NOTE: This unit is obviously NOT a TUBED Preamplifier but Agon forced me to choose a subcategory and TVC was not one of the options. These units can take quite a while to fully run-in, this unit is completely burned in and sounds awesome!
It should be noted that the MFA Reference is still available from Music First Audio, but it has been removed from the standard inventory and is now a BTO (build-to-order) item, basically you now have to commission MFA to build one of these for you.
I also have the Reference review performed by Martin Colloms in HIFI Critic in pdf form. I can email it upon request.
I have decided to part with my beautiful sounding MFA Reference TVC. This is the finest preamp I have ever heard by a long-shot. I have compared it directly to a number of so-called world class preamps and the MFA bettered them all. The sound of the CF-080 LSX2 was about par with the BRef, but it also had about $1400.00 worth of NOS tubes and a very expensive power cord attached to it not to mention that the cost before those options (which were necessary to get it to the level of the Bref) is USD$24,000.00 (yes, twenty four THOUSAND dollars). I briefly had the Allnic L3000 and while a beautiful piece of art.., I'll just say it was outclassed by no small margin. The Baby Ref (which I just sold) is very very close in sound to the Full Reference. The larger brother has a bit more clarity and a more weighty sound, NOT dark.., weighty.
It is in absolute as-new condition. I have multiple systems and this unit has been in the flight case for the better part of a year as I have only used the baby Ref while awaiting construction of my new dedicated listening room.
This is a passive but let me tell you, the TVC's or at least this TVC does bass with the best of anything I have every heard. Please read the Stereophile review, here is an excerpt:
(this is for the Baby Ref but it applies to the Reference as well) They sound very similar, but I still hold that the Ref with its 46 steps (vs the Baby Refs 23) is more transparent and has a bit of a weightier sound). This unit is remote controlled for vloume only, you can not select the inputs via remote.
From HiFi World:
‘It could uncover great detailing without promoting any tinselly artifice, and its supreme bass control really told you which precise microsecond the notes stopped and started - light when required, profound to near-DC at other times.'
I was prepared to hear an incremental improvement over the Classic v2, but nothing dramatic. I didn't expect to be blown away, or to have my preamp conundrum of 25 years decisively solved.
But I was. And it was.
Like a great active preamp, the Baby Reference made its presence felt. It was unmistakably there. Smooth, sweet, extended—pick your superlatives. Brass had real bite. Transients were rendered with extraordinary speed and crystalline clarity. Bass was from the depths—from a passive preamp.
The Baby Reference lacks every feature imaginable. No balance control. No mono switch. Has Sam gone mad? Has he finally lost all his marbles, as the British like to say?
Just for fun, I tried analog. I used my Musical Fidelity M1 turntable with Ortofon Kontrapunkt B cartridge into an AcousTech PH-1 phono stage (designed by Ron Sutherland). All digital sources were turned off. So were all computers, cell phones, and WiFi. We live in the middle of the woods. I rampaged through my collection of jazz LPs. I kept right on listening. Dynamics were phenomenal. I had the feeling that all the sound from the grooves was getting through, that the analog signal was being pristinely preserved.
I had plenty of gain. It's possible that you might encounter "gain issues" in the rest of your system. If you listen loud in a big room to low-sensitivity speakers, you might want to audition the Baby Reference before you buy. Alas, this is difficult. Solutions might be to borrow a friend's passive preamp or to buy an inexpensive model, such as a George Hi-Fi Lightspeed Attenuator (see my review in the February 2010 issue, Vol.33 No.2). And Music First Audio sometimes exhibits at shows, including here in North America.
If you're intrigued and you have the money, just buy one. I have not heard a better preamp, and I've been looking for more than 30 years.
///end Stereophile excerpt
This unit has ALL the original paperwork and even the flight case (the flight case was boxed when it was shipped over from England) is in beautiful condition.
If paying via ANY form of paper check (personal/bank check...etc) the check must be in my account for 10 business days before shipment. If paying via PayPal I will ONLY ship to your PayPal verified address also buyer pays all PayPal fees. I will accept bank wires. Buyer pays shipping. The unit MUST be fully insured unless I receive an email indicating the buyer wishes to forego insurance.