M2Tech has revealed the new Marley MkII Headphone Amplifier, designed, says the Italian company, “to take the intimacy of headphones listening to new heights of pure pleasure”.

The Marley MkII packs many technological solutions into the compact, Rockstars Series case. Ease of use was the keyword of this new design. The Marley MkII can be operated by its front panel controls, as well as by its IR remote controller (the same as the one used for the Young MkIII DAC/Preamplifier and the Nash Phono Preamplifier) and by Bluetooth Low Energy, using the free app available for both Android and iOS. The high contrast OLED display reports all status information and allows for easily navigate the configuration menu.

Balanced Headphone Connection

The Marley MkII drives both single-ended and balanced headphones, by the 6.35mm (1/4”) jack and the 4-pin XLR connector on its front panel, thanks to its balanced, discrete components and FET- input power stage. This high bias, high speed design uses low inductance MELF resistors and Polyester capacitors for bypass and compensation. Up to 10Vrms are available on the single-ended output when driving high impedance headphones, while at least 9Vrms are still available on 8 Ohms loads.

Tone Control

A very low noise floor is mandatory when listening to headphones. That’s why the Marley MkII has adopted a dual, extremely low-noise, discrete components regulator. This also allows for retrieving all details in the music signal even when the volume (set by the high performance MUSES72320 integrated volume control) is set to low levels. When it comes to headphones listening, the driver-ear coupling is the main source of sound alteration, leading to tonal unbalance. That’s why the Marley MkII offers a 3-band tone control to compensate the tonal balance changes due to the driver-ear coupling. Purists can of course disable the tone control.

Headphone listening can be sometimes disappointing when listening to early stereo tracks, affected by the so-called “ping-pong effect” due to excessive channel separation. To reduce this effect, a cross-feed circuit can be activated which physiologically reduces the channel separation, leading to a more natural perception of the soundstage. Finally, it’s important to perfectly match the driving impedance every headphones model requires: 32 Ohms designs require low impedance, while 600 Ohms models work best when the source has a higher output impedance. That’s why the Marley MkII allows you to choose its output impedance between Low-Z, 10 Ohms and 47 Ohms.

Preamp Output

Versatility is also an important feature for a headphone amplifier. The Marley MkII is provided with both single-ended and balanced inputs, plus a tape output and a preamplifier output (doubling the headphones single-ended output to RCA sockets on the back panel) which allows for driving a power amplifier. 12VDC trigger input and output on 3.5mm jacks are also available.

The performance of the Marley MkII can be further increased by powering it with the Van Der Graaf MkII ultra-low noise power supply through the 4-pin XLR supply connector on the amp’s back panel. Available from June 2019.

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