Aim Fixed? A Review on Music Space Time MUSICIAN-P1MK Front Stage

Last year? Think again! Really it was last year? Well, for years I¡¯ve been searching for a front stage amplifier which could be regarded as a true bagain. What¡¯s more, the goal set up the other day has also shrunk from a complete, perfect pickup amplifier to a high electical level amp with relatively good quality or a substitude with certain front stage function.

Judging from the appearance and weight of Music Space Time¡¯s MUSICIAN PIMK, no one will ever associate it with front stage, not to mention electron tubes. In fact, it looks more like an integrated amplifier with charcoal gray thickened aluminium alloy panel and whole steel stove vanish case. With it¡¯s fine appearance, P1MK looks virtually like high end models, capable of competing against any products priced above 10,000 RMB. As far as I know, P1MK gives a more artistic and dignified sense compared with products at the same price level. With P1MK at home, even if you have some stereo enthusiasts come over quite often, you could still be fairly pround of it instead of feeling ashamed. Something worth mentioning in P1MK is certainly the red light beside the power plughole to indicate whether the electrode is correctly applied, which is considered as a thougtful design.
There are two details to be highlighted in P1MK: first, almost all the components are well screened, including transformer, choking coil, ect. Even the input base plate is screened by the properly bent stove vanish steel plate(a metal partition is set up between power supply and main amplifying circuits). No wonder the whole machine would weigh so much when holding in arm. Second, antirattlers are installed on both the front and back circuit boards. When pressed by hand, it seems there is a stringlike floating system in the four corners to support the corresponding circuit boards! Anyway, The quality of the componential material of P1MK is quite good. Potentiometer for volume control adopts advanced pan-seal navy blue ALPS groupware. Many a corning metal-flim resistors with low noise and Ploystyrene or Polypropylene style film capacitors are also arranged in the circuit boards.
Evaluating P1MK within my own reference hierarchy, when the music sounds up, the beautiful memories of listening on the passive front stage McCormack-StandardLine Drive long time ago would soon come into my mind! While there are five small electron tubes(two of which are for commutation and voltage stabilization) in the P1MK machine, beyond all doubt, it has presented the strongest feeling of warmth and romance. Besides, a pentode is skillfully converted into an audion which is used in each passages. The audion, combined with half of the double audion in a famed audio tube 12AU7 makes up the tranditional cathode output circuit. A full output voltage is used to feedback.. The negative feedback in such depth is sufficient to improve some key indices, including nonlinear distortion, frequency response, SNR, etc. also, the super high input impedance and the relatively low output impedance will make loading drive an easy task.
The formal audition and evaluation for P1MK came after a long time warming up. I feel quite surprised at two aspects: one is that P1MK has made such an improvement on the overall performance of the stereo I¡¯m so familiar with. The effect is quite different from that of David&MENNELab.PRA2 or the well rectified T-2A. second, the conspicuous dyeing effect of P1MK actually didn¡¯t immediately spoil my mood for appreciation. For Most machines at the same price , the sound will more or less tends to be stiff and could not fully spread over and sometimes even becomes shrill due to distortion. However, P1MK is free from all these faults of aggressiveness or other annoying traits. The music played on P1MK is invariably agreeable , smooth, with no trace of coarseness, irritativeness, quite pleasing to my mind. P1MK is closer to typical sound performance of a classic electron tube than the best modern electron tube front stage in terms of basic properties. Since the comeback and improvement of the circuits, besides the warm mellow bass part and soft gentle descant, P1MK also has a makethrough in managing the modern audio dynamics and presenting the swing of music. Comparably speaking, it is more powerful and of quicker transience but still possesses the peculiar taste of the former electron tube front stages, therefore easy to remind you of the romance of past listening experience and gone by times. It is rather different from the modern design by which the sound is more neutral and more transparent. Have you ever listened to the sound by the classic electron tube front stage in earnest? P1MK is able to well control the sound performance in a close and reliable way, indulging you in the fun of continuous record playing and listening. At this moment, what the audio system presents is the mere beauty and romance and the delicate music along with the electron tube style gentle feeling. P1MK is a real expert in expressing the emotion of the musical records.
Cons and pros?
Taking the masterpiece by John Lee Hooker the healer for example, for the subtle musical dynamic responses, P1MK is still not acute and open enough. When playing the episode of Marche au Supplice from Symphonie.Fantastique by Berlioz on P1MK, the beautiful orchestral rondo and frightening feeling produced by the resounding is largely overlooked because my attention is drawn to the description of rich emotion which P1MK is good at presenting.

Obviously, The sound performance of P1MK is more dramatic and of richer musical emotion. The warm bass it presents is more of gradation and pattern. When playing the record with relatively distinct low frequency, it will get the listener into the music with much more ease. In many aspects, P1MK gives a warmer listening experience, a more melodious driving force , a better dynamics as well as a more compact feeling of dimensional space. Especially in reproducing certain strong rhythm and driving force, P1MK is far more efficient with its performance more solid and stable.
It depends on how you do the matching. Personally I believe matching with Music Space Time Musician-P1MK, the original high-power transistor back stage of good quality will undergo a potential upgrade. As the superb quality coffee mate, P1MK is just trying to enhance the taste, soften the acidity rather than attemping to make a big change. It could do no harm to make a cup of coffee more savory, exquisite and soft , right? Maybe that¡¯s also what P1MK is for!
Extracted from¡¶New Audiophile¡·2006.2 author: Guo Chong