I've had the Michi for a couple of weeks now, namely the P5 Control (DAC/preamp) and the M8 Monoblock (power amps).
The first thing I have to say about both the pre and power amps is that they are very heavy! The preamp is approximately 20Kg, and each of the mono blocks are 60Kg each! You really need two people to move these into place.
The construction of the units is first rate. Heavy for sure, but the level of design and finish is outstanding. Running my hands over the heat sinks on the sides, inspecting the alignment of the enclosures, using the displays and generally the ergonomics of the remote show an attention to detail that unfortunately in audio is not always done anywhere near so well as on the Michi's.
The remote in particular is a pleasure - each unit has a remote, which enables one to setup the display, or control the function.
The power amp remote lets you configure the display (VU meter or spectrum analysis, or simply to turn it off). One can also set the display and LED brightness. After a bit of wow-factor letting the VU meter and spectrum analysis show off their thing, I eventually turned the displays off on the power amps, and dimmed the LED to the lowest brightness.
Setup of the preamp is straightforward via the remote as well, after which point you can control the input via the left circular knob on the preamp, or the volume on the right. Mostly I use the remote.
Both the preamp and the power amps are firmware upgradeable via network (ethernet) or USB. I installed a simple switch near the preamp and ran ethernet to each of the units, and upgraded firmware from the Internet. Given how heavy the units are, I think this is a better way of upgrading the firmware on them instead of attempting to move them to get to the USB port on the back!
In my setup I connected a Rega Planar 3 (MM) into the TT input, and Roon endpoint (from ProJect) via USB. I had to set the TT input to MM mode, and the USB input to USB-2 mode. With USB-1 mode I was getting some crackling when playing Tidal via Roon. Setting the connection to USB-2 solved that. Also, I connected the preamp to the power amps via XLR cable, as the power amps I placed near the loudspeakers, PMC MB2se's. An old Linn CD player is connected via BNC to RCA Analysis Plus cable. I also enabled Bluetooth, and played music via Spotify.
Once set up, all units (preamp and power amps) have a default turn off time of 20 minutes, which can be adjusted.
As the power amps are over 1kw into 8Ohm, letting the units got to standby seems like a good idea.
Once set up, the easiest way to control is via the preamp remote control. I did not connect the preamp to power amps 12V trigger, I use the preamp remote control to turn on each of the units when I want to use them. The turn on/off is universal on the remotes, so any of the supplied remotes can turn any of units on or off. After the initial setup of the power amps, I put their remotes in a drawer, to use when I want to change the displays or settings on them, something that I expect to happen quite rarely. I then proceeded to use only the remote supplied with the preamp. Note, all remotes are identical in design.
When the units are turned on, you can hear a set of relays kick in. Within 10 seconds or so, the setup is ready to go. The Roon endpoint becomes available, and ready to queue music to play.
There is a setting on the default volume on startup, but once setup the volume level is remembered from last time (when going from standby to wakeup).
For the sake of completeness, my cable setup uses the default power cables shipped with the units (basic IEC cables as you would find on any computer), Mogami W2549 XLR, and Analysis Plus Oval 9 speaker cable, and also a BNC to RCA Analysis Plus cable for the CD player (transport mode).
Now comes the difficult part of this brief overview of the Michi's - namely how they sound.
From a comparative point of view, I can say that the Michi's provided more detail, depth, and tonal accuracy than when I had the PMC MB2se's connected to Devialet, Ncore 1200 mono block amps, or Yamaha A-S1000 integrated in integrated or direct mode with an RME DAC.
From a bass perspective, the Michi's extract more bass detail, structure and coherence than even the Ncore amps. The bass is not overemphasised, and does not lose coherence; there's no mistaking different bass instruments or frequencies. In the past I could sense the bass in certain tracks (e.g. Bjork's Post album), but could not understand what the artist was trying to convey. With the Michi's I can hear it, discern it, and feel it. Moreover the bass has location and does not get smeared into a wash of lower register noise.
The top end is clean, extended and open, never harsh and never over-pronounced.
The mid-range is effectively neutral, displaying the naturalness that's so important esp with vocals.
But it's when all three are brought together (bass, mid and treble if you will), that the Michi's demonstrate their real performance and capability. The above characteristics in each frequency domain are preserved no mater what combination is enacted in any particular piece of music. The staging is open, deep and coherence across the frequency domain, and accentuation of any part of the frequency doesn't occur as the volume is increased. No strain is noticeable in general, not that I've observed in playing my "torture tracks" over the last couple of weeks.
In the opening of Bjork Hyperballad from Post, the bass is multi-textured, whilst the complex arrangements come in.
In Micheal Nyman's Miranda on Prospero's Books, all the instruments are clear and able to articulate their message.
Various tracks by the Counting Crows don't sound shrill or screaming, and the space in both old and new recordings of Mining for Gold by the Cowboy Junkies is noticeable and present.
Mozart's Mass in C minor is a wall of voices and instruments, each discernible and understandable.
And this is something I've noticed most with the Michi's - a distinct lack of listening fatigue. I initially thought this was how the pre and power amps had been voiced. But further and extensive listening has me thinking this is purely a result of absolutely nothing being out of place, the balance of music being preserved and no artefacts introduced when the "system" can't cope.
For me, the Michi pre/power amps, and the PMC speakers provide one of the best audio experiences I've had the pleasure of listening to, and now owning, that brings together in a relatively simple package, the ability to play music that is listenable, performant, and consistent with no obvious gaps, over emphasis, or artefacts that detract from enjoying music.
Compared to Ncore amps, the Michi's opened up the stage and provided more overall detail, without overemphasising the bass.
Compared to the Devialet, the Michi's sound more musical and had more control of the speakers.
Compared to the RME ADI-2 DAC, the Michi preamp/DAC sounds more fluid, tighter in the bass, and more articulate in the top end.
Clearly all of the above are really good audio components. It's just that the Michi setup brings it all together - someone at Rotel has spent a lot of time getting the Michi's to be this good and it shows. Even in the remote (which is often the last thing to be considered). The remote is metal, and well balanced. The volume up button is slightly raised, and the volume down button is slightly indented - makes it so easy to use without needing to look. There is a mute button, and then some control features, but that's about it. It seems to turn on when you lift/move it, suspect that's for battery life preservation.
Things I was worried about but turned out to be non issues:
The fans on the power amps. Never hear them, and I have played music loud and continually to see how far I could push the amps to heat/cool. Suspect the fans are more of a fail safe and also to not require huge fins (which would increase the weight). I suspect the fans turn on, but I have not heard or noticed.
The input selector interface on the P5 controller could possibly accentuate the selected input a bit more. It's very subtle at the moment (text is slightly bolder on the selected input but could be made more abundantly clearer).
Firmware upgrade on the P5 over internet doesn't work; works fine on the M8's. I'll keep an eye on this for now.
Firmware upgrades via USB on the Michi site are in .bin format, but the documentation with the Michi's says firmware is in .pb format. Need to ask Michi, Interdyn or CAV about this at some point. Can't unpack .bin on my Mac so perhaps there's something I'm not quite doing right.
Slight click when changing rates in Roon. Suspect this will be improved with firmware.
Hopefully the above gives an idea of the Michi's. I certainly don't have extensive experience in pre and power amps, but to me they are the best amplification that I've had or heard up to their price-point. It's perhaps a glimpse into higher end audio in traditional high current AB amps? I thought they sounded better than the Bryston, and beat my previous amps or amps that I know well including the Karan integrated, Vitus integrated, NC1200 monos. The pre/DAC is very good - maybe not quite as good as the best DAC I've ever had (the Meitner), but certainly very close.
I'd think that Michi is aimed at anyone who is considering moving on from the top end of integrated amps, and I think they got ia about right!