This makes a voyage with the SP3 one of discovery. You'll have to pinch yourself and recall that we are dealing with a product costing under $1800. Its very few demerits are so euphonic, non-aggressive or non-intrusive that the compromises are no worse than going from a wine specialist Nero D'Avola to one from a supermarket. Some softness on transients, some bass flabbiness, a trace of confusion on overtly complex pieces - that's the sum of its misdemeanors.
Let's take it further: pair this with some daft under-$100 DVD player used just for CD, or an iPod, plus any decent $500-per-pair UK-made two-ways, and you have a truly enjoyable system for well under $3000. In a year's time, you can upgrade the source or the speakers, and the SP3 will just say, "Bring it on." In other words, unlike with Chinese food, you won't feel hungry an hour later.
Melody has dialed in something most hi-fi manufacturers (and users) have forgotten: fun. This little amp is like the Little Engine That Could. It's cute, feisty and it gets the job done. It has seriously tough rivals from PrimaLuna, along with umpteen entry-level Chinese amplifiers, but its looks, feel, apparent build quality, more-ish sound and irresistible price make this a guaranteed short-list habitué.
About Melody Valve Hi-Fi
Melody Valve Hi Fi Pty Ltd. was founded by Allen Wang, now president & CEO, in 1999. It's very much a part of the "new era" valve amp manufacturers, rather than one of the hangovers from the time when all such ventures were government-owned.
Melody describes itself as specializing in the "design and making of high-end acoustic equipment and devices, such as classic electronic vacuum valve amplifiers, CD players, CRT test rejuvenators, etc." It's also a multi-national concern, with headquarters and R&D in Australia.
Recently, the company showed its commitment to playing on the same field as the big boys by investing in a purpose-built factory in Shenzhen. Production facilities occupy 10,000 square feet, and it houses modern assembly lines, in-house transformer production (mains and output transformers), high-end testing facilities, burn-in rooms, paint-shops for the chasses and shipping. So, for those of you charmed by their offerings, forget any images of amps made in sheds.
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