Music Hall Audio MMF-7.3 turntable Page 2

Off the mark, soundstages were generally wide and clear. Tonality sounded dark, and images were small and recessed, with individual instruments clustered together and of almost teeny stature. Voices sounded one-dimensional.

Listening #2: the Goldring Elite
The Ortofon 2M Bronze is an admirable budget cartridge, but in my system its deficits were soon clear. I mused that the 2M Bronze was preventing the MMF-7.3 from revealing its true nature. Like the Ortofon Quintet Bronze I reviewed for a different publication, the 2M Bronze had tonal and spatial problems that prevented a true appraisal of the accompanying turntable. I got on the horn and requested a different cartridge; Music Hall's Leland Leard sent a Goldring Elite MC, a cartridge unknown to me (footnote 2).

The difference was profound—like chalk and cheese. Though the Elite required considerable break-in—two weeks of solid vinyl-spinning time—its sophisticated, clear-eyed personality was evident from the get-go. This baby peered deeeeeeeeep into and around the soundstage, revealing riches from my vinyl discs that I never knew existed. Record after record, performances sounded more concise, more resolved, and simultaneously more graceful and sweet in the upper frequencies than from my go-to Denon DL-103. The MMF-7.3 cast a soundstage that was a bit smaller than my combination of Kuzma Stabi S turntable (aka "the pipe bomb") and Stogi tonearm. Individual voices and instruments were on the small side (compared to my Kuzma), yet had pinpoint definition that was beautifully, finely, sensitively formed.

The duo of Music Hall MMF-7.3 and Goldring Elite was a spatial king. My Kuzma-Denon sound'n'time transporter is a flesh-and-blood–pounding, tonally saturated, supremely physical and gusto-filled vinyl music maker. The Music Hall–Goldring pairing lacked the human-sized weight, "blacker" backgrounds, and first-row stability of my home rig, but its soundstages were more finely layered and detailed, from top to bottom and from front to back. I'd always assumed that my smallish listening space prevented spatial rendering of this caliber; the MH-Goldring tag team slapped me upside the head. Wake up! Smell the delicacies! Immerse yourself in our glistening, multi-textured, light-filled presentation!

I'd like to say that I played a bunch of newly purchased LPs to evaluate the '7.3, but for the most part I played vinyl that I know very well, to make differences between components easier to detect.


Spinning "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," from Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (LP, Prestige 7200), I was surprised yet again. Paul Chambers's double bass dug deep, sounding cottony-soft and rotund. Philly Joe Jones's ride cymbal was big, even luminous, with excellent ping, aka stick definition. I heard his driving cymbal notes, but also the resonant roar and ambient spread that comes from the cymbal's body, and that fills out the lower notes of the double bass—notes often more felt than heard. In that regard, the Music Hall provided double goodness. Red Garland's piano was wonderfully articulated, leading-edge notes driven by each discernible finger plonk. Above it all, Miles's arid, bittersweet trumpet led this classic masterpiece of hard bop. The soundstage was small, but superbly defined and illustrated. My Kuzma-Denon rig had never revealed this level of resolution and feathery musicality in Steamin', though my home team's sound is meatier, more powerful, tonally superior, and front-row present.

I often veer between 1960s hard bop and '00s electronica, the latter's globular low tones so floor-buckling they sometimes give my 25-year-old neighbors, Jen and Jackie, quite the fright. I slid M3LL155X, the latest platter from Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA twigs (LP, Young Turks/XL YT 142), onto the MMF-7.3, and tried to be mindful of the girls' sanity. Oops! I forgot to turn down the volume, unleashing a tsunami of rolling synth thunder from the MMF-7.3, and surely into Jen and Jackie's tiny crib. This modern electronic production is intentionally airless, twigs trapping us in a claustrophobic world of tactile synthesizers, breathy cries, and buzzing, oddly panned pitches that recall sound effects from a sci-fi film. Rhythmic, wraparound bass tones were unusually pointed and vivid via the Music Hall, as if hammering my forehead with a metal mallet. The MMF-7.3 resolved every groove-engraved molecule of this clinically recorded, rolling hip-hop assault, and a glorious drilling it was. The LP's synth-bass notes were dark and ominous, so menacing they recalled the scene in Ridley Scott's Alien where the monster coils its tail under the pintsized midriff of horrified Veronica Cartwright. Can you feel it? The MH-Goldring team was a truth detector of the highest order.

Feeling frisky at Music Hall's claim that the MMF-7.3 can change speeds in four seconds flat, I played the 45rpm version of Father John Misty's I Love You, Honeybear (LP, Sub Pop SP1115). This 2015 release is a country-tragic cavalcade of steel and acoustic guitars, orchestral strings, cavernous drums, and sardonic lyrics wrapped in a grandiose, Spector-worthy wall of sound, as Misty's wickedly sharp tongue satirizes Gram Parsons–styled country-rock. The Music Hall aptly propelled the swaying Nashville rhythms and blustery melodies of his music, although the top end was a mite dry and hard. But that's nit-picking. Misty music filled the room, sweeping me up in a celestial swoon of sounds.

Balancing resolution with grace, the MH-Goldring duo produced clean, focused images that simply shimmered. Though its bass presentation was occasionally lean and a little soft, the 'table's first-rate resolution turned familiar LPs into new sonic territory to be explored. Classical music was a gas. Electronic music scared the neighbors. Jazz swung mightily, if with less weight and drama than I'm accustomed to via my Kuzma-Denon dynamic duo. The Music Hall benefited greatly from the Goldring Elite's retrieval of microdetail and extended upper-frequency extremes. The pairing revealed the guitar finery and cymbal crash of Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced (LP, Columbia/Legacy 88697-62395-1) as easily as it did the glowing electronic thump and Roland 808 spew of Moderat's mournful III (LP, Monkeytown 9339-1).

Listening #3: the Denon DL-103
When I swapped out the Goldring Elite for the Denon DL-103 in the Music Hall's headshell (footnote 3), the classic Japanese cart's greater forward movement and drive, more natural sound, increased bass presence, and more tactile textures were allied to superior weight and bigger, first-row images. The Goldring's triumphant resolution surpassed the Denon's with an intoxicating sense of refinement. The Goldring was also a champion of transient sparkle and upper-frequency energy. In the Music Hall, the Goldring Elite was a gracious companion with exquisite taste, but was rather cerebral. The Denon, anything but a cool customer, was a workingman's cartridge that delivered music in a warm-blooded, almost intuitive way. The MMF-7.3 revealed the character of each cartridge with decided neutrality.

These days, the $1000–$1500 price range is a Wild West of turntables, with manufacturers from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and Pro-Ject to Thorens and Clearaudio in the race to win from consumers the coveted award for Best Turntable for Under $2000. If I were of a mind to spend my C-notes on a turntable in this price range, the Music Hall MMF-7.3 would be at the top of my money-grubbing list. Though the MMF-7.3 was very fussy about what it sat on, and demanded a very good cartridge before it would coquettishly reveal its true demeanor, its spirited personality and resolving nature made old records new again. And that left me gobsmacked.

But I wonder if you're asking yourself the same question I am: What would Sam say?

Footnote 2: The Goldring Elite has also been auditioned by Art Dudley and Michael Fremer.

Footnote 3: The Denon DL-103 was reviewed by Art Dudley in October 2007.

Armour Home Electronics Ltd. UK
Distributor: Music Hall Audio
108 Station Road
Great Neck, NY 11021
(516) 487-3663

Anton's picture

I have a friend with that cartridge and I thought it sounded good. I can't explain such a poor perception of it. Could it be a dislike of the Ortofon "house sound" thing?

Anyway, if I were in the market for a table in that range, the review would put it at the top of my list. I think Roy Hall just has a grumpy-old-man persona to maintain. It was very well written and gave me a solid idea of what I would expect from the table.

Bill Leebens's picture

It's only fair!

Anton's picture

Maybe next time I see you!

Cheers, amigo.

tonykaz's picture

You should've asked for various features to be explained.

I went to your Web page and read a long list of desirable features that I didn't notice in the review.

A Piano Lacquer finish? Is it actually as good looking as it is in the snaps?, very nice Curb appeal for the Mrs.

Sorbothane, multi layer plinth, 22 oz platter, hmm, does the Motor have Quartz speed control ( to what level of accuracy? ), does it have Litz wire to those GOLD RCAs on the back?, what is the Arm resonance freq.?, what cartridge compliance is ideal?, will it work ok on wooden floors? ( LINN LP-12 will bounce when folks walk around ) .

I would expect a reviewer to be properly informed, am I asking too much?

Of course the reviewer might've called and talked to you!

Both Guilty, shared 50/50!

Having said that, you certainly had me looking at your web page and I'm not an Analog Man, since 1985.

I was in the Audio Business long ago, I think I met you a couple of times, rather pleasant memory of you considering you're a Brit.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Can you pleeeeeze send Nigel Farge back home, he's causing a bit of a ruckus round these parts. ( but then, maybe you don't want him either )

Catcher10's picture

I don't have a "7.3", but rather a 7.1 I purchased 4yrs ago and last year upgraded the 9c arm to the 9cc and added a Cruise Control. Essentially I made a 7.3 from my 7.1

I have had zero desire to change tables in the past 4yrs, or now in the future. Having owned many tables in the past 30yrs, this design has given me the best sound retrieval from my LPs....Period! It has taken many cartridge upgrades and each time I have experienced a better sound, I run a Lyra Delos on it now and am beyond satisfied with the higher end performance. I would love a mmf-11.1 table but cannot afford that model, I'd like to think one day!!

I have communicated with Roy Hall via email several times, and every time he has been more than cordial and very prompt in his responses. When I first received my 7.1, I was having an issue with setup, I emailed him and within 20min I had several responses...BTW it was a Saturday afternoon. I don't get the dislike of him....just me though.

I love my table.....

Eoldschool's picture

First of all, the Ortofon 2M Bronze is hardly a budget and mediocre cart. Sure compared to a $1000, it may be "budget", but cost never equates to quality. Most folks do not run 4 digit carts either, so that bit is skewered.
Secondly, it should have been pointed out that an MC cart (in the case of the Goldring) is a different animal to an MM cart and each have their good and bad, but both are fine for the job.
Third, different tonearms are compatible with different carts. For instance, I put a Shure 97xMe on my Denon DP47f and it was awful no matter what I did with my analog front. It was just not compatible. Swapped it with a 2M Bronze and night and day. In fact, I learned that the 2M Blue would be an even better choice for the Denon tonearm on that table as would the Denon 103 for a MC cart.
Fourth-You don't mention whether you are using a phono preamp or not and if so it likely adjustable to which you can make the cart behave differently.
Fifth- did you try changing the platter mat?
None of these important things were mentioned and therefore your review is skewered in a certain direction.
Yes, there are many fine tables out there under $2000. Even the lowly Music Hall MF2.2 can handle better carts than it comes with. However, when you think about just that fact alone not to mention others, the MF2.2 isn't all that lowly. The MF7.3 of course has better refinements and such and is just as good a choice as any other table in the range.
It's the beauty of analog, the fact that one can simply change the mat let alone anything else and get a completely different sound, a sound the way the individual likes it.

George Napalm's picture

I received the October issue of the magazine and noticed that Music Hall MMF-7.3 is listed as Class B component. But despite being the cheapest turntable in this category it doesn't have a "$$$" mark. Was it placed in B category by mistake?

Bobbersound's picture

Can anyone tell me just how much better this mmf7.3 is compared to the Ikura and mmf5.3 tables im interested in the best sound for least money i wish not to waste money for little gain, the Bronze cart is what interested me about the 7.3 over the other two which come with the blue cartridge how much of an upgrade is it ????

otaku's picture

Hi. This 'table seems to be competitive in price and features with the Marantz TT-15S1. Has anyone here listened to both of them? Is it correct that the MMF goes in Class B and the TT in Class C? Is it due to a difference in the tonearms? Or cartridges? Or motor/suspension?