Matching power amp for Melos SHA-1 preamp?

Dear Audiogon users,

This is my first post here. My name is Przemek and I am a blues music collector and radio DJ from Poland. I would like to ask you for help in matching the right equipment for my existing rig as I know you guys have heard a lot.

A little background... Being on a budget I decided to set up a headphone rig for myself. After a lot of reading and testing I bought something that suits my musical tastes the most:

- Grado RS1 headphones
- original Rega Planet CD player
- Joseph Grado Interconnects
- Melos SHA-1 headphone amp/preamp

This set suits me very well and delivers music in a beautiful way. I am not really an audiophile, just a music aficionado, and description such as "harsh hights" don't really mean much to me. What I can hear is that my headphone combo delivers music which is detailed yet fluid, full bodied with a lot of "meat" in the instruments' sound. Vocals are full and round, like I could almost touch them, and dynamics are amazing. It is said that quality equipment makes some CDs sound very bad. Well, this combo makes everything sound better - sound stage is always well organized, I can hear so much detail with great dynamics, plus it is all mixed and delivered as beautiful music, instead of hights, lows and middle. The blues, acoustic Blue Note jazz and roots music sound fabulous on this gear.

Just recently I decided to build a speaker set-up around my headphone rig. As I can't afford all those super audiophile speakers I am thinking of buying Kef's q900. I read that they perform well above their price range, plus there are on sale in one of the stores here in Poland giving them a very good price. I wasn't able to listen to them though, so it is just based on opinions I have read on the net.

The bottom line is, what power amp should I use to connect my Rega Planet and Melos SHA-1 to those Kef q900 speakers?

There are some used power amps on sale on Polish eBay - Acurus a-150, TAG McLaren 100P, MYRYAD MA 120 - but as I've mentioned, I have no idea what should I pair the Melos with.

Can you please help this speaker-newbie by giving your suggestions?

Thank you so much for all your valuable help.

Best wishes,
Przemek Magazine
Since the Melos SHA-1 was originally designed as a headphone amp there really is no matching power amp. The closest you will get to a match could possibly be a Melos amplifier. It would be more important to find an amplifier to match the speakers, but that should not present much of a problem since the KEF Q series speakers are 8 ohms with moderate sensitivity.

The only way to know for sure is to try one and see if you like it. If you don't like it or get tired of it you can sell it and try another one.
I have owned a SHA-1 for more than 20 years and it works very well with every amp I ever tried it with ( I don't even own headphones ). It has very low output impedance so almost any type of amp is fine. It does have high gain so 10 dB voltage splitters can be a very good thing, especially with high gain amps and/or high efficiency speakers. I use Rothschild voltage splitters - they make any pre-amp+amp combo quieter and allow you to turn up the SHA-1 volume control to get better channel balance and sound quality. Splitters are easy to make yourself too if you're handy with a soldering iron.
Whether you realize it or not you have an excellent headphone pre amp combination. I owned one for years and to date it still stands close to the top of my preamp list. 

One of of the great things about this preamp is that it uses an Alps black beauty pot, which, IMO, out performs their blue velvet in every area. Alps no longer makes this pot and nos or used prices for one demand high dollars compared to others.

The headphone section is full bodied and outright amazing. It is hard to beat and will drive almost any headphones.

That being said, find an amp that best suits your speakers, as I never found an amp that sounded poorly with the SHA 1. I used tubes, SS and class D and they all worked well.

Enjoy and don't ever sell your pre.