Using Melos Maestro as a Preamp - tweaking needed
Mar 29, 2006 at 7:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 35

nanahachi

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I have been debating getting a preamp for a while (vs other fun expenses), and finally decided last night to give my Melos Maestro a whirl as a pre. It was previously just collecting dust, so I switched out my Marantz integrated (which I was using as my Pre) and switched in the Melos.

My setup:
Source
Cary 306/200
Wolff Silver & Gold IC
Wolff Carbon Source PC


Preamp
Marantz PM-17 integrated --> replaced with Melos Maestro (w/ Amperex 7308 gold pins)
Tara Labs RSC Air 1 IC
Wolff Carbon Gain PC


Poweramp
Sim Audio Moon W-3
Grover SR speaker cable
PS Audio Lab II PC (I think)
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet


Speakers
Dynaudio Audience 70

Power Conditioning
Powervar 1200-11

With the Marantz, my speaker setup was quite fulfilling, making me happy daily. It was lush, yet detailed. Smooth, yet not at all muddy. The setup was great, but not perfect. I was nagged by the desire to improve on it (of course), feeling that there was something I could do to improve the setup. The SimAudio was my last major purchase, and my Cary isn't going anywhere, so I looked to replace my integrated with a pre to achieve improvement.

I swapped in the Melos somewhat late last night, and couldn't really play music too loudly. However, my brief initial impressions are as follows:

Seemingly improved detail
Stronger bass (but since I kept the volume how, hard to tell where the improvement was)
Clearer vocals.

BUT (and I know it is still too early to tell), the lush nature of the system felt lacking. The sweet midrange was sapped a bit, which is troubling since that is really one thing I loved about the system. I need to give this current rig a good, lengthy evaluation, but if my initial impressions continue to be the case, then I may just swap the Marantz back in and forgo the additional bass (and micro details).

I'm not really in a place to do cable rolling, especially since I was happy with the old rig, but tube rolling might be an option. Or, as I have been thinking, I may have to sell the Melos in favor of a different pre.

Any thoughts would very much be appreciated. Thanks!
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 7:49 PM Post #2 of 35

Jahn

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I use my Melos SHA-Gold Reference as a pre-amp for my tiny speaker setup, but the power amp is a Marantz 2226 receiver, so the increase in SQ might not be that amazing, hehe. I use it mostly for convenience since i use it as my primary headphone amp anyhow.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 9:37 PM Post #4 of 35

nanahachi

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Hi Tom,

Right now I am using Amperex 7308 gold pins. Thanks for the recommendation, I might have to look into picking up some of those if they aren't too pricey.

As far as non-Melos preamps go, I am considering a straight tube amp like the MiniMax that got so much acclaim, a Cary, etc. But it will depend on cost, if I forego other purchases, selling the Melos, etc.
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 1:30 AM Post #5 of 35

bozebuttons

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The mullards give up a little of the extremes of the amperex tubes but in the Melos the mullards are smoother with a more musical midrange.
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 1:50 AM Post #6 of 35

Jahn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bozebuttons
The mullards give up a little of the extremes of the amperex tubes but in the Melos the mullards are smoother with a more musical midrange.


I remembered this advice and looked around for the 7DJ8 since they'll last longer in the Melos, but couldn't find any (from places I trusted) so I went with these to give me my first taste of the Mullards-

"6DJ8 Mullard old shield logo, A-Frame getter style, made in Great Britain MATCHED PAIR

New Old Stock white box. These have the old shield Mullard logo, some with the old BVA logo, and the rarely seen A-Frame top getter. 1960s Blackburn, UK factory date codes. These rare tubes are hand matched. Very nice, slightly warm sounding British 6DJ8 tubes!"
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 6:03 AM Post #7 of 35

Jahn

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Uh, let's say hypothetically I was ready to bite the bullet and Maestrobate this Melos - really clean it up inside, put fresh new stuff in there, beef it up, etc - how much do you think that would run, and who would be crazy enough to give it a shot?
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 6:14 AM Post #8 of 35

nanahachi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bozebuttons
The mullards give up a little of the extremes of the amperex tubes but in the Melos the mullards are smoother with a more musical midrange.


Thanks for the advice, I think I'll give those a shot before making any decisions about the Melos. Although, a Cary SLP 80 would serve as both a headamp and preamp...
biggrin.gif


I did more listening today, and I don't think the Melos actually has improved bass like I said before. Or at least not in terms of MORE, just more accurate/refined. I think voices are clearer with the melos, as well as, say, guitars. But on several albums, the musicality was missing. It felt a bit sterile and flat. I know my integrated isn't the be all end all of pre's, but I think I might prefer the lush, liquid presentation it provides when combined with my Sim and Dyns.

More listening to come. Thx again.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:04 AM Post #9 of 35

Jahn

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you didn't mention that your Marantz (on the left) matches the Melos for Coolness factor too!
url
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 2:05 PM Post #10 of 35

bozebuttons

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jahn
Uh, let's say hypothetically I was ready to bite the bullet and Maestrobate this Melos - really clean it up inside, put fresh new stuff in there, beef it up, etc - how much do you think that would run, and who would be crazy enough to give it a shot?



Maybe your BUDDY lan can do it for you
very_evil_smiley.gif

As for price it depends how far you want to go in the Mods.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:24 PM Post #11 of 35

nanahachi

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Wow Jahn, if you end up doing that, you'll have to keep us informed...
very_evil_smiley.gif


nice pic btw. I really like my Marantz. The remote is great(vs the Melos', which is cr4p), the build quality of the amp is fantastic, and it sounds darn nice. While it might be a slightly lesser preamp than the Melos, for all those reasons i just mentioned, I have used the Marantz this whole time without really contemplating switching it out. (Although I have wondered if it was possible to switch the LED color on the dial in the middle from yellow to blue - to match my Cary, Supra, etc
biggrin.gif
) I should add that because my bedroom DVD player is also connected to the Marantz, watching movies/DVDs at night pretty much makes having a remote essential, and there is no competition btwn the features, feel, and usefulness of the 2 remotes.

As for sound, the Melos is growing on me, esp if I can find some Mullards. The added detail is pleasing, having removed a slight veil I hadn't noticed before. But Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream just didn't sound right in this setup, whereas before it was terrific. Like I said above, it just lacked warmth, a certain lushness, and while guitars and vocals were clear, it just wasnt very musical. However, Massive Attack's Protection is faring pretty well, due to those clear vocals and well-defined bass.

updates to follow. time to search for tubes -- if anyone has pointers on which years or other specific traits to look for in the Mullards, please let me know.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 8:32 PM Post #12 of 35

F1GTR

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jahn
Uh, let's say hypothetically I was ready to bite the bullet and Maestrobate this Melos - really clean it up inside, put fresh new stuff in there, beef it up, etc - how much do you think that would run, and who would be crazy enough to give it a shot?


Hey Jahn,

I've been wanting to do the same with an SHA-1(non-gold) that I picked up on audiogon a month or two ago. The thing runs dead silent right now so I'm skeptical as to whether I want to mess it with it or not; however, I'm craving to hear what the Maestrobated version sounds like because it's already marvelous to my ears.

If you can source someone to do this, perhaps they'll cut us a deal for doing both at the same time?
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 8:39 PM Post #13 of 35

Jahn

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Yeah, Bozebuttons' Melos isn't good for your health - you realize what that pre-amp is capable of, especially in the bass dept! I like my Melos as it is too, but it's nice to know it can be beefed up with enough cashola and a modder crazy enough (Lan ain't crazy enough, I asked
very_evil_smiley.gif
)

The Mullards are really amazing. The Telefunkens had supersweet mids but lacked in extension. The Amperex didn't have that problem at all, reaching way up and down, but maybe a tad aggressive in the mids? The Mullards are in between the two, with gorgeous mids, losing a bit to the Amperex in the low and high extension, but what is there is there in a clear natural way. Argh, I want my Grado HP2s back to check this out properly!
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 9:07 PM Post #15 of 35

Jahn

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didja hear that, modders? that's 3 guaranteed customers right there!
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