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Mercator 6J1 - Very Inexpensive Chinese 2 X 6J1 Tube Pre-amp, Head-fi Amp. Consensus is that this is NOT an LD Clone

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I am starting at the bottom on Chinese gear, purchased this DIY set from Chongqing last month.

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
post #2 of 34

Pictures please?  I'd love to see it.  Nevermind, my system is loading slow and I missed the pictures.



-HK sends

Edited by HK_sends - 4/29/13 at 8:53am
post #3 of 34

Where did you order this from?

I hope not ebay...

Where in Guangdong was it made ?
My guess is  
Shenzhen ?

post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
Ordered this in China from TaoBao which is similar to eBay.

Guy who makes these has 3 other small cheap tube amps. One based on a single 12AU7, one all-in-one 12AU7 DAC and amp, another amp on a pair of 6N1's. All are under $70. The 'top line' has an outboard power supply. Clearly the guy is a DIY hobbiest and wants to spread good sound for cheap to many people. He will customise the amps with input switches, multiple outputs, RCA or mini, just ask and he will do it.

This is obviously a LD clone, but the other amps are small originals on established simple circuits and I see no issues with that and ordering on eBay - just do not understand your comment about that.

Shipped from Chongqing in bullet proof packing with the tubes already installed and everything arrived in perfect condition.

Listening to The Vapours 'New Clear Days' on it as I type this. Great little amp to start with and tube rolling can be done.

Couple of times the small nature of the amp has had me snag on a cord and knock it over, once I bent one tube to my horror. I straightened it out and turned it one and everything worked as always.
Edited by marone - 4/30/13 at 9:07am
post #5 of 34



Yeah I know TaoBao, do you have the sellers page?


I don't have an issue with ordering from ebay as such, but i can catch a bus to anywhere in Guangdong so why ebay it :)

Given the price and hopefully low shipping costs to HK, I'd like to give it a try just for fun.

Have you rolled any tubes?


Thanks for your reply.

post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 
I am guessing on this but I would think there are blind drop mail services to Shenzhen and then courier across Futian. Or you could just take the MRT and pick it up in Shenzhen.
post #7 of 34

Shenzhen was the idea :)


Thanks mate

post #8 of 34

Finally got around to getting this. 


After checking it works I swapped out the Chinese 6DJ8 for some GE JAN5654W that I had around.

I also cracked it open.. no more warranty for me.

Hear is the top side

The bottom side :



There also was some cheep looking PSU with it. I had my own PSU. 


Hows it sound? Well I don't have any tube experience to be honest.
It sounds a lot better with the GE tubes then the Chinese tubes.
That and I am still burning it in.

post #9 of 34

Ordered the amp through a taobao agent, will get it here in like 6 weeks or so -it seems the guy was out of stock and will take about 20 days to have more units available, plus shipping-.

post #10 of 34



I spoke to the guy personally. I also had to wait 20days till I got mine.
So don't feel to worried. The AC brick it comes with is kind of crap.

post #11 of 34
My Chinese isn't good. Is there an English language site?
post #12 of 34

Undersys, if I understood it correctly, the AC adapter was an option and I didn't ordered it.


GCooper, no english site, I ordered through TaoBao agent to get it out of China.

post #13 of 34



I did not order it. From my understanding it comes with it.


If you check the taobao site you will see  :
Price: 180 yuan (including two 6J1 tubes, 24V1A power supply)
Above is my translation of :


They do offer an upgraded PSU for 15 yuan. I had mine own anyways.

Lucky for me as the shipped PSU blew up in two days.

It felt extremely light and cheep, unlike the amp.


Was very well packed and shipped, the guy is helpful and not a scam. 

Edited by undersys - 6/14/13 at 10:01am
post #14 of 34

Well , I was considering getting a better PSU anyway ;) Thanks for the info.

post #15 of 34

This intrigues me. I wanted to buy the LDI+, but I wasn't too keen on buying an mp for $150 that I might not like. But at less than $40, I could stand to take the risk on this. Any TaoBao Agent recommendations?

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