Break-in Tendencies of Anthem’s MCA20/30/50

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John_Charles, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. John_Charles

    John_Charles Agent

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    As my rear channel amp. bit the dust, I recently replaced it with an MCA20 (which I got at a huge discount). Understanding that my current HT is morphing into that which will be placed in a dedicated room, based on the following audio equipment:
    ·DVD Player – still looking
    ·Anthem AVM 20 V.2 (currently own)
    ·3 stereo amps of the same vintage (possibly all MCA 20’s)
    ·Magnepan MG1.6QR’s F L/R
    ·There will be no CC
    ·Surrounds – TBD
    ·3 Subs and eqs. – TBD
    I need to know if anyone is VERY familiar with the break-in tendencies of the new MCA amps from Anthem. Because: thinking that the ’20 just might be the budget beater I’m looking for, I took it (with about 15 hours under its belt) to a semi-local shop to see how it did on their 1.6QR’s (fully broken-in) and compared it (by chance) to a McCormack DNA 225 (not broken-in), and an Audio Research VS55 tube amp (broken-in). While the ’20 was dead-quiet with noticeably better high frequency attack and extension, as well as detail across the board over the others, it was noticeably more grainy and forward in the upper-mids on up, and lacked a great deal of “body” in the midrange; in short, it was cold, threadbare, and grainy. I forget what CD player, preamp, and interconnects they were using, but I remember the cables were Kimber’s 4TC’s...

    In reading a few reviews of the MCA5 from some of the online mags, I noticed that a few reviewers cited the graininess of the MCA5... Given that, I currently have the ‘20 seated between my AVM20 and Martin Logan Sequel I’s to break it in; so what I’d like to know is: How did the MCA amp of your acquaintance sound after its “70-hour break-in period” and beyond? This will give me something to compare to when I reach that point.


    Warm regards,
    John Charles
     
  2. Ron Duca

    Ron Duca Stunt Coordinator

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    John,

    Last May I purchased the MCA 50, which the 5 channel version in the MCA line. I too felt the original sound was bright and grainy in the upper frequencies. Even as the unit approached the recommended minimum 70 hour break-in period, I felt some uncertainty as to whether I had wasted my money or not. However, somewhere between 100 and 120 hours of initial use, the sound really smoothed out. And now it sounds wonderful. This amp provides a very clear and detailed sound and matches great with the AVM 20.

    Based upon my experience, I would advise you to give it a little more break-in time. I think you'll be glad you did.

    Be sure to update us on your results.
     
  3. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    I had an MCA-5...sold it after 15 months of ownership. I can't tell you whether it was the metal-dome tweeter of my Paradigm reference speakers or the amp, but I sold everything off to start over after experiencing similar to what you have seen in the 20. I am keeping one pair of Paradigm 40's for comparison's sake when I receive my Odyssey Stratos Dual Mono to see if it was the speakers or the amp. Hopefully things smooth out a bit for you. Still think this is a killer amp for HT, but for music, it just wasn't musical enough for my tastes. YMMV.
     
  4. Miguel Stanic

    Miguel Stanic Stunt Coordinator

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    I've had an MCA 50 and MCA 20 for a couple of months now. As time wore one, I do not like the sound of these amps. It's not terrible, but they seem to sound thin and very forward sounding..particularly at higher volumes. It may be that it is just not the proper match for my B&W speakers. I to have an AVM20 PREAMP.

    My dealer is willing to take back the Anthems and he is now looking to order me a Sherbourn 7/2100 or B&K Ref 200.7. I am currently leaning towards the B&K Ref 200.7. I cannot wait to see if a different AMP(s) will give me the sound I am looking for.
     
  5. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Miguel, either the Sherbourn or B&K will invoke a warmer sound signature than MCA.

    John, taking Miguel's route will help your situation. The B&K in particular (with MOSFET design) will give you an almost tube like sound. That would be a better match for the Martin Logans. Check out what amps other Martin Logan user have. The Sherbourn would be better as well. I don't think it is as tube like--more neutral, but it can't be considered bright by any means.
     
  6. John_Charles

    John_Charles Agent

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    Gentlemen,

    Thank you for the experience outlaid in your responses – much appreciated! As further input, I read a post in the Audio Asylum by Kevin Deal (of Upscale Audio Fame) who wrote: The new Anthem MCA-50 is a true step apart from earlier models since they have dumped so much money into R&D from the financially and technically capable parent company Paradigm which acquired the company some time back now. It has wonderful control and no steeliness at all. I use that one myself with Avantgarde Unos which are revealing and it is perfect. Both are quiet.


    Ron,

    What ancillary equipment are you using with your MCA50? As a matter of recent investement, and curiosity, I'm going to keep the '20 and see how it does, and in a few months or so - report back.


    Evan,

    If you post it, I’ll be looking forward to see what your next amp. will be, and any comparisons you might offer.


    Miguel,

    Please post the differences you find with the new amps once they are broken-in, as compared to the MCA’s.


    Charles,

    Currently I have a Sunfire powering my ML’s and find that an absolute match made in heaven. The amp. I’m looking for will be in a dedicated HT powering (most likely) Magnepan 1.6QR’s and some TBD’d surrounds. The idea is to find THE “budget” stereo amp. (lol – read under $900.00) – and get 3 of ‘em for the HT.

    One very nice thing about the MCA20 (in it’s current break-in phase), is that it has a very nice transient attack in the highs – helping the 1.6QR’s sound juuuust alittle closer to their bigger brothers: the 3.6R’s. If it comes down to it, I might just buy some used Sunfires and have done with it; but in the mean time, I needed to see if anyone had any real-world experience with the new MCA line.

    Also when I get time, I’ll peruse the "What’s Good Under a Grand" threads and see what I find.


    Warm regards to all,
    John Charles
     
  7. Ron Duca

    Ron Duca Stunt Coordinator

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    John,

    Here is my equipment list:

    Anthem AVM 20
    Anthem MCA 50 Amp
    Toshiba SD-2109 DVD Player
    Sony CDP-CA70ES CD Player
    Mitsubishi HSU570 VCR
    Sony KP-53V85 53" 4:3 Rear Projection TV
    Paradigm Monitor 9, Mains
    Paradigm CC-350, Center
    Paradigm Mini Monitor, Surrounds
    Paradigm PW-2200, Subwoofer
    Panamax Max 5300 Surge Protector
    Cables, mainly Tecnec from Markertek
     
  8. John_Charles

    John_Charles Agent

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    Ron,

    How does the '50 do with the Paradigm's tweeters, now that the amp. is broken-in? Also, have you had achance to compare it against anything else?
     
  9. Ron Duca

    Ron Duca Stunt Coordinator

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    John,

    I think the combination sounds great. I don't recall what make and model the speakers were that I demo'd the amp with. I know they were quite expensive, but I wasn't impressed with them as much as the saleman was. I recon I'll be keeping the set of Paradigms I have for a while so I won't really be able to provide you with any more info. than what I already have. Wish I could.
     
  10. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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  11. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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  12. John_Charles

    John_Charles Agent

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    jaleelk,

    I don’t appreciate in the least your fragmenting my thread in a realm (high-end audio) that you obviously know little about. To that end, I and certain of my associates have witnessed the break-in tendencies of EVERY amp. preamp., and speakers that we have ever owned, and therefore don’t appreciate you flatulating your woeful lack of experience - insinuating that we (and certainly others who enjoy this hobby) didn’t.

    Please DO NOT taint the spirit of this thread any further, as it is geared to those possessing experience with the amps in question, not to those who are perhaps more comfortable listening to table radios and/or their parents lamenting the lack of birth control.
     
  13. Miguel Stanic

    Miguel Stanic Stunt Coordinator

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    What do you guys think about Bryston as a replacement for the Anthems. Or, is Bryston very similar sounding to the Anthem AMPS.

    I'm wondering because the latest issue of Home Theater just reviewed a Bryston 9BSST with an AVM20 and B&W CDM speakers and this is basically my setup. The 9B SST passed with plenty of power and revealed a high end sound in both music and ht. However, I am concerned about the low 120/W that this AMP puts out even though this was not an issue in the review whatsoever. In fact, the review went on to confirm that there was plenty of power in the amp even when the sub was turned off and the amp was doing all of the work in ht.

    Of course, this would be a serious move for me as these are more expensive than I would like. If I decide to make the jump, would you get two 9BSST's in a 3x4 configuration or in a 5x2 configuration or does it matter. Then again, I could go with a 9B SST x 5 and keep my MCA 20 for the rears. What do you guys think about the low power rating AND will this sound be more refined, controlled and neutral as oppose to the lean, forward and tad bright sound I currently feel the Anthem AMPS are giving me.

    My other alternatives are a B&K Ref 200.7 or a Sherbourn 7/2100 which have 200 watts per channel. What would you do??
     
  14. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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  15. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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