Magnat ( www.magnat.de ) has picked out a hard-fought class for its new MA 900 integrated amplifier (1,299 euros): Despite the still reasonable prices, customers expect complete equipment and a sound that brings with it a touch of high-end. Is it worth buying the ticket to the “Premium Economy of HiFi” with the Magnat MA 900?
At first glance, the Magnat MA 900 doesn’t really stand out from the monotony of “45-centimeter-wide-rectangular-and-black-amplifiers”. In terms of design, other manufacturers sometimes offer more independence – whereby the metal housing of the MA 900 with its aluminum front was assembled absolutely meticulously and solidly. And of course it’s also available in silver.
A tube amp? No, because the two ECC83 are input tubes. At the output, a transistorized class A/B power amplifier provides a decent 130 watts into 8 ohms and 200 watts into 4 ohms continuous power per channel. The MA 900 is therefore a hybrid amplifier that relies on glass pistons in the preamp and power-giving silicon in the power section.
Two optical Toslink sockets accept red light from game consoles or televisions, for example, and devices such as CD players or streaming bridges can be digitally connected to two coaxial S/PDIF inputs. Magnat does without a USB-B port – which is a bit of a shame, since some users would certainly like to be able to quickly connect their laptop. Okay, in this price range, a good streaming player should often be used.
On the other hand, laptops and computers, as well as smart devices such as tablets and cell phones, can even access the MA 900 wirelessly via the Bluetooth dongle permanently mounted on the rear wall. This supports the currently highest Bluetooth 5.0 standard and even allows for the Qualcomm aptX standard, which is designed for the best sound HD too. In any case, the Magnat MA 900’s Cirrus Logic CS4398 D/A converter chip converts the incoming PCM signals at up to 192 kHz and 24 bits. DSD bitstreams remain blocked (despite the basic suitability of the converter chip), but that and the practical PCM data rate are, in my opinion, also completely sufficient for the “real” world.
Higher demands can also be placed on the processing and handling quality of a 1,300 euro integrated amplifier than on entry-level devices. The Magnat MA 900 lives up to expectations: the velvety front inspires confidence in the stability and rigidity of the housing, the controls made of solid aluminum lie comfortably in the hand and the stable speaker terminal offers well-insulated screw terminals that can also accommodate larger cable cross-sections . The fact that the MA 900, weighing 11.7 kilograms, rests on stable feet with a cushioning rubber insert completes the picture.
The Magnat MA 900 scores another plus point with its easy-to-read, two-line plain text display. This can be dimmed in three stages and can still be read in the brightest level even in bright rooms and at a distance of three meters. A few other practical details such as the auto-standby function that can be switched off, the mono switch for analogue sources and the record-out fixed level output should not go unmentioned. All functions can be controlled with the included system remote control.
Magnat MA 900: sound test and comparisons
In the case of a test listening, the Magnat MA 900 should be sucked on and played with for a while before you form your opinion. While cables and digital equipment often have a bright and harsh influence on the sound when they are not being played in, and only play relaxed and balanced music after a certain amount of time, amplifiers are often bassy and musty at first, only to then loosen up and play with more detail. With the MA 900, however, it was exactly the opposite …
But first to the test setting: Here the Waversa Wstreamer (900 euros) delivers the digital signals to the integrated D/A converter of the Magnat and the analog input comes from the streamer Argon Audio SOLO (229 euros) or from my reference DAC in the Preamp Norma Audio SC-2 (DAC module: 2,000 euros). A few words about the differences later. The Audioquest NRG-2 mains cable (1.8 meters for 185 euros) helps the Magnat to produce a somewhat more relaxed and cleaner sound than the standard cable supplied – you should definitely experiment here.
The Magnat delivers the first surprise right out of the box during the function test: anyone expecting cozy tube sound at this point will be disappointed. Instead, it sounds youthfully fresh, albeit sufficiently powerful and powerful. This basic character, which tends to be bright and taut, changes with increasing playing time – the Magnat MA 900 grows up – and oscillates with a grumbling, earthy, somewhat more sonorous basic tone and upper bass in “Sorrow is the Color” by Katharina Nuttall (album: Cherry Flavor Substitute ) a. Wow, that comes across with a decent grip!
The MA 900 now also plays in the bass with exceptional vigor and power, also with a slight tendency towards tonal warmth. You think you can almost physically feel the power of the power amplifier: With heavy metal music, the MA 900 pushes a really massive baffle out of the drivers of the ATC, in Yello’s “Kiss the Cloud” (Album: Toy) the popometer boils and gives the piano “Wonderland” by Hiromi (album: Spark) with an extra portion of drive and pulling power. In addition, the Magnat plays a little more controlled and contoured than the Denon PMA 150H (1,200 euros), especially in the deep bass. Only a much more expensive Hegel H120 (2,595 euros) with the deepest bass rumble in “Colomb” by Nicolas Jaar does that(Album: Space Is Only Noise) or the mighty bass drum in “This Boy” from Brendan Perry’s album Ark is a little better.
Speaking of “This Boy”: what the Magnat MA 900 delivers with this bass drum in terms of power almost belongs in the “dangerous to public” category. In terms of gross dynamics, it grabs more consistently than the more compact Denon PMA 150H or Pro-Ject MaiA DS2 (949 euros). The authority and gravity that the magnate delivers here is really impressive. The hybrid from Pulheim is not dissimilar in character to an ASR Emitter I (6,800 euros) – although of course it cannot boast of its extraordinary authority and abysmal blackness of the background. The magnate sets hard impulses like the snare drum in Tools “Pneuma” (album: Fear Inoculum) or hard breakbeats on the album Hard Normal Daddy by Squarepusher– similar to the Denon – overall a touch softer than amps tuned more crisply like the Hegel H120 or the loud Audio Hungary X200 (5,200 euros with KT150 tubes). But that’s hardly noticeable when listening without comparing it, and it’s not disturbing at all.
The MA 900 produces a clean, neutral midrange with a fairly intense, luminous palette of tones. I can’t attribute any coloring to voices, the magnate emphasizes neither the chest nor the throat and passes on sibilants as in Jacintha’s “Moon River” (Album: Autumn Leaves) appropriately severely if necessary, but never sharply. Of course, it doesn’t quite manage the openness in the mid-range of a Norma HS-IPA1 that is twice as expensive – among other things, there is probably the slightly defensive treble tuning.
Because even if the Magnat MA 900 comes around the corner with a fine resolution for the price range and properly differentiated fine dynamics, the treble usually remains very slightly on the reserved side. It’s not that it’s all that quiet, but Magnat gives the upper registers an almost clichéd, fragrant, silky character to the upper register. This applies in particular to the way via the internal DAC of the MA 900, because it is not overly Prussian-edgy. For example, the hard use of the drum cymbals in “Montagues and Capulets” by Prokofiev (album: Romeo and Juliet) comes across a little softer than with a Hegel H120 or the Norma Audio HS-IPA 1, which also tends to be silky.
Room equipment deluxe
The space created by the Magnat MA 900 is comparatively deep behind the loudspeakers. It allows the virtual stage to begin roughly at the speaker level and depicts individual sound sources relatively large. The sufficiently, but not particularly, sharply defined edges and the relatively diffuse placement of the bells in “Bell Boy” by Chilly Gonzales and Jarvis Cocker (Album: Room 29) compared to the Denon PMA 150H make it clear that the magnate MA 900 prefers the big gesture to pinpoint projection meticulousness when it comes to imaging.
With digital playback from the Waversa Wstreamer streaming bridge (around 900 euros), the bass of the Magnat MA 900 is springy, energetic and captivating, the mid-high is comparatively warmer/milder. The analogue feed from the small streamer Argon Audio SOLO seems a bit softer overall, not quite as energetic in the bass – but also a bit cleaner, spatially tidier and more relaxed and flowing. A matter of taste, I would say. In my opinion, however, the integrated DAC suits the basic character of the Magnat MA 900 better.
Speaking of analogue. With Phono-MM, fed in by the Ortofon 2M Bronze (300 euros), and Phono-MC by the Transrotor Figaro (2,500 euros), the Magnat MA 900 is a little softer, with a slightly stronger bass and not quite as fine a resolution as digital or even analog controlled via a good external DAC/streamer/CD player. The phono part of the Magnat MA 900 does not show the leap in quality from the cheap Ortofon to the expensive Figaro as clearly as the Limetree Phono II (595 euros), which shouldn’t really come as a surprise either.
So: In absolute terms, the phono part of the MA 900 is an attractive solution for vinyl (re)beginners who want to treat themselves to a turntable in the entry-level or intermediate class and are looking for “typical” analogue sound. Ambitious vinylists should in most cases get even further on the way to sound happiness with an external (MC) phono stage in the over 300 euro class.
Conclusion: Magnat MA 900
The well-trained Magnat MA 900 is an overall slightly warm-tuned integrated amplifier. It has taste, joy of playing, juice and power – and thanks to the minimally stronger bass range it can put a lot of pressure on. Its balanced and yet very colorfully coordinated mids predestine it for the combination with speakers that are sober or tend to be slim. With the MA 900, speakers with an already very restrained treble could appear somewhat darkened or dull
The Magnat MA 900 has the most fun with dynamic, rousing music; this is where it can fully demonstrate its talents. Sparsely instrumented, top-heavy music – string quartets, audiophile singer-songwriter stuff etc. – also works, but other representatives of the guild can sometimes do that even better.
The Magnat MA 900 is a fully equipped amp for all occasions, which is at the forefront of its price range with hearty authority and dynamics. As a pure integrated amplifier and fed analog from very good players (D/A converters, CD players, phono stages, etc.), it even surpasses this in terms of sound.
The Magnat MA 900 …
- pleases with its slightly warm, colorful over-all coordination and the earthy, non-slip base tone.
- plays in the bass slightly stronger than neutral and reaches powerfully and deep into the frequency range; he controls events quite well.
- has a neutral midrange with pleasant voice reproduction.
- despite its slightly defensive treble tuning, it extracts enough silky, fine-grained details from the music signal.
- is finely dynamic at the height of its class, but prefers to swing the heavier hammer: In terms of coarse dynamics, no amp in this league can beat it so quickly.
- still implements hard impulses and jagged transients a touch softer than more expensive amplifiers.
- plays with a lot of perseverance and authority, even in loud passages, in which at most he lets the overview slip a bit in the middle and high frequencies.
- creates large sound spaces that start roughly at the base of the speaker and that it can project comparatively deep backwards when it is supposed to.
- depicts the spatial events with sufficiently, but not particularly sharply drawn outlines.
- can come up with a very decent DAC and plenty of inputs of all kinds, including Bluetooth. It also provides an attractive phono solution with MM and MC for vinyl beginners.
- As a pure high-level integrated amplifier, it can do even more than the DAC and phono section can deliver.
- is excellently processed and easy to handle.
- Model: Magnat MA 900
- Concept: hybrid integrated amplifier
- Price: 1,299 euros
- Dimensions and weight: 433 x 162 x 362 mm; 11.7kg
- Inputs: 5 x high level (RCA), 1 x line-in (3.5 mm jack), 2 x phono (MM/MC, RCA), 2 x S/PDIF coaxial, 2 x Toslink, Bluetooth 5.0 incl. aptX HD
- Outputs: Loudspeaker terminal for a pair of speakers, 6.3 mm jack (headphones), record-out fixed level output
- Power: 2 x 200 watts at 4 ohms (RMS)
- Other: remote control
- Guarantee: 2 years