Berning EA-230 vs RM-10mkII with Merlin VSM

Preamp is a Joule LA 100 mkIII. Curious as to whether anyone has done a direct comparison with these two amplifiers. Any insight is appreciated. Ultimately, I am looking for inner detail and realism, but with warmth ( I think my preamp takes care of some of the warmth). I have been happy with the ea-230, but have heard wonderful things about the Music Reference.
The Joule is a wonderful preamp for the Merlins. Used to have this one that I used with a Plinius amp for my TSM-MXe's. Nice combo but I ended up with a Filarmonia integrated. Still wish that I would have kept both the Joule and the Plinius.....just because they did absolutely nothing wrong.

Have not heard the RM10 (in my system), and have not ever heard the Berning but from what I understand, either will be a treat for your ears.

enjoy the journey
It might be difficult to find one who has heard both these amps in their system. I can vouch for a Joule/Music Reference combo as I used to own an RM-9 and used it with my LA-100 MkIII. At the time I had Spendor 1/2e speakers.

Another Audiogon member here, Pubul57, uses the RM-10 MkII with his Merlins and it seems to do just fine. I now have an RM-10 MkII as well and would say its one of the most underrated amps out there. Both of us use passive preamps with the RM-10 MkII.

I've always been curious about the EA-230. Next time one comes up used I may have to give it a try. I do own the Berning Micro ZOTL amp/preamp/headphone amp and have been very pleased with it.
I have owned both the Berning (several years ago) and the RM-10 (currently), so I cannot make a simultaneous comparison on the same system. FWIW, I prefer the RM-10.
I used the Joule LA150 Signature Edition with the RM9 and RM10 with my VSMs - excellent combination. However, as Clio9 has mentioned I prefered the Lightspeed Attenuator ($450) - but it is much less flexible and convenient since it only has one input/output and requires short ICs. That being said, give Roger a call and ask him what he thinks of passive preamps with his amps - the LSA is even better than his Pot-in-a-Box. As far as the RM10MKII it drives my Merlins with no problem, same wattage or a bit more than the Ars Sonum that Bobby recommends - in fact I use the 4ohm tap ("light loading") that takes the power down to 27 watts, but lowers noise, reduces distortion, is easier on the tubes, increeases damping and provides more peak current when needed. The amp is not warm in a euphonic sense, but with your Joule, you don't want or need that from the amp (in fact a warm amp would be the last thing I would used with the Joule preamp).
Depends on your room size and volume.Also be aware I sent an amp to MR a few months ago and the bench charge[not parts and labor] was 350$.Those are usually very well reviewed here,Good luck,Bob
The Joule pre that Tmiddle is referring to, I'm the one who bought it from him. It was an LA100 MK3 to be precise which drove a pair of TSM-MX along with a pair of Manley Snappers.

Wondeful combination, the joule providing the romance, and the Snappers with a 100 watts at my convenience, provided control, and neutrality.
Wish I could have kept them, as mentioned by Tmiddle, but also went the Fila way.

Good luck with your search.
Joule/Manley/Merlin is certainly a great combination too. As is the Ars Sonum if you want to make your life simpler and not miss a beat. Seems to be a few folks that want from a Joule/Joule combo to Ars Sonum without looking back. As you know, the amp/speaker interface is the most important, and in the case of the Ars, you practically have an amp specifically tweaked to work with the Merlins - and yes, those 30 watts are more than enough.