Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2011 • TABlog

by Marc Mickelson | October 16, 2011

For as long as I've been attending audio shows, I've gravitated to systems in which Merlin speakers were used. The longstanding VSM has gone through many revisions during this time. While it's outwardly the same speaker I first heard over a dozen years ago at CES, inside it's been reworked -- and reworked again. The Master VSM demonstrated at this year's RMAF is the seventh iteration of the speaker, with the sixth, the MXR, also available. The Master features a completely new cabinet internally with a larger sand chamber. Internal wiring is all Cardas Clear. The cost is $15,200 per pair with the Master version of the BAM bass module, or $18,800 with a pair of mono Master BAMs.

What's always compelling for me about the Merlin speakers is the way in which they disappear into the music they create -- and do so consistently in hotel rooms that are often less than sonically ideal. No doubt the speaker's petite stature plays a role, giving Merlin speakers an advantage that the much larger floorstanders that populate any audio show don't have.

Another advantage the Merlin speakers have is the Ars-Sonum integrated amps that Merlin distributes in the US. These provide ample power for the speakers (but no more than they really need), and their sonic properties, courtesy of their EL34 output tubes, is also an ideal fit. The Ars-Sonum Gran Filarmonia (price pending, but should be around $10,000) uses premium E34L output tubes to produce 60Wpc. It made the Master VSMs sing.

Merlin VSMs provided a musical oasis more than a decade ago, and they still do today.

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