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My slice of headphone listening heaven: I may have found an ideal amp for the AKG K1000

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm exhausted, and I mean totally spent. The stress-o-meter this week has been off the scale. I won't go into all of the nerve wracking details but suffice it to say that 90% of it was work related. My head felt like it was going to explode. This is the kind of stuff that is very bad for your health. I am glad to be away from it, if only for a day. I'll get some rest tomorrow but will be back at it on Sunday.

Several weeks ago I acquired an excellent pair of AKG K1000s from devoted audiophile and head-fier Afrikane. We exchanged several pleasant PMs, sharing our passion for music and talking about gear. Once I had the K1000s I tried them with my Woo Audio 300B mono block amps. They were spectacular, and it did not take a great deal of listening to the AKG K1000s to know that I would eventually want to buy a dedicated amp and build a second system around these marvelous phones. Since I was a devoted Woo Audio loyalist I reached out to Jack to talk to him about possibly buying a WA5 for the K1000s. The conversation progressed and I was ready to make a committment to the purchase, and then something came up and I had to delay my plans for about a month. By the time I got back to thinking about the WA5 I became less enthusiastic about idea. It isn't that I don't think the WA5 is a great amp. My 300B mono blocks come from the same DNA, and they completely knock me out every time I spin a record or a CD.

The more I thought about it the more inclined I was to look at alternatives to the WA5 because I was interested in trying something outside of my experience with the K1000s. I was considering Cary amps, such as the Cary 300 SEI or even the Cary SLI-80. I was also scouring Audiogon looking for the occasional too-great-a-deal-to-pass-up opportunity. Last week I came upon a listing on Audiogon for a Melody I2A3 integrated amp. I was somewhat familar with Melody amps. I recall reading a very positive review of it on 6moons (it's here for anyone who is interested: 6Moons Audio Reviews: Melody I2A3). Their photos are way better than mine.

The other 10% of my stress was related to my purchase of the Melody I2A3. I exchanged a number emails with the seller, Stereoknight on Audiogon. He had great feedback and was very pleasant to chat with. He was clearing out his stock of Melody amps and was offering them at very attractive discounts. I decided to buy from him. Stereoknight was closing out the Melody amps because he was starting up his own line of audiophile gear and was actually in China at the new factory. He assured me that he had a manager in their California warehouse who would handle the shipping arrangements and that UPS did pickups daily. I decided to trust him. A few days later I sent him the funds via PayPal. Later that day I received a UPS Quantum View shipping notification with a tracking number. When I checked the tracking status the next morning it still said "Billing Information Received," which meant the amp had not yet been picked up. So I emailed Stereoknight about it and he said there was a mistake at the warehouse, two amps were scheduled for pickup but only one went out. Mine was not picked up. No problem, just schedule another pickup. Stereoknight said he would have his manager take care of it. I wasn't really worried about it. Missed pickups happen all the time. I was fine with it...until I woke up the following morning and checked the tracking status and it still said "Billing Information Received." Now I was becoming concerned. The amp was originally scheduled for pickup on a Friday and here it was Tuesday and there was still no sign in the tracking information that the amp was actually picked up by UPS. So now I press Stereoknight for some answers, and I have to admit that I started to get suspicious (perhaps it was the bad week combined with the fact that I have been reading too many Singlepower threads lately). The seller apologizes and said it was a problem with UPS and his manager is trying to get to the bottom of it. He knew I was starting to get uncomfortable with the situation so he generously had a second amp shipped out to me and put a trace on the first. He emailed the information to me. The following morning I checked the tracking status and saw that the second amp had in fact been picked up by UPS and when I checked the original tracking number I saw that the shipper had put a lost package trace on it. I sent a note to Stereoknight thanking him for getting the shipping ironed out and now I felt terrible that I told him the whole story made me suspicious. I was satisfied with the situation and appreciate that Stereoknight did more than he really needed to in order to assuage my concerns.

Keep in mind that the entire week I have been stuck in one gigantic swirling vat of stress. After I saw that the second amp was picked up by UPS I was very relieved, and then I had put it out of my mind because work demanded my attention. The scheduled delivery date was 8/12 which is next Wednesday. It might as well had been next year. So today I was very surprised when my doorbell rang (I work mostly from my home office), and when I opened it there stood a UPS delivery man with a big heavy box in his hands and he looked like he was about to have a hernia. You are probably already ahead of me. This was the first amp that no one seemed to know what happened to. It was actually picked up last Friday by UPS. I explained the situation to the driver, and he said they can send the second box back. He noted the shipper and tracking number. And then suggested that I contact the shipper and tell him to call UPS to recall the second shipment. So I have my amp but now will need to be prepared for UPS to deliver the replacement shipment and then I will need to send it back to the seller.

Now on to the Melody I2A3. It came in a large box that tipped the scales at 75lbs. It darned near gave me a hernia moving it into my home office.









The amp is massive. My crappy pictures really don't do it justice. It is finished in piano gloss black and really stunning to behold. I love the look of my Woo Audio amps but I think the Melody has a more elegant aesthetic that immediately grabs your attention. There is a lovely tube cage in matching finish but for now I am going to leave it off.

As for the sound of this amp. I have only been listening to it for about 5 hours but so far I really love what I hear. The Melody I2A3 is a push pull design that delivers 18 watts of class A/B power. I won't wade into the whole Class A versus A/B debate. The sound's the thing, and I can hear a delightful synergy between the AKG K1000s and the Melody I2A3 integrated amp. While it is too early to dig into the sound in detail, I will say that the Melody I2A3 can drive the AKG K1000s with complete authority. It is very resolving, a bit moreso than my Woo amps. It has signs of warmth, but the I2A3 is not nearly as warm as my Woo MB300B mono blocks. One other thing...the I2A3 is dead quiet when no music is playing. So the music fades out of and into total darkness. I thought my Woo amps were very quiet, but they are not this quiet.

I may have more to say about the amp later. But I want to be sure to put a plug in for Stereoknight (James Zhang) on Audiogon. He was superb to deal with even when I probably wasn't at my best. I'll definitely make things right with him on the shipping side if UPS does not. He has some Melody amps left (I think one I2A3 and some 300B mono blocks) and I can recommend him highly in case you might be interested. I still can't believe that there was no tracking information at all on that first shipment. It wasn't updated until about an hour ago.

--Jerome
post #2 of 22
go Team Omega! have you tried it with the full speakers?
post #3 of 22
1. Congrats!

2. That rectifier is awesome.

3. White gloves and a heavy box are always a good sign.



NK
post #4 of 22
That's some seriously sweet looking gear. Congratulations. Your K1000s look like they want some kind of holder or something though.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimP View Post
go Team Omega! have you tried it with the full speakers?
I hadn't considered it. I bought the Melody I2A3 as a dedicated amp for the K1000s. I am sure it would be fine with my Omegas, but they are already paired with my 300B mono blocks and I am not motivated to change that. The Woos are great amps.

--Jerome
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by priest View Post
That's some seriously sweet looking gear. Congratulations. Your K1000s look like they want some kind of holder or something though.
Yeah, they have that look don't they. I have been meaning to buy a headphone stand or two but never seem to get around to it.

--Jerome
post #7 of 22
Wow that is just beautiful. That single tube in the middle is amazing. Please take a picture of it in a dark room... I can hardly imagine how beautiful it would look with glowing tubes.
post #8 of 22
Gorgeous...I love the little globe tube...
post #9 of 22
Congratulations!
Really nice write-up, of what looks like a great amplifier. Tube amplifiers seem to be "the" thing for the K1000, so sure looks like you are on the right track.

Enjoy!
post #10 of 22
Love the Omegas! I have 2 different pair and a custom sub! Louis is the best! Bet it would sound awesome with the Melody. I am using an Eastern Electric M520 tube integrated that puts out 18wpc and it's a great match with the Omegas! Nice gear!
post #11 of 22
I'd have to give it a shot with the Omegas. I think you know if you do, what may happen. Best the wallet get a break from all the stress.

Very beautiful with the acrylic black look and all that glass. What is the tube compliment composed of?

Man, what a hoss of an amp. Looking forward to hearing more.
post #12 of 22
CAn someone describe the sound of the Omegas? Does it have a large sound stage and disappear like the reports describe?
post #13 of 22
Did it arrive with all the tubes installed? It doesn't look like there's a whole lot of room in that box for the tubes.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post
I'd have to give it a shot with the Omegas. I think you know if you do, what may happen. Best the wallet get a break from all the stress.
I understand that most people might find that tempting. But I didn't buy the Melody to see how it might compare to the Woo mono blocks. My Woo amps are running Sophia Princess Mesh Plate 274B and 300B tubes, with some NOS Tung Sol 6SN7 drive tubes. The Melody is completely stock at this point (all Sovtek 2A3, 6SN7, and 101D tubes) and I am just breaking it in. I have been using my Woo amps for close to 2 years now and they are staying right where they are. I would never consider replacing separates with an integrated amp.

I bought the Melody simply because I wanted a dedicated amp for the AKG K1000s. I really do think that much of the K1000s that they are worthy of good amp. In my experience when the K1000s are driven by an able amp there is nothing else quite like them in headphonedom. I could have swapped connections back and forth with my Woo amps, but I didn't want to do that. I could have also went for a good quality speaker selector switch, but I didn't find that appealing either.

The lovely piano gloss finish and the write up at 6Moons was enough for me to pull the trigger when the chance to buy it new at a discount on Audiogon unexpectedly presented itself.

Quote:
Very beautiful with the acrylic black look and all that glass. What is the tube compliment composed of?
The pictures don't come close to doing the finish justice. My jaw hangs open in sheer admiration for how well this amp seems to be made, the fit and finish, and the attention paid to small details. The volume control is a stepped attenuator.

The tube compliment is 4 x 2A3, 4 x 6SN7, and a single 101D. All Sovtek. I will probably roll the 2A3s and 6SN7s. For the former I am thinking about JJ Music 2A3-40s. And for the latter I am considering NOS Tung Sol or RCA 6SN7s. But I won't change out any tubes until the amp is run in and everything settles.

Quote:
Man, what a hoss of an amp. Looking forward to hearing more.
It's a handful to be sure. It's not an amp that I would want to be hauling to meets on a regular basis.

--Jerome
post #15 of 22
I am so jealous! Congratulations may you be in music bliss.
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