Help me get the most out of my Merlin TSM MX

I have had these incredible monitors for over a year and I am still enamoured with there balance and refinement. I am going to sell off my second system that doesn't get used anymore and I want to put the funds into the Merlin system. I should have $1000 to spend.
My current system is as follows: Merlin TSM MX on Skylan stands,DIY parts express sub with Behringer feedback destroyer for room eq, speaker wire is Monster M-series CX2( Paul Speltz Anti-Cables on the way), Cayin A 50-T 35watt el34 integratedwith a Virtual Dynamics power cord, Harmonic Technology Truthlink ic,Macbook Pro,Apogee Duet Dac. I use this in conjunction with a HT setup so I can control the sub via Ht remote from the B&K AVR 202.
I am not sure which direction to go. Do I get the "e" upgrade done by Bobby? Do I replace the Cayin with another integrated in the $1700 range Or get into separates? There is nothing that I don't like about my current system. I just want to take it to the next level of performance. I am not interested in a cd player. These monitors are capable in reference systems and that is why I bought them to build my system around. I might move up to the VSM one day so I want my components to be in place if/when that day comes.
Thank you for your opinions!
There is a Jadis Orchestra integrated for sale now at $1900. A great deal at that price. No relation etc etc.
Since you do like your system, If I were in your position, I would hold off and save my money until I had enough to move into separates and possibly an amp with a bit more kick than 35 watts. Bear in mind that there are a great many people out there that have assembled systems that are composed of separates and cannot say that they are happy with their systems.
Normally I would be the first to recommend the Speltz products based on my very positive experience using them in my ever evolving system. I thought they were doing pretty well between my Merlins & Atma-sphere separates until I tried Cardas speaker cables & then interconnects. The results are magical, everything improved beyond expectation. This was not one those instances where I had to struggle to hear an improvement, there was no contest. I love both the Anti-cables & Anti-interconnects, just not with Merlin speakers.
My initial reaction was just as Burntedj's. Cardas Golden Ref speaker cable. I like the idea of the Jadis for $1900 too. That's a pretty good deal, and would likely outperform your Cayin in many ways. Cheers,

BTW Bob, I'm using Cardas Neutral Reference speaker cables. Another A'Goner I know asked Bobby P what he thought of the anti-cables with Merlins & the word "truncated" came up regarding the mid range. I did not truly understand what this meant until I tried the Neutral Ref for myself. Truncated is an ugly word & it's even uglier sounding.
Good luck, Will
I think before coming up with a good plan of attack, you are going to have to identify the weaknesses in the results of your system.

What about the sound that you're getting would you like to improve?
Thank you for the responses. The anti cables that I have coming are a double run (not bi-wired). Apparently this helps with frequencies from the mid-range down or so the seller says. They are worth a try for the money. I see other merlin users with them in their system so I'll see if they float my boat. If not, I will try the Cardas Golden Reference speaker cables and ic's. I had a great listening session last night and walked away with nothing but smiles, but you know the audiophile thing-- How can I improve on the sound? I might just wait awhile until I have the funds for a top tier integrated like the Ars Sonum for instance. Keep the suggestions coming!
hi rrboogie,
i would get the mod done to the speakers to take them as far as you possibly can. then you can better match other items to them. the cost is incredibly inexpensive for what you get in return. call me at the factory for this discussion. 585 367 2390
a shotgun with the anti cable is not recommended, nor is it with any cable. the speaker is critically designed and you are openning yourself up to more issues by changing the spectral balance point and making the speaker sound leaner. use my lead free jumpers so you see the improvement possible with a single run of the anti to the bass. jumpers on top, lock the nut. then jumpers first to the tweeter and rc on next and lock the nut.
the speaker is the most important part of the system other than perhaps, the room. experience all you can with your system by making the speaker sound as good as it can. maybe you will not want to upgrade anything else. but give yourself the the chance to figure this out first hand.
I was in a similar situation and had consulted with Bobby-
he recommended the lead free upgrade of my TSM's.
The results were amazing-this is an inexpensive upgrade.
It is well worth it.
I have a couple of months this summer where I could live without the speakers. I will call Bobby to discuss the details of the upgrade and lead times/turn around times. Until then I am going to buy some recommended speaker cables to have on hand and at that point decide which ones are the keepers after the "e" upgrade.
So, what other speaker cables can you recommend?
I can probably only afford one set of cables over $700 and a couple of pairs in the $200 to $400 range. I already have the Monster cable,Anti cable and some Audioquest live wire.
I have replaced the tubes in the Cayin to Mullard and GE five stars with excellent results.
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Keep 'em coming!
The battery upgrade and the jumpers were a big improvement to my VSM-MM's last summer.Highly recommended.Going to bring the speakers to the factory for the E-upgrade ASAP.You could do the same then work on the other components.Or sell and move into the VSM-MM' get the picture.There all keepers,good luck,Bob
I have the TSM-MMe's and use Acoustic Zen Satori speaker cables with great results. In regard to amps, I'm using a pair of VAC 70/70 Musicblocs that are excellent with the Merlins.
turn around time is less than a week. more like 3 to 4 days at most for this. send them and do it now because it is the january/february slow time.
if you love your mxs, you are a shoe in for the mxe. the mxe imho, will sound more real, dynamic, focused, layered, expansive and room filling.
the clearity and quietness is a big step forward as is the perceived improved bandwidth.
I just changed my Acoustic Zen Satoris for Cardas Golden Reference and while the Satoris are good, they are no match for GR. GR's are truly magical (they better be for $2k!!!). My amp is CJ Premier 17/MV60SE and I have the MMe's
Nothing like free advertising huh bobby?
My suggestion, for what it is worth, is do the speaker upgrade, which looks like what you plan on already. My rationale for this is that you already like your system a lot; upgrading your speakers shouldn't upset your system, rather improve on what you like. As for speakers cables, ask the manufacturer; most shy away from suggesting brands, I get the feeling Bobby does not.

Another way to make sure you are getting the most out of the speaker is to use an OTL. Either the Merlins were designed on OTLs or else the speaker was designed to be very tube friendly. I would not mind finding out how Bobby has used OTLs with the Merlins in the past. Obviously he's had a long-standing relationship with Jud Barber. Our amps get used on Merlins a lot too, and we do make one that works fine on the TSM and is not too expensive.
From someone who has had both of the popular OTLs in his system, I will tell you that it is truly a personal taste issue. The Atmas and the Joules are great matches and a lot depends, IMO, on ancillary equipment and whether you prefer vanilla or french vanilla. By this I mean that they are more similar than different in their immediacy. I found the Joules had a slight bit more emotional impact and the Atmas were faster and more dynamic. If you have a balanced pre, its a no brainer to me, Atma all the way. I did not at the time and after having both in my house for some time, I ultimately settled on the Joule but went to a slightly faster cable than the Cardas GR, which I found to be a great match w the Atma. I would upgrade the speakers and then consider the amp next. OTOH, if you find a killer deal on a great OTL, I would jump on it. YMMV.
Agree with Swampwalker, an OTL will get the best out of Merlin speakers. Don
hi ralph,
i have used the joule and atma otls at shows for 10 or 12 years now. swampwalker makes a number of points i would agree with comparing the two. the merlins have a benign impedance characteristic which makes them very friendly to any type of amp, really. my favorite are otls and certain lower powered transformer coupled class "a" amps. there is also a more powerful 100 watt stereo amp made locally that i think the world of too (cat). the speakers were definitely designed around more delicate tube amps and that is why i like to use otls at shows. their uncomplicated sound pulls on your heart strings.
i personally own the joules vzn 100 mk ivs, as many of you know.
Hi Bobby, I think you have been using OTLs longer than that- it was at least 10 years ago that we first showed with you (in that time, FWIW, we've made a lot of progress- the newer amps have a lot more authority and are smoother with more detail...). In fact, I think I first met Jud Barber in your room the first or second year that CES was at the Alexis Park. So that would have to be about 1994 or so. Time flies! So how did you first meet Jud? Just my guess, but I'm pretty certain it had something to do with hearing his amp on your speakers :)
ralph, yes i first showed with jud in 1994 when i premiered the vsm. it was in chicago. but it was not for a couple of years until he had his original marquis otls in vegas. so maybe 12 years or so. there was a few years with cat amps too, thrown in along the way. maybe...3 or 4 total.
you first heard his amp on the vsm in vegas at the alexis park. i remember when i met you. then we showed for a few years together too.
yes time flies.
I have had the pleasure of listening to the Atma gear at my local shop. It has always been out of my budget but maybe one day.
Bobby, once I do the upgrade how long is the break in period? Do you have any recommendations on the break in process?
Bob- One of the points Atmasphere is making is that his stereoblock may have enough power for those speakers, espif you handle the mid bass down w a sub. Not suggesting that you pass on the speaker upgrade, just pointing out that if you keep your eyes open, you might be able to make your next move sooner than you thought.
bob, within 25 hours or so they really start to shine. after 100 i think they are pretty much done breaking in.
i would play your favorite music at a reasonable level and enjoy the process. i will put 8 hours on them here and right out of the box i think they will sound alot better than the way they were. i need the rcs too.

Swampwalker had a great suggestion. Go for that Jadis...To many people think that if they have a good speaker the sound will be good. Its is like putting premium pepperoni on a soggy pizza. How would that taste?
Its is like putting premium pepperoni on a soggy pizza.
Are you saying his amp sucks?
there is no doubt that an amp change could/would improve things BUT i would not do anything until the speaker is as good as it can be. with the mod it will sound better with your amp too. read what i said above about the sound improvements. the more continuous a speaker sounds the better it will be with a tube amp or ss amp. once you know what you have you can go about other changes/improvements in a more educated manner.

I wouldn't say the Cayin amp sucks but rather it sounds more like soggy pizza. Is that amplifier hand crafted in Germany, I can't remember?
I second and third Swampwalker's and Sounds real audio's suggestions to go for the Jadis. I have owned 2 Jadis amps and cant say enough good things about their magical qualities.
bob, if you want to experience some of what will happen with the full lead free mod, get a pair of the lead free cardas jumpers and see what happens.
I have had a pair of Cardas Golden Reference IC's between my DAC and integrated for three days now. My initial impressions are that I have added low level detail from the Harmonic Technology Truthlink. The sound is a little more open. Vocals have more presence. I have also added the Anti cables speaker wire and they perform as expected from the reviews. Words that come to mind are fast,neutral,live,dynamic,detailed. The combination of the Golden Ref and the Anti cables may be too much of a good thing for my tastes. I swapped the Golden Ref. for the Truthlink which brought better balance to the treble ( not as crisp ). My wife and I listened for 4 hours. Her comment was "I am there"( as if at a live performance) which we have seen over 200 live performances. I was impressed with the Anti cables although they may be a bit hot in the treble for a relaxing listening session. The mids didn't have that body that I am looking for but with the right IC up front I can probably find a balance. I have a pair of Anti cables IC's on the way. We'll see if there is synergy between them. I am also interested in the Acoustic Zen Satori speaker cables.
I am tempted by the Jadis. Are there any other recommendations in the under $2000 (used) tube integrated market? With that being said, this Cayin is a real winner for the price. My only point of reference in my system was the Cary SLI 80 that I owned previously. The Cayin doesn't give up anything to the Cary.
Thanks for the suggestions.
bob i will not go further in this but gr is anything but crisp. it is very neutral and with it being neutral, it is showing up something else in the system that is crisp. make no assumptions here. synergy, if that is what you are after is something very different from neutrality. and absolute neutrality will win over all when it comes to playing more of your music and pleasing/easy system changes. remember to let the anti's properly break in and that goes for all the cables as well. it is best to have a complete set of the necessary cables of each brand to know what is really going on. single run speaker with merlin jumpers will give correct spectral and tonal balance. internal bi-wires and shotguns will tend to open up the treble volume and make them bright and thin imho.
good luck.
I have noticed a change in the sound after running the system continuously for the last three days. The cables must have settled in. The sound is absolutely stunning. My Father and I just marveled at the expansive soundstage and detail that the cable changes made. Earlier I mentioned that there was a crispness to the sound but that is not the case anymore. The music just flows. I am looking for a pair of 10' Cardas Golden Reference speaker cables to have on hand when the speakers are returned after they get the 'e' upgrade.