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Melody Valve MN845 Monoblock Power Amplifier Review

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Installation and Configuration

The Melody Valve MN845 mono blocks did not require any sort of break-in period since the review samples were veteran performers at shows and demos. Similar to the situation I described in the review of the Melody Valve P2688 line stage, I initially configured the system as follows:

Merrill-Williams REAL 101 / Technics EPA-501M / ZYX Yatra record playback system
Zesto Audio Andros PS1 Phono Amp
Conrad Johnson UDP1 deluxe universal player
Melody Valve P2688 line stage
Melody Valve MN845 Mono Block 150w Class A power amplifiers
Eficion F300 full range AMT speakers
Enklein David interconnects on the analog source through to power amplifier
Enklein T-Rex power cords on the mono blocks and the line stage
Enklein Taurus interconnect for digital source
Enklein Titan speaker cables

This was the first all-tube system I had assembled in quite a few years. Having had electrostatic speakers for some 20 years or so, there really was never an instance where a tube-based power amplifier would arrive and stay for any length of time. Time and time again they simply could not handle the 1 ohm loads presented by the CLS speaker. Fast forward to the present and this is indeed a whole new scenario. My main speakers are now full range air motion transformer-based and are extremely easy to drive. The excellent Eficion F300’s have opened the doors once again to the possibility of having a system powered by big glass. This certainly was an exciting new development to be sure.

Despite the rush and chaos of the holiday season, I managed to get in a fair amount of listening since some of this stuff (Melody equipment and EnKlein cables) needed to get back to their respective owners rather quickly. Having taken extensive notes during this evaluation period would not at all be unusual. Having to take notes without immediately being able to identify which component was the main contributor of the effect was indeed a challenge. I therefore took the approach of note taking with the idea that I would circle back to my core reference system in due time and evaluate each new component in the mix individually. To say this was a costly decision would be an understatement. However, here we are eight months later and I am finally able to confidently issue a full report on these wonderful MN845 power amplifiers.

The Sessions

This first system configuration (which really turned out to be the best one assembled for these reviews) proved to be spellbinding. I suppose anyone who has read my work here on Dagogo would know that my “audiophile kink” is folk and acoustic and minimalist type of recordings. The big Melody amps in conjunction with the P2688 line stage and superb statement cables from Enklein proved to be a combination that was absolutely magical. In fact, finding the correct descriptors to use is a source of frustration with effectively writing this article. Listening to a piece of live or minimally miked recordings such as select cuts from Katie Melua’s “Piece by Piece” and “ Pictures” revealed subtleties that were previously obscured or hidden. Sometime it was in the form of a delicate brush of the arm against the body of the guitar, or a switch in perspective as the vocalist appeared to turn her head from side to side. In the case of Katie Melua, her voice never sounded so intoxicatingly real and intimate. Images were floated and recreated in a wonderfully three dimensional space and absolutely locked in. The recorded space was dense with information, yet devoid of distraction. In other recordings, layers of information emerge when I would swear that such an expansive 3D presentation did not exist previously. This was the case in both rock records such as Gentle Giant’s “In a Glass House”, “Octopus”, and Janis Ian’s “Breaking Silence” to tracks from Neil Young’s “Prairie Wind”, the cool funky recordings by jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby, and a couple of those outstanding LA4 recorded direct to disks on the East Wind label, “Pavane pour une Infante Difunte” and “Going Home.” In fact, that ‘”you are there” effect specifically on a particular cut in “Octopus” was reminiscent of how this record was presented many years ago on an all-Melos system I had heard, inclusive of the famed Porzilli Pipedream speakers. No, I am not suggesting that the diminutive Eficion F300’s are capable of creating the sheer immense scale of illusion as the Pipedream, but nevertheless hearing this record on this assembled system definitely took me several significant steps closer to (what I consider to be) that ideal. The LA4 recordings enabled the system to demonstrate the top to bottom consistency, speed, extension, and detail of the assembled components. It is important to note that throughout these sessions never once did I hear a hint of added noise from going all-tube. The Melody MN845s, much like the line stage stable mate P2688s are dead quiet. As it turns out, these attributes just scratch the surface of the sheer glorious musicality of this MN845-based system. As mentioned in my previous article, there wasn’t much I listened to that didn’t demonstrate profound improvements in musicality. This translated into pure enjoyment. I have made mention on previous occasions from lack of a better term, the sense of effervescence captured from the venue of a live recording. With the big Melody MN845s in this assembled system, the sense of a live venue and all of the spatial cues, detail, and phase-related nuances that serve to convince were not only intact, but much better defined. The assembled system seemed to remove that proverbial “veil” from the upper mids and highs that was perhaps not obviously present, but was very obviously missing when it was vanquished.

I could actually summarize my impressions of the Melody Valve MN845s right here and call it a night. However, this would be almost disingenuous since there clearly were other forces at work in this assembled system that contributed to what I consider to be the best sounding system I had yet assembled in my home.

One Response to Melody Valve MN845 Monoblock Power Amplifier Review

  1. barryb says:

    What an exciting product. Nice review.

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