T+A MP200 Multi Source Player Reviewed

Price: $5,900.00

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The first component in your audio system playback chain is your source component, and it’s arguably the most critical in your system. Your source component needs to be able to play your media and get it to the rest of your system. If you cannot get your music from your source, you will not be listening to it, and if your playback source cannot output it without modification, your music will likely not sound the way it is supposed to, and there is not much any downstream component will be able to do about it.

If you have been paying any attention at all to the audio world over the past decade or so, you have watched streaming services become the predominant source of digital music in most of our playback systems. Many of us, me included, still have thousands of discs in various formats, containing all kinds of music. Most of mine are Compact Discs, with some SACDs, as well as a smaller volume of audiophile discs from even more obscure and often-dead formats. 

The T+A 200 series stacks nicely or sits elegantly on a credenza.
The T+A 200 series stacks nicely or sits elegantly on a credenza.

The T+A MP200 we are reviewing now is from the German audiophile electronics company’s 200 Series, which is in the middle of their lineup and significantly less expensive than their HV flagship line that Paul Wilson uses as his reference electronics. The T+A MP200 ($5,900) is the one source component in the 200 Series, which also features an amplifier and two different DAC/preamplifiers, one of which is optimized for headphones. Through the use of a clever control system and a control cable that connects the components, the units can almost function as one component controlled by T+A’s own app, which works on both iOS and Android devices. 

The 200 Series is visually distinct, with its compact chassis and silver or black metal casework that makes it readily identifiable as a T+A product. The T+A 200 Series chassis measures 12.6 inches wide by 13.4 inches deep and four inches high. The MP200 weighs 9.7 pounds and feels very solid. The industrial design of the 200 Series carries over design elements from other T+A lines, including matte finishes, beveled edges, and control knobs with a distinctive flange design. 

What Makes the T+A MP200 Audiophile Player Special? 

  • The MP200 is intended to be your sole source for all your digital audio files, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ethernet, digital inputs, USB, SCL (streaming client) and a DAB/FM tuner.  In addition to the built-in Compact Disc transport and tuner, it has integrated streaming services, which currently include Deezer, Tidal, Qobuz, and Airable, and is also Roon Ready. Network connections can be made via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. A nice touch is that the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas have cables connecting them to the MP200. This shows some thought was given to this, as many times components are stacked in racks that are not conducive to antenna placement. Lastly, there are also USB and SPDIF/Toslink digital inputs.
  • T+A does not reveal much about the slot-loading mechanism, other than to say it is not an old, legacy component. I found it to operate smoothly without any intrusive mechanical noise. 
  • A radio tuner is not something we typically think of when considering a digital source product, and I found it to be a thoughtful addition. Admittedly, I do not listen to much radio anymore, but it was nice to have that as an option without adding additional clutter to a tight and stylish system. 
  • The fit and finish of the MP200 is understated and well-executed. The 200 Series products from T+A are about two-thirds of normal component width, which makes me suspect they will not be hidden away in a rack but rather someplace more visible. The T+A MP200 styling is classy and understated, with a nicely executed finish. The chassis is solid, with nicely finished matte surfaces and well-fitted casework. This is definitely not a component you will feel compelled to hide away. 
  • The remote and T+A App provide an inviting, easy-to-utilize interface.    If the gear is hard to use, it is hard to enjoy, no matter how good the audio quality is. T+A provides a slim, aluminum-bodied remote that feels nice and oversees basic controls. I found myself using the T+A app to navigate through Internet radio, my music server and Tidal. 

Why Should You Care About the T+A Player MP200?

I see the T+A MP200 mainly appealing to those considering the full stack of T+A 200 Series components. The integrated control between the components makes for seamless integration. When I use the app to select a Tidal playlist, radio station or whatever I wanted, the entire stack of audiophile gear turns on, the correct inputs are selected, and the music plays. Nice and simple, as one would expect from a true luxury goods product. However, even if you are not considering the rest of the Series 200 components, the T+A MP200 combines Compact Disc playback, streaming, and FM radio into a single chassis without compromising audio performance. I could see this as a front end for many not all-in with T+A yet, too. 

The T+A MP200 is a truly unique audiophile component with its range of audiophile source options in once chassis
The T+A MP200 is a truly unique audiophile component with its range of audiophile source options in once chassis

Some Things You Might Not Like About the T+A MP200 Audiophile Player

  • At $5,900, there is no internal DAC included.  We recently reviewed another CD transport and, while we rejoice at the selection of incredible DACs on the market for audiophiles to choose from, why not include that functionality here to provide additional versatility? This is especially true when good DAC chips cost a few dollars in today’s semiconductor market.  
  • Forget playing audiophile legacy formats like SACD and DVD-Audio. Again, T+A is not the only audiophile company to eschew other legacy disc formats, but the same question arises: why forego the versatility of knowing that your player will handle just about any disc that may be in your collection? To T+A’s credit, the accompanying DAC (review pending) is DSD-capable, you will just need a different source other than the MP200 to play DSD into it, perhaps from an SACD disc.
  • There is no integrated support for AirPlay, Chromecast Spotify, and other streaming services favored by younger listeners. At FutureAudiophile.com, we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone, especially our younger listeners, to access their music. It would seem that the choice of streaming sources could be expanded as the app and/or firmware develop. 

Listening to the T+A MP200 Multi Source Player… 

I set up the T+A MP200 Multi Source Player with the DAC200 DAC/Preamplifier and A200 stereo amplifier, making for a complete Series 200 stack playing through Revel F328Be speakers. I made the DAC connections via a Kimber DV-75 coaxial cable and USB cable, as well as making the system control connections. As a control, I also used an Eversolo DMP-A6 Master Edition to compare stream music, as well as a Marantz SACD 30n to compare CD playback.

Skipping to the results – the MP200 Multi Source Player was sonically transparent when streaming and playing Compact Discs. I streamed several tracks through the streamers, and could not consistently tell the difference between them. I double-checked by inviting a friend over, and neither could he. Same thing with CDs, especially as it took additional time to move the disc from one player to the other. 

I played Shelby Lynne’s “Just a Litle Lovin” on Compact Disc through both players, and firmly believe the sonic characteristics I heard were all downstream from the source components, and it was good. Lynne’s voice was crystal clear, well-focused and full of presence. 

Shelby Lynne’s “Just a Litle Lovin” from YouTube.com

Staying with female vocalists, but moving to something more current and with a low-end emphasis, I listened to Taylor Swift’s “Vigilante Shit” (Tidal, 48 kHz / 24-bit) on both streamers. This track, like many others of the modern genre, is heavily processed, and that was readily apparent through this system. The bass is on the heavy side, but clean without excessive bloom, but that’s in the recording. The T+A is just reporting the news musically, and that is a good thing. 

Our Eagles-fan publisher has banned any mention of Tay-tay’s boyfriend on this, here audiophile website. We have limits, you know… 🙂

I recently saw Green Day play live so I listened to their most famous album Dookie on both Compact Disc and via Tidal (44.1 kHz/16-bit) and thought there may have been a little more bite in the guitars through the streamed version, as opposed to the Compact Disc. I share this but am not sure what it’s worth, as the differences could have been associated with the FLAC/ MQA encoding/decoding. On tracks like “Longview,” these slight differences were sort of audible. Is the difference worth the grief? Umm … I am not sure, as it is that slight. For my money (time is money, they say), I will stick with the streaming, as little to nothing is lost with the MP200 in the loop. 

Will the T+A MP200 Multi Source Player Hold Its Value?

I will use a favorite lawyer answer that you have no doubt heard a million times if you watch legal procedural shows on television … “It depends,” as I see this as a two-part analysis. Part One: What is the lifespan of Compact Disc playback, in particular, the demand to be able to play legacy Compact Discs? While Compact Disc sales have dramatically declined in the past decade, there are many tens, if not hundreds, of millions of them in circulation. The second part depends on T+A: Will they keep the streaming software current by adopting new platforms? T+A is a well-established audio equipment company, even if it is not particularly well-known in the United States. I see no reason T+A wouldn’t.

The T+A 200 Series gear comes dressed in black if you prefer that to silver.
The T+A 200 Series gear comes dressed in black if you prefer that to silver.

What is the Competition for the T+A MP200?

The Eversolo DMR-A6 Master Edition is one of the popular streaming options right now, and is also in a smaller chassis format like the T+A and a number of other recently-reviewed DACs, like the Bricasti M3 DAC (read the review here) at $6,000 that publisher Jerry Del Colliano swooned over. The Eversolo does not have a Compact Disc transport, but has a built-in DAC and a well-developed interface, with a large touch-screen in addition to the app. Notably, it has support for a wide variety of streaming services, including Spotify. It is also dirt cheap in comparison, as the Chinese build quality is not comparable with T+A’s stellar fit and finish. 

A little bit closer in terms of a feature set is a product I recently reviewed, the Marantz SACD 30n for $2,999 (buy at Crutchfield) which, like the MP200, can play Compact Discs and stream audio as a network player. The Marantz also plays SACDs and works with a lot of streaming services through its HEOS architecture. 

There are other streamers on the market that are higher-end, such as the $2,000 PS Audio Air Lens (Greg Handy is reviewing that now) and the Bricasti M5 at $2,500 (Jerry has that one in his rack now), but they don’t come with as varied an offering of source options, like being able to spin a silver disc or play radio. The T+A is a pretty unique audiophile source component in today’s marketplace.

You don't see many digital sources that also include a silver disc spinner as the T+A MP200 does...
You don’t see many digital sources that also include a silver disc spinner as the T+A MP200 does…

Final Thoughts on the T+A MP200 Audiophile Player…

If you are building a T+A Series 200 system, stop reading this and just go, get your MP200. The quality, functionality and integration make this selection a no-brainer. There are a few options to add to the system if there are other digital sources that you want to listen to. I hope that T+A continues to expand the app’s capabilities as well in this regard. I have learned that they have done just this with some of their lower end products and have plans to bring such changes to their 200 Series and HV series products sooner than later. That’s good news, indeed. 

When I recently received a Compact Disc transport, I finished with recommending the product: “If you are an audiophile with lots of CDs and a high-end DAC, you want to make sure that you can feed that DAC with the highest-quality digital signal possible.” With the MP200, my feelings are similar with the important addition of, “If you are an audiophile with lots of CDs and also like to stream your music to a high-end DAC…” The T+A MP200 is the rock star frontman for a formidable audiophile system, with performance that goes well beyond what would be implied by its diminutive size. 

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Paul Wilson

Great review Brian from one who believes in the value/performance of the T+A product line. I am still enamored by my T+A amp and preamp and would choose them any day over the growing list of components with cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for an amp, preamp and maybe a source.

Best,

Paul

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