A little about my perspective - I am a former club DJ of 20 years, got out of the business and sold most of my music and gear over 10 years ago. Now semi-retired and looking to reacquire some new toys. I have owned the original AKG240's (my first headphones) and replaced them with the original DT-880's. Speakers were Mirage M-3i, sources Denon-3520 driving a PS Audio Digilink (original) with audio-quest cables, isolators and rfi clamps on all inputs. ADCOM powerlilne conditioners. All of that gear is gone (I recommend that you never sell a system you like - lesson learned) as I moved all over the planet for over 10 years. Now in one place for awhile, gearing back up.
This unit is the Mercator 6J1.
It is a stereo tube unit about the size of two decks of playing cards with an outboard power-supply at the end of a 24" tether to the brick. A pair of 6J1's drive the output stage and the aluminium case is thermally coupled to act as a heat sink and it does get very hot at times. Inputs are only a pair of standard RCA jacks, an additional mini-plug output adjacent to them (can be used as preamp), the DC input rounds out the back. Up front is a volume control knob on the right, an on/off switch and a mini-plug output. A courtesy full plug adapter is included.
I pair this with my pc, a ZD-Tech reclocker card, and Superlux 668b's.
The sound is good to my ears. Bass is more round and full and natural, mids are clean, but where this little amp shines is in the upper mid and lower treble. Cymbals, echo, reverb and room details are all there in accurate abundance. Burn in was minimal taking less than a week of an hour or two a day to get to best sound.
Stay With Me by The Faces you can clearly hear the room that the drummer and Rod are standing in, the separate signature of each space apparent. Sometimes you can hear the difference source/mic for each instrument. Synths clunk on ELP's Karn Evil as though you are standing in front of the Moog, The Clash's London Calling has rarely sounded better and Adele's Rolling in the Deep one can hear the room as each track comes into the mix.
This little gem is highly recommended as a starter headfi amp.
Price is only 195 Yuan, about $31.40. That price includes shipping in a robust package that kept all safe and sound for 20Yuan.
This tape measure is metric, in centimetres.
Edited by marone - 4/30/13 at 8:59am