Merlin is built from heavy gauge powder coated steel with a 5ga. anodized aluminum front panel, and solid aluminum knobs. The precision made package is topped off with solid walnut trim panels, making a compact and elegant presentation.
Inputs: 2 plus Tape Loop
Tubes: (1) 6DJ8/6922; (1) 6X4
Controls: Input Selector; Tape Monitor; Power Switch; Volume Control; Individual L&R balance and sensitivity controls.
Well as you may or may not know, I have had a JMA Merlin at my house for two days now. I cannot seem to turn it off, the music that comes out of this little, and I mean tiny thing is amazing. I seriously do not know how Mark can put out a product built this well and with a sound that is not beat by anything near it's price for a mere $595! Now for the review.
The build quality of this unit is something you would expect from a unit that costs three times its price! An amazing feat indeed. True craftsmanship at work here. Not some cheap Chinese POS that has inch gaps. The 5 gauge black brushed steel face is out of this world cool and beautiful. The wood side add some sophistication and style, even though it does not fit my décor the wood is beautiful in person and has grown on me. A very high quality Alps Blue Velvet volume knob for main volume but cheap ones for the left and right cannels. There is some static when they are moved, but these knobs are "set it and forget it" so it never has bothered me because I do not touch them.
+ High Quality main volume knob
+ Fit and finish is that of a unit costing 3 or more times the Merlin
+ Metal face plate is so sweet
+ Knobs are a nice and sturdy, a metallic not plastic. Smooth control/ movement.
+ Nice length to the power cord.
- Staticy volume pots, the left and right cannel controls only
- The power button is a cheap plastic, would like to see maybe a metal or a swich like on the blueberry
Now for the important part...Sound Quality/ Listening tests
I first started out with Supertramp's "Bloody Well Right." And let me tell you, It was bloody well right on the money. The Merlin was very dynamic with a broad soundstage. The highs were not too shrill and on the refined side. No part of the fq was left out leaving a full yet transparent sound. You could hear detail you could not before including saliva and breathing!
Next I put on Frank Zappa's "San Ber'dino". Along with Supertramp all his music is beautifully recorded, some of the best. Back to the point, from the start I noticed the midrange and vocals were right on, and the percussion seemed to me in the room, with tight, tight, tight, and did I say tight bass that was deep and real. No signs of fatiguing do to high fq's at all.
Time for Elo's "Evil Woman" On this I noticed again the percussion was so real, the symbols were in the room, they had to be, with every crush of that hi hat you could see his stick cocking back for yet another sonic assault! The vocals seemed to be laid back a bit, which I noticed a little on Supertramp but that is a good and bad thing.
Lastly I popped in my love Diana Krall! I picked "Narrow daylight" because it really shows off her vocal talent. And Oh my god...She is in the room, not only that she has to be fifty feet tall! The Jazz guitar was forward and right on! Just how it was meant to sound. The brushes on the snare sounded okay. It is a hard sound to reproduce and it did the best job I have heard.
All and all the Merlin is a must buy! The Sonics are out of this world along with the build quality. Quoting Daddy Dee, If you find anything that sounds better for the price I'll kiss a pig! It sounds too good to be true, you have to see it yourself. If seeing is believing that believing is seeing so go and buy one. It is only $595 so you are not risking much, and it will bet anything close to its price. If I were Stereophile this would be a recommended component class A+!!! I do not care about price, this is truly a high-end piece.
I would also like to add, that I get nothing from this review and put it out here to let people know. This is my first real review of a product and feel I did fairly well. I do feel I am an audiophile, all I think about is my system and music, nothing else in my life matters, besides my mom and girlfriend. Thanks so much mark for this chance to review your stellar product. I am so sad it has to go back in 8 days, or is it 7, who knows, but I never want to see this thing go. I am going to buy it without a doubt, it is just a question of getting the funds to do so. Thanks
I was already the owner of a Juicy Music Peach preamplifier, so was expecting alot from the Merlin preamp. It could be fairly described as "Peach Lite" as it is of the same house and lineage.
Merlin is a little brick of a guy, about the size and heft of a Dynanco PAT5 or so. It is of course, a linestage only preamplifier. It has the essentials of two audio inputs and a tape loop. A very nice feature is that it has a level control for each channel in addition to a smooth ALPS blue velvet volume control. All of the controls have the smooth, firm feel of high end gear.
Cosmetically, it has a black faceplate, neatly laid out with controls and white silk screened text. In the center of the faceplate is a red push button power switch and a cool green LED power on indicator. The sides sport pleasantly hand finished walnut panels. I noticed these panels extend 3/4" to the rear offering some protection to the fuse cap and RCA jacks.
Amazingly for the price, this preamp is tube rectified. In addition to the 6X4 rectifier it uses a single 6DJ8 (6922 or ECC88) The PCB is populated with a neat layout of quality caps and a NOS Brimar 6X4 rectifier and a NOS Philips JAN 6922. The PCB is sturdily anchored with no flex.
When I powered this up in my system, I thought, wow, it ought to sound good, but not "better" than the Peach. Just shows what a good synergistic match the Philips 6922 is to the circuit. For a while I'd had some Siemens ECC88 in the Peach, and that combination didn't sound as good as the Merlin with the Philips 6922. (now retubed, the Peach sounds just right.)
The Merlin sounds full, rich, detailed, transparent, great bass extension. Basically, it drives the power amp and it doesn't get in the way. I've used it to power Dynaco Mark III's, Transcendent Sound SE OTL's, T16, and an antique Baldwin organ amplifer. It is fast and detailed and drives each of these power amps flawlessly.
Another positive aspect of owning Juicy Music gear is doing business with Mark Deneen. He is the engineer owner, designer, and builder of this gear. If you ever have the occasion to contact him personally by e-mail or phone, he is good to deal with. I have appreciated his commitment to good will and good communication. He is the designer of one of the fine Paragon preamplifiers of years ago.
If anyone can find an equal or better unit than this preamplifier at this price go for it. This little preamp is killer and a grand champ in bang for the buck considerations.
I recently received my Merlin TSM speakers, which are the newest version. My review is too long for the forum, but it can be read at the link below...
If you can't tell by the review, I'm very impressed with these speakers!
RobRead More »
Anybody compare these or have any comments? For some reason I could not find anything on the Guru's in the forums here on a quick search, which is quite odd give that this is such a hot and interesting speaker. Am looking for a pair of accurate mini-monitors and was curious how these stack up, giv ... Read More »
I haven't given birth to a thread in a while and I thought it would be worth while to point this out:
I've just ordered a pair of Merlin Cables 'Chopin mark II' to go between my Fubar usb DAC and my Trends amplifier. So far I've been using some fairly cheap interconnects I bought from Radi ... Read More »
This is my first post so here it goes....
I am in the process of creating my first quality stereo/home theater system and am planning to start with Merlin TSM-MMe paired with the NAD VISO Five DVD/receiver (to be released soon). I know the later is far from ultra high-end audiophile equipment, ... Read More »
Please add the JM Merlin preamp to the list of offerings from Juicy Music Audio. (already on Audioreview.com). This is an impressive product. I'd like to write a review to post.
Manufacturer name: Juicy Music
Manufacturer website: [url]www.juicymusicaudio.com[/url]
... Read More »