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Music Hall MMF-2.2 LE Turntable Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Article Index
Music Hall MMF-2.2 LE Turntable Review
Listening Session and Conclusion

In Action

Steady, reliable and smooth – those are three words that kept springing to mind while using and listening to the 2.2 LE. It operates whisper-quiet and works without a hitch. There's no worry about the tonearm waving in space or suddenly veering off the platter plane without the user doing so. The tonearm and cartridge do a solid job of tracking and make playing records a total pleasure (as it should be). A slight quibble would be with the felt platter mat. I found that it left more “mat” on the records than I care for. It's easy enough to replace it with another mat, though.

A bounty of vinyl came my way thanks to the good folks at Rhino Records, who recently reissued the five Grateful Dead albums on 180-gram vinyl. This box set features the Dead LPs recorded for Warner Bros., from 1967-70, and includes the folk-rock classics Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. I've heard this music a lot, but what struck me when playing these new slabs was the purity of the tones from Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir's guitars to Phil Lesh's slippery bass lines. Garcia's vocals had a lovely immediacy and the logic of the arrangements came through, too. For years, my only copy of American Beauty was on cassette tape, so hearing this old favorite again was like looking through a window cleaned of dust after a decade of neglect.

Top shot of the turntable

Willie Nelson's cover of standards, Stardust, was presented with a nice combination of sheen and richness. Nelson's craggy vocals and inimitable phrasing make old chestnuts such as “Georgia On My Mind” and  “Moonlight In Vermont” new again. Compared to the Pro-Ject RPM 5.1, a 'table that retails just shy of a grand, the 2.2 LE doesn't offer the same “air” around instruments or the dimensionality. What the 2.2 does very well is deliver the presence and “weight” that a good analog system will and just lets the music sing.

I always enjoy bringing someone from the CD generation into my listening room and spinning a few LPs. As I played a couple cuts from the “Butterfly” side of Heart's Dog & Butterfly for a friend, his eyes went back and forth from the 2.2 to my speakers. As the web of acoustic guitars wove sparkling designs around Ann Wilson's voice, he said, “You'd never know it's not a CD.” It was his way of saying that the music was coming through, untarnished by ticks or pops that many associate with vinyl. “Nope,” I said, “start with a clean record and a good player and noise isn't an issue.” He nodded, “Sounds really nice.” Agreed.

Final Thoughts

The MMF-2.2 LE gets my strong recommendation as a top choice for an entry-level turntable for budding audiophiles looking to put together a first analog system or those ready to replace an aging 'table. Paired with a modest phono stage (yes, Music Hall has a preamp that would match nicely with the LE), you'll be spinning and enjoying records in no time, for a long time. This “Ferrari” may be a looker, but it's meant to be driven, not languish in the garage. Just like those old records you've been meaning to rescue.

System Setup

  • Music Hall MMF-2.2 LE Turntable
  • Parasound Zphono preamplifier
  • Grant Fidelity A-348 Integrated Tube Amplifier
  • Snell Acoustics Type K Loudspeakers
  • Better Cables Premium Anniversary Edition Speaker Cables 
  • Better Cables Silver Serpent Anniversary Edition Interconnects

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