Review: deHavilland Electric Amp Mercury Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

I purchased the deHavilland Mercury triode preamp about 3 weeks ago, partially broken-in before I received it. I am very pleased with it's performance which just keeps on getting better. This preamp is all tubes using the large type 85 triode, class A and has no negative feedback. It uses the Goldpoint stepped attenuator and has after circuit trimmers to adjust the balance. This preamp sounds very natural and simply allows the music to pass. It is very dynamic and instruments sound real with wonderful harmonic texture, accurate timbre and real life bloom. The imaging and soundstage are outstanding. I listen a great deal to Opera and I am transported to the live performance. I also listen to other classical music, show tunes and jazz with equally outstanding result. The bass is tuneful and natural, midrange very fluid, and highs are extended, smooth, airy and not etched. This preamp has a very refined and nonfatiguing sound. I can listen for hours.

I previously had a Pass X2.5 which was excellent, but the Mercury surpasses it in realism. I was apprehensive the Mercury being single ended would not work well with my balanced interconnects connected to my balanced CDP and amp, but using the excellent Cardas XLR RCA adapters, I have a perfect match. I think the Mercury is a gem and would be very surprised if the expensive world class preamps improved significantly on it's sound. The tubes are inexpensive to replace and are under-stressed with a life of thousands of hours according to the designer. The deHavilland Ultraverve, the less expensive sibling to the Mercury has had rave reviews and was given the 2004 award by Enjoy the For those who want a remote, it is availabe for another 500, but I understand there is no sonic improvement.

The preamp should not be left on all the time after broken-in and for me sounds it's best after 30 to 45 min. warm up. By the way you can get custom face plates. Mine is gold with black engraved logo and silver nobs. This a perfect match for my CDP and amp. Also the Mercury with my GamuT SS amp is a perfect example of a perfect marriage between a tube preamp and SS amp. These two components have something very important in common. They both use single devices for their output which gives single voicing without any matching problems. I think this type of design may be one of the most important elements in realistic music reproduction.

Associated gear
GamuT CD1R
GamuT D-100 Mk.3
Chapman Q6 3 way dynamic tower speaker
Stealth AC Line purifier
All JPS Labs cable
Thanks for sharing!

I'm seriously considering the UltraVerve with remote. Did you compare the Mercury to any others in your system?
Bakti, I only compared the Mercury with the Pass Labs X2.5 which I enjoyed for 16 months. In my system the Pass was very transparent, dynamic, neutral, musical, smooth and had excellent resolution. I was probably 95% satisfied. I only tried the Mercury because so many audiophiles state that a tube preamp can add alot to an otherwise SS system. Research led me to the Mercury. I tried it and I was so impressed, I didn't look any further. It moves beyond the Pass X2.5 in accuracy, emotional enjoyment and musically in my opinion and you know my review comments. I would have tried the Ultraverve, but because the price of the Mercury was in line with my X2.5, I felt it was a better place to start.

The UltraVerve did to my system what the Mercury did for Sheffb. I have no doubt the Mercury is better and look forward to hearing it. But the UltraVerve is a wonderful pre. I did a review that goes into more detail and the evolution of my system.

So I hope you try the UltraVerve or the Mercury. I believe deHavilland has something special with these units. And you will not be disappointed.

I bought the deHavilland Ultraverve without remote. It is my first tube gear ever. I listen to a lot of jazz and classical. To say that this preamp offers detail and warmth, deep base and detailed, silky highs is an understatement. I am blown away. All I can say is that when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is turn on the preamp to let it warm up in anticipation of the music. The only thing I have done is replace the 6sn7 tube with a vintage NOS RCA. Fabulous!!
I'll be receiving the newest Mercury 2 within the next few weeks - and will report back. Looking forward to it very much!
Art, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts on this pre vs. the First Sound.

The deHavilland website is excellent and provides more than the usual
amount of information about their products. However, I could not find a spec
for preamp output impedance, which is important to know if matching with
solid state amplifiers. Anyone have info?
Not sure about the Merc, but the UltraVerve's output Z is 600 ohms, since it's a cathode follower.
the output impedence of the mercury preamp is about 800 ohms, confirmed to me by Kara Chaffee.