Music Hall MMF-1.5 turntable review
Sound Advice Vinyl Product Points Review ™ By Don Lindich
Manufacturer website: http://musichallaudio.com
- The Music Hall MMF-1.5 is manufactured and imported by Music Hall Audio of Great Neck, New York. Music Hall specializes in high-end yet affordable equipment for two channel music reproduction – no surround sound. They are especially known for their turntables and phono gear, and also import a variety of amplifiers, speakers and accessories.
- Turntable assembles very easily, even easier than you might think after viewing the unboxing pictures below.
- Beautiful satin finish wood plinth in cherrywood. You won’t be able to take your eyes off it!
- The images used in advertising don’t come remotely close to doing this turntable justice, more than any product in recent or even distant memory. The plinth, platter and tonearm are all quite impressive when you see and touch them.
- The tonearm has a great look and feel, and cuing is precise and nicely damped. It looks to be a clone of a Technics SL-1200 tonearm, without the Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) adjustment. The black anodized aluminum looks high-end. The counterweight was right on the money for balancing the Melody cartridge, using the lines on the tonearm. This speaks to excellent precision.
- Interchangeable headshells for easy cartridge mounting and swapping.
- Anti-skating adjustment dial is MUCH easier to use than the tiny weights attached to nylon cords.
- You won’t find a better looking or better feeling turntable for $399, not even close. It is easy to imagine it selling for $1,000 if it has a more exotic nameplate and a lot of marketing buzzspeak around it.
- Hinged clear plastic dust cover is included.
- Belt drive design.
- Built-in speed control and regulation, 33/45/78. Other belt-drive turntables in this price category do not have a 78 rpm speed, making the MMF-1.5 stand out in that regard.
- Lightweight, rigid plinth means there is not much isolation from footfalls, needs isolation or a solid platform for best performance.
- High-quality, wobble-free bearing with aluminum platter means you can use a moving coil cartridge if desired.
- Rubber mat also looks and feels expensive, several steps up from others I have experienced in turntables in this price range.
- Built-in, defeatable phono preamp has good sound with moving magnet cartridges.
- Music Hall Melody cartridge is included. It is a tweaked Audio-Technica with a basic conical stylus and uses 2g tracking force.
- The cartridge sounds rough right out of the box and needs break in. Ignore any and all impressions for the first 20 minutes, you may want to play with volume off. It loosened up considerably after 20 minutes and after 2 hours it sounded pretty nice.
- Extremely involving and musical. The MMF-1.5 has remarkable sound quality from a modest cartridge.
- Any sonic flaws are sins of omission, not commission, and mostly linked to the entry-level cartridge. This is a fantastic platform absolutely begging for a better cartridge, or at least a stylus upgrade.
- At higher volumes there is slightly elevated surface noise with the stock cartridge.
- Seems a bit fussy for cartridge matching, and putting on an expensive cartridge is no guarantee of better sound. A $329 Audio-Technica VM740ML, which is one of my favorites at the price, did not sound as good overall as the Music Hall Melody did when used on the MMF-1.5.
- My favorite $99 cartridge, LP Gear’s The Vessel A3SE, sounded phenomenal on this turntable, providing great detail, richness, and liveliness, a large improvement over the Melody. A Music Hall MMF-1.5 with The Vessel A3SE is competitive with a lot of much more expensive turntables.
- For a cheap and easy upgrade, switch the Melody’s conical stylus for a $29 Carbon Fidelity CFN3600LE stylus. It plugs right in and its finer-tipped elliptical stylus will get more detail out of the grooves, providing richer, more nuanced sound and more fine detail.
This is my new favorite turntable under $400, and Music Hall is to be commended for bringing it to the market for such a reasonable price. If it performed just the same and said Rega or VPI on the box, it would likely cost over $1,000 and would still sell! It may seem like I am dissing the Music Hall Melody cartridge as you read through all the points, but I don’t mean to do so. It sounds fine, it is just that the rest of the package is so good it leaves you wanting more, and I knew the turntable and tonearm had a lot of untapped potential. You can certainly enjoy it out-of-the-box and leave the cartridge upgrade for another day, though for only $29 you may want to get the elliptical tip Carbon Fidelity CFN3600LE sooner rather than later.
Given the fine finish of the plinth, tonearm and platter, built-in speed control and regulation and excellent performance, the MMF-1.5 comes across to me as a $600 or $800 turntable that is being sold for only $399, and they are throwing in a starter cartridge to boot. It is going to make a lot of newcomers to vinyl and those upgrading their starter turntables very, very happy.
Additional images from unboxing and setup are below.
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Additional product images