Think of British hi-fi and you think of turntables (well, one turntable in particular) and small integrated amplifiers. It was those amplifiers, some say, that saved hi-fi from the homogenizing influence of Asian semiconductors, whose hard-edged sound drove so many music lovers away to television documentaries about music. There are, today, enough UK amps that even few audio pros could draw up a comprehensive list without a cheat sheet.
Add one more to the cheat sheet. Myryad (the spelling makes us pause every time we mention it) is a full line of components, except for speakers. The line includes CD players, electronics and tuners, in two distinct lines, medium-priced and upscale. The styling is impressive, bordering on the dramatic, the build quality is not what UK manufacturers used to get by on, and the remote-control automation is all that the most rabid gadget freak could demand. The lineup is already large, and a number of other products catering especially to home theatre enthusiasts have already been announced.
Myryad's engineer is Chris Evans, not exactly an unknown in UK hi-fi. He is a cofounder of A&R Cambridge, and designed that company's original Alpha amp (the second version of which we reviewed back in UHF No. 28). He has also worked at NAD, as did his brother David, who oversees production for Myryad. We don't know of which of them is responsible for the name, which keeps upsetting the spell checker in our computer. Also on the team is managing director Chris Short, one of the founders of Mordaunt-Short, who has also been a key exec at Tannoy.
The MI 120 is from Myryad's upscale "M" line, but even so it isn't outlandishly priced. None of the Myryad products are, despite appearances. The major competitors targeted by the new company would appear to be Sugden, one of the pioneers of British hi-fi, and possibly Cyrus, part of the largest of the British hi-fi conglomerates. But Sugden and Cyrus products still look British, whereas this amplifier could be from almost anywhere. Including the Far East.
Ours came in what the company calls "Stunning Silver" ("Stealth Black" is the alternative). It is decidedly handsome, with electronic pushbuttons and a large volume knob. None of the controls ever need to be touched, since there is a full-function remote control supplied. A headphone jack is also on the front panel. Note the sleek way the volume knob is recessed into the milled aluminum front panel. Despite what you'd think it's easy to grasp and turn, though in fact it has a motor behind it, and you're likely to use the remote control instead. The illuminated cursor on the knob made us think of certain mass-market products, but to be fair it's handy to know about what volume the amplifier is set at.
The rear panel includes four high-level inputs plus two tape loops. There are "bi-amp out" jacks, which are of course actually preamplifier outputs, which can be used to drive a subwoofer or any power amplifier you like (Myryad's own MA 120 is a twin of the integrated, but of course with no control circuitry).
There are also in and out jacks for the "My-Link" system: just connect another Myryad component to the loop, and you can remote-control it even if it's in another room. The jacks and binding posts are not outstanding, but nor can they be at this price. The power cord uses a standard IEC connector, and the power fuse is accessible.
Like the other amplifiers reviewed in this issue, the MI 120 has no phono stage, nor is one available. All listening was done with our reference CD player.
Our unit was factory-fresh, and we gave it a thorough break-in (more than 70 hours) before a first evaluation. A CD player with a repeat function was the source during the break-in, with a pair of large 8 ohm resistors standing in for the speakers at the output (we're often asked how we do it). We then chose some representative recordings, listened to them through the electronics in our Alpha reference system, and then substituted the MI 120 and listened again.
Would you like to read the full review of the Myryad MI 120 amplifier? Click here to order the print edition of UHF No. 56.