21 responses Add your response
Well, the bottom line is that the MX is a dramatic improvement over the Millenium, and the addition of the superBAM takes it to another level yet. I am quite simply astonished at the amount of bass coming out of these speakers, I would not have thought it possible for such a 'small' woofer. It is not just the quantity of the bass, but the quality that is dramatically improved with the superBAM in the loop. Tonal accuracy is so much improved it is uncanny, it's almost like you can hear how old the bass players' strings are. Bass weight and impact are kicked up several notches too. It also seems (although I know it is not possible) that the bass goes lower than before. "Merlins on steroids"?
At the same time, I don't think that you lose any of the other qualities of the speaker. It would be a mistake to say that this only affects the bass. The entire signal obviously passes through the superBAM, so performance across the spectrum seems much improved, I would say more musical and natural sounding, more spacious and open, more harmonically accurate? Hard to put into words. I guess that the most succinct way to say it is that getting a superBAM is really not an 'option', it is a necessity. You haven't heard the MX until you have the superBAM.
Also, there is a pretty significant burn-in for the superBAM. I had two superBAMS here at once, one was burned in as Bobby recommends by draining and recharging the batteries a number of times. The other was left plugged in except when listening, and it never drained even once. The difference between the drained/recharged one and the other was pretty obvious. Once burned in, running on battery, the sound was fuller and more relaxed. The analogy I use is like switching from the 'normal' setting on my Bernings to the 'medium' setting, I know that won't help those who've never heard Bernings but, that's the best I can come up with.
I had the MM's for about 5 months.--Pretty much not much deep bass to speak of.---I live in an apt; so I wasn't looking for subwoofer bass; just the lower foundation of the music. --After the newness wore off,I knew I had to have some bass. I bought the Wilson Sophia. Changing absolutely nothing but the speakers and placing them in just about the same spot;+ or -, a foot, all I can say is WOW!!--Now the "Super Bam" came to late for me. I drove both speakers with a set CJ'8s.---(I also had the Dehavilland AriesG for a spell)--I've had these amps(CJ's) for 3 years; driving several other speakers most notable being Montana's EPS. The bass from the Montana is near that of the Wilson; the rest of that speaker isn't in the league of MM or Soph.-- I know I'm going against the grain here but as a former owner I'm just stating my opinion on how they (MM's) performed in my room with my equipment.----There is a reason there have been several threads entitled--"What sub. with??--
Obviously, most people that have this speaker love it. Most commentators at shows and magazines love it. What makes it so special? The key for me is that it is able to reproduce beautiful from top to bottom in perfect balance. With this speaker, from low bass (though not the lowest ocatave) to the high register you have a sense of proper proportion, nothing gets hidden, nothing is exaggerated. I think people referto this a smoth tonality, these speakers have it. They also convey an incredible liveliness or jump factor, while it can fully articulate a whisper, it can instantly repsond to a crescendo - that is, it has excellent dynamics, present and crisp. The soundstage with every recording changes -- this is as it shuld be, it does not impose a character on the recording, it lets the recording speak for itself - it is accurate and honest. The truly amazing thing about this speaker is that it can do all that with just two drivers and a small 43x8.5x8.5 cabinet. Much of its cohesiveness must be due to the fact that it only has two drivers, but how does it product that sublime, rich, detailed bass from a 6 1/2" woofer/midrange driver. Well, it must be great drivers, a well engineeered enclosure, a great crossover, and of course the BAM (external, electronic Bass Augmetation Module). However it is done, the VSM-MX provide the total package, unless you listen to 16Hz electronic tones - I don't, for listening to music, nothing is missing (noting meaningful). If this was a large, multi-driver speaker producing the same sound, it might even sell more. With the deceptively simple cabinet (though beautifully painted and elegant indeed) and only two drivers it might be hard to understand how it can be worth $10K. Listen to this one blindfolded and you'll soon understand. Undoubtedly one of the great speaker designs.
VSM-MX (piano black) with Super Battery BAM
Room/Setup: 14 x 20 x 8 dedicated room in basement
speakers positioned along the short wall 62 out from front wall, 32 out from side wall
speakers are 6.5 apart using three Z-feet
listening chair is 9.5away from speaker planes
Room is heavily treated with Echo Buster Phase4 Traps, Bass traps, echo and double buster panels, Corner busters.
VSM-MX (piano black) with Merlins Supert Battery
Dedicated 20 amp circuit (amp/preamp plugged directly into this)
Sound Application Linestage 7000 Signature PLC
Cardas Golden Reference wiring, Elrod Sig 2 & Sig 3 Powercords
Capitole II Cdp
Joule Electra LA 150
Joule Electra VZN 100 Musicwood
VPI SuperScoutmaster Cardas Heart
The speakers came in a single box @200 lbs with detailed setup instructions. Set up was a breeze as this is the third generation of VSM in my room. (SE, M and MX) Fit & finish is as it should be in a 10K + speaker. They are drop dead beautiful for sure!
The MXs deliver a huge, expansive, highly seductively soundstage. Micro and macro detailing is outstanding. Images are suspended in the stage in a most beleiveable manner. The midrange is focused and the speakers are crystal clear from top to bottom. Perhaps the biggest improivement lies in the clarity. The MXs seem more relaxed in their presentation of high frequnncies. Cymbals shimmer and have that metallic grit and bite that seems so hard for many to reproduce.
Bass quality is vastly improved. Pitch, definition and detail are outstanding. I suspect that the new Super Ban makes considerable contributations in this area.
A few words regarding the Super Bam. For the first time in my rig, the new Super Bam on full AC power is very very close to full battery. I still prefer full battery but only by the slightest margins. I also have noted continued improvement of the Bam as I fully drain/rechaged the unit in weekend listening sessions.
Weakness is still the bottom octave. Bass freaks need look elesewhere. Since my room will not support a large stadning wave, not a consideration for this hobbyist.
Thew VSM MX is yet another quantam leap in performance onver the M version of the speaker. Bobby P continues to perfect his design and support his customers in a manner like few in this indyustry.
i am happy that you found something that you really like and enjoy to listen to, i wish you continued enjoyment!!
you mentioned to me in an e-mail that your listening room was filled with a lot of items and that you could not listen to the speaker at the suggested listening distance. the merlin vsm sounds fuller the farther you get from them. it is not a nearfield system because it is too damped and it is too uniform in amplitude. it uses the power response of the speaker in the room to build the full tonallity. used in the manner it was designed to be used in and with gear that is suited to them in damping, you would have had plenty of bass, imho.
still though, even the most powerful and robust bass possible is not enough for some. it is a matter of taste.
enjoy your wilsons!
I agree with Oneprof's comments on the SuperBAM. The BAM with its current improvements add significantly to the performance of my VSM-MX. I have had the SuperBAM for a few weeks now. The SuperBAM provides for a fuller sound and it lowers the noise floor. The BAM upgrade has made a great performing speaker even better. The upgrade is worth the effort and cost.
Boy, I like the bass in the VSM's a lot and I do play some 16Hz organ music, sure it's no subwoofer but the articulation makes up for any 20hz rumble.
I did a show with these speakers some years back and the room was so over loading with bass it would have made a 12 inch driver proud! If you can't get bass out of these speakers the room is too small or there is something else not right!
just to clarify some points, also posted on aa.
the x max of the woofer is 24 mm which equals some 15 to 18 inch jbl drivers. with the fs of the driver being 28 hz, it likes to go low and move a lot of air. the filter at 28 hz in the super bam, removes out of band output which reduces im distortion elsewhere. with the use of the bam we were able to optimize the bottom end of the speaker in amplitide and phase while utilizing a smaller encloser to keep sensitivity higher, reduce distortion and greatly improve the midrange clearity and uniformity. this enables the vsm/bam to be used with lower powered finnessed amps. in essence, what is missing is 16 to 30 hz. this is the lowest octave so you would be wanting for the lowest pipe organ notes and some electronic music only. all other acoustic instruments, jazz, blues and rock are handled by the in band response of the speaker. the speaker is just not designed to fill large spaces or go super low which can be a benefit in a large environment. the vsm is designed to work in normal sized living environments. if you need more bass quantity in your set-up consider changing something in your system to improve the tonality. give me a call for a discussion.
I picked up my Super BAM (is this a trademark now Bobby?) back in June when Bobby was just shipping them out the door. I already had the VSM-MX for about 1.5 months. I followed his suggestion of fully charge/fully drain cycle perhaps 10 times. Now I usually unplug the AC and listen in battery mode for one hour and plug it in again and flip the switch back to fully charge. Once a week I do the fully drain/fully charge cycle simply because it does not require much effort.
Bass? Damn straight it does and it does it right. Among others, I have owned a pair of Revel F30 and Gershman Acoustics Avant Garde RX-20 speakers that, in absolute terms, put out more bass in the sub ~150 Hz region. The Merlins, however, put out the right amount of bass the amount that did not call attention to it and was just part of the music. I can understand the comment that this speaker system is somewhat bass shy, but I cannot agree with those opinions whatsoever. If one owns a bass heavy speaker (i.e. there is a bump in that frequency region), the whole spectrum of the music is off and sounds irritating. At least it does for me. As an aside, I had all three speakers mentioned above at the same time for direct comparisons (the Merlins then were the VSM-M with the regular BBAM).
System matching is very important with these speakers. This has been noted many, many times. A couple of years back, I did have a subwoofer for a short period with my VSM-Ms but sold it after replacing my preamp (Sonic Frontier Line 2 SE for a Joule Electra LA 100 MK III). It made the speakers sound fuller not deeper really, just fuller to the extent that a sub was not required.
To the question at hand: What do I think about the Merlins after numerous hours under their belt? They are the cornerstone of my system and I will change my system based upon what I feel is the best match for the speakers.
There is no question in my mind that I have built my sytem around the VSM speaker. I was quite unprepared for the quantam leap in performance that the MX has brought to my set up. (although after two other VSM upgrades you would think I'd had a clue!) In my room, with my equipment it is a sound that I feel I would have to spend tens of thousands more to attain and for that I have no interest. (or budget)
100 plus hours of use for ac ops and at least a half dozen full battery discharges and charge up cycles will do the trick. to do this unplug the unit and switch to battery and the batteries will drain overnight with no music playing. the chip set draws a few volts at idle. then charge them up for 24 hours by playing music and drain again, etc.
bobby at merlin
I honestly cannot say. I, at the best of times, have 45 minutes a day to listen to my system at night and I try my best during that time not to think about the equipment (I do that during the day, however :)). It could very well have a break in period, by it completely went by unnoticed.
I just followed Bobbys advice about the best way to break in the Super BAM and have been enjoying it since day one.