Dunlavy SC IV or Merlin VSM M

looking to buy a pair of used higher end speakers. Does anyone have an opinion on which one of these is better? Both are available in my local used market. Thanks for your input.
How big is your room?
Both great speakers, but apples and oranges. Room dimensions and associated equipment will dictate your choice.
The Merlin is a fine speaker, but the Dunlavy IVs, if set up properly in a reasonably large room, will perform at a level that is equal to or better than the majority of high-end speakers today.

Things to remember about the Dunlavy speakers...They are very narrowly focused, which means that there will be an amazing but relatively small sweet spot for critical listening. They may sound a tad bass shy, albeit very tight and tuneful bass, unless you have an amp with a high 'damping factor'. They are incredibly revealing of your electronics, cabling, tweaks, etc.

Overall then, the Merlin is a better 'plug and play' speaker, where as the Dunlavy speaker has higher-end capability but must be 'worked with' to get it all to come together.
I have had different results than Brauser with Dunlavy SCIV speakers. First of all, when set up properly the SCIV can produce stunning bass. In fact they are rated from 25hz to 20khz +/-1.5db. John Dunlavy's set up recommendation suggests starting 8" from the wall behind the speakers and pulling them out until you achieve the desired balance. Too many audiophiles forget about sound quality and set up speakers based on imaging, focus and depth. In the process the speakers end up in the middle of the room with no reinforment from room boundaries.

In my opinion the SCIV does not have an especially narrow sweet spot. I used this speaker in several configurations and the best results were with the speakers placed 15' apart and toed in toward the listening position. At this distance there was no loss of focus and the speakers produced a holographic wrap around sound with very impressive bass.

The SCIV is a big speaker and should be used in a big room. The cabinet is 6' tall and 18" deep. In a small room the cabinet alone will become a problem with its large reflective surface. On the other hand if you have a large room the SCIV is an efficient speaker and will play at reasonably high volume levels with 60 tube watts.

If you have an average size room buy the Merlins.
Room size is 16 x 23 with a vaulted ceiling and one wall open.
McCormack DNA 125, Belles 22a pre. Music Hall 25.2 dac. Minimac as server. Right now I have PSB Gt-1.
a, the room size is pretty much ideal for the merlin vsm.
cables to be used?

you may want to give me a call or send me an e-mail about this.
585 367 2390 or bobby@merlinmusic.com.
Totally agree with Rrog. Disagree with Brauser that Merlin's are plug and play. Good sound can be gained with lack of attention to details but the Merlins are not what I would call "easy going", attention to detail and solid choices is mandatory to achieve GREAT sound as is the case with ALL very high resolution speakers. They would be a better choice for most listening rooms but I would consider the Dunlavys in a large room, your room should work well with either so then it comes down to which you prefer, no one can tell you that. Your gear seems satisfactory with both but I would check with Bobby P to find out what HE thinks. He is VERY attentive to owners of his speakers and will guide you, I'd give him a call.
Thanks all for your input. Bobby, I will call you and get your thoughts.
I can't say which you'll prefer, but I will agree with Bobby. I've used VSMs in a space virtually identical to the one you've described and they have never sounded better.

How can anyone be so sure about the OP's room? You have no idea of how the system will be oriented. Is he setting up on the long wall or short wall?
The OP wrote:

Room size is 16 x 23 with a vaulted ceiling and one wall open.

I posted that Merlins sound great in my listening room, which is 15 x 23 with a vaulted ceiling and one wall open. I never said that they'd sound great in his room, only that they sounded great in mine, which, as you can see, is virtually identical to the one described by the OP in every way that he described it.

Sure there are many reasons that the rooms may differ, but it struck me as a relevant note when the issue at hand is suitable room size for this particular speaker. Feel free to take that FWIW, but I thought it worth posting for the benefit of the OP.

r, its all in the volume and the running length. long wall or short wall will matter little. the room is a virtual golden rule dream.
I still think it is difficult to say a given speaker will work in a room based solely on dimensions. To properly answer the question more information is needed. A diagram would be even better.
based on the information i was given and the volume i would say that he has no problems. i have spent over 20 years setting these speakers up in every imagineable scenerio. the vsm m is an older version and i am more concerned about the cables and that he does some upgrades to them down the road. this will make the speakers ultimately more friendly. the proper use of boundary reinforcements will get him in a good position. the room will have minimum reflections. i asked him to call or mail me so i can discuss it with him. now it is up to him.
Do you think the Dunlavys will work in that room also?
i like you, prefer them in larger rooms placed further apart and listened to farther away so the drivers do a better job of blending. with a lot of damping and tube traps, borderline imho. but ultimately not enough room behind or to the sides of the speakers for them to shine.
you asked so i gave you my opinion, remember that.
i was only trying to convey to a, that the room was a good fit for the merlins. i said nothing about the d's. he did call me and i explained both sides of this to him.
i like you, prefer them in larger rooms placed further apart and listened to farther away so the drivers do a better job of blending. with a lot of damping and tube traps, borderline imho. but ultimately not enough room behind or to the sides of the speakers for them to shine.
you asked so i gave you my opinion, remember that.
i was only trying to convey to a, that the room was a good fit for the merlins. i said nothing about the d's. he did call me and i explained both sides of this to him.
How do you like the Psb Gt1 speakers, I was thinking of buying a pair.thanks for any info.
Ryiken, I have them set up for HT with the matching center and they are great. For two channel, I enjoy the music more than I ever have but looking to improve and get to the next level.
Update. Pulled the trigger on the Merlin VSM M. I don't have the BAM installed yet, waiting on interconnects, and I'm pleased already. There's only one problem. The Ice blue clashes with the rest of the room. Looks like I'm going to have to redecorate.:)
I see Bobby's advertising paid off.
Or maybe it is just his uncommon committment, belief in his product and willingness to help. How many manufacturers' would offer the same degree of advice and council on a used pair of speakers 11-12 years old? After all, he isn't selling the guy a new pair of his speakers. Obviously Rrog you have never dealt with him and if you had I doubt you would have made that comment.

The Dunlavy's are really superb speakers, I've heard them several times in several different settings and I liked them very much to the point I seriously considered them many years back but for their size and placement considerations. Again, both are valid choices but the Merlin's overall would probably be more practical for most applications.
Advertising works, which is why people buy it. Bobby's presence on these forums is smart business. It also reflects an effort that few manufacturers (Ralph at Atmasphere notably among the exceptions) are willing to make. His line may be more aggresive than most, but evryone here can take that FWIW. I say, tip your hat to the guy.

Whatever you make of Bobby, the bottom line for the OP is that he bought a speaker that has fiercely loyal following as well as a fair # of sceptics. Once he lives with 'em for a while, the OP will learn which camp he is in and whether he made a smart choice - which is always the case.
people who didn't hear a Merlin VSM M don't know what there missing.
rrog, from the very beginning of my company's history, i mentioned the listening room volume requirements for my speakers. aperez's room just so happens to fit in the most ideal situation for them and i let him know that. i also made mention of the fact that they were over 10 years old and not to expect the sound of our present models. i explained how to best set them up, where to place the bam and how far away to listen. i fail to see how i have been advertising a decade old product for the numerous reasons mentioned above. his purchase benefited me in no direct way except that "i" knew he had a chance to get them set up correctly so he knew what they were capable of.
sorry i offended you...
I understand the part about a room's volume, however, it would be difficult to recommend any speaker without knowing more details such as doorways and other obstacles that may hinder speaker set up and performance.

Since the speakers are 10 years old, is there any chance there might be an upgrade available?

My frustration is due to manufacturers and dealers coming to this forum to advertise. Johnny comes here on a regular basis to only recommend Vandersteen speakers, Ralph plugs his amplifiers from time to time and there are others. If I was interested in buying Merlin speakers and I had specific questions I would call you. I would not expect to find you here. Just think of what it would be like if all manufacturers of stereo equipment popped up on these threads everytime their product was mentioned.
rrog, first of all you design the best performing speaker system you can and then use the volume of the room, boundary reforcements and specific damping tools to control the reflections (to make the sound more right). you cannot design a speaker around a specific room because ultimately it will only work in that room and destroy its viability. and last of all, a well designed product has a far better chance of sounding good even in less than ideal environments. i have been doing this for 30 years and these thoughts have proven to be much more right than wrong.

the vsm m speakers are 10 to 12 years old and there are upgrades available for them and the bam. i did not mention them, their cost or what they are capable of giving. i am very careful not to cross the line and "you" should appreciate those who do not as well.

notice what i said in the last 2 sentences above. talking about a 12 year old speaker and saying the room volume is right for it is not advertising. what do i make directly other than offering my help. who knows merlin speakers better than i do or could offer more expert advice?. i could tell you were taking a burn on this very early on but it sounds to me that you have more of an issue with the others you mentioned. these forums are open to all to discuss various topics. the rules are being followed and you must let the moderators do their job when the line is crossed. all posters are welcome as long as they follow the rules. if you do not like a post, forward it to the moderators. i post to clarify issues. what if "you" were a manufacturer and people were saying incorrect things about your work? would you not want to put the discussion right?freedom of speach should enable anyone to post here. this is not a consumer only site. so as marty said above, consider manufacturer's comments as fwiw.
you are entitled to your opinion but so am i.
I understand what you are saying and I don't blame you for wanting to set the record straight when information about your product is incorrect. However, I did not see any inaccuracies posted about Merlin speakers. Did I miss something?

I believe you were trying to help with your comments about Merlin speakers and how they would perform in the OP's room, but there are a lot of speakers that will perform well in a 16x23 room including Dunlavy SCIV. I truely believe the OP was more concerned about the Dunlavys working in his room than the Merlins.

It is true this forum is open to anyone and I appreciate the fact that you are careful about crossing the line, but the fact remains you are partial to your product and will likely recommend it on this and other forums in the future.

rrog, the op did not ask about other speakers that could work in his room. if that was the case then i would have said nothing. he asked about two in particular and all i said was that this is a perfect room for the merlins. you said you liked the d's in a larger room,i agreed. i did not mention my opinion of how they would work in there until you asked. i knew what you were thinking and i did not cross the line. i never disputed that a product will not work in any circumstance but will it be its best or what it is capable of?i think not. if the op had a very large room i would have recommended the dunlavy. you are way off base here. i think you should quit trying to trick me into saying something to prove your point and enjoy the forum for what it is. let the moderators do their job and if you think i have crossed the line by all means send it to them. do you know how many times i have recommended larger speakers for larger rooms? come on...
I'm not trying to trick you into anything, but as long as you want to continue discussing this it's ok with me.

Since you brought it up 16x23 is a little larger than average and would accommodate either speaker quite nicely. In fact there is a good chance the Dunlavys would do a better job in that room than a 2way with a 6.5" driver depending on listening habits.

I would agree you are within moderator guidelines, but recommending your speaker is inappropriate. I doubt the OP was expecting to hear from you. How is this different from advertising for free? I know you will argue it is a used speaker, but we have established upgrades are available and I happen to know upgrades can be very lucrative.

I am curious. Do you advertise on this site as a commercial user or just visit the forum?
rrog, you are making assumptions about why i helped mr. perez. my motive? i was simply trying to help him and mentioned nothing other than the room was a good fit. he chose to call and i made suggestions. perhaps he can say a few words at some point.
i love my work and i like interfacing with those who express an interest. i offer my help freely. most other manufacturers are too busy or want to remain in the background. individual choice.
as for you, we can agree on one thing, and that is to disagree!
Bobby, Have a great day.
I actually made my decision based on two things- the footprint of the speaker and the fact that Merlin is still in business. Both speakers received numerous praise on forums and reviews so I knew that either one would be a huge upgrade.
I appreciate these forums and all of your willingness to give input. I do appreciate Bobby's willingness to discuss what I should expect from these 10 year old speakers. From my perspective I have never heard the newer Merlin's and don't know what I am missing. However I do know that I am very pleased with the music from these. They are beautiful to the eye and the ear. Of course I will be playing with cables to try and eek the best I can from them and someday replace my new McCormack amp with a tube - just to hear what you all are raving about- but for now - I get to finally enjoy the music.
ap, feel free to call me about cable recommendations as well. the older speakers are more sensitive to these choices. i have a range of cables from inexpensive to higher priced that would do very well for you. use a single run of speaker cable with the jumpers and rc's. the quality of the cables in and out of the bam are very important. remember to use the bam between the source and the pre.
btw ap, use wizard's mist and shine to get rid of smudges, finger prints and static. use maguires x to get rid of fine scratches and swirls. these can breath new life into the finish. you can make them look pretty much lke new.
Rrog, BP never understands. His ' help' is advertising. He's simply advertising his services as part of why someone should buy Merlin speakers. It's always possible this thread will vanish because you disagree with the legend. I've been down the dead-end road of questioning Merlin before.
What legend are you referring to?
Maybe I should have said master speaker builder extraordinaire. I'm out of superlatives.
Another thing to consider are Steve McCormack's upgrades to the DNA 125. Takes the amps to another level entirely. I had my DNA 225 modded to the Platinum level and have been more than happy with the results. Steve is the guy who designed the amps in the first place so he definitely knows what he's doing. Plus he's a pleasure to deal with. Just something to think about.
I'm not sure what is so genius about a simple 2 way speaker costing more than $13,000.
I think the manufacturer's participation in this thread was exemplary. The criticsm directed at him was unwarranted.
I totally agree with onhwy. It wouldn't bother me one bit if the owner /passion behind a product was so in touch with their customers that they answered one of my threads about their product, especially if it was used and they weren't making a profit of the sale.

Bravo, Bobby. I had my eye on those same merlins, money permitting I may have bought them myself; after seeing your customer service and passion about your product, that sold me a little more on Merlins.

For those of you criticizing Bobby, would you rather an owner of a company just not participate in threads regarding their products? Would you rather they just sit behind a desk, punching numbers worrying about bottom lines? Are you upset with George because he actively participates in one of the longest threads here on Audiogon about one of the best preamps / bargains in hi-fi? I'm not, and quite honestly, I choose to only do business from here on out with people like Bobby from Merlin, George from lightspeed, Frank at Signal cable, Paul from Clear Day. These are all people who stand behind, and care about their products AND customers. Call a company like audioquest, or b&w, see who answers the phone. The owner / president? I think not. They're too "busy" drinking daiquiris on the beach.
It's only because I don't believe manufacturers should show up to support their product on these forums. As I stated previously, what would it be like if every manufacturer of audio equipment commented on their products? Bobby stated the OP's 16x23 room is the perfect room for Merlin speakers. Those dimensions are the "Golden Rule" making his room perfect for most speakers. There is also the fact that manufacturer updates are available for the used Merlin speakers purchased by the OP. I have to wonder if the OP would have purchased Merlins if Bobby did not chime in. My impression of Bobby is that he is a genuinely nice guy, but I also think it is important to separate the personality from conducting business on a thread where the participants are looking an objective opinion.
I think it would be great if more manufacturers commented about their products. Manufacturers know more about their products than reviewers, users, or even dealers. Do manufacturers have an agenda? Sure, but it is an obvious bias that is easily understood. Forum participants are capable of figuring out when they are being hyped. Objective opinions, if that is what the truly are, are great, but highly informed opinions are at least as valuable.

rrog, what does it feel like to shoot yourself in the foot?
does it hurt?

"I'm not sure what is so genius about a simple 2 way speaker costing more than $13,000."

how is the op ever going to get an "objective opinion" from you when you feel this way? the op clearly mentioned that the footprint of the d was too large and they were out of business and that is why he bought the merlins. he said he enjoyed my input but it was not my input that made him purchase the vsms.

at least with me you can either take what i say or leave it. but when a supposed comsumer comes loaded with a hidden agenda, who is to know.

have you ever heard the master vsm? you haven't even got the slightest idea of why i have worked on it for the last 20 years do you?

there are one ways and two ways that sell for over double the master vsm's cost. pick on them as well.

and some of the simplest (as you call it) things on this planet are the most difficult to engineer. but when finished they are stellar performers because of their lack of complication.

Okay, there's the 'I'm Bobby Palkovic and you're not' tone. This thread is officially over.
Bobby said:
some of the simplest (as you call it) things on this planet are the most difficult to engineer. but when finished they are stellar performers because of their lack of complication.

which is very much in the same vein as a quotation attributed to Einstein from a lecture ca. 1933:

"It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience." or as it is often paraphrased:
"make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler"

A similar thought is found in a quote often attributed to Mark Twain:

"I'm sorry that this letter is so long but I didn't have time to write a shorter one."

but which apparently was first recorded as from Pascal ca 1630; translated into english as:

"I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter."

Time to give it a rest, rrog. The Merlins are very good products and many of us here really like the fact that we can get feedback from designers and manufacturers. As others have noted, there is clearly no "hidden" agenda when they post and w the expanding prevalence of the direct to consumer model, it's a very valuable source of information. FWIW, I own a pair but they have been supplanted in my main rig. The Merlins replaced the more complicated Vandy 3A sigs, and were in turn replaced by higher eff "cross-overless" speakers that are even simpler (and more expensive) than the Merlins. YMMV.
Bobby, As far as I am concerned I did not shoot myself in the foot and there is no reason for you to get cocky just because you have a couple of supporters. As long as you use these forums to advertise your speakers I will complain about it. BTW I asked if you advertise on this site as a commercial user, but you never answered. I guess that means you only use the forum.

Believe me when I say there is no hidden agenda here regarding your product. My only gripe is manufacturers and dealers abusing this forum. Hopefully you will recommend your speakers to another poster so we can relive this thread.
I agree with Onhwy61 and B_limo. I have much enjoyed the contributions of Ralph, Steve N., and Bobby in this forum. Once the OP made his decision, this thread should have ended. Thread has taken a wrong turn.
rrog, my post to you was written before the others were posted. i do not need support to speak my mind. if you do this again and take the discussion off topic, i will report you to the moderators.
no more discussion.