hello does the 333 have the photo electric type volume control? I know it is a major improvement over the nomal volume pot.
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As a previous owner of two pieces of Melos gear, preamp and phono stage, the photentiometer remote control can become troublesome over time and the only place to get the bulbs is MAR in Vegas. Also with the demise of Melos, the only place that will try to repair the stuff is MAR and that can be a chore in itself. I would stick with the BAT stuff.
If you own Melos gear there is a better place to get your gear repaired and modded. The guys name is Carlo Flores. You can send him an email at email@example.com. His simple web page is here: http://melosmods.netfirms.com/
My photentiometer broke in shipping and in the interest of never having to deal with fixing it again I had him remove it and replace it with a DACT CT2. The DACT sounds better. The photentiometer adds a warmth to the sound (coloration). The DACT also lets more detail through. The only problem is losing the remote. But Bent Audio is developing a remote control setup for the DACT as we speak.
If you get a good deal on the Melos 333R I would buy it and ship it straight to Carlo for his mods. Based on how my SHA Gold Reference sounds I think you would be hard pressed to beat the 333R at any price.
Having listened to all of these mentioned pieces extensively. And also owning all of them at some point.
Think about this, the VK5i will be much easier to get serviced " for the long haul " Who knows when Carlo will get tired of repairing Melos?
The VK5i will be a little sweeter than the 333. The Classe with be smoother than the Mc DNA. I would go with the VK5i Classe combination. It will make those Vandies come alive!!!