Comments on the MAD Ultra 4m by Tom Mitchell on AudioCircle

Iíve had my Ultra 4M for 5 weeks, listening only on the weekends. I have about 75 hours on it now, Iíd estimate. My initial impressions were very positive: dynamic, quiet and very musical. Since then, the Ultra 4M has gotten better in all respects, not dramatically, because Lloyd auditioned it extensively before sending it out. You wonít get a unit from him that doesnít sound right, Iíd speculate, simply because he is so thorough in what he does.

What strikes me most about the Ultra 4M, which replaced an Audio Research SP-3A-1, is that many CDs that sounded bad on the ARC preamp (and for which I used the SP-3A-1ís tone controls to compensate) sound very listenable on the Ultra 4M. I worried that I would miss tone controls when I ordered the Ultra 4M, but no moreóI havenít missed them at all. The Ultra 4M allows that elusive window into the music that lets me relax and enjoy the performance. Detail is excellent, but not overly analytical. The soundstage, on those few recordings that have veridical spatial qualities, is wide and deep. Timbre of instrumnets is true to life. In short, nothing the Ultra 4M does offends my ears.

I havenít listened to many records through the phono section, but those that I have listened to struck me the same way. Again, records that I used tone controls with on the Audio Research preamp donít seem to need compensation through the Ultra 4M. It has more gain than the Audio Research and is quieter. (In fairness to ARC, my SP-3A-1 is due for a reconditioning after almost 30 years, but it would have cost me twice as much to have the ARC factory recondition it than to buy Lloydís Ultra 4M.)

To put my remarks in context, my system is composed of: Cambridge Audio D-500 CD player, the Ultra 4M, a Decware Zen SE-84C amplifier, and vintage University 6200 full-range 12Ē drivers in Electro-Voice Aristocrat cornerhorn enclosures. Phono cartridge is a Denon DL-110 high output moving coil.

Am I satisfied with the Ultra 4M? Iím delighted. Would I deal with Lloyd again? In a heartbeat.