Myrrdin is the Gaelic name of the druid Merlin. According to Pleiadian seer Barbara Hand-Clow, after his service to King Arthur battling the Roman invaders of the Green Isle, he journeyed the seas west, to the Americas of the Mayans where he worked on aligning their stargate temples. Merlin is also the name of Dusan Klimo's Classic Line tube preamp from Reutlingen/Germany. It's a town outside Tübingen [right], hence located in the greater vicinity of Stuttgart. I used to live in all three places, albeit long before having been bitten by the audiophile undead. At the time, a good twenty years in the past now, I remained blissfully unawares of this aural shaman working in our midst. The stuff of legend and powerful magic, Merlin's name carries quite the legacy; naming an audio component after him points at ambition and entrancing performance. The actual valve preamp with outboard tubed power supply turned out to be heavily laden with these qualities. Think merchant dromedary eagerly greeted by the goods-starved inhabitants of a remote desert outpost. Having travelled all the way from faraway Teutonia, Merlin's arrival in the mountainous hamlet of Taos paralleled the mythical exploits of its forebear. Put a spell on me, ol' chap.

In favor of immaculately applied piano-gloss lacquer on wood, the physical package eschews the ubiquitous metal cladding -- presumably to avoid subtle field effects -- and achieves further distinction with its clear real glass cover which the end user fastens atop four stand-offs, slipping little metal sleeves atop the posts first to create a quarter-inch circumferential air gap. A white-etched legend on the cover's frontal edge explains the functions of the various chromed controls, from the, left to right, 4-input selector, balance and volume knobs to the source/monitor, sound/mute and standby/on toggles in-between. With four single-ended inputs, a tape loop and twin outputs, the rear lacks the standard IEC inlet and replaces it with a stout bi-directional umbilical, which then terminates in the most overbuilt 10-pin spring-loaded lock socket this side of medical surgery rooms.

The plain-view innards of my line-stage loaner sans optional phono section showed the twin E88CC small-signal output triodes; the military-style, hard-soldered, horizontally affixed green cat eye indicator valve; the twin Alps pots for balance and master gain; top-notch parts quality; and a spacious, squeaky-clean dual-mono layout.

Reed relays handle input switching directly at the RCA jacks.

Isolating the power transformer from the sensitive input circuity nets a sizable outboard box with a black-backed and quite reflective acrylic front [below], the no-nonsense 'TPS - Tube Power Supply' legend and the firm's trademark encircled K which illuminates red when the main unit's toggle is set to stand-by, green when to active.

Specs for the Klimo Merlin include a colossal claimed 3Hz - 450kHz bandwidth; THD less than 0.07%; 25 volts max output; 124-ohm output impedance; separate filament and anode voltage stabilizers, the latter preceded by a 60 second time delay circuit for a soft-start function; dimensions of 17" x 4.75" x 13.75" WxHxD [including feet and frontal controls]; and a weight of 26.5 lbs. The equivalently weighty TPS box measures 10" x 7" x 16" WxHxD and adds a further 3 inches of depth via the honking connector assembly. The Merlin can be optionally outfitted with a phono board based on the firm's stand-alone valved VIV phono preamp. The three small-signal tubes in the power supply [1 x EZ81, 2 x ECC81] came outfitted with rubber ring tube dampers while the image to the right shows the colored diodes that backlight the logo - red for waiting, foot twitchingly suspended above accelerator; green for high-revvin' go - just like the shrinking racetrack that's the German autobahn. The TPS is compatible not only with the Merlin but also the Viv phono stage and Beag preamp models.