Review: Juicy Music Merlin Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

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.

Build quality
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 d├ęcor 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

James Eland
Your 15 year-old Audiophile

Associated gear
Teac A-l700p, yamaha px-3