The Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp – Reviews

If you matured in the hifi age of the 60 s as well as 70 s, publications included the most up to date stereo tools in their advertisements as well as content web pages, as well as the reel to reel tape deck was the peak. You might have possessed one, on your own.

A lot of were purchased to videotape radio programs or to videotape songs to have continual play of songs for numerous hrs– a lengthy having fun tape at 3 3/4 i.p.s. was the initial event playlist. The benefit of the portable cassette started completion of open reel tape as well as the intro of the cd sped up the decrease. The introduction of residence electronic recording in the nineties ended up the marketplace for reel to reel decks.

Yet over the last 5 years approximately, reel to reel has actually been making a peaceful return. If you have actually participated in any type of sound reveals just recently, you have actually possibly seen open reel tape decks playing in increasingly more areas. Around, 10 years ago a firm got here on the audio perspective that supplied the best at home songs playback, duplicates of initial master tapes. The Tape Job was an endure undertaking, licensing master tapes, with 1:1 duplicates readily available to minority. Directly targeted at the prosperous audiophile, valued at $450 per cd it was a labor of love. A number of various other start-up’s done the same in addition to a few of the recognized names such as Analogue Productions as well as Groove Keep In Mind.

These brand-new, specialist quality tapes birthed no similarity to the pre-recorded reel tapes from earlier days, mass copied on 7 1/2- inch reels. The majority of today’s open reel tapes are generated on 10 1/2- inch reels, in 15 i.p.s., half-track setup. Maybe the most significant distinction of all is todays tapes utilizing IEC equalization as opposed to the NAB EQ utilized in previous customer tapes. Today’s tapes are a workshop initiative throughout.

Rapid onward to 2019

Considering that the manufacture of brand-new reel to reel decks is non-existent, a home sector has actually established, sustaining the restored rate of interest in the reel style. Along with numerous business doing ground up reconstruction of classic decks, a brand-new tape manufacture came aboard to use tape supply in addition to the revitalization of the last initial tape maker.

This brings us to the factor of this testimonial, a tape head preamp. If you are brand-new to the style, you might question why you require an exterior tape head preamp, since tape decks all featured line degree results. Like a phono cartridge, the tape head is a reduced result gadget that needs improving as well as equalization to be utilized as a line degree resource.

In the prime time of hifi, it would certainly have been unimaginable that a preamp, receiver or incorporated amp would certainly not have an integrated phono phase. Nevertheless equally as we have actually uncovered over the last number of years with the assault of phono preamps, a specialized properly designed phono preamplifier exposes extra songs in the playback of plastic. The exact same relates to tape playback: put simply a lot of the integrated wiring while appropriate can be surpassed. To make the most of what todays tapes need to use, it’s a need.

Unlike your turntable, you can not just put the Tape preamp in between the deck as well as your preamp. All decks no matter if they are customer, prosumer or perhaps specialist call for some alteration to utilize an exterior tape preamplifier. Without entering into specifics, you require to be able to take the signal straight from the playback head. The bright side is that if you are not practically likely most proficient service technicians can do this for you at a practical price.

Merrill Sound, based in New Jacket has actually signed up with a little however expanding variety of business supplying tape preamps as well as the very first to use a non-tube system. I picked to utilize the term non-tube as opposed to the dreadful term solid-state since several think about solid-state as having a chilly clean and sterile rough audio, which todays finest solid-state equipment just does not.

Similar to a wonderful phono phase, exterior tape head preamplifiers are likewise valued. The Merrill PURE has an MSRP of $9,000 Not cost-effective, however never insane cash, specifically when placed in the context of what a phono preamplifier of comparable efficiency would certainly set you back.

The arrangement

The PURE is the very first of 3 devices that Merrill will certainly be supplying, with extra versatility as you go up the chain. The PURE attributes an outboard power supply attached by an umbilical wire, adequate in size, to permit positioning of it far from the electronic devices. The preamp itself provides well machined casework with a big display screen that can be conveniently checked out from throughout the space. Although, offered its professional audio origins, input as well as result links are well balanced XLR just.

Throughout the testimonial duration, it was utilized in both well balanced as well as SE setting, utilizing Cardas XLR/RCA adapters without destruction in audio. 2 toggle changes concealed under of the framework permit gain choice (65 db as well as 71 db) as well as tape equalization for countless rates. The PURE Tape Preamp features predefined Equalization setups for 3 3/4, 7 1/2, 15 for both NAB as well as IEC in addition to a 30 IEC2/AES setup.

Diving in

With the basic target market for exterior tape preamplifiers being professional workshops as well as really significant tape individuals, there is a great deal of need for the 15 i.p.s. setup, however this isn’t the only course. A variety of web experts dedicated to open up reel playback have a basic derision for pre-recorded, 1/4 track tapes, which go for 7 1/2 i.p.s. as well as 3 3/4 i.p.s. With a big collection at my disposal, I really feel that forgeting this sector of documented songs is an error. Though several rock titles were generated utilizing a broadband replication procedure (leading to rather substandard playback high quality) most of the very early Jazz as well as Classic title deal audio that exceeds their plastic equivalents.

The crucial to taking pleasure in these tapes to the maximum is the capacity to choose the correct EQ for the tape you are playing– there is nobody dimension fits all below. Various other exceptional tape head preamplifiers I have actually utilized requirement to be altered when transforming tape rates, or deal no predefined tape rate EQ in all. The good news is, the PURE removes this issue, making it very easy to change EQ.

History preparation

Prior to sending our testimonial system, Merrill Sound asked if I called for input cards for the ATR 102, an expert deck presently readily available from ATR Solutions. This leads me to think that the Pure Tape Head preamp was targeted at those individuals. While I’m not an ATR proprietor I do have the adhering to decks as referral elements: JCorder with an exterior head block real estate Change Magnetics fifty percent as well as quarter track heads, a tailored Revox Public Relations99 that was constructed with straight head result in addition to customized playback electronic devices by Soren Wittrup of CS Electronic Devices as well as an Otari MX5050 with Change Magnetics fifty percent track heads as well as straight result. My Studer A807 is presently out for solution.

I attempted to resource a wide variety of songs as well as variants on the style to place the PURE via its rates. The adhering to tapes were utilized for assessment: AP’s Muddy Seas The Individual Vocalist, Fritz Reiner’s incredible variation of Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije, The Tape Projects’ Jerry Garcia/David Grisman, as well as Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Titan – all are generated at 15 i.p.s. utilizing IEC EQ. Business 7 1/2 i.p.s.quarter track variations of John Coltrane’s Titan Actions as well as A Love Supreme in addition to Charles Mingus’ Mingus, Mingus, Mingus as well as Blues as well as Origins were utilized for contrast.


The large quiet of the PURE appears prior to you also press the play switch.

Prior to the tape begins, history sound appears to be lowered. When the songs begins, the PURE’s ultra reduced sound flooring permits refined information in the recordings to radiate, just like a costs phono preamplifier provides a much deeper as well as blacker history, it coincides with tape. Merrill’s electronic devices are understood for lightening rapid short-term action, as well as the PURE maintains that practice. Garcia’s guitar service the Garcia/Grisman tape has actually the ring related to well tape-recorded guitar. The opening edge shots on Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas” are similarly realistic as well as filled with exhilaration.

The soundstage made expands much past my audio speaker borders as well as deepness has the impression of expanding past the back wall surface. This holds true analog participation. The Lieutenant Kije tape provides a scenic sight of the band, as well as the vibrant swings have no drag in timing. Skill is not a word I normally connect with Muddy Seas nonetheless it is words that enters your mind paying attention to the tape. It’s very easy to listen to as well as really feel Seas’ take a breath as well as shout at the start of “Mr Captain” in such a way that you simply can not recognize without the extra resolution an exterior tape head preamplifier supplies.

Benefit factors

The PURE’s capacity to play 7 1/2 i.p.s. 1/4 track tapes without recalibration is its masterpiece for tape lovers with a varied tape collection. While the present plant of 15 ips tapes utilize brand-new high result tape, classic industrial tapes were tape-recorded at reduced degrees, to prevent saturating the tape formulas of the day. Switching over the result of the preamp to the greater setup. choosing the 7 1/2 NAB setup permits these tapes to radiate like never ever in the past. While they will certainly never ever test the efficiency of the present costs plant of master duplicates, they can surpass their finest plastic equivalents, as I meant earlier.

Those with tape collections that consist of these pre-recorded vintage tapes can currently make the most of what these tapes need to use. A casual celebration of audiophile buddies left my area surprised at simply just how much info is hiding in these tapes. The vintage variation of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme overshadows also my finest plastic pressings on hand. From the opening treble sax cry in “Acknowledgement” via the opening bass line of “Resolution” it really feels as if you are being relocated better to the control space than in any type of various other variation readily available.

The PURE deals a degree of improvement, with a smooth extensive leading end, however the general bass efficiency is actually this system’s business card. Without exemption, bass handles a brand-new measurement on every recording tossed at it.

Last thoughts/fine factors

In auditioning the 3 decks available, the decks with Change Magnetic heads gain the most significant gains in efficiency. Including the exterior preamp permits your tape deck to end up being a completely recognized audiophile part. The Revox Public Relations99 which has the supply Studer/Revox heads obtained the least little bit of improvement, extra in regards to a reduced sound flooring as well as resulting vibrant variety.

My only agitation with the system is a remote that does much less than completely. Usually, utilizing a remote for one more system in my system it would certainly trigger the Pure preamp to alter rate choice. The good news is, the PURE seldom requires the remote; most will certainly establish it as well as just alter the choice when a various style of tape is utilized. This is conveniently completed with a flip of the activate the front panel.

Like all various other Merrill elements, the front panel has a huge display screen revealing the tape rate as well as Eq presently being utilized. I comprehend exactly how in a workshop atmosphere this serves from throughout a dark control space, nonetheless in a residential atmosphere it’s meddlesome, fortunately it can be switched off.

If you are a major tape head as well as have appropriate tape transportations, I highly advise you to audition the Merrill PURE. It is a worthwhile enhancement to your tape playback chain.

The Merrill PURE Tape Head Preamplifier

MSRP: $9,000


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