The stereo receiver used to be one of the biggest product categories in audio electronics. Through most of the 1970s and well into the 1980s, the combination of tuner and amplifier in the same box proved enormously popular, because it was the nearest you could get to a one-box solution at the time. The idea of just adding a turntable (or tape deck) and loudspeakers represented the pinnacle of audio technology convergence. Times change though, and the receiver fell from grace with the rise of the standalone CD player.
Magnum Dynalab still thinks the receiver has a place in the home system, and the resulting MD209 is the only FM receiver built on North American soil at this time. The basic requirements of the receiver have both radically changed and stayed perfectly still: a one-stop shop for all your audio electronics needs. What’s changed is largely what’s likely to be connected directly to a receiver today: while FM has stayed in place, the chances are that a listener will connect a computer direct to the receiver and, if they use a turntable, a receiver of the MD209’s calibre will likely mean a dedicated phono stage. As a consequence, the MD209 features the RF tuner section from the brand’s popular MD108T and MD109 tuners, coupled with an optional high-grade 24-bit, 192kHz capable DAC section, and five line inputs (two of which are XLR, three RCA).
Unlike Magnum Dynalab’s previous MD208 receiver from the last decade – which was a collaborative design with fellow Canadian brand Simaudio – the new MD209 comes from the drawing board of Magnum Dynalab design director Zdenko Zivkovic. Zivkovic is the brains behind Magnum Dynalab’s current Hybrid Acoustic Circuitry designs, including the mighty MD308, offering 125W (doubling to 250W into four ohms) of power output, coupled with the pair of cryo-treated, Magnum Dynalab specified 6922 double triodes in the gain stage follows the same lines. This is no normal hybrid design, as the triodes act as voltage gain drivers, with the 10 Sanken bipolar power transistors per channel providing current drive. This circuit means an excellent combination of high-current, with triode linearity, long tube life, and – perhaps most important – no heavy output transformers to both weigh down the amplifier and ultimately colour the sound.
Back in the 1960s, amplifier designers moving from valves to solid-state used to design solid-state amplifiers as basically silicon valve amplifiers, with a transformer coupled output stage (the concept continues to this day with some McIntosh amp designs). Then, designers started re-thinking the circuit from first principles, and eliminating the output transformer from the solid-state circuit. Except for a few OTL (output-transformerless) designs, the status quo of valve amps with output transformers and solid-state amps without remained unchallenged. Magnum Dynalab’s hybrid circuit is one of the rare exceptions. Naturally, such a circuit demands high-grade components throughout, and as a consequence requires a degree of run-in.