NAD: Milkman "The Amp"

maxvintage

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New to me, bought used in Mint condition on Reverb

You probably know what this is: A 50 watt Class D power amp with a tube preamp using one 12AX7

Positives
Really great sound
small size
light
has onboard verb and trem
cab sim
headphone
XLR out


Cons:
Pricey
Underpowered for really loud clean
no effects loop
Not as reactive as an all-tube amp


So I got this, maybe out of boredom or restlessness as much as anything else. I'm not a tube snob at all, thoguh I have a great sounding Pro Junior I put in a 1/12 cab. I had been playing at home using a Yamaha THR30II, which sounds good but I mostly play clean with a small amount of "hair," think Kenny Burrell on Midnight Blue. It had a bunch of stuff I really ever use and it's not really loud enough in the event I ever go back to gigging. OK enough self justification.


First impression is that it was very dark. I ran it into a Henricksen sealed cab ten rated for 100 watts, then into a ten inch pro junior cab with the stock fender speaker, and then into a 12 inch cab with a 12 inch weber alnico, I think a 12150. They all seemed dark with bass and treble at "noon."

But the Eq controls are very powerful, and you can easily tame the bass with a very small adjustment on the bass control. Small adjustments to either make a big difference. You can nail a black face deluxe sound if you boost bass and treble.

The Volume knob adjusts the gain of the 12 AX7. The overdrive is ok—not great at very high gain, tends to be woofy on the low end, but very good at lower gain levels to put a little bit of hair on the tone. I love the way it adds warm harminiuc without getting into full distrotion. As you up the gain it’s good to drop the bass a little. Both controls have a big effect on overall gain. If you roll both all the way back you get a very middy sound, think Grant Green, but much less gain and volume

Open it up and it roars—very loud and there is an interesting attack, kind of a sag effect. I played a Class D bass amp for many years, and there is something nice about the “feel”
 of class D. It’s softer or something. Reactive.

When the master volume is turned up, it sounds great. At room levels it's really good but a little flat. It gets very loud through a 100 watt closed back 1x10 cab, but at full volume it’s not very clean.

The Headphone out sounds really great, very satisfying to play. The XLR to the computer sounds good: I need to mess with it some more.

Construction: Below are some shots with the side panels, nicely made of maple, removed. You can see the tube is mounted in a ceramic socket on a vertical circuit board, which makes a lot of tube swapping probably a bad idea. The pedal/enclosure gets warm when the 12AX7 is cooking

mkmnleft.jpeg


There are secret controls if you take the right side panel off. There are three different verbs available via dip switches—two spring verbs and a plate. Each verb can be accompanied by trem either in a sine wave or as a triangle wave. And you can set the decay of the verb via a trim pot. I set it to plate and sine wave with a relatively short decay. The blue trim pot is at top, right center, and the dip switches are below it to the left. There's a REALLY huge cap in there on the left, a big brown cap the the left of the copper wound inductors.

mkmnright.jpeg



It seems very well made. Attention to detail is apparent at the way the caps are bedded in silicone caulk

caps.jpeg




I'm planning to make a small 1x12 cab for a cannabis rex speaker I have on hand. You can run it without a speaker

An alternative would be a Quilter. I've tried a bunch of Quilters and for some reason the EQ section does not speak my language.


So far very pleased with it. It sounds glorious with an archtop jazzbox, and great with a tele. I will maybe have a chance to rig up some sound samples
 

sk8g0at

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Cool purchase. I wondered about that as a possible replacement to an amp. I have an orange stamp. It’s great for pushed gain sounds, but not so much for clean. Maybe something like the Milkman would be a better, but more costly alternative.
 

Edgar Allan Presley

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I've had one of these for about a year now and I love it. I use it most as an actual amp into cabinets, either an open-back 1x12 (Eminence Texas Heat 4 ohm) or a closed back 2x12 (Vintage 30s).

I keep the bass knob pretty low.

I didn't know about the internal reverb controls! Thanks!
 

maxvintage

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I've had one of these for about a year now and I love it. I use it most as an actual amp into cabinets, either an open-back 1x12 (Eminence Texas Heat 4 ohm) or a closed back 2x12 (Vintage 30s).

I keep the bass knob pretty low.

I didn't know about the internal reverb controls! Thanks!
If you search online you can find the settings. There's a video

Did I describe it right?
 

telenacious

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….I only played telecasters through mine and I thought it had pretty decent headroom through a cabinet…..no not close to a 50 watt tube amp.…or even a 25 watt tube amp……but on par with 12 to 15 watt tube amps that I typically play through…..i used it direct on some recordings and it sounded really good….and it’s easily the best headphone amp I’ve played through….i didn’t get a chance to go direct in a live setting but I’m pretty sure it would have worked well…..
 

maxvintage

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I'm really enjoying this amp a lot. The more I learn about the interaction of the volume and master volume knob the better it's sounding. The Eq section is great.

I'm tempted to rig up some way to adjust that reverb trim pot without having to take the cover off. A precisely drilled small hole would work to get a screwdriver in there. Hard to get right though
 

droliver

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I own one and like it. It's a very elegantly designed SFF pedal amp. I do not like the fact you have to open it to tweak the reverb/tremolo options, which was an odd choice
 

maxvintage

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What exactly is "sag"?
Sag is the sort delay/compression effect you get with tube amps, where you hit a note and the attack is not instantaneous, but happens a little after you pick. It's sometimes referred to as "spongey." it;s more pronounced with amps that have a tube rectifier. There is some element of interaction with the attck in a ClassD amp--it's not the same, but it's there, unless I'm imaginging it, which is possible
 

Jazzcaster21

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Sag is the sort delay/compression effect you get with tube amps, where you hit a note and the attack is not instantaneous, but happens a little after you pick. It's sometimes referred to as "spongey." it;s more pronounced with amps that have a tube rectifier. There is some element of interaction with the attck in a ClassD amp--it's not the same, but it's there, unless I'm imaginging it, which is possible
thanks. I have experienced that myself with my own amp but never knew what it was.
 

wineocaster

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I just picked one of these up a couple of weeks ago. My band had to start rehearsing through headphones and everything else I tried was pretty lousy. This really fit the bill and everyone who has heard it is full of complements regarding the sound. I find I need to keep the master up and then find the sweet spot with the volume. I do miss the interaction with a speaker and cabinet. As noted above I would put it on par volume wise with a Princeton. I have plugged it in to the speaker of my Princeton and it was pretty decent.

I have been meaning to write to Tim to ask if swapping the tube with a lower gain version would have any impact or if it must use a 12AX7. If this is an option to get a lower gain from the preamp it might sound pretty good.
 
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maxvintage

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I just picked one of these up a couple of weeks ago. My band had to start rehearsing through headphones and everything else I tried was pretty lousy. This really fit the bill and everyone who has heard it is full of complements regarding the sound. I find I need to keep the master up and then find the sweet spot with the volume. I do miss the interaction with a speaker and cabinet. As noted above I would put it on par volume wise with a Princeton. I have plugged it in to the speaker of my Princeton and it was pretty decent.

I have been meaning to write to Markus to ask if swapping the tube with a lower gain version would have any impact or if it must use a 12AX7. If this is an option to get a lower gain from the preamp it might sound pretty good.
I just tried it with an NOS 12AT7 and gain was lower but overall it was much duller sounding. I'd be interested to hear what he has to say on it
 

archiestone

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Great review, thanks for posting maxvinatge. I've been flirting with getting one but as you state in Con #1: 'Pricey.'
Plus there are so many alternatives out there...
 

wineocaster

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I just tried it with an NOS 12AT7 and gain was lower but overall it was much duller sounding. I'd be interested to hear what he has to say on it
I wrote Tim at Milkman this morning, here is his reply when I asked if you can run a different preamp tube.

you can - I would try a 12AY7 if you can find one. Those sound really good and do better in the pedal

I have heard that 12AT7s don’t make very good preamp tubes. I can’t recall the reasoning why. I do recall reading it somewhere that 12AU7 and 12AY7s are better preamp tubes while 12AT7s are typically used for phase inverters.

I just managed to track one down and have it on order. If you’re interested I can let you know how it sounds once I receive it.

BTW - thanks for posting the pics of the inside. I have not removed the ends on mine yet.
 
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