Melos SHA-1/Gold Tube Headphone Amplifier/Preamplifier
For Sale
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Feb 17, 2019 at 10:22 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10


100+ Head-Fier
Aug 13, 2004
Los Angeles
Up for sale is my Melos SHA-1/Gold. It has been restored by Mark Porzilli, the original designer.

The SHA-1/Gold is the best headphone amplifier for dynamic headphones ever made. (Grado uses one as a reference in their laboratory) Here's an interesting article documenting that relationship:

It is also a reference class stereo preamplifier. One of the best ever made. In fact, several senior editors from Stereophile used it as their reference for many years and it was on Stereophile's Class A recommended products for a decade.

Here's Stereophile's review:

Here's designer Mark Porzilli describing the genesis of the restored SHA-1/GOLD:

"Originally designed by Melos for Joe Grado's new product, the signature headphones HP1 and HP1000, the Melos SHA-Gold+ was considered by both Stereophile and The Absolute Sound to be the number one headphone amplifier in the world. It won both Product of the Year in Stereophile and Editors Choice in The Absolute Sound. Corey Greenberg, Harry Pearson and John Atkinson all owned and used it as their reference headphone amplifier. Even John Grado of Grado Labs used it as his reference with his signature headphones.

In particular, JA and CG used it as their reference preamplifier as well. It was on Stereophiles Class A recommended Components for 10 years. Wes Phillips also rated it as such after his review of the new volume control technology. The designer too was featured with a full interview in The Absolute Sound to explain the new volume control invention.

It shared the preamplifier circuitry with the legendary Melos 333 reference Vacuum tube preamplifier which also was in the Class A Recommended Components for 10 years. It also beat the CAT, CJs' flagship preamplifier and Audio Research SP11 and was considered the world's number one preamplifier in a Stereophile review of it by Russ Novak.

This upgraded model was changed to offer more features than the production version. It has 6 RCA inputs, 4 RCA outputs (both phases) and 2 balanced XLR outputs. This was the normal jack compliment.

The Melos is TRUE balanced. Not the pigtail non-linearity used by most companies like Audio Research and CAT and with these additions, it is true balanced in, controlled and out of the preamplifier. This lowered the distortion to unprecedented levels for any tubed amplifier as well as yielding spectacular, low noise performance and rejection of nearby noise sources.

It's output is very low impedance, under 10 ohms and can drive long or difficult interconnects as well as the most difficult amplifiers with low impedances as well.

The headphone amplifier is a true, direct coupled (no capacitors) OTL amplifier which was one reason it was considered the finest headphone amplifier ever made. It can drive any headphone load effortlessly (Electrostatics not supported).

All capacitors are polypropylene foil and film and all resistors are heavy metal film as well. All jacks are gold or silver Neutrix."

The Melos works as designed except for the light on the channel balance has gone out.

Will be shipped in the original box. Paypal, please add 3% to cover those silly fees. I also will accept Venmo and Zelle.

Oh, it also has a remote control. I
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Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Last edited:
Mar 27, 2021 at 12:16 PM Post #8 of 10


Headphoneus Supremus
Sep 26, 2001
Quite a gem this unit!
Apr 1, 2021 at 1:56 PM Post #10 of 10


New Head-Fier
Jan 2, 2021
If it's a "True" balanced headphone amp, why does it only have SE headphone output?
Its a "True" Balanced output on preamp out (XLR). The four vertical silver caps (actually not electrolytic, but high quality PP) are DC Block coupling caps to the XLR output. The two tube preamp design is a Schmidt Phase Splitters to MOSFET Followers.

I had about seven of these units (still have two) -they were from a local Audio store that used to rep Melos years ago - they had a few in back room they forgot about. A couple needed some work - like the wonky monitor and power switch (poor quality) - many believe dead units are due to the optocoupler - photoresistor board, but are actually the monitor switch...also those socketed relays are somewhat problematic. I spent a week trying to figure one with an issue that just turned out to be the single OPAMP on bias supply, which also runs the tube filaments / heaters - these guys were smoking dope when they designed these units...

But these SHA GOLDs are are excellent preamps (let alone awesome headphone amps), and sound fantastic. The only other Balanced Tube preamps out there are a magnitude more expensive (ARC, BAT, etc), and don't sound anywhere near as good as these units...have one for sale now (I am new to this cannot post classified yet)

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