll find it an excellent product.


The M2si is well built, feeling more luxurious than any of the rivals mentioned above. Neat touches such as using solid metal for the controls rather than plastic really lifts the impression. The overall finish is impressive and we like the simple and clean-cut appearance.

Under the lid, you’ll find a preamp section that works in Class A mode for lower distortion. It also enjoys a separate power feed to improve performance and reduce any unwanted interaction with the power amplifier.

There’s no shortage of muscle here with the M2si delivering 76W per channel into 8 ohms and giving a healthy increase to W per channel as impedance halves. That impressive set of figures strongly suggests that this amplifier should be able to produce high sound levels with any price appropriate speaker.


We give the M2si a couple of days of use before listening seriously, and its sound stabilises relatively quickly. We use our usual Naim NDS/PS reference music streamer and ATC SCM 50 speakers to find the true envelope of the M2si’s abilities as well as more price appropriate products, such as Dali’s Oberon 5 speakers and Cyrus’s CDi CD player. It doesn’t take long to realise that this Musical Fidelity is a terrific performer.

It delivers a large-scale sound, one that’s packed with authority and substance. Listening to Orff’s Carmina Burana we’re aware of the M2si’s refinement and ability to deal with musical complexity without sounding stressed. It can track individual instrumental strands with ease yet never lose sight of the whole. That’s a rare talent at this level. 

Musical Fidelity M2si tech specs

Power output 2 x 76W

Line level inputs 5

Phonostage No

Tape loops 1

Preamp out Yes

Headphone out No

Tone controls No

Remote Yes

Dimensions (hwd) 10 x 44 x 40cm

This amplifier images well too. Every note is tightly focused within an expansive and spacious soundstage. The presentation remains stable even when things get busy, and at high levels.

Dynamic expression is a strong point. The M2si manages the sweep from quiet to loud superbly and is as happy rendering low-level subtleties as it is sledgehammer crescendos.

The tonal balance isn’t as neutral as the Audiolab, but it is even handed and where it diverges, it does so in a wholly sympathetic way – the top end is sweet while the mid and bass have just a touch of added richness. This flavouring is slight but it is enough to make the amplifier less fussy about partnering equipment and recording quality than most rivals.

We play Bruce Springsteen’s American Skin (41 Shots) and the Musical Fidelity sounds right at home. It has punch and power but tempers all that muscle with a light touch that captures the passion and texture of Springsteen’s coarse vocal delivery brilliantly. Bass is handled with flair – every note hitting hard and true. The song’s steady rhythm is communicated well, though here the likes of the Rega does even better.


We play a wide range of music from grand orchestral scores from John Williams to Tracy Chapman’s understated debut set and The XX’s electronica and the Musical Fidelity never disappoints.

It’s a superb all-rounder and one of the best amplifiers we’ve heard below the grand mark. At £ it splits the difference between two exceptional Rega amplifiers and it's a worthy alternative to either of them – that’s high praise indeed. If you can live with the limited feature count, this one deserves to go on the shortlist.



Best stereo amplifiers

Read our Rega Elex-R review


What Hi-Fi?, founded in , is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test


Amplifier integrated musical fidelity

Musical Fidelity

We felt that the original M6i’s package size, power and price were spot on.  What was needed was the addition of extra input facilities and, if possible, an all round improvement of technical performance.  By the way, despite endless component price rises during the M6i’s life, we didn’t alter its selling price.  This made our final requirement even harder; the M6si should not be significantly more expensive than the outgoing model.

First we determined to use Musical Fidelity’s exclusive SMD layout techniques.  This reduced the size of the circuit’s footprint and gave us greatly increased flexibility with internal layout.  Consequently the new M6si is configured as a pre amp with two completely separate and independent monobloc power amps.  The M6si is a proper pre amp with its own separate regulated power supply and discrete monobloc power amps, sharing same casework.  This is a big change from the outgoing M6i.  The M6si’s technical performance is a significant advance on the old model.


The M6si performs immaculately.  Because of its pre amp with two monobloc power amp configuration both channels perform virtually identically, just what you would expect from a pre amp with separate power amps and not what you would expect from a normal integrated amplifier.  The M6si is a cut above everything else.

Distortion is very low at less than %.  More tellingly, HF distortion is incredibly low.  At 10 kHz about % and at 20 kHz an astonishing %.

The vast majority of amplifiers suffer huge increases in distortion as you go up in frequency.  The M6si’s meticulous PCB and circuit design means that HF performance is virtually identical to the LF performance.  This is significant for sound quality.

Channel separation is remarkable, and remarkably consistent.  Most amplifiers (integrated or pre/power) have dramatically worsening cross talk with increasing frequency.  The M6si cross talk is outstanding and even at 20 kHz it is better than 82dB.

The phono stage is also special.  It has very accurate RIAA, within ± dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.  Also it maintains its accuracy right out to 50 kHz.  The MM noise ratio is an outstanding 93dB down whilst the MC stage is, perhaps even more amazingly, about 87dB down.  The phono stage distortion is a very low %.  All in all the M6si’s phono stage is exceptional.

USB Input

The 24 bit 96 kHz asynchronous USB input uses exactly the same circuitry and technology as our highly regarded V-Links and other top quality computer interfaces.  Jitter is virtually eliminated.   Noise is incredibly low and distortion virtually

non-existent. The M6si’s USB input is capable of dredging the finest details from the computer source. 


  • Power output: Watts per channel into 8 Ohms
  • THD (+ noise): < % typical 20Hz - 20 kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: >dB ‘A’ - weighted
  • Frequency Response: +0, –dB, 10Hz to 20 kHz


  • 4x Line Level RCA
  • 1x Line Level XLR Balanced
  • 1x USB type ‘B’ connector - asynchronous data stream at up to bit/96kHz
  • 1 x switchable phono input
  • Trigger in

Phono Input

  • Sensitivity: 3mV nominal (MM), mV nominal (MC)
  • Signal / noise ratio: >84dB ‘A’-weighted
  • Input impedance: 47k Ohms (MM and MC)
  • Frequency response: RIAA/IEC ±dB 20HzkHz


  • Trigger out
  • Fixed, line level output
  • Variable, preamp output


  • Dimensions - WxHxD (mm): x x
  • Weight (unpacked / packed): kg/ kg

Review! Musical Fidelity M6si Integrated amplifier!

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