What is the equipment you will be using them with?
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The 300B may have trouble driving the Harbeths...its something to look into if you want to keep using that amp. Maybe some people that own that speaker can comment on that.
I have experience with some other Harbeth models and have owned Merlin VSMs. The Merlins are every bit transparent and revealing as people hype them up to be. They are capable of reproducing the human voice extremely accurately. Although, if you want musicality, the Harbeths will sound better to your ear if that is what you are searching for. The Harbeth sound is a perfect match between resolution and musicality where else the Merlin just gives you a boat load of resolution and transparency...if your amps are good enough that is. For your description, I would recommend the Harbeth hands down. Just my two cents.
macd, what version of the vsm did you own? earlier versions sounded somewhat raw and as time passed their musical nature was profoundly enhanced. the tsm is a lot more forgiving than the vsm and latest tsms are renouned for their easy listening character.
i would not recommend anything earlier than the mme if musicality is important to you.
The sonic characteristics of both are well docemented in the discussion
here on agon already. It is a personal judgement call in regard to which
will sound more "musical".
Merlin would be my choice for transparency and detail and overall
versatility. Harbeth could be fun and more distinctive sounding
compared to most good modern designs.
Thanks everybody for your inputs.
MACD: One of my friends used to have a pair of original Harbeth Compact 7and he used a SE300B amp to driver them. From distant memory, the sound was warm and very musical. I still remembered every time when I visit him, I always wanted him to play some music for me. His living room is about the size of my currently listening room.
Bobby: My budget is to look for a pair of used (either brand) in the mid $2k range. It seems like the VSM is better fit my need as they are more sensitive then the TSM. Too bad they are out of my budget.
Also, what is the main difference between the new Master series with the MMr series?
it should be obvious that there is no way to make everyone happy.:-) too many different tastes involved in this.
tuck, the master tsm uses a new cabinet material and construction, is wired with cardas clear geometry wire and uses duelund copper foil caps in critical locations. the mx-r is the same speaker wired with cardas 15 gauge and standard rc's unless you pay the extra sum for the master rc's.
why not e-mail or call me at the factory for a more complete explanation. contact info is on the merlin web site. i would also like to explain the differences between the vsm and tsm which would be very interesting.
I absolutely do not agree that the Merlin speakers are analytical, though I did hear them sound very much so when connected to SS amps, such as Odyssey and more recently with a pricey ARC integrated.
My Merlins are powered by a Manley Stingray II. I'm using the Rega DAC with a optimized Mac Mini and a bit of heft is added by my MJ Acoustics 150 MKII sub. Cables are cardas. I've spent months tweaking and dialing these speakers in. Recently I poured out the kitty litter from the 4 post Skylan stands and used sand to find MUCH better bass from these marvels.
The sound is absolutely organic, like river water over pebbles. The term analytical was something I often applied to my Magnepan 1.6qr pair, a great set of speakers that dissected music in a manner that was, at times, less than musical. The Merlins present EXACTLY what is on the recording. Voices float in 3D space with uncanny realism. There is a point source effect that the Harbeth's cannot match and to my ears I find the Harbeth slightly colored and pushed in the lower midrange, thought not quite punchy (that would be an unfair insult to a fine speaker). I do not believe the Harbeth pair can match the Merlins for realism for voice-utterly superb. The Merlins are not forgiving because they're so transparent. Though the "high end" does not always have to be terribly expensive, care must be taken to match gear correctly.
I believe that the newest Merlins are a more refined product, but certainly not for everyone. My wife, who is not an audiophile, claims the Merlins draw her in (if her choice music is on) and she can't read or do much else when they're playing!
I'm in Carmel NY if anyone wants a demo!
Best of luck,