Two powerhouses of British hi-fi were in tandem here. Musical Fidelity brought their Encore all-in-one, their range of Nu-Vista electronics and paired them up with the Kef Reference 1 speakers. Nordost speaker & interconnect cables with Hi-Fi Racks shelving completed the picture. Here at Dynamic Headroom, this was the first time I had heard the new Kef Reference range so I was looking forward to this one.
Musical Fidelity Encore 225 streaming system
Musical Fidelity had brought along two systems to the Bristol Sound & Vision show. Firstly was the Encore 225 “all in one” streaming system. As with many other hi-fi manufacturers, Musical Fidelity have produced a high quality one-box system. In the box is a preamplifier, power amplifier, network player, CD player, digital music storage and DAC.
The front of the unit has a large colour screen which displays album artwork and the menu system. Musical Fidelity have designed the Encore 225 to be as future proof as possible by incorporating an Intel CPU and upgradeable software. The idea behind Encore is that the hardware does not need to change but the software will evolve over time. This means that as new music services come available, the Encore will be able to make use of it once the software is updated.
Not only that but you can rip your music CD collection to its internal hard drive, hook up external analogue sources (e.g. turntable with phono stage) and much more. The power amplifier section is powerful too, putting out 225W into 8 ohms. All of this can be yours for £3600.
Kef Reference 1 speakers
I have owned a number of different Kef speaker models over the years and so, naturally, the new Reference models are on my wish list. As stand mount speakers go, they are quite large and look like money well spent. The £4500 Reference 1 are the “baby” of the reference range.
Combining Kef’s famous Uni-Q driver with a 16cm bass driver, the Reference 1 sound pretty amazing up close. The Musical Fidelity representative was playing “LA Woman” by the Doors and there was so much detail in the music it was spellbinding. You could really hear into the throaty, guttural vocals of Jim Morrison and the riffs of guitarist Robby Krieger. I loved what the Kef Reference 1 speakers were doing and now need to go and buy some!
If I am being really honest, I don’t think the Musical Fidelity Encore and Kef Reference 1 make the best combination. For me, the sound is too bright and I think it would give me earache during a longer listening session. I would have paired the Encore with something warmer such as a Dynaudio or maybe a more neutral ProAc.
The Encore is undoubtably a fine all in one system. It is well built and has more features than you can shake a stick at.
Anyway, this system is the best part of £10,000 with the Nordost cables thrown in, so if you have that kind of money you should take your time and listen to as many speakers as you can.
Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista
Sadly, I did not get to hear the Nu-Vista 60 integrated amplifier or Nu-Vista CD Player. The Nu-Vistas are massive hulks of hefty hi-fi which you probably need a fork lift truck to move around. I heard them both at my local dealer hooked up to a pair of ProAc Response D48. That was a fantastic sound, on another level from the Encore entirely.