YBA 2 preamplifier System
The main comparison preamplifier was the Melos SHA-1 headphone amplifier used as a line-stage (footnote 1), while the Mod Squad Line Drive Deluxe and the Classé Six reviewed by Larry Greenhill in February (footnote 2) also saw some action. Power amplifiers included the YBA 2 HC, Mark Levinson No.20.6es, and Audio Research Classic 120s.
Loudspeakers used during the review period included the B&W Silver Signatures, Velodyne DF-661s, and Green Mountain Diamantes, for both preamps, with Epos ES11s, Magnepan MG2.6/Rs, Spendor S100s, Acoustic Energy AE1s, Thiel CS2 2s, Vandersteen 3s, PSB Stratus Minis, Mission Cyrus 753s, Martin-Logan Aeriuses, Monitor Audio Studio 6es, and Harbeth HL-P3s also seeing service with the YBA 2.
Front-end components were a Linn Sondek LP12 (Cirkus/Trampolin/Lingo)/Ekos/Arkiv setup sitting on an ArchiDee table and amplified by a Mod Squad Phono Drive EPS, for LP playback. For digital, I variously used an Audio Alchemy DAC-in-the-Box, a Theta DS Pro Generation III, a Counterpoint DA-10 with UltraAnalog DAC module, Mark Levinson Nos.35 and 30, a Krell Reference 64, and a Sonic Frontiers SFD-2, all driven by a Mark Levinson No.31 transport via first AudioQuest Pro 2 ST-optical, then Madrigal AES/EBU for silver disc.
Other source components used included a Revox PR99 open-reel recorder, and Aiwa HD-S1 and Panasonic 3700 DAT recorders, these connected to the D/A processor with first an Audio Alchemy DTI, then a Digital Domain VSP/S. Interconnects used were primarily AudioQuest Lapis, while speaker cable was a 5' bi-wired set of AudioQuest Sterling. (For the B&Ws, I used their dedicated silver cable.) All source components and preamps were plugged into a Power Wedge 116, itself plugged into one of my listening room's two specially installed AC circuits and fitted with the Power Enhancer option.—John Atkinson
Footnote 1: As well as adding a third pair of inputs, Melos has made some component and wiring changes to the SHA-1 which have worried some readers that its sound might have changed. Comparing my 1991-vintage machine with a newer sample revealed, if anything, a slight improvement in clarity. Don't worry 'bout it.
Footnote 2: Vol.17 No.2, p.107.