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Amplifier Musical Fidelity Tempest review

Wherever it passed, the Shakespearian Tempest left havoc in its wake, such was its violent and erratic nature. As the following test confirms, it will be seen that Musical Fidelity’s Tempest has not been inappropriately christened.

There’s nothing alarming about its appearance, which is just an extension of the slim and functional styling that first saw light of day with the B1 amplifier. If you need anything more than a volume control, rec-out and input selector then look elsewhere. Otherwise the Tempest is ideally equipped for a basic line-only system, while vinyl users needn’t fret as there’s always the optional ?29 MM phono board, which is culled from the old Synthesis amplifier.

The manufacturer’s description of the Tempest as ‘a Class B version of the A1’, is a little too simplistic. With its low-noise BC550/BC560 transistors, Hitachi drivers and over-specified MOSFET output stage, in fact it adopts features of both A1 and B1 integrated models and the Typhoon power amp.

Either way, with its localised input switching, displaced volume pot and huge power supply, the Tempest represents a lot of amplifier for the money. However, it’s worth noting that because the majority of the amp’s gain is accommodated in the first quartile careful handling of the volume control is required.

Sound quality

There was no conflict of opinion here as the panel was unanimously horrified by the splash of high frequency detail, which made all styles of music sound hurried and untidy. For example, it was difficult to separate the cymbals, trumpet and trombone on Marty Paich’s jazz CD. Percussion seemed to set off an electronic haze, while the ‘plink, plonk’ of a piano sounded ‘rather like a Jew’s Harp’.

The swimmy ambience of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Julietwas something of a disappointment with the brass being heard through a fog of strings, the violins of which had a rather evil tone.

This forward and ragged treble was again highlighted by Tracy Chapman’s percussion section which sounded like the random shaking of jars full of dried beans. To cap it all, the Tempest was subsequently voted ‘the least attractive amplifier in the test’.

Conclusion

It appears Musical Fidelity’s Tempest is appropriately named, as the sound is wholly dominated by a unnecessarily stormy treble. It is a deceptive amplifier that might sound superficially impressive but, likely as not, will rain all over your parade ground once you get it home. On the basis of the dousing received during the listening test we would suggest you don’t expose yourself to the Tempest. Stay indoors instead.

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