Stargates and VZN80 do not have enough juice to drive the Merlin floorstanders. Heavengates or VZN 100 monoblocks or any high quality OTL tube monoblocks with at least 75wpc are your best. Mesa Baron would be a nice match with the Merlins (if you can find a used Baron).
Are you saying that a OTL has to have 75 watts or more to push the VSM's and not so with non-OTL amps?
Your room size may also be a consideration.
Given the fact that many Merlin owners use the 60 watt Berning to drive their speakers would suggest that for most people, this power would be sufficient.
Also, the difference between a 80 watt amp and a 100 watt amp is about a 1dB increase in volume. Not much difference there. However the VZN 100 is a mono block vs the VZN 80 stereo amp.
If you plan to buy used, the $1000 difference in price would have me leaning toward the VZN 100 mono blocks. But that's me.
Well I beg to differ with Audiomax, but of course, only given my room size (about 24 x 14 x 8) and listening tastes (small "acoustic" music and vocals, not full orchestra). The VZN-80 and the Berning, which are comparable power ratings, do just fine. Had aother 'goner over last weekend who likes to listen to big band/funk at live volumes, and I can tell you it sounded great, IMO.
Good luck finding a used VZN of either persuassion. By the way, Bobby at Merlin only really recommends the "music box" version of the VZNs which is a particular type of cabinet. I had TSM-MXs which were very easy to drive by an Air Tight 300B amp in a small room but the VSMs are also an easy load - 89db with a very benign impedance and crossover load.
Nutella is completely right, the difference btw 80 & 100wts is negligible. You really should be fine with the VZN-80 unless you sit 20 ft away from the speakers.
answer to Tabl10s is yes.
The Joule OTL-based amps are a horrible match for the Merlins (especially the VZN 80). Not only that, but Jud and Marianne Barber are the worst when it comes to customer service.
Sigh. OK, all of the OTL amps from Joule-Electra are a fantastic match, and the customer service from the husband/wife team is impeccable. You see, I am in the market for a new amp to go with my Merlins and I do not want the competition!
80 watts from the VZN 80 is plenty of power for the VSM. After a lot of research, that is what I am on the lookout for. Just be aware that the newest version is a Mark V.
Good luck hunting!
I agree the VZN 80 is more than enough power with the VSM in most instances. The 100's may be preferable in a larger room but you don't give room dimensions. I had a VZN 80 in my 16X18/12X8 L shaped room with 10' ceilings, no problem at all. Dynamics may open up a bit more with the 100 monos but they will also introduce more heat output from 12 rather than 8 output tubes which is worth some consideration if living in a warm climate. These amps DO warm up a room.
The Joule is lovely with the Merlins, you couldn't want for more, especially with massed vocals and opera, the best I've heard the VSM for this type of music.
Just a note regarding power for the VSM. I'm going to be running my VSM-MMs (wich should arrive in the next couple of weeks) with 16 SET watts. After speaking with knowledgeable individuals with experience running the VSM with lower watts, I'm confident that they will sound great. The only issue being ultimate SPLs with the lower watts. This should not be a problem since generally I do not listen louder than 85db peaks and do most of my listening in the 75-80db range.
Hopefully I will be very happy with the results. I will report my findings when I get the speakers. I've seen many post that suggest you need 60,70, 80 or more watts for the VSM. I do not believe that is true. I'll find out in a couple of weeks.:-)
So, for people who are using lower watt amps and are considering the VSM, check them out. Give Merlin a call and talk to Bobby. He'll let you know if his speakers will work with your amplification. Happy listening.
I have 30 watt Dehavilland monos driving my Merlin VSM MM speakers and am more than happy. Plays much louder than I care to listen to. Even without cranking it up my wife is always screaming at me to turn it down.
Do those Dehavilland monos use OTL tubes like Stargates or VZN80?
They use a large and strange SET tube, the name of which I can't think of. They are SETs, not P/P or OTLs.
The Dehavilland monos that output 30 watts employs the commonly used 845 triode output tube. The Joules use 6336C tubes. There's no such thing as a "OTL tube" .... it depends on the how the output tube is applied in the circuit.
FWIW, I use about 25 watts of SET power (Art Audio Jota monoblocks) on my Merlins, and I love how they perform. It should be noted SET sounds lot more powerful then its wattage rating suggests (relative to SS, PP, or OTL circuits). The Jota monoblocks are high current animals. For the same reason, I believe the VZN100 is a lot better then the VZN80 because of its better current delivery (monos versus stereo).
I have a Joule VZN 80 and don't want for more in terms of power. My room is 24'x13'.
By "not an OTL" I meant they were transformer coupled, not OTL. Hmmm...Does anyone know of an SET ciruit OTL? Also, I thought the DeHavillands had switched from 845s to a more obscure output tube. Am I wrong about this? My memory is that they went to this different tube in the latest version - too bad I'm lazy too look it up myself!
I checked it out - the DeH. now uses a Russian GM-70 output tube which I had never heard of. I think it one that was used in their tanks.
Transcendant has a SE OTL. I believe it's the only one in production. It's very difficult (prior to the Transcendant, I thought it was impossible) to create usable impedance for speakers in this circuit.
The GM-70 rarely gets used in the US (mostly finds use in ex-Soviet block and in Europe). It is similiar to the 845 so it's a simple revision.
Tomryan, my own discussions with Bobby Palkovic definitely wouldn't lead me to believe that he "only really recommends the music box version of the VZN". Has he stated as such? Whether or not the musicwood chassis versions sound better, I don't know - I've never heard one. It probably does, or at least is different. They're definitely good looking and I wouldn't mind having one in my living room. But based on my own experience with the VZN 80, if he has suggested that the musicwood chassis version is "the only one worth having" or something to that effect, then this would be probably the only example I've seen of him giving bad advice regarding his speakers. At least it's advice I don't agree with. These VZN amps may come in a few different flavors, but they all taste good with the Merlins. It's like comparing Ferraris.
At least that's been my experience.
Another vote here for sufficient power. I have the VZN-80 and a pair of Merlin VSM-Ms in a room about 15 ft by 22 ft. For realistic listening to all kinds of music (including Led Zep) I rarely crank my preamp past the 12'oclock mark. The Joule's are not the last word in power for sure but any sane person would do fine with them for 99.9% of their listening.
There is a thread here somewhere in which Bobby recommends someone to get the "music box" version if possible because the standard one sounds a little fuzzy and indistinct by comparison. You'd have to search "Merlin speakers" to get the exact quote, but coincidently enough, Joule Electra just this month in TAS has an ad for the "music box" case and shows it. Interesting and I'd love to try one out someday.
Tomryan, if it sounds that much better then it really must be something. My speakers are going from 'SE' version to 'MM' version soon and he raves about that difference. Perhaps that sort of combo (MM or MX) is where he realizes the significant difference in the musicwood chassis? I'd definitely like to hear it as well.
But like I suggested, just the "plain Jane" vzn with merlins is so damn good...
Well, this may be a little too late, but here is my take anyway. I use the Stargates to drive my Merlin VSMs and they sound terrific! More power than I need, although not the best in bass slam, voices and accoustic music is stunning with this combination. Audiomax is certainly incorrect in his assessment. The Stargates can drive the VSMs very easily.
In fact, they are among the amps Bobby recommends as great fits for his speakers and Jud has used them on his VSMs. So I bought mine as per the direct recommendation of the designers of both pieces of equipment. I don;t think you could get any better endorsement.