clabe, the vsf capacitors are used in the master rc networks and the master bam. i am also working with the caps internally in the tsm and vsm but have not had enough time with them to decide.
best regards, b
best regards, b
After RMAF Show, I spoke to Bobby @Merlin regarding upgrading my RC Networks and BAM to include the Duelund caps. The following are my listening impressions of the new Master RC Networks and Master BAM after 200 hours of break-in time.
See here for a link to my Rig: http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=systems&n=1912&highlight=joneill&r=
See here for my Rives Room: http://gallery.me.com/joneill1155
The sound is significantly more transparent with greater clarity and immediacy. Bass definition and body have greater authority. The midrange is well focused and reveals all of the textures and detail the source can provide. Dense, palpable images appear from an expanded, deeper, wider, inky black soundstage and have become more rounded and three-dimensional. Micro and macro detail are conveyed in a realistic manner with no etching or exaggeration. Absent is any artificial electronic artifice that makes one think their system is doing one thing or another better. The music flows effortlessly. My Rig has never sounded this relaxed and realistic.
All in all, a most impressive upgrade from the folks at Merlin.
I have no connection to Merlin Music Systems (just their customer) and have not received or will receive any compensation for this or any other posting.
these duelund caps are made specially for merlin with the capacitance/voltage that i require. they also use a proprietary dielectric so they are not stock vsf caps but look like them.
the master bam also uses a new switching power supply that is 50 times quieter than the one used previously.
bobby at merlin
I hosted my local audio groupSaturday night for a "rave". We had 6 of us for libations and spinning tunes until the wee hours of the morning. Most who attended have heard my rig before so it was good to hear the feedback re: the Duelund upgrades. Better bottom end, fuller sounding, totally relaxed, bettered layered and focus presentation were the general agreed upon comments.
All in all, a fun night of Audio.
The Bam or Master Bam in this instance is an analog device that is inserted into the signal chain either through a tape loop, (method I prefer) between the preamp and amp(s), or the source and the preamp. It can be run on all battery power (sounds best in my rig) or a combination of battery and AC power.
The BAM provides 5.2dB of bass boost at 35Hz. This extends the bass of the VSM-MXe to -4dB at 30Hz. Almost as important, the Master BAM includes high frequency filter (cannot remember the exact cutoff) and a subsonic filter at 28Hz that prevents low frequency signals from getting to the amps(s) and speakers. This allows the VSM-XMe woofer to reproduce the music without having extra low frequency junk mudding up the sound.
Hopefully I explained that accurately and correctly. If Bobby from Merlin surf through the forums he can make any corrections or elaborate more fully.
Hope this help
face, jim did a good job of explaing what an sbam\mbam is but the low freq filter needs more discussion. it is a 12 db filter at 28 hz that rids the woofer of out of band response below the woofer's low freq resonance. this keeps the woofer coil in the middle of the magnet "in linear drive" reducing the huge impedance swings that can bog down an amp. it also reduces 2nd and 3rd order harmonic distortion which is the booming we usually hear in the bass. impedance can jump up to 140 ohms on long excursions which will just bog down your amp. and by the way, this happens in all woofers unless they are filtered or have a mechanical brake built in. and when a woofer plays this out of band energy (in this case below 28 hz) there is audible im distortion induced within the usable bandwidth above.
so with the bam in place, you can play the speaker much louder, with less distortion in and out of the usable bandwidth and have the benefit of the bass augmentation so the speaker is flat into the low 30 hz range.
bobby at merlin
jim, imo, the new and quieter supply takes a hint of false brightness out of the music so it becomes less complicated sounding. it is in reality 50 times quieter than the old one. it allows complex material to sound more resolved while coming from a blacker back ground. it is interesting that the ac ops and dc ops are again closer in absolute sound quality. do you think cells have a memory?
do you think having them charged by a quieter ac supply could affect how they sound?
i cannot say for sure but i have a feeling that this is one of the things that you heard in the master bam.
Joneill, I recently placed a Russian FT-1 cap on RC network, very nice, takes a bit of hardness off mids and highs. I then added these as bypasses on 6.0uf Hovland tweeter caps, more of that Hovland hardness eliminated.This mod together with the Duelunds in BAM make the Merlins more musical, timbre much more natural. I no longer feel the need to immediately replace the Hovland tweeter cap with Duelunds, I could be happy staying right here!
sns, is your cardas speaker cable an internal bi-wire or shotgun? are you using my jumpers?
vsm millenniums were a little bright so we changed the q circuit in the hf, the solder, cryoed the main networks, cryoed the rcs and changed the wiring harnesses. even the woofers cones have more latex damping material on them.
the super bam changed things a whole lot for the better as well. cryoed hovlands are a world apart from the non cryoed versions in the m. the speakers are anything but bright in current production.
bobby at merlin
My system is comprised of highly modified Perp. TEch digital, Vpi Scoutmaster with 10.5i arm, modded Joule LA100MkIII, Art Audio Carissa Signature, all Cardas Golden Ref. cabling, single run of speaker (bi-wiring), AC power-dedicated and
modded BPT 3.5 sig. All i's dotted and t's crossed in system.
I do have the millenium, non-cryo'd Hovlands. Based on my experience with cryo'd parts I assume much of the hardness is taken care of with the cryo process. I also upgraded the batteries and non-leaded power cord on my SBAM, also TX2575 resistors replacing Caddocks. I use the Cardas non-leaded solder in all my upgrades.
Taken in totality my upgrades have made a great speaker even better. Added resolution, transparency together with more natural timbre has made for an enrapturing musical experience! I would suggest all Merlin owners need to hear your Master Bam upgrade, Duelunds are simply magical.
Bobby, it is good you listen to your customers, it's obvious your keyed into your customer base, one won't be misled going with your upgrades.
I totally agree with your analysis of the new Master Bam. It truly transforms a great product into a killer & stunner.
I also agree that Bobby is good at listening to his customer base. He seems to not only understand his craft, but is always willing to suspend his disbelief long enough to listen and comprehend in public and private discussion. He is customer driven to be sure.
Part of me thinks that this 13+ year pursuit of perfection the VSM has become, there are still many great things ahead for this designer, the company and the customer.
Yes, I agree the cap on RC network is critical, changing this out made a larger difference than adding the bypass on the HOvland tweeter cap.
I should also add that the hardness I speak of is mostly an artifact of the recording process. I mostly hear this hardness when playing remastered cd recordings. It seems to me many less than highest quality remastered digital recrdings boost the upper mids and highs in order to extract maximum detail/resolution. If I only played well recorded music this hardness issue would hardly bother me, unfortunately I like all genres of music and this issue is unavoidable.
I am also not after tone controls or negation of detail in alleviating this issue. I want to maximize resolution and transparency and maintain or increase musicality. This balance is the single most difficult in audio IMHO
I finally received my upgraded Master BAM and RC's and, as promised, my impressions follow.
But first, I want to put in a plug for the hideous, but remarkable Altmann DAC. My system has undergone about three major upgrades since I first got the battery-powered Altmann. Each time I was worried that it would not keep pace, and each time I've been amazed at how musical and analogue-like the darn thing is and how much more detail was waiting to be revealed. Definitely the best value I've come across in audio, if you can put up with its appearance and inconvenience (car battery needs to be recharged every hundred hours or so.)
Now on to the Master BAM and RC upgrade. First, a bit about burn-in. I have to disagree with the information sheet provided. To me, it did NOT sound good right out of the box. Yes, there was some noticeable increased resolution in the higher frequencies, but quite edgy, and lower frequencies were pronounced in their absence. I found the overall sound to be quite constricted. (I think I'm particularly sensitive to a lack of smoothness in the high frequencies, so ymmv). After 10 hours, however, hints of magic slowly started to become evident. But only hints.
By the end of day three (36+ hours,) it was sounding really good, significantly better than pre-upgrade.
It is now the end of day four (~50 hours), and I think it's fair to say I'm blown away.
My general subjective experience is simply that of a giant leap forward in my enjoyment of the music. Of course, that's not to say that the VSM system that I had before was at all a slouch. That's why it's surprising, but true, for me to be saying this. Especially on good recordings, I'm just hanging out with the musicians, heart to heart. The unconscious stress that we all experience trying to fill in missing sonic details, or removing what doesn't belong there, has faded.
I think the simplest description is that more than ever before with the Merlins, the speakers have just disappeared. There is now a venue in front of me with discernible acoustic characteristics and musicians playing within that venue. Again, this definitely varies from recording to recording, but the best recordings are startling in their realism.
I think much of the improvement can be attributed to the blacker background. It allows all of the complex harmonic details that contribute to realistic tone to be heard. And tone is key. Without natural tone, all the other audiophile goodies are worthless, as far as I'm concerned. The VSM's have always excelled at natural tonality. This upgrade has hit it out of the park.
One other observation: there is a manifestation of distortion that I've never given any thought to, but it has to do with accurate relative sizing of instruments. It's obvious that different systems throw different sized sound stages. And it's also obvious that some systems bloat or constrict the size of all instruments. But the flattening out of size of instruments is a more subtle aspect of distortion. It wasn't until now that I even became aware of the phenomenon. The Master BAM improves the relative sizing, which makes a significant contribution to overall realism. A double bass is big, a violin is small. A baritone sax is big, an alto sax is small.
It's not so much that I'm hearing things I've never heard before, although there is some of that. But more importantly, I'm hearing things in ways I never heard before. I'm hearing full, well-rounded piano notes, with all their harmonic complexity. Saxophones have body. Drum sets are particularly interesting. Each cymbal and drum has its own signature, yet the set is presented as a coherent whole.
I still have 50+ hours of recommended break-in period and the thought that there's more coming is making my lips smack. How much better can it get? In my opinion, this upgrade is a tremendous value, provided your upstream equipment can keep up.
System: Equitech 2Q balanced power unit; Drobo hard drive storage unit; Mac Mini and iTunes; Altmann DAC; ARS-Sonum Filarmonia integrated tube amp; Merlin VSM-MMe w/Master BAM; Cardas GR interconnects; Audience AU24e speaker wire.
g, i wrote the break in sheet that accompanies the master products before we had to change how the mbam's were made.
the original proto-type had the caps wired directly to the input jacks to minimize solder connections and pc board issues. but after having my prototype shipped back to me we encountered an issue with damaged caps. so we now solder them to the board and run a three inch piece of cardas to them. what you are hearing is this new piece of wire and additional solder joints needing burn in. up to 120 hours there were significant improvments evident so i am still expecting that you will hear more especially in the way of realism and a truly relaxed inviting nature.
Thanks for leaving your listening impressions as promised. I agree with all of your observations. I think you are right on the mark about hearing and listening in new ways as well.
The speaker is so relaxed and resolving that it just disappears and the music flows. For me, it has brought me closer in chasing my 40 year dream of my own piece of the absolute sound. Very exciting indeed.
My experience says to "hang onto your hat" as your sound will continue to evolve and improve over the next 100 hours.
Bobby has just hit the freaking ball so far out of the park with this upgrade it isn't even funny :-)
I just wanted to chime in about the Master BAM upgrades. I purchased a new pair of VSM-MXe from Bobby which I've been using for the past 1+ year. They replaced Dynaudio C1 monitors which were nice but needed much more power to get them going. The Merlins sound great with tube amps and don't need much power. I actually am currently using an Art Audio PX25 amp which only puts out 6 watts. I still have pretty good bass and plenty loudness in a room about 12x25x8 ft.
I was using the balanced BAM unit between a phonostage and my linestage, and a single ended BAM unit between my digital source (Modwright Transporter_ and the linestage). I sent the single ended BAM for master BAM upgrades and received the unit and Master RC's back last week.
I'm now using the Master BAM between the linestage and the poweramp, so that both digital and analog sources can use the BAM ( I don't have a tape loop in my preamp). Even though this configuration is not as recommended by Bobby, it sounds great where the previous BAM unit did not sound good after the linestage.
After so far probably about 15 hrs., I can attest to the above posters, better black background, better delineation of instruments/voices, increased size of instruments and stage height - I now notice on some recordings the voices actually coming from a height significantly above the speaker drivers, as if the person were actually standing up in front of the mic. Also most suprisingly, as I didn't expect this, the bass definition has improved and become more well delineated. The overall bass quality is shocking coming from a two-way 6.5" speaker, and especially with 6 watts pushing them.
Sounds like another plug for the Merlins but the Master BAM makes a speaker that was already amazing and turns it into a speaker that sounds better and suits me better than any number of speakers I have listened to, which cost up to 40k. None of the speakers I've heard have the overall righteous sound of the Merlins.
Nirvana SX-Ltd speaker cables
Einstein tube MKII linestage
Einstein balanced phonostage
Modwright Transporter source
Nottingham space 294 table with SME312 arm, Lyra Skala
Antipodes Audio Reference interconnects
Stealth hyperphono phono cable
everyone, i find this comment most interesting and will have to try it.
"I'm now using the Master BAM between the linestage and the poweramp, so that both digital and analog sources can use the BAM ( I don't have a tape loop in my preamp). Even though this configuration is not as recommended by Bobby, it sounds great where the previous BAM unit did not sound good after the linestage."
I've heard the same improvements the previous posters mentioned from my Duelund caps, tx2575 resistors and a recent upgrade from stock ceramic power supply caps to Z Superior caps in SBAM.
Natural timbre of Duelunds, increased resolution of tx2575 and Z Superior caps have created an amazing sense of realism, performers are simply in the room with me! The Duelund's natural timbre evokes much more relaxed listening sessions, even with digital I want to listen for hours on end. I can't wait to get my Merlins up to a full compliment of Duelunds, towards that end I have a pair of 6.0uf tweeter Duelunds on order, should have them installed in aprox. 4 weeks.
to all of you,
i tried the master bam between my la300 and vzn100's and have to say it does sound better than expected. but it still sounds better to me when buffered by the tube line output section of the pre. this was how it was designed to be used. there is no doubt however that it would make a lot of people very happy used between the pre and power that do not have a tape loop or use multiple sources.
I also had a chance to audition the master bam between my LA 300 & VZN 100's and compare to the tape loop this week. I also was surprised as to how good it sounded.
Compared to the tape loop in my set up, in my room, the sound is more forward, slightly more vivid but also not nearly as focused or refined. To use a photographer analogy, I feel like I am looking at images in the view finder that look fantastic but are slightly out of focus. The buffering the LA 300 provides snaps it into total focus.
To my ear, I also much prefer the buffering the LA 300 provides. I would in no way suggest that this is better or worse, right or wrong. Lot depends on your system/room set up, likes, dislike. YMMV!
Yes i am using the new merlin Master BAM with the upgraded RC's.I used to have the SBAM and standard RC's.Here is a list of what i have found from listening to the new master bam and rc's.
1. A quieter background
2. A larger soundstage
3. Improved resolution and clarity from top to bottom
4. More dynamic sounding
5. Silky Smooth from top to bottom
6. Improved definition from top to bottom
7. More natural sounding without any bloat or thinness
8. Killer mids, open and silky highs and a very strong
9.Summary: The new bam and rc's take the merlins to a new level that is hard to beat making the upgrade a must do in my book for those who want to take their merlins to the next level.
yes he has a fila paul and the fila has a passive pre.
but the fila is one of the only passives that i have heard that sounds right. not thin and lean. if it is for this reason then he does not need a buffer stage and if he has multiple sources then we can add inputs to his sbam. so he can be taken care of either way. on the fila i use the cdp into the bam and the bam out to the cd input.
I upgraded the RCA networks to the new caps without upgrading the BAM. I will upgrade the BAM later but these impressions are only for the RCA upgrade. I enjoy the new caps and agree with what everybody is saying. I also think they add more timbre to the instruments, more detail but in a good way. More body if you will. The upgrade is noticeable and is more than worth it.
paul, yes the bam likes the buffering and i designed it to be used that way. but undertand that we have many using the bam between a pre and power or with a passive line stage and preferring it that way. it still is a matter of taste to a point, but i know yours and you will prefer it used the way it was intended to be. passives and digital amps work well with underdamped speakers as you know. the vsm/bam limits the bandwidth to the resonant frequency (28 hz) of the woofer so there is no 2nd and 3rd order distortion. in essence the slower boomy bass that is caused by these distortions is gone and that is why the vsm/bam combination likes the tube buffering.