I don't think the Ayre V-1Xe will work at all with the Merlins, so please sell it to me so that I can save you from any case of extreme "sonic euphoria"!
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In a system with VSM-MM,Cardas wires,modded DVD players and Counterpoint pre,in a room 13x20,lower volume levels were excellent.When we went up to mid-high levels the sound got a little bright and glaring.2 of us felt the same way.This is not necessarily a negative comment on the Ayre,we just liked the sound with other amps we tried.Good luck,Bob
I had owned the VSM-Ms, but always ran them with tube amps (ASL Hurricanes, Berning, Joule OTLs). The only SS amps I heard on my Merlins were the Parasound Halo JC-1s, but it was not a good match at all.
I can tell you however, while between speakers right now (using the small but very good Von Schweikert VR-1 bookshelves) the naturalness and spacial virtues of my Ayre V-5X are nothing short of impressive. The Ayre (while not necessarily tube-like, and much less SS-like) has many redeeming qualities that make me forget the tube amps I've had.
Disclaimer: I still use, and always will, a tube preamp and tubed cd player. A tubehead like me has to have tubes somewhere!
I don't own Merlins, but respect them a lot and have a couple of friends with Merlins.
My suggestion would be that you look for an amplifier with a fairly high output impedance, as at least to my ears the Merlins are overdamped in the bass region. A high output impedance means the same thing as a low damping factor. Single-ended triode amps and OTL tube amps are good candidates. Such amps will "warm up" the bass a bit, improving the overall tonal balance. As a welcome side effect, such amps also tend to sound very good, especially when they employ little or no negative feedback. I have heard the Merlins sound very good on OTL amps with a 4 ohm output impedance (corresponding to an 8-ohm damping factor of only 2).
I use a Pathos Logos with my VSM-MM speakers.Source Levinson 37/36s.Played around with the tubes in the Logos and the sp cable.Best results obtained with Ei Elite 6DJ8 goldpins and Paul Speltz Anti-Cable.The results obtained are more than pleasing,in fact,I think its brilliant !! Balance and tone now spot on....A bit of fine tuning and careful thought can bring out the best out of your system.Not always necessary to "chase components"
I think it is important to replace the stock Sovtek tubes in the Logos.I also did not find the Audience Au 24 sp cable to be the best match in my system.
I have great respect for the heritage and philosophy of design of Pathos and Merlin.
I do like the idea of tubes.. ,at least on the pre amp stage...
I have a D1x, K1x, V5x, just bought a pair of Merlin VSM-MM. After a long wait to get them, and a long break in period (100 hours so far, not finished), I can tell you the results are nothing short of amazing. Such precision and resolution, while being so smooth... No lack of bass (very tight and controlled, very extended highs. A superb match. I have JPS suprconductor 2s. I do recommend the Merlins with Ayre, no questions.
I have only recently gotten my amp back from Ayre, but what I perceive is an increase in the bottom end, along with a marginal increase in the backround "Blackness". I run balanced throughout, so the backround was always good, just seems like its improved now. My CDP was purchased new with the "e" upgrade, so I do not have any comments on how this changed its playback. In addition, I just ended up going a different route with the speakers (Tara Labs Micro Be's).
Hope this was helpful.
My Merlins (VSM-SE) seem be more sensitive than most to partnering electronics. The only SS amp I've used with them is a Krell KSA 50s. As Duke notes, this type of amp emphasizes the highly damped nature of the SE's bass (I understand that the MM may be less obvious in this regard). However, the end result was still very, very good.
What's interesting to me was the result with SET amps (Cary). While the trade off in the bass was evident - power & extension (Krell) vs. mid bass warmth (Cary), the change in dynamics were most surprising. The "jump factor" went through the roof with the SET amp. I'm not sure why, but it may have to do with an impedence spike at the x-over frequency which is in the "presence" range. (Just a guess).
In sum, I've found that the VSM SE works very, very well with my SS amp, but becomes really special with SETs.
BTW, the VSM SEs are also HIGHLY sensitive to room placement. As you close in on boundaries the reinforcement changes the bass quite dramatically. Currently, I've backed the speakers up to within 2' of the wall behind them. With a modest P/P triode (Dynaco) the tonal balance and dynamics are both wonderful at the cost of a bit of "imaging" drama.
if the merlin speakers are used the way they were designed to be used, there should not be a problem. so, lets check these points.
the speakers should be 6 to 7 feet apart, center to center, listened to at 9 1/2 feet or more, use of the alignment tool to set the toe angle so you are listening to the power response of the speaker and not directly on axis. check that you are using a single run of speaker cable on the bottom post first and then my jumper, tighten clamp. my jumper to top post first and then the rc (but check with charlie because i think the ayre amplifier has a zobel on the output so do not use my rc if this is so). no shotgun cables or internal bi-wires should be used where the tweeter gauge is bigger than 15. i would also check with charlie and ask him about his cable, it will sound more relaxed as it is a litz and you may want to try this for yourself. hook the cdp output into the bam and bam into cdp input on pre.
check these things and see how it sounds.
i have heard ayre on my speakers and it is superb.
what are you hearing that prompted this post.
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and martykl, the se was very amp dependant. it liked se tubes a lot. the millennium became more continuous and bodied (complete) so it was easier to match with and the mm and mx are more bodied (complete sounding) and continuous again so they are even easier to match to.
the super bam also relaxes the sound (makes it more expansive) and provides much better pitch definition in the bass.
regards to all,