Synthesis Magnus CD Player & Magnum Amp - Worlds first review
Synthesis, always one of our very favourite Hi-Fi brands, has just begun shipping a new CD player and Integrated Amplifier. The Magnum Amplifiers are transistor and come in 50 and 100 watt guises, and we are pleased to welcome the Magnus CD Player.
They both look very classy when we first took them out of the boxes, the front in particular has a graceful curve across its length, and the wood finish is nicely understated. On the back of the CD is the usual fare, a pair of gold plated single ended phono sockets for left and right audio, a single gold plated coaxial digital socket and finally an IEC socket for mains. The amplifier has four gold plated se line inputs plus a record out and also, rather unexpectedly, a pre out. Even more unexpected is a front 3.5mm jack input for an iPod or other MP3 widget. We're pretty impressed with these inputs not to mention the Remote control volume, which is used from the same remote that works the CD Player. The volume itself is a large dial which feels very nicely weighted when you turn it. The inputs are selected by a small row of push buttons. All in all a well finished product.
The remote is the standard Synthesis system remote, which is also unexpected given this systems lower than usual price.
Plugged in for the first time the first thing of note is the display. It features an extremely attractive blue background with large, easily readable figures (a frequently complaint of ours is that you can't read a display unless your right on top of it - and no, I don't need glasses.....well all right, I do, but that's not the point).
The next thing that we notice is that when you turn on the CD the display reads "heating". This only last for 30 seconds but it's enough to send us scurrying for the hand book to check and, yes, unbelievably it's got a valve output buffer stage.
Now we're really excited. We set it up into our system with it's matching Magnum 100 watt amplifier and Synthesis Debut speakers and try the first track - naturally I've got to try my Mindy Smith album "One moment more". Anyone who's been in the shop in the last four years will know it's one of my absolute favourites.
Vocals are well presented, it's also beautifully detailed with an airy open feel. There's also a real smoothness about it - I don't mean a boring laid back presentation, but a fluid sound. We switch discs to the rather more busy sound of 10CC's "How Dare You". There's lots of space here, the first track on this album has a great deal of different things going on, and they are nicely placed with no struggle to differentiate between the various pieces. When the bass comes in it's reasonably full and controlled, not what you would refer to as bone crunching, but we're not in that price category here so that's certainly no complaint. Finally we try our Telarc disc of the Fantastic Stokowski. In particular we play Bach's "Little Fugue" in G minor. At three minutes and forty eight seconds it's around three minutes of beautiful violins followed by the best forty eight seconds of growling rumbling kettle drums. The Synthesis manages it with aplomb.
Quite frankly at a thousand pounds each we would be struggling to find anything wrong with this dynamic duo, except they are not a thousand pounds each. They are in fact less than thirteen hundred pounds for the pair. Which seems to us to be outrageously good value.
Only time will tell, but it looks like Synthesis has taken the fight straight back to the Chinese and beaten them at their own game.
Long may they continue.