Dared MP-5: Review and modification

Also known as the Fatman iTube.

After listening to the Dared MP-5 tubed integrated pre-amp, I decided that I want to make a "pre-amp out". This is useful if I want to connect to a different amplifier, while wanting to use the tube section.

So I needed to tap the DAC + Tubed preamp stage of the Dared MP-5 as it does not have RCA out. Flipped the amp upside down and removed 4 screws to get access to the board, I noticed that the Dared MP-5 is using STI TDA7265 chip power amp.

Reading the datasheet from I found out that pin # 7 and #11 are the inputs, so this is where I want to tap the signal. Looking at the PCB they are clearly marked as L, R, and GND. Thanks to the PCB designer!

Update 25/5/09:
After living with the amp for quite a long time I have come to the conclusion that it is a very good amplifier which requires no modification/addition. I am using it now to power a pair of fullrange TangBand speakers.

Update 25/4/2015
The potentiometer used in Dared MP-5 is rather cheap one. After a few years it developed oxidation and audibly noisy. It can be easily accessed and changed using better ones like Alps etc. Smaller pots can be soldered from underneath the PCB patch.


Dared MP-5: unpacking

During my search for a proper DAC for my gainclone I stumbled upon the Dared MP-5. It is very unique in the way that it combines USB DAC, tube pre-amp, and a (supposedly) gainclone implementation. The DAC is an older version which is 48khz so it won't be able to decode SACD or any 96khz recording. The amp is also a 13w/ch version as supposed to 50 or 60 watt LM3875 gainclones. Nevertheless the tube preamp is really appealing and even without RCA out I think I can simply tap the potentiometer to create one.

The Dared MP-5 came delivered in a quite big box. I did not expect that and it was a good sign.

It came with literally everything needed to make music. Just plug in a PC and Speakers. It also came with a white cotton gloves and brush, and you'll soon know why ...

This amp is like a piece of jewellery. Fully polished and shiny I opt to lift it from the bottom to move it around. It is also bigger than I expected and is very solid.

At the front there is a power button with blue led indicator, usb port with indicator, a volume control, and a headphone jack. At the back there are RCA line-in, switch to select usb/RCA input, and speaker connectors. The tubes are protected using a flat-black cage and it looks fine. I see people take it off but I just don't bother with it.