Publisher Profile

Melody Valve P2688 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier Review

By: |

Truth Be Told

Family, personal, and professional commitments being what they were, I was unable to have any more meaningful longer term focused listening sessions until after the 2014 New Year. By then, the Enklein David and T-Rex cable sets had been packed and shipped back to the guys at Enklein. (The full review of these is coming soon).

Seeking to unravel the secrets of what I had witnessed in prior sessions, I first concentrated on the Melody Valve P2688 line stage. After all, it is ultimately the subject of this review! For this, I had some fundamental configuration choices to make. As noted above, my reference system is typically all-balanced, but the P2688 does not accommodate balanced output or inputs. The cables I had on hand were a set of single-ended Tel Wire “Connect” interconnects and sets of Enklein “Zephyr” and Pure Note “ Designer’s Edition” balanced interconnects. By that time, all of my Enklein “Taurus” power cords had undergone upgrade to the new “T-Rex” power cords. I first tried the two balanced interconnects and used them with Cardas adaptors at the preamp end. This proved to be a bit of a problem. After some listening sessions, I found that the extra connections were contributing a glare to the sound that was not at all desirable. I therefore settled in on the Tel Wire “Connect” interconnect by default. For consistency, I continued the review process with the superb Melody Valve MN845 tube Class A mono blocks doing the heavy lifting. Playing some of the selections detailed in my prior sessions, I noted that while there was plenty of “magic” still present in the system, particularly that intoxication midrange and the broad and effortless dynamics. However, that eerie sense of dimensionality and spatial coherence, though still quite good, was not quite what it was. Indeed as I had suspected, the Enklein David had contributed significantly to the system’s DNA. Don’t get me wrong, the system was still one of the best I have ever encountered in my room, but was not quite what it was without those two pieces of wire!

Getting back to Melody Valve P2688, I have found it to be as unfettered and effortless sounding a device as I have ever encountered. As an all tube preamplifier, I expected it to be perhaps slightly noisier than the Pass Labs XP-20 for instance. In fact, the reality is the opposite. Such is also the case with the lower registers. The XP-20 contributes weight and definition like few preamps I have encountered. By contrast, the Melody Valve P2688 is fast, oh so fast, with weight, texture, and refinement that one would not normally expect from a relatively modestly priced tube line stage. The big woofers in my Eficion F300’s have really come into their own with the Melody.

As I was preparing to put the final touches on this essay, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a package from Enklein. No, the David did not make a return journey, but rather it was the Aero; a cable that leverages much of the technology of the David. I quickly re-cabled my system, even going so far as to connecting the balanced interconnects via the Cardas adaptors and fired up the system. It did not take long to realize that indeed, the elusive “magic” was restored. Yes, the slight glare from the adaptors was clearly still there, but the benefits were significantly outweighing the negatives. With these in place, the Melody Valve P2688 threw an image that was finely layered and absolutely grain-less on nearly every type of recording I threw at it. It managed to make intolerable recordings tolerable and excellent recordings magical without any apparent loss in low level resolution and high frequency extension. The noise floor was miraculously low as the recorded details emerged from within the sound space that were somehow lost in translation without the new cables in place. The purity of cymbal strikes and their decay were by far the best I have heard through my system. This is a real feat to be sure. The tonal richness of voices and acoustic guitar are as good as I have heard anywhere.


This review was a long and winding road of discovery, including about the ultimate importance of system synergy. It took a long time, perhaps too long, to come to the conclusion that indeed in the case of the Melody P2688 line stage, I was in the presence of a rarified greatness in line stages. I am not a tube geek by any stretch, and am not going to delve into the DNA of the tubes involved in this product. I’m sure there are those of you out there who are already scheming the “what-if” if I had rolled this tube or swapped this one or that one. That is not my thing. I like to just listen to the product as delivered. In this case, there is no question in my mind that what this product delivers is an outstanding musical experience. Yes, as I discovered, it is sensitive to power cords and as such it excelled with the Enklein T-Rex moreso than any other I tried. I do however have some nits to pick. I understand that in the interest of keeping parts count and the signal path as pure as possible, a choice was made not to offer balanced connectivity as in their other lesser products. While this is perfectly understandable, I would like to point out that there are two sides to this equation. There are those who may wish to purchase this product and are coming from a balanced system. The fact that they have to replace their (likely) pricey cables just serves to negate the outstanding value that the Melody Valve P2688 represents. Even so, as it stands, the P2688 is an impeccably built, beautifully executed device whose performance even outclasses its beautiful exterior. At an MSRP of $6,999, to my eyes and ears it is not only a game-changer in terms of value, but a line stage that is to be reckoned with and seriously evaluated regardless of price.

2 Responses to Melody Valve P2688 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier Review

  1. Shahed says:

    Hi Ray,

    It seems you’ve bought the Melody P2688 preamp as your reference. Were you able to compare it with any top tube preamp like Audio Research Reference 5SE or 6? How transparent is the Melody compare to tube preamp in ARC Reference price class?


  2. I just Got A Melody Pre Amp P 2688. And it is Faulty. I need the Schematics so that i can find the Fault and fix it.
    Please send the Schematics to Frank Jansz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popups Powered By :