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This is a Pacific Valve designed preamp and only available through Pacific Valve
Unique design uses 300B or 2A3 tubes for amplification.
Has 4 inputs, 2 outputs and remote control for volume
Comes stocked with EH 300B tubes, Treasure 6SN7 tubes and Svetlana 5U4G tubes
Bias switch allows adjustment between 300B / 2A3 tubes, trim pots allows fine tuning
Highly regulated, high capacitance power supply
Audiophile tube dampers on tubes for quite operation
The MD300-APS is one of the larger scale products in family of vacuum tube Stereo Pre-amps from Ming Da. Through its unique 300B or 2A3 amplification architecture, the MD 300 APS brings the best that those tubes have to offer to amplifying low level preamplifier signals. It boasts a higher dynamic range than most preamps on the market.
On the functional side, the MD 300 APS has four inputs and two sets of outputs for driving amps and subwoofers. There is a bias switch on the back for choosing 300B or 2A3 amplifying tubes. You can trim the bias by using the adjustment pot located in front of each tube. A remote is included that operates volume and muting. To further quiet tube microphonics, high quality tube ring dampers are included.
The MD300-APS is made up of five high fidelity Vacuum Tubes over three different types, catering for a greater range and depth in sound, and providing an optimally natural sound reproduction. A pair of low noise 6SN7 tubes are the first stage of the amplifying chain that feed either 300B or 2A3 tubes (see “Tube Righteousness” to determine which tube is right for you). An easy bias switch located on the back of
the preamp, allows you to switch between the two handily. The MD 300 APS also has a stunning frequency range between 5Hz to 150KHz and good voltage gain; while the natural quality of sound reproduction in the MD300-APS is helped by negligible distortion and Signal to Noise Ratio.
A wide input voltage range of between 100mv to 1000mv, high capacitance and low output impedance makes the MD300-APS high on efficiency while designed to retain as much original sound as possible.
The Ming Da MD 300 APS Preamp
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Bass: Preamp produced warm deep bass. Not tubby. Did not color lower bass or over voice male vocals.
Mids: Excelled at mid range reproduction where the tonal quality was right on par with a live performance.
Highs: Extends highs without fatigue or ringing. Where you expected it to roll off, it did not, it kept on going. This preamp excelled at high end reproduction and is worthy of a speaker / amp that can produce accurate highs above 12 kHz.
Dynamics: Dynamics were above average and low levels emerged from a quite background. Although dynamics are not the preamps strong suit, they were clearly above preamps in this price range.
Air around instruments: Over achieves; vocalists, bassist and trumpeters share over tones with texture and layering.
Body and Weight: Superb. With the right equipment, you can easily localize actors in the sound stage.
Warm/Cold: Make no bones about it, this is a warm preamp that does not veil or "mud" the sound.
Imaging / Sound Stage: One of the few preamps that threw images to the far left and right of the speaker, and then, further on the far right front, and far left front. Breathtaking.
Resolution / Detail: Incredible resolution and detail with tonal balance and realistic presentation of actors.
Value: Great value for the money, highly recommended.
The MD 300 APS was evaluated using: CyberServer, Lite CD 21 transport Modified, Lite DAC 83 Modified, Musiland MD 11, Doge 6 Clarity, Ariston RD11, Magnepan Tonearm, Dennon DL-103R, Raphaelite Phono Transformer, Ming Da MC 3008C, Ming Da MD 75, Von Schweitzer VR-2, VR-3 Speakers, Quad ESL 63 Speakers, Joseph Speakers, Magnepan MG 1.6, Proac Response 2.
So why have a 300B preamp in the first place? Ah, you see, once you hear one, you will know why. Lets start with continuity. In the 300APS there is continuity among the entire frequency range. Something weird happens when you have a very tube sounding preamp, but with no humps, dips, roll offs or what have you. Instead, the preamp is eerily flat across the spectrum, something weird for a tube preamp. Localization of actors (vocalists and instruments) is downright breathtaking. When combined with the super resolving DAC 83, the MC 300 APS threw an image that seem to come from the side of the speaker and then forward into the listening room. It did all this with accurate tonal balance and super mids. Addicting, what can we say?
The MD 300APS images like a son of a gun and holds body, weight and soul across the spectrum. The MD 300APS then applies the best that the 300B / 2A3 has to offer: a liquid midrange and high end with perspective and clarity. The MD 300APS is something to have and to listen to. It does all this without any appreciable side effects; there is no glaze, it is not overly sweet or warm, the bass, as indicated before is not tubby but rather taught. If you have never heard a SET amp because your speakers are too hard to drive, then this preamp gives you more than a “glimpse” of that SET sound is like. So addictive, once you hear it, you will never go back.
There is some bad stuff. As predicted for the 2A3 / 300B tubes, dynamics is above average though not as great as its midrange qualities. We did not say that it is not dynamic... but when compared with other preamps on our site or our ARC SP-10, it is right there with it. Next, there is the mercurial physical placement of the preamp. You need a good stand and tip toes / isolation if you really want this preamp to sing as the 2A3/ 300B's high mu pick up vibration real easily. So, if you don't have a good place to put it, don't buy it - buy the Doge 8 Clarity instead, who is not so fussy in this regard.
Over all, a stunning achievement and one of the finest tube preamps we have heard in a long time. You need a place to put it though, and it requires experimentation. It’s worth all the fuss.
Heard around the water cooler:
The MD 300 APS is offered in three configurations:
Electro Harmonix 300B tubes with Tung sol 6SN7s
Genalex 300B Tubes with Black Treasure 6SN7s
Shuguang Black Treasure 2A3 Tubes with Black Treasure 6SN7s
Each of these tube configurations is different, so read closely to make sure you have
the right one.
The Electro Harmonix configuration is an entry level configuration into this wonderful preamp capable of stunning audio playback. The Electro Harmonix configuration was open and extended the sound stage quite a bit. While it did not have the focus of the 2A3 tubes, it surpassed it in dynamics and soundstage breadth – where it put instruments (right or wrong) on the left and right of the speaker. The EH configuration is a bargain because the sound stage is not congested or weak. Rather, it blasts music into the room with a correct tonal balance and sonic character that is becoming of some of the best preamps out there. The EH version is as
detailed as many high end preamps out there, so take note if you are dismayed by the term “Entry Level”. Yes, entry level for preamps costing $5K + .
The Genalex 300Bs were the most open. It did not have the focus of the 2A3 tube yet we would be remiss if we said it was not cohesive. So, the Genalex sits snugly between the EH and Black Treasure 2A3 versions. It is more detailed and more concise than the EH, yet it is capable of some excellent “bloom” and sound stage
breadth and depth that make this preamp truly remarkable.
The Black Treasure 2A3 tubes were the most focused. They were also the tightest in the bass. They were not as open as the Electro or Genalex configuration. Of all the three tube configurations, it was the 2A3 that made one panellists amplifiers (an MD 75 fitted with Genalex KT88s and Treasure 6CA7 tubes) sound like a high –powered SET amplifier. As the MD 300 APS was focusing, lets say on a vocalist, you could then peer in back of the vocalists and hear individual instruments in the sound stage. Some of you may not like this focus and may opt for a more open and wide sound stage. In this case, dial back to the Genalex. If you are using 2A3s, do not forget to flick the bias switch in back. We preferred the 2A3 with panel speakers and the Genalex with cone speakers.
Which brings us to the Black Treasure CV-181 / 6SN7. We really like this tube, as it is one of the new tubes to sound as good as, dare we say, some NOS varieties. You are really going to have to look hard to find better 6SN7s. It ranks right up there with RCA, Sylvania and CBS chrome domes and almost as good as some RCA clear top black plate (1945) that we have.
The Svetlena 5U4G is a great rectifier tube. It gave us deeper bass in all three tube configuration than the EH 5U4G.
For the RIGHT tube, its Tube Righteousness !
You can greatly change the sound of this product by following these guidelines: