Kevin's fav! Regular $449
Want to add a taste of tubes to your system, but want to keep all the same components? Is your CD player too "digital" sounding and you want to sweeten things up? The Musical Fidelity X-10V3 will breathe some of that warmth and humanity that comes with tubes. The X-10 seamlessly integrates into any system, and can be connected at any point in the audio chain. Try it between your CD Player and preamp, or between the preamp and power amp. There's no rule on this one; put the X-10 where it sounds the best.
The X-10V3 uses the "mu-vista" 6112 tube, the same tube used in the kW series. The 6112 is another mil-spec tube that will last longer than most of us, and is extremely rugged and durable. The X-10V3 has a high input impedance and a low output impedance. From a technical standpoint, it's almost not there. That means extremely low noise, very low distortion, wide bandwidth and outstanding overload margins, giving you the best possible performance.
The X-10's output circuitry is identical to that of the famed Tri-Vista SACD player, but uses the "mu-vista" tube instead of the "tri-vista."
The X-10 V3 can also help with impedance mis-match! The X-10 V3 has very high (470k Ohm) input, and very low (33 Ohm) output impedances. What does this mean for you? It means you can keep your tubed preamp with its 2800 Ohm output impedance and match it to your solid state amp with the 10k Ohm input impedance, and not have to worry about the sonic drawbacks!
The X-10D, predecessor to the V3, sold nearly 50,000 units!. The X-10V3 is a limited production item. There are only 4800 being made, due to the use of the "mu-vista" tube, which is in limited supply (don't worry, Musical Fidelity keeps spares on hand for every piece of gear they make). So don't wait, order today!.
Posted by Bryant Hill on 7th Aug 2015
Hi there....well, still no cancer (if you read my first review here, you will know what I am speaking of) and things are going pretty well. But, this isn't about me......it is about the Musical Fidellity X-10v3 tubed impedance buffer. As I stated in my original thoughts, this is a must have piece when it comes to matching impedance in audio separates. I find it works well it two spots.....between my digital sources and a tubed preamp (yes, I had the Cary I bought from Uncle Kevin "hotrodded" a few months back. (New cap job, swapped the Alps volume potentiometer for a stepped attenuator-wow.....talk about channel balanced, especially important with headphone rigs.....had another pair of outputs added to the Cary pre-amp....more on that soom and of course, a NOS matched, platinum pair of RCA Cleartop 12au7's from Upscale.....my favorite 12au7 in my pre....Kevin and I don't agree on that tube....but, for me, it is mandatory in THAT pre-amp...sorry Kev) and between pre's and amps (especially, as Kevin noted above....when mating a solid state piece with a tubed piece). I move this thing all over the place.....there is no right place. But, I really like it between my digital source and my tubed pre-amp.
I mentioned that I was awaiting a Scottish hand made custom outboard power supply for the X10v3 in the first review. It indeed made a huge difference.....very quiet, dynamics leap from the source....a nice addition. Well, as one to never be satisfied, I went back to the source of that outboard p/s and he assembled me a complete capacitor, resister, and fast-diode rectifier "kit" that adds a ton of power on tap that most certainly increases headroom, dynamics, speed, and tonality (really, there is none.....even in the stock unit....as the should not be.....except maybe a teeny tiny bit of those vacuum tube distortion so that we hear as "warmth").
Admittedly, I have gone WAY overboard with this particular unit in regards to monies spent on upgrades, it is a remarkable piece in it's stock form.
Back to the Cary pre-amp inclusion (to complete the story.....and to perhaps add this thought to those that were/are in my situation....losing your listening room due to children or because of a move) and find you must go from a real high-end hi-fi loudspeaker setup to a real high end headphone rig. I had the second output added to the Cary as I kept on looking for the "perfect" headphone amp (is there such a thing??). I added a pair of Byerdynamic T-1's to my headphone collection and realized with it's 600 ohm input impedance they are an entirely different animal to power than the Audeze LCD-3's. So, using this X10v3 between my SACD source and the Cary tubed preamp took care of any impedance issues at the start of the chain. Then, I run two of my six headphone amps from the Cary pre-amp. Normally, that involves a really nice Australian made 5 watt solid state headphone amp for the T-1's and a U.S. made 6 watt (with a pair of Kevin's NOS Telefunken 6922's- get them while you can.....just DO IT) headphone amp to power the Audeze.
It really is pretty cool, choose your flavor of the day in headphones (dynamic or planar) and type of power amp (solid state or tubed). Having the Cary pre-amp from my "big rig" allowed me to do this. Although, this is, in a way, a totally backwards way of using a pre-amp....one input into multiple amps. But, it works.....and works well. It also allows me to fine tune the volume level of each headphone amp to each headphone and then use the Cary as the "master" volume.
If you find yourself in this situation where you got to loose the loudspeaker rig and go headphones......take a hard look at what you have and love and a way to repurpose it. I am in the process of changing that "single input" deal as I am researching turntable and phono stages right now preparing to take the vinyl plunge for the first time since the 80's. Lord, how I wished I had saved those thousands of LP's 8 given away decades ago. I will be conversing with Upscale in the coming days to jump back into that pond.
But, don't hesitate in snatching up one of what is probably the last NOS Musical Fidelity X10v3's in the box on planet earth. Stereophile released a news stand only piece a few months ago of their recommended components of this century and this is a "Class A" component listed in the pre-amp section. Now, you guys tell me.....where are you going to get a Stereophile Class A Recommended Component for less than $350!!!
It is a versatile, fantastic piece of kit that can handle so many jobs......a true Swiss Army knife.....and a headphone only rig's best friend.
As always, thanks Kevin and all my friends at Upscale Audio. Keep on getting is the best stuff on earth!!
Posted by Bryant on 17th Sep 2014
First of all, a great big HELLO Uncle Kev and all the Upscale Folks. I have bought quite a few pieces from Kevin personally over the years including a couple of Cary Audio products (CDP and a tubes pre-amp- which strikes me as funny in a way......I live about a 2.5 ride from Cary Audio but I end up buying most of my Cary stuff from 3,000 miles away!!!), a couple pairs of speakers, and a TON of tubes (for my pre-amp and my mono block power amps......plus I am a guitar player with a pretty extensive collection of amps....you get the picture).
Anyway, this is about the Musical Fidelity X-10 v3 tube buffer. I just received this latest one (this is my third) last week. My listening habits have changed quite a bit since the other two came and went. Those were used with loudspeaker based systems that were mainly tube based and while they sounded great I found myself too tubed (if that is possible) but what I got out of them was the impedance matching. Well, life can turn on a dime and I am living (thank God) proof of that. Real quick.....I was married, two beautiful little boys, nice home, new cars every couple of years for us both, youngest VP in my companies history, 21 years with the same company (I am now 45....so my entire adult life was spent with one company climbing that damn ladder.....and even though I excelled and found myself making more salary than I ever thought I would. Well, in 2010 my wife left me after 30 years (high school sweat hearts), I gave the house to her (my son's home...all they ever knew), just when I start to get settled in this new "so called life" I get diagnosed with Stage 4 throat and tongue cancer and was given a pretty crappy chance at surviving. So, because of that....career is gone....poof!!! Everything.....I do mean EVERYTHING......changed in the matter of about two months. So, two years of radiation (nasty business that head and neck radiation), chemo, and other really fun stuff and I beat the six months diagnosis so far. I moved in with my parents when undergoing treatment.......I dropped well over half my weight (was down to 102lbs and I am 5'11") it was bad. I am finally at the point where I can live on my own again, get my kids every other weekend......have a life again (although I am permanently disabled...have not eaten a bite in 4 years now...I can drink but most of my nutrition comes from this damned feeding tube protruding from my stomach). Anyway, I was in the process of buying a condo about 3 miles from my son's home (they are now 8 and 9.....so they were really young when Daddy almost died) when my Mother suffered a massive stroke in April of 2014. Well, her and my Step Dad got me through my ordeal.....so, I had to stay to help with Mom. Well, part of this is that I could never set up my "big system" here....,especially after her stroke as any noises send my Mom into orbit. I miss music.....what am I to do. I spend $8,000 on a headphone rig......that is what I do.
I will spare you the list as Kev is not a dealer of all of the components....let's just say I have 5 pairs of "cans" looking for anything that can. Even come close to my Vienna Acoustics/Cary mono-block setup. My main headphones (along with the $1,200 cable) are planars and the headphone amp I run them with comes from Australia and goes for $2,000. I have a $1,500 Naim Headline AND a NPSC power supply in my closet as it would not even drive these orthodynamic planar "cans". I do not use my preamp....the headphone amp has two inputs....Cary CDP in one input and a upgraded super killer SACD player in the other.
It sounds glorious as it sat......but I missed tubes but more important I knew I had a pretty significant impedance matching issue that was robbing performance from this world class set up. Even though I have kept my audio rag subscriptions I did not read a lot and keep up during the two plus years of treatment. So, when I jumped back in I had a LOT of research to do in the personal audio arena. I was happy, but knew I was not getting all the "goody" I paid for. Enter my third X-10 v3.
When I saw Kev not only had one (there is more I have since been told) but that it was sealed brand new in the box. So, I ordered it and simply hoped against hope my assumption was correct. Well, it got here last week and right from the get go......My God!!!! It allowed me to lower the volume knob, until I heard it myself I had forgotten how badly I missed a little tube flavor. With the headphone rig it truly allowed me to see/hear what this magic box can do. Again.....I have owned two previously....one the week they were released and another a couple of years later.
I expected audible improvement.....what I got was like a $2,000 component upgrade!!! As a matter of fact since it only has one output that goes through the circuit and that amazing output section I am already tiring from switch very expensive interconnects when I want to go from the Cary to the SACD player. Of course, that will cause wear on the connectors on the cable, the rca connectors on both the X-10 v3 AND the headphone amp. So, the site says there is still at least one left in stock.....guess what I am ordering from Upscale next week....yup, I need two.
I will admit, I ordered a $350 outboard power supply from Scotland that is made specifically for this unit (the name taught me the benefits of BIG transformers and there effect on performance) Musical Fidelity powers it with a wall wart. There is a power supply for the X series but they are hard to come across and when you do they are normally packaged with the DAC (great for it's day....but the DAC I use now makes it look like an 8 track!!!) and maybe the phono preamp (don't need that.....I have a great one but I found that I simply cannot handle the surface noise from my TT with headphones...plus my preamp is much better). So, I have not even heard this with the outboard power supply as it is built at the time of order....so I got a couple of weeks on that. But, even with the wall wart plugged into my Richard Gray Substation this is kicking complete ass. Again, the tube presence has been missed greatly (and if your thinking "why isn't he using his Cary tubed preamp.....my answer is why add another two single ended interconnects and another component when it is not NEEDED) but it is the impedance matching that is making these $3k plus cans simply come alive. I am thrilled to find another X-10.....but finding one sealed....thanks Uncle Kevin!!! And your site better be updated.....because I am coming for another in the next week or two.
So, here is my advice......if you need tube tone...buy one. If you listen to a headphone system only then you MUST get one....they truly shine in that role. But, please, don't buy Upscales last one.....I NEED THAT!!! As far as the other stuff. i have dealt with.....hug your kid's a little more firmly tonight and enjoy getting up to make breakfast and other stuff that can seem mundane......love your wife (and show it) like you did when you were dating, and never take anything for granted as it can all end/change in seconds. I was lucky in the fact that my company gave me a very generous pension (something they do not do.....but they made an exception for my 20 plus years of service) so financially (along with my Social Security Disability Benefits) I am OK and can buy myself a new toy every now and then (although I think the days of dropping $7k on a pair of speakers or $8k on mono-blocks......and THAT was a great deal courtesy of Upscale Audio) but after a year and a half of building this incredible headphone rig finding this X-10 just took it over the top.
Buy one.......just please, I beg of you.....don't buy Kevin's last one.....I call dibs!!!
Great product, great price, and the best damn audio salon in the entire world. They care about what they sell and most importantly, they truly care about taking care of their customers. Wow, real customer service....who would have "thunk" it is 2014!!! And if you have a need for any tubes....these are the dudes by far!!
And the beauty of this particular piece is it cannot be outdated.......the analog output is from one of the best one box CDP in history and tubes....well hell, they have been "outdated" for half a century and I LOVE THEM!!!
One final thought.....TAKE NOTHING IN LIFE FOR GRANTED....IT CAN GO AWAY WITH THE WIND!!!
Peace and God bless to you all.