Classictone Output Tranny vs. Merren?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Ed A, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. Ed A

    Ed A Member

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    Any of you do a direct comparison? I have a '69 50w plexi clone with NOS mustard caps and resistors and often wonder if I shouldnt have cheaped out and went with the Classictone. But Im hesitant to spend the money and take apart all the beautiful tie wrapping, etc. to switch it out.... The amp sounds great but would it be that much sweeter if I went with the Merren? Is there a definite difference? Thanks!
     
  2. riscado

    riscado Member

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    How about Marstran? Has far as I've always heard, the two specialists in the Marshall department are Marstran and Merren.

    When I needed an OT replacement for my 1968 JMP, I contacted both companies, both replied and were extremely useful. Marstran was a little bit quicker, so rather then flip a coin I thought it was the fair thing to do business with them.

    I'm sure any of this two would be great however.
     
  3. MuleHead

    MuleHead Member

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    Personally I don't think that Classictone is 'cheaped out'. I'm sure you've seen this comparison http://www.classictone.net/PaperVsPlastic.html

    I think Heyboer are solid as well...A good friend built a JTM clone with Heyboer and it sounds amazing! There may be an argument for the Merren / Marstran, but if you're happy with what you have currently, why change? Maybe better / different tubes would have more impact?
     
  4. Long2Play

    Long2Play Member

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    I have a 50 watt RJS6850 Plexi with the Merren Transformers in it that was built by Bobby Smith at RJS Amplification. It rips! Bobby feels that Merren is the best option for getting really accurate results, so I went for it. It has NOS Mustards and other NOS parts as well.

    Having said that, If you love the way the amp sounds now, don't change a thing! Why doubt it, if your ears are happy?

    I can't tell you if the difference would be better or worse for you. I have no way to compare them straight up. Chris Merren did a fantastic job on the set of Tranny's we used. I felt it was worth the extra expense, since we were going all out on my build anyway.
     
  5. Long2Play

    Long2Play Member

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    Here is my amp. That way you can see what he did and hear an amp with Merren's in it. I did a short clip of the amp for the builder, Bobby Smith at RJS Amps. Let me know what ya think:

    https://soundcloud.com/long2play/rjs6850-plexi-drop-d-hard-rock-clip

    It is recorded into Logic thru a Rivera Rockcrusher into the Two Notes Cab impulse software. The effects were added in Logic. No compression or EQ added. I boosted the input with a Barber Super Sport pedal set clean.

    Here are the build specs on this amp:

    Merren Audio Output Transformer Reproduction of the 784-139 50 watt from the 60's and 70's.
    Merren Audio Power Transfomer Reproduction of the Drake 1202-118 Gold Series as used from 67-69 laydown PT.
    Merren Audio C1999 Choke.
    NOS Original Mustard Capacitors.
    UK Made Cliff Jacks.
    PEC Sealed Pots
    Handmade (staked split turrets) Garolite XX Brown tag board.
    Reproduction Pink wire as used in Vintage Marshalls.
    F & T Electrolytic Filter Capacitors.
    Punched Steel Chassis.
    Amphenol NOS Power Tube sockets.
    NOS 820k Carbon Comp resistors V1A, V1B, and V2A positions.
    Negative feedback resistor 100k. (normal Marhall is 47k)
    Phase inverter cap 100pf. (normal Marshall is 47pf)
    TAD Power Tubes
    TAD Pre-amp tubes V1, and V2.
    Reissue Tung-Sol V3 phase inverter tube.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. cugel

    cugel Member

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    merrens are second to none from what i read. that said, in a blind test could a player or listener tell the diff?
    i have classictone in my jtm45
     
  7. fusionbear

    fusionbear exquirentibus veritatem Gold Supporting Member

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    I like Merren, Classictone, Mercury Magnetics, Heybeor. Each has its place IMO...
     
  8. goddot

    goddot Supporting Member

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    The most expensive part on an amplifier is the transformer(s) the second greatest expense is the speaker. If I'm putting all the best parts in a build, why would I want to cheap out on the very heart of the project?
    my opinion of course ymmv

    manufacturers use classictones because they get them cheap.. when I see them used on a 3k amp I pass...lol
     
  9. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Mercury Magnetics fan here.
     
  10. DrainBamage

    DrainBamage Member

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    How much is a Merrin jmp 50 tset? Iwas thinking going that way too like the OP musards and phirs resistors. Went that far might as well as get Merrins so I wont second guess my self. But then again aybe it would have been better to have picked up a MK2 for a bit more lol
     
  11. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    Spend the money on the OT. Go inexpensive on the PT. That said, classictones are great. I've never seen the added value in paying for a mercury magnetics. The difference in shipping might not make it worth buying separates.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  12. fusionbear

    fusionbear exquirentibus veritatem Gold Supporting Member

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    More expensive is not always better....

    just sayin...
     
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  13. DrainBamage

    DrainBamage Member

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    Lol I agree fusionbear probably should have just saved my money.
     
  14. SlyStrat

    SlyStrat Supporting Member

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    Most vintage Marshall experts don't suggest the Mercury.
    All others are probably very close.
    One of my amps has the Marstran, one Heyboer.
    Another JTM50 clone I had used the Classic Tone.
    Splitting hairs...
     
  15. louis

    louis Supporting Member

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    Beautiful amp but wish the logo would be smaller
     
  16. fusionbear

    fusionbear exquirentibus veritatem Gold Supporting Member

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    I really like the Merren's but I also really like the Mercury's. The problem with the Mercury's is that they have so many versions, it is really important to know which ones to get... I have my own spec with Mercury.... ;)

    I also like the Classictones too. I like the way the "smear" the tone, a bit smoother overall, with nice even order harmonics.
     
  17. DrainBamage

    DrainBamage Member

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  18. louis

    louis Supporting Member

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    Classictone and worst Weber
     
  19. CubanB

    CubanB Member

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    I don't consider Classic Tone to be cheaping out, anymore than I consider WGS to be cheaping out.

    I currently run WGS Reaper and Celestion V30, and they were chosen for tone reasons, nothing to do with money. They are actually the same price in my country. So it's funny how the price can alter perception of things. I've seen it written many times.. "or you could just get the real thing for an extra x dollars" but they have different voices/strengths/weaknesses.

    I've been looking to do some op amp switching in the near future, and it's funny how Burr Brown OP2134 is said to be so good ("the ultimate op amp"), but it also seems to be the Mercury Magnetics of op amps in terms of price. I haven't tried it yet but I wonder if it'd have the same rep if it were the same price as the others.

    I remember when WGS were so cheap in the beginning and many wrote them off because of it.

    Price and "what others think" are the two biggest ways that people "cheap out" in terms of evaluating gear.. a way of cheaping out that has nothing to do with money.

    Not trying to talk about anyone personally, just talking about trends I notice. It always pops up when wanting to try or replace parts and you never really know for sure until you try them for yourself and start building a set of preferences and understanding of what suits you.
     
  20. Avatar Tech

    Avatar Tech Member

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    +1
    I build amps for Avatar Speakers so maybe my perspective is not objective. Nonetheless we use Classic Tone iron in our builds because they are a great product at a great price. They have been making audio transformers in Chicago for a very long time. The first Avatar amps had Heyboer iron but we tried out Classic Tone when faced with a very long wait time for Heyboer. The plan was to try the Classic Tone transformers and just use them until we could get Heyboers back in stock but the EL84 amps we were working on sounded a little smoother with the Classic Tone output tranny. They had less of that ice pick tone that EL84's are prone to. The price was a little better, and they are a fantastic company to work with, so I'm loyal to Classic Tone. FWIW, I still think Heyboers sound great, and are a well-made product. The difference in tone is pretty subtle between the output transformers I have auditioned from the two makers, and they both beat the dog crap out of the truly cheap (unreliable) Chinese transformers that I've heard.
    Colin
     
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