Help with a tube amp recommendation

Hello All
I am going to give a tube amp a try and I would like some help. I have a Wadia modded 850 and I want to try a tube amp. My speakers are Merlin TSM-M's My chooses are the Manley snappers, the VAC auricle music blocks and the BAT VK-55. I am going to be new at tubes so which one is going to be the most user friendly? I like very detailed sound. Are any of these what I am looking for? Please any suggestions would be great.
Definitely put the Audio Research VT100MKII on your list. Unbelievable soundstage, detail and slam with the right speakers. Tight defined and deep bass.Some tube amps can sound slow and tubby in the bass. Not this one. Good luck!
You might want to post this in the speaker forum too, and make sure to put Merlin in the subject, chances are Bobby P will give you some "first-hand" recommendations!
As to the Audio Research VTL100 Mk2, my friend had a Audio Research VTL 200 MK1, and he agreed my Jadid Orch at less than half the size of his AR amp/pre combo, was superior in resolution, cleaner/less fatigue, to his AR. Of course he had the power to drive the power thirsty Mirage One's, which were too much for the Jadis.
I plan to upgrade to the Cayin A88.
In yrs to come I imagine Jadis will have to drop its prices due to Cayin's superior produts at less than half the price.
You might want to check out the Berning ZH-270. The Merlins love the Berning ZH-270. I have MSM-MX's with Super Bam paired with the ZH-270 and they sing together.
The ZH-270 is an incredible value for the money and wonderful with the Merlin MSMs.

If you want all the detail that is recorded to your software, I have to say the Berning ZH-270 is a mighty fine amp when used with Merlins. This amp lets the details come through in a very fast, neutral and unhindered way. The Bernings also are the most friendly tube amps that I am aware of today. Self biasing and very low heat output. The tubes should outlast some of your other gear. These amps do not hide the dynamics that are recorded onto most CD's and records like many tube amps seem to do. Nothing is rolled off top to bottom. They are exceptionlly dynamic and life like. The bass is strong and tight as it should be. The highs and mids will be presented as they are recorded. The Berning will let all of the details be heard in a very pleasing presentation. One other big bonus,it is an absolute bargain in my opinion. I could go on but you get my point.
Definitely agree with both Vetterone and Cello, the Berning ZH270 is an outstanding choice for your system. The Berning ZH270 and Merlin combination is near legendary (as a quick search of the archives here on Audiogon will attest).

Furthemore, the Berning ZH270 will allow you to run your modified Wadia 850 directly into the amplifier, since the ZH270 has two sets of switchable inputs plus an internal volume control. There is no preamp, quite like no preamp, regardless of cost. Furthermore, running the Wadia direct will remove a complete set of cables and jacks from your system further enhancing the transparency: you will hear musical details on your recordings that will surprise you.

As for the overall sound, the Berning is the most detailed and transparent amplifier I have owned. Relative to conventional transformer-coupled tube amplifiers based on the common 6550/KT88 or EL34/KT77 power tube families, the Berning ZH270 is more dynamic, more detailed, AND more musical. Relative to conventional OTL amplifiers, which run many output tubes in parallel in an attempt to provide enough current to drive even medium efficiency speakers, the Berning ZH270 is faster, more accurate, and delivers deep well-controlled bass.

After listening to the Berning ZH270, you quickly come to realize that both the conventional transformer-coupled tube amplifiers and the conventional OTL tube amplifiers are design compromises when used with real world speakers. Given that many serious speaker manufacturers -- including Merlin -- use the ZH270 to evaluate their speakers, there is a truth to the statement that "you have not really heard what your speakers are fully capable of until you hear them driven by a Berning ZH270".

If you need more power than a single Berning ZH270 can deliver, then two Berning ZH270 amplifiers wired as monoblocks or wired for vertical bi-amping is a sonic revelation.

If you are new to tubes, the Berning has several key features that make it much more user friendly than most tube amplifiers. The Berning ZH270 runs cool compared to nearly all other tube amplifiers (and even many solid state amplifiers). The Berning ZH270 autobiases all of its tubes/triode sections independently, so there is no bias to adjust. The tubes are also biased for low idle current so they will last a long, long time. Other cutting edge features include heating all of the tubes with radio frequency AC, rather than using DC. In most amplifiers, the DC used to heat the tubes is often accompanied with small amounts of 120 Hz ripple, resulting in subtle distortion or even a slight hum. By contrast, the ZH270 the quietest tube amplifier I have owned.

As for cost, even with all of the modifications offered by Allan Bhagan ( such as upgraded capacitors, silver wire in the signal path, and matched cryo-treated output tubes (all highly recommended mods), the Berning ZH270 is an incredible value.
As a Berning/Merlin owner, I agree w/the recommendation above. However, IME going direct from the Wadia would be a mistake. The Merlins will sound better with the BAM in the tape loop of an active preamp.
Of the 3 amps you mention, the Manleys and VAC are making other Merlin owners happy, while the BAT would be last on my list as far as preference. Granted, Merlins sound great w/wide variety of amps, but if you are going to choose, I'd rate those mentioned here: Berning, Manley, VAC then BAT. Cheers,
I'm going to be a bit of contrarian. Having had all 3, I prefer the sound of "conventional" OTL amps (Joule and Atma-sphere) to the Berning with VSM-MMs. And to be a bit more contrarian, right now I prefer the Atma M60s to the Joule.
I'm presently using an tube integrated - Audiomat Prelude Reference Mk2 with my Merlins. Great sound.
I too highly recommend the Berning ZH270. I have had mine with the VSM-mms and now the VSM-MXs. Cello, Vetterone and Musicpre have all stated what I have experienced with the Berning in my system. Perhaps you could tell us where you are and might be able to find one near you for a listen. You really need to hear the Berning with Merlins.

I own TSM-MM's and two Berning’s (ZH-270 and MicroZOTL headphone amp). The Bernng’s are dead quiet, run at room temperature - not sizzling hot like some OTL amps and the tubes should last for most of my lifetime. The Berning has a fantastic track record for reliability and this makes it a great long term investment. Quality, synergy and great sound never go out of style.
Hello All,

Thanks for all of the responses. Looks like I have to put the Berning on my list to audition. I still have the others I list to listen to also. I will let you know the winner. Thanks again
A little late to the party, but would also recommend Berning, since you said you like very detailed sound. With Allan's mods and the stepped attenuator volume control, it sounds very detailed without being coldly 'analytical'.