j/c...what will you be using for a pre amp?
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Joule Electra amps are supposed to be magic with Merlin speakers. I'm personally a big fan, and owner, of the custom tube amps from Deja Vu Audio in Mclean, VA. I'm not affiliated just a happy customer. You might also look into another favorite of mine Air Tight amps, they aften pop up here used. Regardless of your decision, you should absolutely go with tubes. Happy listening!
I am using with audio aero capitole 55 watts classe A, I do not think I will get better , maybe one SET with 30 - 50 watts , but in this case may I loose the great bass I have , and the mediuns I have are sweet and pristine, I know this audio aero is expensive but I do not wish to change this amplifier.
Not sure by experience with dartzeel. But I did get my info about this match up through a dealer who carries both Merlin and Dartzeel and he mentioned that the sound was pretty good. If you like a more of rolled off or syrupy sound then tubes will work for you. If you want resolution other qualities this amp brings and money isn't a matter to you, then you might like the sound of dartzeel. Again, its a matter of taste and budget.
I have not heard the Dartzeel, but those that owned them certainly seem to like them - no doubt it is a good amplifier. I will say that the CAT JL2 is neither rolled off or syrupy - it is full spectrum and fast. I think the Merlins are intended to match best with tubes and will almost always (always?)sound better with great tube amps than great SS amps, it is the way they are voiced and to some extent a result of their highly damped bass which works best with the relatively low damping of the bass that tubes provide.
forgive me for budding in,
the bass of the vsm is partially controlled by the bandpass filtration in the bam. since the woofer's fs is 28 hz and x-mechanical is one full inch, there is a great and obvious potential to decrease power handling/increase distortion through excessive cone excursions. filtering out of band energy decreases im distortion in the mids while reducing 2nd and 3rd order harmonic distortion by keeping the driver in linear drive longer and at higher levels. the latter distortion sounds like boomy bass.