Earlier this summer I first wrote about the wonderful Melody Valve P2688 vacuum tube line stage. As I had mentioned, accompanying the P2688 on the long journey to South Florida was a pair of Melody Valve MN845 vacuum tube Monoblock power amplifiers. These amplifiers are really something to behold. To my eyes, they are stunningly beautiful; and heavy (165 lbs each!) as they are beautiful, so much so that no level of my normal bribes could induce my buddies to assist getting these beasts up the stairs. I had to up the ante and throw dinner in as well.
Like its P2688 line stage stable mate, the Melody Valve MN845 mono power amplifier is at the top of the Melody line of 845 vacuum tube-based mono power amplifiers. The line includes the 21 watt M845 with a single 845 power tube, the 70 watt PM845 which utilizes a pair of 845s, and the top of the line MN845 which delivers 150 watts from a quad of 845’s. This would mean that the quad of 845’s driven in push-pull configuration would have to be pushed hard as they can in this amplifier in order to even get to the neighborhood of 150. While it still represents less than half of the power of my current reference, the Pass Labs X350.5, nonetheless I felt that it would make for an interesting pairing with the full range Air Motion Transformer Eficion F300 speaker system. This notion was largely based upon what I heard the Melody MN845s do in the Angel City Audio Room at RMAF 2013, as well as the fact that the Eficion F300’s are typically demonstrated with the similarly powered 125w solid state Class A Plinius SA103 power amplifier.
The MN845 is of the premium reference line designated as the “AN” line. This means that, as is the case with the superb P2688 line stage, the MN845 is constructed using a laundry list of premium parts; these include Mundorf M-Cap Supreme Silver and Oil caps., Nichicon Gold Tune Caps, Solen Gold Label Caps, and Melody Valve Audio’s proprietary Power Transformers with oversized OCC filaments. These huge beasts are finished to perfection in a black lacquer which makes for a quite stunning appearance. With an aggressive introductory price of $13,599, these are the subject of this review.
As I mentioned in the review of the Melody Valve P2688 line stage, the MN845 power amplifiers arrived last November. While the line stage was quite manageable in terms of positioning, the prodigious MN845 power amplifiers presented an interesting set of challenges during set-up. First of all, their larger than normal footprint (17” wide by 27” deep) was far and away too large for any amplifier stands I had in-house. I therefore had to temporarily place them on sets of cabinet doors I commandeered from office furniture in another room. This as it turns out was not a great way to introduce these huge heavy tube power amps to the household, but oh well. Later in the course of the review I remedied the situation by purchasing a couple of amp stands that could handle both the weight and the footprint. This was not an easy find.
Upon opening the packaging and unearthing the amps, I was very surprised to discover that they were shipped with the tubes left in the sockets. This may be the first such amplifier I have seen to be shipped in this manner. Everything was however, intact and in fine condition. It’s a real testament to the structural integrity of the amplifier as well as the engineering and quality of the packaging to accomplish this with such a heavy yet delicate payload. Unpacking and closely inspecting the amplifiers just served to ratchet up the excitement even further. As is the case with the P2688, the MN845s appear to have superb build quality. Their level of fit and finish only accentuate the fact that these are indeed the pinnacle of what Melody Valve has to offer. Most of the weight of the MN845 is in the form of very large transformers to the rear and center of the chassis. As is typical, all transformers are of Melody Valve’s own design and manufacture. The MN845 is configured with a total of seven tubes. Up front left to right is a Melody Valve OEM labeled 12AU7 input tube that is flanked by aluminum heat shields, the next tube is a shielded Soviet 5C8S rectifier tube, then lastly to the right is a Melody Valve OEM 2A3 (perhaps as first driver stage ahead of the 845s?). Directly to the rear of these tubes are two massive transformers all encased in black lacquer case work. Directly behind these transformers and in fact, nestled between the two transformers to the front and the single large transformer in the rear is the bank of four 845 power tubes. Each 845 is flanked by aluminum heat shields. The tubes employed in the review units are Melody Valve branded 845s that I understand are actually select Psvane units.
To the rear of the MN845s there is hook up capability for single ended as well as balanced input. There is a heavy toggle switch for power and a small rocker switch beside it that allows input modes to be switched between single-ended and balanced operation. The speaker binding posts appear to be of high quality as well.
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