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Via the remote control input A3 can be coded as home-theater throughput to skip the onboard volume control. The included wand’s 52 buttons are obvious overkill. One could do with a lot less. And, I’d like an explanation why volume up rushes upward as long as it’s depressed whilst down merely skips four steps before it stops. And why source switching requires to first hit input, then numbers 2 to 5. Perhaps it’s commendable that Magnum included this programmable marvel to take over control of the amp, home cinema, washing machine and living room lights but I’d frankly fancy a far more basic remote for just the key functions.

The business end sports the expected four RCA inputs, the empty spots for the coaxial digital inputs and one fixed and variable output each to record or perhaps connect a subwoofer. All sockets are robust, solidly chassis-mounted and spaced generously. Thick cables and hammy connectors are welcome. With anaconda-type speaker cables things get more crammed though. While I found the terminals robust and perfectly adequate, relative to what some cable makers offer a bit more space would probably not hurt. What I missed for the front was a mains switch. Granted, this amp pulls a mere 6 watts in standby which scales up to 86 watts at idle. Even so am I supposed to yank out the power cord whenever I don’t listen to music for a few days? Hmm.

The top vents reveal internal LEDs in various colors. Some blink. According to Magnum Dynalab they serve auto diagnostics since their amp is fitted with complex protection circuitry. My attention was drawn to the input tube however. As with all of the company’s amps, the MD-301 is a hybrid. Here the valve contingent is represented by a single EC83 which purportedly underwent deep cryogenic treatment in liquid nitrogen before being burnt in and tested for microphonics. To protect against the latter during use there’s a valve damper. Magnum Dynalab refers to its particular triode input circuit as TRACC or tube reference audio control center. The output stage runs eight transistors per side to make 100 watts into 8 ohms. Class A bias runs to 3 watts which explains why not just the glass bottle but also the heat sinks quickly exude just a bit of warmth.

Sonically the MD-301A exuded a very specific character which in this particular form I’d not quite encountered before. The bass was rather lean which suited my personal tastes. I dislike monster bass that attempts to scare the picture frames at higher volumes and is more an indicator of amp muscle than natural playback. I feel the same about amplifiers which overdampen their woofers with an iron fist. I obviously don’t want bloat either. For me the MD-301A hit all the marks of just right mass and control, not too much but just right to convey plucky bass transients with proper pluck. Here power was conveyed not as superficial pushiness or with abnormal grip but how the speaker was gently guided down impressive depths.

This suited all musical styles. Be it synth slams à la "Die another day" from Madonna’s American Live or stylish acoustic fare where This One’s for Dinah of China Moses and Raphael Lemonnier is a personal bench mark, the MD-301A never impressed by pointing at itself. Music simply sounded real. Even classical music and massed kettle drums—say Pierre Boulez’s reading of Strawinsky’s Sacre with the Cleveland forces—left nothing under the table. Au contraire. It was brilliant how the rhythmically stern drums countered the banshee wind section and strings. This got intense at levels, which the neighbors noticed but not the amp. The lower registers simply released ever greater energy without any fuss or showiness.

The transition of upper bass to lower midrange shone more with differentiation and speed than opulence. This took some getting used to in places. Percussion less often moved into the foreground to instead remain rhythm keeper in the back though wicked solo drum workouts did impress with their dynamics and heated attacks. The amp simply remained finely nuanced and dynamics didn’t run off with details held hostage.