Musical Fidelity calls these monobloc power amplifiers, superchargers. The idea behind the 308K, and the rest of the supercharger range, is that they should be added to an existing system rather than used as an ordinary power amplifier.
The unit goes between your amplifier and speakers, delivering a power boost –in this case 330 watts – to get better large-scale dynamics and improved authority than most sub-£1000 stereo amplifiers can deliver.
In use, this is exactly what this product does. Used with the likes of Rotel's RA04 (40 Watts per channel) or even Roksan's M-series integrated (85Wpc) the increase in scale, authority and low-end power is impressive. You can play at loud volumes without any sign of distress or strain.
However, the 308K monobloc isn't a wholly transparent product. It has a strong sonic signature, so, along with all the gains, you get a sizable dose of the Musical Fidelity's character. Fine if you like it, not so good if you don't.
This character majors on weight, solidity and a full-bodied midrange. For so powerful an amplifier, the monobloc's midrange has pleasing subtlety and is impressively detailed, too.
More after the break
So far so good, but if you value qualities such as timing, precision and articulation, and your system is built around components that do these things well, you'll lose out.
Stand-alone applicationIn our opinion the A308 makes more sonic sense when used as a normal stand-alone power amplifier. In such a context you can build a system around its strengths – and provided its balance suits your tastes – enjoy a sound of greater integrity and cohesion.
Such a system would shine with large-scale classical work such as Mahler's 10th and deliver a real sense of solidity with everything else.
In trying to come up with a clever marketing ploy MF may just have short-changed its own products by trying to make them work in less than ideal context