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Do these Mercury Magnetics transformers make that much difference?

JonSick

Member
Messages
1,382
I'm doing some repairs on a JCM2000 DSL100 head which wants a new mainboard and output transformer (standard conductive board and runaway bias business).

As it needs a new OT anyway, I was wondering about giving something fancy a whirl. However given the cost comparison to a standard OEM Marshall output transformer, is there really that much difference in sound?
 

RAG7890

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,177
No……..not IMHO.

I actually don’t like the tone of quite a few Amps that use Mercury Iron. Not all but enough.

I’d look at Heyboer / Marstran Iron way before MM. I’m sure there are other good options as well that would be more cost effective.

:beer
 

cap217

Member
Messages
3,316
I went through this and MM are good but nothing special. Its a lot of marketing and a lot of R&D that they put in with different winds. But unless someone has the exact amp then swaps transformers only and can accurately record them, its all inaccurate opinions. Do they sound good? Yes but better? Who knows.

PS

the JCM 2000 DSL is the most underrated and confusing amp. I have owned a lot of these and some sound terrible, some ok, and rarely some are all out amazing. It doesnt make sense because Id put the same tubes in them. The transformers were all the same as well. I have one now that I have sold before and bought back for a lot more than I sold it just because it was the one. Now it hangs with every amp I own in its own way. Strange because I hate to admit it.
 
Messages
4,964
The unfortunate truth is that every transformer is different, so you're looking for someone who has swapped from a factory DSL/TSL OT to a MM OT and has the same preferences as you, to comment and lend their opinion. Instead, what you're going to get is people who have tried other MM transformers and compared them in totally different amps, against totally different factory transformers, lending their opinions.

With that in mind, I have MM iron in 5 of my amps and I've swapped them into a handful as well. To throw a blanket statement out based on my limited experience, Their OTs tend to be very stout sounding and powerful, with a bold low end and clear highs that are nicely refined. The alignment of the harmonic content tends to be pleasing, often more than the factory OT. But that stands true for most high quality transformers in comparison to something in a mass produced amp built to a price point.

They certainly have a huge part of the market for guitar amp transformers. And as such they are squeezing out every dollar they believe they can for their products. What they make are high quality transformers, and they make them as drop in replacements for many many applications. Most of the competition will make iron that drops in to popular / classic amps. But for modern amps or less common ones, MM is often the only game in town if you want something that drops in without modification or drilling. MM has the market cornered and they know it. Is having a high quality drop in replacement ("upgrade", potentially) worth a premium? That's up to you.

If I had to guess (and this is only a guess based on replacing other transformers with their products, and only one Marshall OT at that), I would say you'll likely find the MM OT to be bolder with a bit more overall volume and a more stout sound with more low end than the factory DSL unit. I'd also bet the highs are clearer and more articulate, but less smooth and less blurred when pushed. Marshall's factory OTs tend to blur out when pushed, and it's often part of the sound. MM stuff tends to be bolder and hold together when pushed.

I’d positively gush about a few of the MM OT swaps I’ve done, particularly in Orange amps. But I can’t say that your experience will mirror mine. It’s very application specific, and that’s just the reality of the situation.
 
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ubikwidus

Senior Member
Messages
124
I have a MM output transformer in my old Fender v-front super and it sounds great.

I recently ordered a PT and OT for a Jim Kelley build my friend is doing for me and received them overseas with little delay. Patrick at MM offers great customer service. I can't wait to hear how they sound.
 

calieng

Member
Messages
773
Heyboer is the best bang for the buck. They make transformers for lots of rebranded sellers. But it all depends on the specs they were given as to metal used in construction etc for eah particular transformer model.

I agree Mercury are over priced and do not sound any better than Heyboer or others. But they all usually do sound better than the stock transformers.
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,305
I would say you'll likely find the MM OT to be bolder with a bit more overall volume and a more stout sound with more low end than the factory DSL unit. I'd also bet the highs are clearer and more articulate, but less smooth and less blurred when pushed. Marshall's factory OTs tend to blur out when pushed, and it's often part of the sound. MM stuff tends to be bolder and hold together when pushed.
Yep. I would expect slightly louder, bolder, cleaner and having more lows and possibly smoother highs. I have had only great experiences with Mercury. I do consider Mercury better than the stock iron of the majority amps.

You can expect a tonal change. That change may or may not be to your liking. Some people will argue there is no difference; I did a pretty extensive comparison test before and after Mercury OT and Choke with a reamper and many pickups. I was able to identify the Mercury blind even when level-matched. So I am a big believer that a high quality transformer helps you get the best sound from your amp. High quality iron is one of the things that distinguishes "the men from the boys" regarding amps. There is a sound quality improvement that can be hard for people to put their finger on. Of course there are other companies making high quality transformers. If you like the amp, a high quality transformer is definitely worth paying more for IME. Unless the transformer you choose takes the sound in a direction you don't want it to go.

My train of thought is often along the lines of "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. If doing it right is not worth the cost then maybe there is a better amp for you."
 
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Messages
6,765
Depending on the stacking you may get a certain tonal quality with MM but they're still made on plastic bobbins, standard M6 laminates and sound modern.

Pricier is in no way better here, just different. As with all things guitar try to list what you expect of the transformer and try to find a trannie that does this.

With the demise of Classic Tone you have Heyboer, Merren... Hammond make brutal stuff with great push with hifi ratings.

My amp use the same style of trannies to yours an I opted to upgrade from lay-down to stand-up converted to lay-down to increase my options.
 

Axe-Man

Member
Messages
6,985
When you say that Hammond make ‘brutal stuff’ is that a good thing?

Hammond transformers are available locally (in Aus as everything else requires shipping heavy blocks of metal from OS) so I have pondered Hammond as an alternative to the more fancy priced iron.

Depending on the stacking you may get a certain tonal quality with MM but they're still made on plastic bobbins, standard M6 laminates and sound modern.

Pricier is in no way better here, just different. As with all things guitar try to list what you expect of the transformer and try to find a trannie that does this.

With the demise of Classic Tone you have Heyboer, Merren... Hammond make brutal stuff with great push with hifi ratings.

My amp use the same style of trannies to yours an I opted to upgrade from lay-down to stand-up converted to lay-down to increase my options.
 

fred5

Member
Messages
19
I remember when I started hearing about Mercury Magnetics. It started with a few people really hyping them up, making the forum boards, fairy dust and unicorn tears, etc. I even went to their web page and when I saw the prices of replacement OTs were nearly DOUBLE the price of OTs from Heyboer, Hammond, and, at the time, ClassicTone,

I was able to say NO WAY.

I will refuse to buy their goods. I'll fall short of saying I think everyone should just say 'no'. But, I really wish they would go away!

MM may be a small operation (I don't know for sure) but I'd think that charging nearly (and sometimes more than) double for the PTs and OTs than the others can keep their company hanging around long enough to take some business away from the "bigger players" in the field, and I don't make enough money to justify spending $300 (before shipping) for a replacement OT or PT than I can usually get for $150 shipped.
 
Messages
4,964
I remember when I started hearing about Mercury Magnetics. It started with a few people really hyping them up, making the forum boards, fairy dust and unicorn tears, etc. I even went to their web page and when I saw the prices of replacement OTs were nearly DOUBLE the price of OTs from Heyboer, Hammond, and, at the time, ClassicTone,

I was able to say NO WAY.

I will refuse to buy their goods. I'll fall short of saying I think everyone should just say 'no'. But, I really wish they would go away!

MM may be a small operation (I don't know for sure) but I'd think that charging nearly (and sometimes more than) double for the PTs and OTs than the others can keep their company hanging around long enough to take some business away from the "bigger players" in the field, and I don't make enough money to justify spending $300 (before shipping) for a replacement OT or PT than I can usually get for $150 shipped.
MM has been around for over 40 years, but they are a small company based in CA (where nothing is cheap). You're paying for the brand for sure. But you're also paying for the R&D behind them making a drop in replacement for nearly every guitar amp you can think of. Don't like the prices? You can drill the amp or cut the chassis to accommodate a cheaper unit. But many people are happy to pay a premium for something that drops in, fits, and is designed to spec.

For classic circuits, there are options. But for many amps, they're the only game in town. Often, you can't even order an OEM replacement from the manufacturer, but MM has one and personally I'm glad they exist.

It's like anything else. Is a Gibson Les Paul Custom worth over 3 times the price of a Gibson Les Paul Studio? They have the same pickups in them! Vote with your wallet and others will do the same.
 

JonSick

Member
Messages
1,382
To be honest I'm still torn, I didnt really appreciate there were more options in terms of aftermarket transformers. I do have a second DSL100 sat there too so part of my thinking was to AB them but for just over double the cost I'm wondering how much I'll care or notice being a high gain player.
 

gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,652
... For classic circuits, there are options. But for many amps, they're the only game in town. Often, you can't even order an OEM replacement from the manufacturer, but MM has one and personally I'm glad they exist.
Marshall sent me to them when my Drake blew up in one of my Studio 15's, told me they no longer stocked it and wouldn't be getting any more. The MM is , as others have mentioned, better than the original.
 

gunslinger

Member
Messages
4,052
I think the standard OEM Marshall output transformers sound better after listening to a couple of clips.
 
Messages
6,765
MM has been around for over 40 years, but they are a small company based in CA (where nothing is cheap). You're paying for the brand for sure. But you're also paying for the R&D behind them making a drop in replacement for nearly every guitar amp you can think of. Don't like the prices? You can drill the amp or cut the chassis to accommodate a cheaper unit. But many people are happy to pay a premium for something that drops in, fits, and is designed to spec.

For classic circuits, there are options. But for many amps, they're the only game in town. Often, you can't even order an OEM replacement from the manufacturer, but MM has one and personally I'm glad they exist.

It's like anything else. Is a Gibson Les Paul Custom worth over 3 times the price of a Gibson Les Paul Studio? They have the same pickups in them! Vote with your wallet and others will do the same.
But then most trannie operations are, aren't they?

Winding on bobbins doesn't really require a lot of hands-on operation, like paper layer does, so I still do struggle to see what you actually pay for with them.

Not too happy about some of their marketing strategies either, tell you the truth. Misleading if anything, I think.
 
Messages
4,964
But then most trannie operations are, aren't they?

Winding on bobbins doesn't really require a lot of hands-on operation, like paper layer does, so I still do struggle to see what you actually pay for with them.

Not too happy about some of their marketing strategies either, tell you the truth. Misleading if anything, I think.
What do you find misleading about their marketing? IMO, what you're paying for is probably somewhat the name, and somewhat the R&D behind them making so many application-specific drop-in units that you can order off their website at any time. They also have a 1 month no questions asked return policy and a 10 year warranty.

Where else can I get a drop in replacement for my 1963 Gibson GA5T, Orange Tiny Terror, and Ampeg SVT? To some people, there's value in having a company around that makes replacement transformers for these amps.
 

Johnny Cache

Member
Messages
295
I'm doing some repairs on a JCM2000 DSL100 head which wants a new mainboard and output transformer (standard conductive board and runaway bias business).

As it needs a new OT anyway, I was wondering about giving something fancy a whirl. However given the cost comparison to a standard OEM Marshall output transformer, is there really that much difference in sound?
You have to ask yourself is it worth the money. I doubt you'll hear much difference, is it more reliable? Maybe. How often do you burn out a OT? I haven't done many OT replacements, only 2 and usually upgrade things I repair if possible. However, I've never used a Mercury Tranny, I've used few Fender and Hammond types in some tube amps to up grade power supplies, that's usually the weakest part of a lot of tube amps. I like the Hammond's the best and their not too expensive. Made in Canada is a good thing IMHO. If I remember the MM are made in Chatsworth Ca, probably makes them a pretty good product since that's where allot of unemployed Aerospace Engineers live.
 
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