|Myryad Z140 Integrated Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Saturday, 01 June 2002|
The Z110 CD Player and Z140 Integrated Amplifier are part of the new Z-Series, the latest line from the venerable British electronics company, Myryad. The Z-Series is designed to be an affordable performance product in aesthetically pleasing clothes. Both the Z110 CD Player ($849) and the Z140 Integrated Amplifier ($895) feature attractive silver faceplates that feature a slim profile measuring 17 inches wide by three inches tall. A horizontal accent line bisects the front panels of both units.
The front panel of the Z140 is dominated by a black conical volume control knob in the center of the panel. The metal knob features a finger-sized indentation for ease of use. The left side of the panel features the Myryad logo. Along the center line, there a small black standby button and an indicator light that glows red for standby and green when powered up. To the right of the volume control, also along the center line, is a 1/8-inch headphone jack, a tape monitor button and indicator light, a series of source indicator LEDs and a source selector button.
The rear panel of this nearly 15-pound unit features six single-ended inputs and a phono level input feeding the MM phono preamplifier section. The inputs include two tape loops and an auxiliary input. The selection of the phono or auxiliary input is made by pushing a button next to the auxiliary input. This is a bit unusual, as one of these inputs is switched out of the circuit by a rear-mounted switch. However, in actual use, this switch will never be used other than in the initial setup unless all the inputs are used. Continuing on the rear panel, there is also a variable line level output for connecting an external amplifier, two pairs of binding posts, My Link connectors, an IEC power cord socket and, lastly, a power switch.
The Z110 CD Player is closely matched to the Z140 in physical appearance. The left third of the front panel is identical to the Z140. The middle of the panel features the disc drawer above the display panel, with the accent line dividing the two. The right side of the panel features five small black buttons along the accent line, providing the most basic of control features.
The Z110’s rear panel is fairly simple, with single-ended line level outputs, a digital coaxial output, My Link connectors, IEC power cord socket and the power switch.
The Z-Series is more than just a pretty package. Myryad also paid special attention to the product's innards as well. The Z140 is a 50-watt-per-channel integrated amplifier with both line level and MM phonograph preamplifier sections. The unit utilizes DC5 circuit configuration and seven separately regulated power supplies to provide clean sound. The Z110 also features oversized capacitors. The DAC’s feature a 24-bit, 96kHz, delta-sigma design.
The My-Link mentioned above is Myryad’s communication and control system between the Z-Series' components. The My-Link connectors are standard RCA jacks; any single ended interconnect cable will work. This system allows for easier use. For example, if play is pressed on the CD player or remote, the units will switch out of standby if necessary, the Z140 will change to the CD inputs and play will commence. If the mute button is pressed on the integrated amplifier, the CD player will automatically pause. This integration works well and nicely complements the unit’s aesthetics as a lifestyle feature.
The slim Z-Series units were easy to set up in my two-channel system. I connected the Z110 to the Z140 with Monster Cable 550i cables and a generic single-ended interconnect for the My-Link connection. I then hooked the Z140 up to a pair of B&W CM4’s with Straightwire, bi-wire, spade-terminated cables. I found the Z140’s binding posts to be too thick for the spades, necessitating the use of banana adapters.
Setting up the Z140 and Z110 took all of about 10 minutes. I also connected a tuner, which I used to break in the Z-Series components in for a few days. The next date I had over to my place took notice of the Z-Series' simple and clean good looks and small size. The two units visually complement each other and take up much less space than the components they replaced. These units are sure to score high on the WAF (wife acceptance factor) scale.
All of my listening was done with both Z-Series components together, as a system. While sonic improvements may be possible by utilizing an external amplifier or DAC, most purchasers will use the system as we tested it.
I began with Rickie Lee Jones’ album Pop Pop (Geffen), specifically, the track "Dat Dere." The Myryad system, driving my B&W CM4’s did a great job with Jones' voice, the saxophone and the acoustic guitar. The bass guitar was not as clearly defined and there seemed to be a slight mid-bass bloom. This album sounded warm and lush, and the use of tube microphones was not wasted when played back through this system.
I immediately noticed the Myryad’s relaxed, laid-back presentation. It is definitely much less analytical than my reference Krell 300iL integrated amplifier which is over three times the price and should command such resolution. The Myryad’s highs seem to be slightly rolled off and the system is a bit slower than the Krell on the attack. The sonic character of the Myryad system falls somewhere between the recently reviewed entry-level Rotel and comparably priced Magnum Audio integrated amplifiers.
The soundstage of the Myryad was generally behind the speaker plane and extended out just slightly past the outside edge of the speakers. The imaging of the individual instruments was also slightly vague. I believe this could be related to the slightly rolled-off top end.
I listened to Pink Floyd’s The Wall (Capitol). Hearing "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1" through the Myryad provided an almost surreal experience. The soundstage was very rich and completely filled the front of my listening room. The sound, with the exception of the lower bass octaves, was very full in body. I noticed that the lowest octaves remained a bit bloomy and hollow in character. I experimented with positioning my speakers to see if I could alleviate the mid-bass bloom and was able to even it out a bit. When listening to this album at louder volumes, it became apparent that the 50-watt-per-channel Myryad could not keep up with the more powerful and much more expensive Krell.
At higher volumes, the Myryad’s mid-bass bloom became a bit more apparent. While the system had no problems with resolution and detail across the remainder mid and upper frequencies, the lower registers did not have the same amount of control, speed and detail.
I then moved to some male vocals with Nat King Cole’s Love Is the Thing album (Capitol/DCC). From the first track, "When I Fall In Love," as with female vocals, the Myryad system performed quite well. The system seemed a bit more relaxed and less strained with this album than the complex and busy orchestrations on "The Wall."
As a lifestyle-minded system, I would like to see the Myryad units come with more useful and more stylish remotes. The current remotes are bland, clunky black plastic, with lots of small buttons. The buttons are not distinctive enough to be recognized by touch, nor are they laid out very well. Given the high quality of aesthetic design, fit and finish of the CD player and integrated amp, one would think a cool (or at least easy to use) remote would not be too hard to implement.
Sonically, I would like to see some more mid-bass control and definition. The laid-back sound quality took a little adjusting to after using the Krell, but it should make the Myryad system forgiving and easy to match with speakers.
For many months, people have been asking me for a stylish alternative to the various Bose-like systems currently on the market. I now have an answer: Myryad Z-Series. The Z140 integrated amplifier, Z110 CD player and the matching Z-Series tuner makes for a compact and visually pleasing system. While I have yet to evaluate the tuner, the other two components more than hold their own sonically.
Based on performance alone, the Z-Series offers serious bang for the buck and the great looks are an added benefit. The Myryad components are comparable with the best in their price class and lead the pack in styling, something to consider if your components are out in plain view. If you are willing to forego some bass control and the power to play at extreme volume levels, the Myryad system fits the bill nicely. The Z-series provides solid sonic capabilities in an attractive box at a reasonable price. I think Myryad has a hit with their new Z-Series.