The Mini MC5 amplifier reviewed here is my first experience with Wyred 4 Sound, a new player in the world of affordable audiophile components. After learning that I would be working on this review I did some research on the company and found that it had a modest but growing cult-like following. Wyred 4 Sound's followers have long praised the company for offering high performance products, particularly their amplifiers and DACs, at reasonable prices. The Mini MC5 is one such product selling direct for $1,999, or $1.81 a Watt.
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Wyred 4 Sound was started fairly recently by Rick Cullen and EJ Sarmento. Those in the audio industry will recognize the Cullen name. EJ worked with Rick Cullen at Cullen Circuits, a company that served as an OEM manufacturer for many audio manufacturers. EJ worked as an assembler at Cullen Circuits while studying electronics. EJ began to design and build amplifiers, which lead to the creation of the Wyred 4 Sound Company, which now makes a variety of products.
The Mini MC amplifier series is the newer and smaller version of their established 500-Watt per channel line of amplifiers. The Mini MC amplifiers are offered in three, five and seven channel versions. All of the Wyred 4 Sound multi-channel amplifiers are fully balanced, multi-mono designs. Rather than the 500-Watt output of the full size amplifiers, the Mini MC series is rated at 221-Watts per channel into eight Ohms and 368-Watts per channel into four Ohms; both ratings are at point two percent THD+N.
The Wyred 4 Sound amplifiers are Class D amplifiers that utilize the Bang & Olufsen ICEpower modules. The Mini MC amplifiers utilize the newer ASX2 power module. The ASX2 modules are a third generation design that feature an on-board switch-mode power supply with extended bandwidth and improved dynamic range over prior generations. Wyred 4 Sound tweaks the modules by adding a fully balanced input stage with a relatively high input impedance of 60.4K Ohms, which is said to reduce stress on your preamplifier or source if used in a source direct system. The analog stage features a proprietary Wyred 4 Sound design that uses one power supply with each channel being discretely filtered and regulated.
The amplifier itself is relatively compact, measuring a normal 17 inches wide, but only four inches high and 13 inches deep. The case is made of relatively heavy gauge metal and if you order your unit in silver (black is also available), the modern industrial design will be apparent, as the silver front panel will contrast nicely with the black accent pieces on each side of the front panel. The front panel of the Mini MC is dominated by a large window that glows blue when the amp is powered up. The light's intensity can be adjusted through a hole in the bottom of the chassis. The rear panel features gold-plated copper single-ended connections and Neutrik XLR connections for each channel, with a switch to select between the two. Speaker connections are made with WBT style, plastic shrouded binding posts that will accept spades, banana plugs or bare wire. Rounding off the back panel is a power switch, circuit breaker, 12v trigger input and output and IEC power socket.
I first connected the Mini MC 5 to my stereo system. This system is currently comprised of McIntosh Laboratories C500 preamplifier and MCD 500 SACD/CD player; PS Audio's PerfectWave DAC and MartinLogan Summit speakers. All interconnects were balanced and I used both Transparent Cable's Ultra series and Kimber's Select series cables. Power conditioning was by a Richard Gray 1200 unit. I let the amplifier run nonstop for several days before listening. It still needed additional break-in time so I installed it in my multi-channel system.
The Wyred 4 Sound Mini MC-5 replaced my Halcro MC70 in my theater system. Other audio components in the system include an Anthem D2v AV preamp and an Oppo Digital BDP-95 universal disc player. My speakers include MartinLogan Summits, MartinLogan Stage and a Paradigm Sub25 subwoofer. The Anthem D2v was connected to the Mini MC5 with balanced cables, all cables being from Kimber.
Installation in both systems was very straightforward. The amplifiers compact size made placement very easy. The only thing that was not "plug and play" was the light on the front panel. Wyred 4 Sound ships the unit with the light turned all the way up, which I found distracting so I turned it down most of the way. The control for the light is accessed through a small hole on the bottom of the chassis so it is best to figure out how bright you want the light before you install the unit and lose access to the bottom panel.
During the break-in period there were several times when I had the amplifier running for days on end. While it never overheated or demonstrated any signs of distress, the chassis became very warm, so be sure to place the amplifier in a well ventilated space.
I suspect that most people who purchase a multi-channel amplifier are doing so because they are placing it in a multi-channel, surround sound system so that is where I will begin. After at least three hundred hours of break-in, I began to watch movies using the Mini MC 5 for amplification.
Read about the performance of the Wyred 4 Sound Mini MC5 on Page 2.