MYRYAD MC 100
first published in April 1997
Dimensions: 436,95,286 mm
Outputs: standard, coaxial
Price (April 1997): 3.400 PLN
Test set 1: LFD PA2 + Penny&Giles potentiometer, Mission Cyrus 3, LFD LS0/PA2M, Zoller Design Metropolis Imagination
Test set 2: LFD LS0/PA2M, Rogers Studio 7
Tested together with: Audiolab 8000 CD, Denon DCD-825, Myryad MC 100, Pioneer PD-F905, Rotel RCD 950, Sony CDP-XA3 ES
We saw the Myryad products for the first time during the 1996 High End in Frankfurt/M. The debut of this British company has been quite spectacular. Various Myryad components are well reviewd all over the world. Who is behind the Myryad brand? People who have been around in the British hi-fi industry for many years, brothers Chris and David Evans. They worked (up to now separately) for companies like Arcam or NAD when all the UK audiophiles talked about such amps as 3020i or A&R A60. I guess there is no doubt that Myryad products are precisely targeted at market segment occupied by manufacturers such as Arcam, Audiolab, Mission etc... 500 pounds is a magical barrier in the UK. The British who spend 500 pounds for an amp expect a lot as far as sound quality is concerned. They wouldn't listen when you tell them they need to spend more.
At present three products form the core of Myryad's offer: integrated amp (530 GBP - oops, over the limit!), power amp and the CD player which we describe in this very review. In several countries the distribution of Myryad is handled by the same importers as Ruark, so I suppose that the owners of both companies know each other well.
The listening tests of Rotel and Denon were already in progress when Myryad arrived. I got used to the small weight of the Japanese players. Unpacking the MC100 I noticed that it was much heavier. But according to the instruction manuals there is only 1kg difference - subjectively it seemed to be bigger.
Myryad is rather heavy thanks to the solid metal case. The front panel is a 3mm aluminum plate. An average sized toroidal trfnsformer is situated on the left hand side. The CD transport comes from Sony, it is a linear tracking model (KSS240A symbol). The electronic circuits reside on two PCBs. Smaller one, with power supply smoothing capacitors and fuses, is situated by the transformer and main power switch. The second PCB with analog and digital circuits is situated on the right hand side. This way the power supply and and audio circuits are spaced wide apart. The power supply cables leading to audio PCB go through a very wide ferrite ring (it should be rather called a tube and not a ring) - this way the high frequency debris is filtered. Mains voltage is not connected directly to the transformer but passes through two small inductors connected in series. The front panel with display and control circuits is also separated from the rest of the player. As a matter of fact the panel is doubled. There is a metal sheet screen some 2 cm behind the visible front plate. I was not able to peek under the transport, but most certainly the servo control electronics is placed there (a PCB is mounted under the transport) - as I could not find any chips used for transport control on the main board. The audio board and transport block are connected with two tapes. I have got to admit that a lot of attention was paid to reduction of electromagnetic interference in this player.
As I wrote earlier, it seems that the main PCB handles only audio signal processing. DA conversion is performed by Sony Pulse CXD 2565M chip. According to Myryad this is PLM (pulse lenght modulation) one-bit type of conversion. The digital filter works with 8x oversampling. Further in the signal path are two BurrBrown OPA 2604AP chips. It seems that the analog output is made with discrete transistors. The analog filter is a 6-pole active circuit. Five (3-lead) stabilized power supply chips and many capacitors from SSL are also used. Two analog output sockets, digital SPDIF socket, and two 'My link' sockets are soldered directly onto the PCB.
Myryad is the only player in this batch to feature a 'Standby' function. In order to disconnect MC 100 from the mains you have got to use a switch at the rear panel. Analog output sockets are disconnected with a relay switch. Red LED mounted in the 'Standby' button tells you that the unit is standby mode. After the Standby button is pressed, LED changes to green and after a few seconds the output is active.
The blue colored display is rather understated. Myryad's instruction manual says it is a high quality VFD (vacuum fluorescent display). The display can be dimmed or turned off completly (this option available only with the remote control). MC100's display is not turned on whenever a function is pressed on the front panel or remote control. For example when you press skip the display shows track number and time for three seconds and automatically turns off again. Myryad is different from Audiolab in this respect.
Remote control's shape is exactly the as in the units supplied with Mission or old Quad. Almost all the functions can be accessed with remote control, the only exception being drawer open/close. Overall MC100 looks elegant and well made. The only little nuisance concerned direct track entry from numeric keypad. After pressing the number keys you have to press Play to finish the job.
The pair of 'My-Link' terminals is provided to connect all the Myryad components and transmit the control signals between them. The whole system can be turned on and off with one button, either at the front panel or from the remote control. It is perfectly sufficient that only one component is able to receive signals from remote control. (ms)
If you ask me what is the 'British sound' these days I won't be able to give you an answer. I could try to come up with something for speakers. But electronics? Myryad MC100 has its own approach to reproduction of music, which is not like Audiolab 8000CD. Both components come from UK.
Myryad MC100 tells a lot about nuances. It reminds me of French YBA. Both companies strive to achieve precise, articulate sound. Dare I say that the difference between MC 100 and Audiolab 8000CD is like: YBA vs. Jadis. Is everything clear now? Audiolab's sound is built on timbre, whereas MC100's sound is built on soundstaging. I wonder if Naim want their equipment to be reviewed and judged with special attention paid to soundstage reproduction. I guess not. Naim design speaker systems for placement near the back wall. And this way the soundstage is gone. Naim 'is' timbre and rhythm.
Soundstage and detail are Myryad's major strength. Which is closer to live sound, MC100 or 8000CD? For soundstage reproduction - Myryad, for timbre reproduction - Audiolab.
I was a little surprised by MM comments. He claimed that tonal difference between Myryad and Audiolab was very small. I think Audiolab is warmer, while Myryad is colder, but perhaps you could say that its tonal balance is a little more neutral. MM's impressions were different. I suppose that the listening room could be an important factor here. My room is more damped, wheras GS room (where MM listened to the tested equipment) is livlier, most probably this made the difference.
MM paid a lot of attention to soundstage and room acoustics surrounding the instruments while he listened to MC100. Indeed MC100 conveyed room acoustics in classical pieces very convincingly. It was the only player in this group which was able to reproduce more of the 'there' behind the speakers. The instruments materialized in a virtual room. I achived very refined soundstage detail and very precise separation of sounds with some of my acoustic recordings. It seemed that more microscopic events were present when you listened to music reproduced by MC100. MC100 was also able to control dense symphonic pieces. Wide swings of dynamics did not distort the clarity of soundstage or the tonal balance.
MM judged the focus very highly. MC100 does not sound valvy, as it doesn't smooth the edges. I expect that Myryad's performace could provoke various reactions, or even divide the listeners into opposing groups.
Bass form MC100 was a little more distant, deeper in the soundstage. Bass from Sony 3ES is an interesting and contrasting aternative. Myryad's bass wasn't fat or heavy. It was agile, tight and controlled, but a little light. I rated bass as being clean, not very 'meaty' and slightly understated. I think that midband had a little wider dynamic range in comparison to lower registers.
The rhythmic drive of jazz pieces was of high quality. All the instruments of the rhythmic section were reproduced with a 'quartz-crystal-oscillator' precision across the whole frequency range.
I felt that I was closer to the real quality of recordings when listening to MC100. Some of the Sony SBM or Denon classical releases were crystally clear and transparent. On the other hand, some older tracks (Take Five, Manhattan Transfer) were too analytical, many recording technique imperfection were exposed.
Tonaly MC 100 is a little lightweight. The treble was articulate, close and tactile, there were no attempts to make it sweeter. The treble quality was satisfactory for this price range, just as with Audiolab 8000CD. The Focal tweeters in my Metropolis Imagination are very revealing. In my system MC100 was a little 'too articulate' on the treble. Some audiophiles blame Focal drivers for cold sound. Unfortunately they are wrong, I am convinced that they should blame electronics. My reference system proves the case - it sounds very 'triode-single-ended'.
What could I say for the summary? It is not a player for people looking after exuberant bass or some pseudo-impressive musicality. MC100's presentation of music is intellectual, precise, controlled. The tonal balance of MC100 player should suit the British loudspeakers like B&W, KEF and of course Ruark.
MM closed his listening sessions with Herbie Hancock's 'Chameleon'. In his notes he wrote: fast, spacious, swinging, emotionally gripping. I cannot add anything more appropriate than this. (ms)
Sometimes you can meet audiophiles who talk about setting up a hi-fi system as if they were talking about cooking. According to them, the end result depends on the mix the ingredients. A single component seems to have no character of its own - it shows its character when it is connected with others. For example you can hear that X 'works' with A, but it 'doesn't work' with C, D or E. Is it really so? Certainly it is partly true, but it is also an exagerration. Of course caution is always advised when you choose components of a hi-fi system, but some people complicate this matter too much in their quest for synergistic combinations. A set of simple rules could help to avoid most problems concerning proper matching of components. Many unpleasant surprises wouldn't had happened if only a simple evaluation of technical specs and main sonic features had been made. I have to admit that from time to time you come across something unexpected, but it doesn't happen that often.
I think that the Myryad CD player and the Rogers Studio 7 loudspeakers made a good match, and the above introduction was intended to draw your attention to this fact. Compared with other players Myryads was a little cold sounding. Midband was a little sharper, treble was fairly bright, but without serious exagerration. But in a setup comprising the Rogers speakers the sound did not seem too aggressive. KK described MC100's sound as a little sharp, the rock pieces had... the rock sound. There was no smoothing effect. But in general we liked this tonal character in our system. Bass was free from any additional warmth, it was tight and perhaps slightly dry.
It is a little hard for me to explain why it happened so, but dynamics seemed to depend on the type of material. We both had exactly the same feelings. We both started our listening sessions with more gentle acoustic music and finished with some more aggressive electric material. As long as we listened to acoustic recording the dynamics seemed normal, so that it was neither the player's strength nor its weakness. As soon as we switched to rock material music came alive. The percussive sounds were well exposed accrording to KK. Dynamic and quick rendition of percussive transients has also drawn my attention. I really liked the fast pace of B52's tracks. KK thought that the 'rock character' of Skunk Anansie tracks was also very well conveyed.
MC100 is a good example of the 'analytical' school of reproduction. You can hear lots of things going on, and they are all clearly separated. It was easy to follow all the accompanying, non musical sounds. KK commented that there was 'surprising abundance' of details on certain tracks. The overall impression was good, although when we listened for a long time this type of presentation made the sound a little one-sided. Because the character of MC100's sound is a little less varied then ideal, treble's harmonic richness was a little reduced, but this was not very serious.
Stereo performance made good impression. We unanimously praised stable and sharp focus, as well as deep and wide soundstage. Myryad was clearly better than other players from this batch, just as we would expect considering its higher price. Personally I had minor doubts concerning Myryad's ability to fill the space with room acoustics. The sound seemed a little to dry for me, still I have to admit that reverberation in upper registers was heard very clearly.
Myryad has some character of its own so it is rather hard to recommend it without hesitation. There is some risk that when it is partnered with analytical and bright loudspeakers it will sound too sharp. Caution in the choice of partnering equipment is therefore required (I fully agree with suggestion from MS). But the overall sonic capabilities of MC 100 are clearly very good for a player from this price range. (GS)