|Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC and M1 PWR Review|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Friday, 18 May 2012|
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Recently, I was very impressed by the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, and have been eager to hear more products from the venerable British company. The V-DAC II is part of the V Series of entry-level mini components, which is just the first layer of the Musical Fidelity product line, which includes, in ascending order, the M1, M3, M6, and AMS products. At the very top is the must be seen to be believed Titan power amplifier.
John Quick -- of Tempo High Fidelity, the hard working importer of Musical Fidelity products -- sent me the M1 CLiC digital and analog "Universal Music Controller” for review. The analog inputs of the M1 CLiC do not get digitized, by the way. I also received their brand new M1 PWR power amplifier. The M1 CLiC is a rather fascinating product on paper, and very much classic Musical Fidelity in design and attention to detail. The CLiC retails for $1999. It is available in black and, for a small upcharge, silver. My review sample arrived in black.
M1 CLiC: A Closer Look:
To demystify the CLiC, it is a digital streamer, a file player, a DAC, and an analog preamp all under one well-designed chassis. This is a new breed of component that was very apparent as I perused the halls of this year’s CES. Musical Fidelity is certainly no stranger to digital, having made some of the best sounding early CD players, and being one of the earliest companies to produce outboard DAC units. Musical Fidelity has a history of releasing very well engineered products and, as you will see, I believe the CLiC is no exception.
I prefer not to get too technical in this review, as the Specifications Tab below outlines the major features. The M1 CLiC basics include coaxial, optical, and USB digital inputs. A front USB slot accepts USB sticks and FAT16 or FAT32 formatted hard drives, a rear panel input accepts an iPod or iPhone, and there are three sets of analog inputs. There are fixed and variable analog outputs. The latter is used when configuring the CLiC as a fully 100% analog preamplifier. The CLiC’s digital conversion is done by what is essentially the equivalent of their highly regarded M1 DAC, a 192 Khz / 24 bit upsampling DAC.
All functions are available via the supplied remote control, or via the very nicely executed free app, available on the iTunes app store. There is a decent sized front panel display with typical menu style navigation. In order to keep the front panel as clean as possible, very much like an Apple device, there are no controls available on the front panel save for standby. Network connectivity is available via WiFi or Ethernet. Like most manufacturers, Musical Fidelity recommends Ethernet for the very best performance.
The CLiC accepts all major formats depending on the inputs. Through the back USB input and optical inputs, anything goes. Through the network, WiFi or Ethernet, everything works except AIFF or ALAC, unless you use Twonky Media server software (more about that below). The CLiC has three SPDIF inputs, two coax that accept up to 192 kHz, and one optical that accepts up to 96 kHz. Also, an “adaptive” USB input accepts up to “only” 48 kHz. A word about the USB input. I just don’t think anyone who is interested in this product will care about connecting his or her computers directly into the M1 CLiC. As I will describe below, the charm of the CLiC is freedom from computers in the listening room. I think being able to stream from hard drives connected to your computer or a NAS in the location of your choice, plus the ability to playback files from directly connected storage devices or even an iDevice, is where it is at.