What is T+A’s MP 3000 HV? That question is a lot more complex to answer than usual. This chunky box doesn’t fall into any neat category.
Perhaps the best description is a high-end all-in-one digital source…. with an FM tuner. Quite.
Build quality and connections
Let’s go through its main functions. The MP 3000 HV will play CDs, stream music across a network and is a digital-to-analogue converter, too. It’ll also access internet radio and, if you have a good enough aerial, make FM sound better than most people have ever heard it.
All of these things are wrapped in an immaculately made case. We’ve already reviewed the MP 3000 HV’s partnering amplifier, the PA 3000 HV, and were stunned by the build quality on offer. It’s the same here.
This media player feels rock-solid, and is as well finished as any product we’ve seen. It’s clear that T+A has been obsessive in getting every aspect just right, from the aluminium panels’ beautifully machined and aligned edges to the precision feel of the controls.
We’re not so keen on the touch buttons on the front panel display, though – they feel vague in use and the display window soon gets covered with fingerprints. That apart, the MP 3000 HV positively oozes a luxury feel.
Take a look at the back panel and there’s plenty to see. It’s the twin power inputs that catch our attention first – one for the analogue section and the other for digital circuitry. It shows the lengths the engineers have gone to in order to prevent potentially harmful interaction.
There’s a full range of digital inputs too, including the rarely seen AES/EBU. All bar the optical connection can accept 24-bit/192kHz data streams.
You’ll also find a choice of balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs, a couple of aerial connections – one for the internal tuner circuitry, the other to receive signals from T+A’s system controller (more on that later).
We take a look inside and are impressed by what we see. The MP 3000 HV is split into five compartments internally, each separated by aluminium dividing wall.
More after the break
This kind of structure keeps the various sections of internal electronics – DAC board, power supplies for the analogue and digital circuitry, CD transport and various control boards – away from one another to the benefit of sound quality.
A great deal of care has been taken with the CD transport. It is housed in a heavy, hermetically sealed aluminium case, which is then isolated from the main structure with a three-point suspension. Such a design drastically reduces the amount of noise and vibration transmitted into the rest of the unit. This can only be a good thing.
This T+A is a bit of a mixed affair when it comes ease of use. It comes supplied with the company’s FD 100 system remote, which we didn’t get along with at all. Its buttons feel vague and some of the labelling is downright odd.
For example, the ‘SRC’ button either switches to the Home menu or opens the network configuration menu when in streaming mode – rather than changing source as the labelling suggests. The iOS control app is much better, though it’s still a step away from being truly intuitive.
When it comes to performance there’s so much to get through here. The MP 3000 HV is wired into our usual reference system, which includes a Bryston BP26/4B SST2 amplifier and ATC SCM50 speakers. We also use it with its natural partner, the talented PA 3000 HV amplifier.
CD replay seems as good a place to start as any.
As we load PJ Harvey’s White Chalk CD we’re struck by how slick the drawer action is. It just glides, and is much nicer than the rickety affairs even high-end CD players normally serve up.
White Chalk is a beautiful recording. It’s sparse, carefully produced and contains some great songs. The T+A works really well here – its naturally refined and revealing presentation delivering the kind of subtlety this recording requires.
Listen to Dear Darkness, and the MP 3000 HV renders Harvey’s intimate performance with real class. It sounds unprocessed, tonally faithful and packed with nuance.
There’s a rare delicacy here, and an impressive degree of precision in the way notes are shaped. Plenty of detail too, so the texture of her voice and the backing instrumentation is rendered well.
The same qualities are noted when we switch to music streaming. The T+A’s rendition of The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil (24-bit/176.4kHz) is good. It sounds stable and composed, making light work of reconstructing the complex percussion of this song.
Our pricier Naim NDS/555ps streamer shows more rhythmic drive and greater punch, but on the whole the MP 3000 HV does a fine job.
Switching to a CD rip of the Jurassic Park theme by John Williams shows the expected drop in fine detail, but also highlights the T+A’s expansive soundstaging skills and dynamic reach.
There’s a pleasing sense of scale and solidity to the sound, and this player has the insight to make it easy to follow individual instrumental strands, even when the piece becomes busy.
The same qualities of refinement, insight and composure are evident when the MP 3000 HV is used as a DAC. Any difference in sonic quality between USB, coaxial, optical and AES/EBU inputs are vastly overshadowed by the sources used.
The performance of the MP 3000 HV’s digital section can be fine-tuned by switching digital filters. There are four of these, and while the choice is likely to come down to system and taste as much as anything else, we formed a clear preference for the pure Bezier setting. This just seemed to produce a more natural and fluid sound to us.
If you can get a good FM signal to the T+A it will deliver a great performance. Given optimum conditions it’s clean, precise and enjoyable, and puts just about every DAB tuner we’ve heard to shame.
The MP 3000 HV is a fine multi-source player. Sure, it’s pricey, but considering the range of high-quality sources that its £7900 price tag includes, it doesn’t seem overambitious.
Add that exceptional build quality into the equation and we think this media player becomes a highly tempting proposition.