Stereophile's October 1992 review of the SHA-1
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geom_tol

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Nice find, thanks!

The measurements are good. The review itself is not very informative IMO.
 
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DanG

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Thanks for the link! Fun read, even if the reviewer can't write.


Most of the review was fluff or attempts to be endearing, apparently, with a few Stereophilisms thrown in (e.g., "the Melos is very, very transparent, far more so than any $995 headphone amp that's not even touted as a line preamp ought to be," a common up-comparison that finds itself in every review of equipment below $5000).
 
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markl

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If there's one thing I HATE it's when reviewers try to be "cute" or to turn every review of a component into a story about themselves!! GRRRRRR......


Nevertheless, here's the bottom line:

" So what does the Melos SHA-1/Grado headphones combo sound like?

Like it is. That's all I can come up with; the Melos amp and the Grado headphones are the most revealing, detailed, transparent listening tool I've yet heard. Bar none. The "best" speakers and amplifiers can present an amazing illusion of reality in a good-sounding room, but nothing I've heard comes as close to telling you exactly what the audio signal sounds like as the Melos/Grado setup. Not the Apogee Grands, not the IRS Vs, not the B&W 800s. Not even the excellent $2000 Stax SR-Lambda Signatures with their tubed driver circuit, which I find to sound less "see-through" than the $1500 Melos/Grado rig I'm listening to as I write.

No matter what recordings I listened to, the Melos/Grado combination revealed information and detail I hadn't heard before. I must have listened to Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland at least a thousand times over the years, but I heard hidden details like buried overdubs, weird reverb tails, drum-kit rattles, wholesale phasing manipulation, and countless other little buried treasures that were all new to me. As I said before in my Rotel CD player review in Vol.15 No.3, listening with the Grados is like looking with a high-power microscope; everything, and I mean everything that your signal source sends down the line is laid out in naked, obvious detail. Free of the listening-room echoes and reverberant wash and amp/speaker colorations that obscure this kind of detail in even the best systems and rooms, the Melos/Grado combo comes closest to the paradigm of just simply plugging your interconnects into your ears than anything else I've heard.

Listening to Electric Ladyland , I heard stuff like Jimi talking to the rest of the musicians in the studio at the very start of "Rainy Day, Dream Away"; over speakers, I can just barely hear some extremely low-level talking going on, and it's hard to tell just who it is doing the talking, but the Melos/Grados allowed me to not only identify Jimi's voice, but to actually hear what he was saying quite clearly and easily. And at the very end of "1983: A Merman I Should Turn To Be," I heard for the first time some breakthrough guitar tracks that poked through the sounds of the spaceship circling Earth for the last time before the track fades into the lead-out groove. I sat there thinking, "This is crazy!" There should have been nothing on Electric Ladyland that's escaped my notice after all these years of intensive digging, but there it was, song after song: guitars and bass and voices and sound effects that I was hearing for the very first time. It was almost like listening to a brand-new record, and exciting beyond words.

So while I confess astonishment at the high level of resolution that the Melos SHA-1 and the Grado headphones possess, I have to throw in this li'l warning not to take this review as an endorsement of the Great Detail Safari. The Melos/Grados duo is a powerful listening tool, but it can actually end up being distracting if you're so bowled over by all the heretofore hidden detail you don't hear the music as a whole."

Now, if only they'd add the review of the SHA-Gold Reference. I know they reviewed it, so it might have info that would help us all understand the difference between the SHA-1 and the SHA-Gold Reference.

I have submitted an e-mail to Stereophile to request the re-print. You can request it too from Jon Iverson at:

iversonj@primediacmmg.com

markl
 
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geom_tol

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John Atkinsons comments in his July 94 follow up about Melos changing the SHA-1 tempted me to investigate this some more.

I've got a couple of the older and newer amp boards, but I never paid much attention to the differences between them. But there's actually some big differences in the circuit boards.
Biggest one is on the line outs. The new amps have mosfets (buz80) on the lineouts. I believe the main reason for this was because it's easy to make a balanced in/out version using the newer design.

Another big difference is in the high voltage powersupply. The new amps have a more complex powersupply.

The easiest way to see the difference between an old and new SHA-1 is to look for 4 red led's in the high voltage powersupply. The newer amps have the 4 red led's in a neat row on the opposite side of where the toroid is hooked up. (makes sense doesn't it. haha. the board layout is a mess IMO, lots of jumper wires underneath etc.)

The head-amp circuit is unchanged as far as I can see. But there is a big BUT. Melos used the excellent Toshiba jfet 2sk147 in the headamp circuit. But this part was discontinued sometime in the early 90's I think. So at some point they had to start using a lesser jfet, the 2sk117. No idea how long their supply lasted though.
 
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Beagle

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Quote:

Originally posted by geom_tol
Nice find, thanks!

The measurements are good. The review itself is not very informative IMO.


Well, what exactly is an informative review? Do you expect the reviewer to tell you what you will hear? Forget it.
 
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geom_tol

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Quote:

Originally posted by Beagle
Well, what exactly is an informative review? Do you expect the reviewer to tell you what you will hear? Forget it.


My choice of words wasn't too good. There was some info in the review. What I wanted to say was that I did not like the way the review was written. Lucky I'm not a professional reviewer.
 
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Driftwood

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yes, I agree that the review was very annoying to read. I don't care about the reviewer's personal stories or anecdotes, I want information about the amp.

To me it seems like the reviewer was simply infatuated by the idea of a headphone amp, and given any amp, I think the same review would have resulted. I don't think that there were many headphone amps available at the time, or even if there were, I doubt that the reviewer had heard any. Certainly, I do not think that headphones were a central point in their system. I got way too much of a novelty vibe about the whole thing to take it seriously. Still interesting though.

Driftwood
 
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