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✒️ Author: Hai Wei | 📷 Photo: Hai Wei

The 5th generation MP-501 is the flagship integrated amplifier produced by Musical Paradise. This 30KG monster consists of 4 units Tung-sol KT150 power tubes by default, providing 55W (RMS) output per channel under pure Class A mode. It is also compatible with KT120 power tubes—if you prefer a less aggressive tonality and don’t mind sacrificing some details and dynamics. You may also mix them together, having 1 unit of KT150 plus KT120 at each channel, to enjoy the benefits of both!

PS. The newly released Tung-sol KT170 can be applied on MP-501 as well, but I haven’t tested it personally, not sure how it sounds.

MP-501 is also compatible with multiple types of driver tubes. Stock tubes are 4 units of Shuguang 6J8P, which sounds quite muddy and lacks transparency. I strongly recommend users to swap all of the driver tubes in the first place. 6SJ7/6J8P vacuum tubes are pretty popular and not (yet) overpriced in the vintage valves market. The vintage RCA 6SJ7 with black metal case or Russia Winged-C EF86 (with adapter) is a good starting point. They are cheap and good! However, if you’re willing to raise the budget to release the potential of this beast, then go for the Sylvania JAN 6SJ7-GT and Mullard EF80 (with adapter). The improvement is mind blowing. The treble of stock 6J8P is pretty sharp and rough. After changing the tubes and warming up for an hour, everything becomes much more natural and analogue, while the details, dynamic and transparency are also being improved massively. The sound stage is opened up, not only wider but also deeper and taller, providing a spacious 3D sound with lively ambiance.

Compared to the Cayin A-88T mk2 which features 4 units of KT88, the MP-501 V5 sounds cleaner, faster and more energetic. It has a sweet, warm and tubish sound, but definitely not a thick, mellow and dark sounding tube amp as you might imagine. The bass slam is impressive. You could feel the rumbling sound and powerful impact of the timpani when listening to orchestra music. The treble is well extended, sweet, sparkling and airy. If it sounds too sharp or even too “digital” to your ears, try to roll the tubes. Options like RCA or Winged-C are pretty safe choices and they both sound warm and smooth! The vintage WE717A driver tube will be a good choice if you want to squeeze out more details from the MP-501, but it sounds overly bright on my current setup and its price becomes too high nowadays.

On the other hand, A-88T mk2 has a more “low profile” tonality. This Class AB amp that supports both ultralinear and triode mode doesn’t sound as powerful as MP-501, but it is more mellow, smoother and richer. The mids are very full and analogue, which is able to bring out the rich, meaty, solid imaging of the vocalist. It sounds a bit more lush and sticky than the MP-501, so if you just want to compare the PRaT (pace, rhythm and timing) in between both machines, then the winner goes to MP-501. However, the A-88T mk2 can play the music with great sensibility and reveal more subtle micro details even though it doesn’t have “virtuosity” that might amaze you in the first place.

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□ Retail : RM6,700 (Tung-sol KT150 4 units + Shuguang 6J8P 4 units)
□ Promo : pm for best price

◇ Top up RM285 for Russia Winged-C EF86 (1970’s) & adapter 1 pair.
◇ Top up RM319 for RCA 6SJ7 (1940’s) 1 pair
◇ Top up RM880 for Sylvania 6SJ7 (1940’s) 1 pair

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■ Physical shop / audio specialist⁣ since 2013
■ Authorized dealer of Musical Paradise in Malaysia
■ 100% genuine / warranty covered⁣
■ Malaysia first audio theme cafe / library

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