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kalali, yes, with the caveat that I had also attenuated the signal coming in to the linestage, so one could argue I had been over-driving it before, but pops reply gives support that it was the Mullard GZ34 rectifier tube. I had strapped the DAC to full output on the recommendation of the passive linestage vendor, then went back to -20db when I inserted the Mullard. I honestly could have spent a lot of money on other components chasing what that tube/ 36.5 provided.
My first mod was swapping a power supply to ultra-fast hexfred diodes. For a grand total of $8, and a little work attaching their heat sinks and getting them to fit, it is still to this day the biggest bang for the buck ever.
Probably a big reason my Melody I880 sounds so good is the D100 power supply tube. I don't know. Without being able to compare, how could I? Based on everything I have been able to compare though its a safe bet.
I would rate attending to the quality of power supply of any given component, to be as important or more important than the signal path. For example, if I only had a limited small amount of silver monocrystal wire to rewire a tube amp, I would use it on the ac input and power tubes, not the signal path.
Does it continue to sound much better, no matter the time of day? I agree that the power supply is so very important. On some days my system was unlistenable. My system was recently saved by the addition of a PS Audio P20 power regenerater. The incoming distortion is anywhere between 4 and 7%. The output is now an impressive .1%. I have everything plugged into it except for the subs. The sound is so much smoother, more open and more detailed. No other component upgrade, save for my speakers, has made such an improvement.
@earthtones. Thanks for the tip. I've only listened in the evening, but it has sounded consistently right each time. I have a modest Furman conditioner fronting the DAC and linestage, but it would be interesting to try something like the PS Audio unit.
In the past, I've often listened with a "what could be improved?" ear, but for now the sound keeps surprising me at a pace that produces that deep satisfaction and love of music that silences my critique.