Well, I've been playing b18 for many years, and did lots of mod to it. Its stock attenuator is not good at all, $2 a piece, probably? I used to replace it with a 10K TKD 2CP2500, and the sound improved a bit. Now, I use a remote controlled relay-based step attenuator, and the result is much better. A step attenuator is a must I'd say.
Thanks for your reply. I ordered a TKD pot given on various recommendations. You mention that you made many mods to the Monarchy 18b. Can you please list what the mods were and which made the most impact?
The power supply is the most critical. Stock 7805/7905 is just not enough. Although I use OP-based regulators, you can try the Salas LV shunt regulator from power forum. It should be a huge improvement over those 3-pin regulators. Reclocking is the next thing you might think of. I did reclocked the BCO,MCO,DRO,DLO from YM3434 and the result is phenomenal. (You need precision clock in transporter, too!) Last thing, a big chassis may be needed for those mods.
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