Pure Tape Head Preamp - Merrill Audio
Tape Head Preamp MerrillAudio


Pure Tape Head Preamp



Finally there is a good alternative for the purist of Reel to Reel Tape playback. Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp provides a superior Tape Head Preamp that brings out the full dynamics of Reel to Reel Tape, with the details and immediacy of the live recording. Merrill Audio is very excited to present the PURE Tape Head Preamp for the highest fidelity from Reel to Reel Tape Decks.

The Goal of the Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp is to provide a much better alternative for high end Reel to Reel Tape Listeners. This was designed by Jens Waale in conjunction with Merrill Audio and built by Merrill Audio. The listener can instantly hear the increased dynamic range, lower noise floor and much greater immediacy, that is truly justifiable of tape that creates an exceptional listening experience.

The design of the Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp has a high gain of 71dB with a optional 6dB cut. Equalization is available for 3.75 ips, 7.5 ips, 15 ips, 30 ips with NAB, IEC and IEC2 equalization. The output is capable of a +/- 12 volt swing, giving a full 24 volt output. For most tape heads, the Tape itself will saturate before reaching this output level. This large voltage capability gives the Merrill Audio Tape Head Preamp excellent immediacy and speed. The gain is 71db with a 6db cut if needed. Lower gains can be factory set for preamps that cannot accept a high dynamic range and voltage. ?Ampex tapes can record up to 380nWB

The Merrill Audio PURE Tape head Preamp has an accuracy of 0.1dB and channel matching better than 0.1db for more accurate, vivid imaging and better stage.

Tape at 30 ips has good high frequency but worse low frequency. 15 ips has better low frequency and less high frequency, and is generally more accepted as a trade off. Other limitations are 80db S/N, Tape Head wear, alignment, reproduction head width, gap and length. All of these cause variations in tape recording and is very difficult to correct in the playback. For playback the most ideal is a good head that is well aligned. This reduces head bump, increases the output and lowers the noise.


The Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp is the purest form of a Tape Head Preamp that gives you the best sound without any phase errors from tweaks and adjustments. For 90% of the Reel to Reel afficiandos and audiophils, the performance is excel any adjustments. The Merrill Audio Pure Tape Head Preamp is perfect to sit back and enjoy Reel to Reel tapes.


Merrill Audio can provide Tape Head Access cards for the Ampex ATR 100, 102 and 104 Reel to Reel players.

6 Eq/Speed settings 3.75 IPS with NAB equalization
7.5 IPS with NAB equalization
15 IPS with NAB equalization
7.5 ips with IEC Equalization
15 ips with IEC equalization
30 IPS with IEC2 equalization
External Kratos Power Supply unit
GAIA II footers
Large LED display with Brightness control
Delayed dim control
Delayed blank control
Remote Control
2 gain settings 71dB or 65dB
Fully balanced inputs and outputs.
Dual Mono design.
Eq Channel matching better than 0.1dB
EQ available 3.75 IPS NAB
S/N Better than 110dB
Gain 71dB, with -6dB cut. Lower gains can be factory configured
Input Balanced
Output Balanced
Output Impedance 50 ohms
Maximum output voltage 24 volts
External power supply Standard
Dual Mono design
Remote Control
Display configurable for brightness Delayed dim or off.
Saved last used settings
Footers Isoacoustics GAIA III
Dimensions Dual Mono PURE Tape Head Preamp, 430mm (17?) x 400mm (16?) x 85mm (3.4?) without footers430mm (17?) x 400mm (16?) x 125mm (4.9?) with footers
External Kratos II Power Supply, 153mm (6?) x 88mm (3.5) x 310mm ( 12.2? )

Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp, Simple to use sweet sounding analog!

Have you ever noticed how people’s pets tend to look like them and reflect their personalities? Well, I have noticed a similar congruency between audio components and their designers ? for good or bad (no names mentioned here are the astringent amps/designers I have come across in my years as an audiophile). Fortunately, the subject of this review, the Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp (the “Merrill Preamp” or “Pure”) for reel-to-reel decks and its creator Merrill Wettasinghe are on the right side of that spectrum. Merrill joined a recent meeting of the Westchester Audio Society (WAS) at my house and brought along his reel-to-reel tape preamp.

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The Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp – Tone Audio

The PURE is the first of three units that Merrill will be offering, with additional flexibility as you move up the chain. The PURE features an outboard power supply connected by an umbilical cable, sufficient in length, to allow placement of it away from the electronics. The preamp itself offers well machined casework with a large display that can be easily read from across the room. Although, given its pro audio roots, input and output connections are balanced XLR only.

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