Larry, thanks for the sharing your personal experiences about Bobby. I am
one of those folks who wanted smaller speakers without too much sacrifice
in bass, and not knowing anything about electronics, it seems that we can
thank Bobby's brain for figuring out that you could do electronically, with
the BAM, what you need a 3rd and larger driver to do - and maintain the
coherence of a two-way speaker. So he made the VSMs, which
have had very long run, with many satisfied customers, and still running
strong - overtime they just get incrementally better as he sorts out and
rings out the last bit of performance from one "simple" design
idea. Unlike some companies that come out with a different speaker every
two years, with new breakthroughs, Bobby does it his way, make one or two
speakers and make them as good as possible - that approach has worked
for him, and I always look forward to what he will come up with next to
make the VSM even better, even when you think the wall has been hit. Now,
when is that subwoofer coming out:)
Others that take a similar approach - constant perfection of the original
idea? Ralph Karsten, Richard Vandersteen, Ken Stevens, Roger Modjeski,
What always struck me about Bobby, other than the accolades I put in my post...his core decency as a person--which manifests itself in his business, as the willingness to be unfailingly helpful...make upgrades available at reasonable prices--and to be so generous with his time with everyone.
He's a real treasure for any audiophile who loves music as much as the 'hobby' of collecting gear and tweaking knobs.
God have mercy...please disregard all the typoes, er typeoues, typifications...you know what I mean.
I don't have Merlin speakers and I can't see a point in time in the future when I will. It's not that I don't like how they sound, but rather I'm extremely pleased with the sound from my current speakers that I'm not even remotely inclined to make a change.
However, I've met Bobby a few times at shows and he is a very gracious person and quite knowledgeable about his craft. When I reflect back on the rooms at shows I attend Booby's room always makes my top 5 list. The sound is consistently that good.
Thanks a lot for this post. Bobby is indeed a fine person and a master at his craft. And he takes great care of his customers. I have his TSM-mmi's and when I first received them, I was impressed by how lovingly they were crafted and packed. He takes enormous pride in his work and it shows in the end result. Buy one of his products and you become, as he puts it, "a member of the family."
I agree. When I talk to Bobby, I always get the feeling of somebody who really loves music and what he does. Ralph of Atmasphere is another guy who even though I have never met him, strikes me in a similar way. I get a feeling that both of their products would work well together.
I'm certain they would...Bobby is such a 'tube lover of the first order' (as am I) that his designs always do well with our vacuum filled, (hmmm how can vacuum 'fill' anything), little buddies.
Nice commen Tz...
OTL and VSMs - made for each other:)
I have had a few dealings with Bobby and he is a class act. One particular situation Bobby came thru as promised. He makes great speakers and I wish him continued success.
Agree with Lrsky, et. al. I'm just a regular guy. Certainly not one of his well-healed or well-known customers. But I've always been treated as if I were important to him as a customer and a person. He's always gone the extra mile for me.
Now, where do I get some of the hallucinogenic Czech beer?
Start with Pilsner Urquell; of you make it past that.....
live in a distant country, a atlantic city Atlantic looking to Africa, I bought a couple of merlin tsm mme seven years ago, and saw the amabiliade and reliability of this person(Bob), then bought a pair of Melin vsm mxe and now I did upgrade to master Bam , I do not need to talk about how fantastic merlins speakers are , because it is already public domain, but I want to say is how much is important have people like Bob in this hobby, never seen him personally, but it's like I met him always . Thanks bob
I met Ralph Karsten in St Paul over many yrs ago at a high end stereo store just as his ma1's where coming to life.
I was very new to the world of high end audio and did not know anything about tubes period.
He talked with me for about 20 minutes and it gave me a picture of what he strives for in his designs.He never slammed any of my equipment at the time or even pushed his gear down my thoat to make a sale;it was just one of the best days in audio I have ever had and always remembered.
It seems to this day that whenever Ralph answers a thread he is never slamming a person or trying to make a sale;this is the one characteristic of him that I seem to remember best;almost like he is a audiophile first and then a designer/manufacturer second;just a super nice person to meet.
Anyone meet the elusive Roger Modjeski face to face? With hour + conversations I feel I have, but rarely goes to shows, so.... I can tell you if Roger ever wrote a book on High-end B.S. it would be a lot fun to read and argue about. He is fascianting to talk to, when you can get him on the phone.
I can think of another designer/manufacturer that kind of falls in to what Pubul57 mentions would be Stan Klyne;I have had a couple of very interesting conversations with him when I owned a 6lx3p pre amp and was getting information on the cartridge loading in the phono section of this fantastic pre amplifier.
I've sat in Roger Modjeski's living room a couple times. Once we just chatted about a number of things but I guess I really pressed one of his buttons when I queried him as to why he was using zip cord for speaker cables. Roger then proceeded to explain in great detail why I shouldn't be wasting my money on expensive cabling and gave the basic ingredients on what makes up what he termed a very seviceable interconnect.
The second time he and Kavi Alexander were evaluating the first iteration of his new electrostatic speakers. Roger got his start working for Harold Beveridge. While we listened Roger gave a really good history lesson that day on the Beveridge design philosophy and what he took away from that experience.
He's a no-nonsense type who knows what he's doing, unconventional as it may seem to some. Roger's the type that's not afraid to look at a text book circuit and think outside the box to come up with something that seemingly defies science, but in reality just takes it to another level. I don't know anyone else who gets more power out of his tubes, or builds quieter amps. Not to mention Roger wrote his own software that he uses to test tubes and along with Andy Bowman is one of the few who knows how to thoroughly tests tubes.
Oh and so you don't get the wrong impression Roger is quite entertaining as well.
Very entertaining, and a real BRAIN:) I suspect John Dunlavy was a similar type of straight shooter - I suspect him and Roger read the same science on cables.
BobbyP is a class act. Has always gone out of his way to entertain any question that I may have and actually encourages you to call him to speak person-to-person. It's near impossible to find that kind of service nowadays; not to mention character.
I didn't mention the special conversations that Bobby and I had during this period of time as I became a Merlin dealer, because getting to know someone of his intelligence and sensitivity enriches ones life...he is, as everyone says, special--and so much so, that he never acts as if he is. Down to earth, a man's man, who makes everyone around him feel good about doing business with him...Having been in audio for more than 30 years, he always struck me as totally comforable with either end of the business...design or sales/customer relations. These are very disparate 'gifts' to posess both...and Bobby walks through relationships completely at ease with his customers, always, taking great care of everyone along the way. I never ONE TIME had an issue with anything MERLIN that wasn't taken care of immediately...no matter how seemingly insignificant.
My enduring admiration goes out to him...one of the reasons he was so high up in my list of the Manufacturers I have known.
Clio09 when Roger was talking about speaker cable can you summarize on what he discussed with you?I seem to remember Ralph of Atmasphere mentioning using a simple cable such as fulton brown/gold which did not break the bank and I ran the brown for several years.
Rleff, besides what Clio9 will say about Roger;s comments, you might also want to google -" John Dunlavy Speaker Cable" very interesting perspective from a scientifically centered audiophile that perhaps spoke truth to "power".
Dunlavy's design prowess is NOT in question...
His doubting of speaker cables, and connects, is very much in question.
I have on hundreds of occassions done ABA testing for cables of all stripes...the results have always proved to be consistent.
When I read about designers who doubt these results I'm confused as to their experiences.
I went through all of the doubter's phases...and ended with the phase that rests in the, 'easily quantifiable and predictable categories...'
This is saying that I've submitted, surrendered to listening tests which 'test' the veracity and consistency of audiophiles who claim to hear consistant and quantifyable differences in cables and interconnects.
This doesn't make me right or unique--it only makes ME secure in my selections.
Over the years, I've liked, Kimber Kable, John Tucker's Cables...disliked MIT Cables (finding them to be colored) and disliking Audioquest...hashy and nasty sounding for my taste. Cardas, though respected sounds, like a more 'romantic version' of MIT...the same balance, but with a better 'PR', person describing.
Cables are tough...and very, very important...
One of the best vendors in the Hi-End. Driven to perfect his designs, honorable, hard working and a good sense of humor. Customer service, well he wrote the book IMO!
I have to get to Rocky Mountain and catch up with him this year.
jim, try and come.
should be fun.
will have the master vsm, the dual mono dual ops master bam and the master rc's there. 99% sure the amp will be the gran fila from sonum. it is supposed to spectacular and the system will be wired with my clear.
could be memorable.
and thanks to all for these wonderful comments.
larry, yes its been a long time and much has changed, mostly for the better :-).
Bobby is a very nice guy and one of the great designers. The Merlins are so balanced and musical that you really have to appreciate his exceptional talent. He is truly a very gifted designer.
Bobby is responsible for the above quotes IMHO.A good man and a damn good designer as the Men of Merlin have testified,cheers,B
Rleff, so as not to totally detract from this fine thread about Bobby P. Please email me offline and I will explain.
If I didn't have to spend money on equipment, I'd have a great room too,
The only time I had a problem with Bobby was when he said the ASR Emitter I wanted wasn't a good match. I tried to kill myself with string and paper mâché but decided it wasn't worth the trouble and got the Fila' instead.
NOW, there's a new amp he brings to our attention. Not cool man, not cool.
The Gran Fila will be interesting. More power, but more tubes - a tradeoff perhaps. The Merlin VSMs with the Fila sounded pretty darn good with its 30 watts and two output tubes per channel. If you can double [?] the power without sacrifice that would be a good thing and useable with more speakers.
Atmasphere beater. Would you switch?
Nope. Can't beat OTL with VSMs (or other speakers that can be well driven by tubes and OTLs in particular) IMHO more triode tubes running Class A is a better tradeoff that having to use a transformer:)
Bobby has pics of the new amp. It looks bigger than the SE.
Must be, more tubes, bigger transformers, more watts. Not as "cute"
as the SE, but luxurious. With both pentode and triode settings, I'm sure it will
bring something new to the table for Ars Sonum aficionados:)
The new "Gran Filarmonia".
Still get the Error 404 message when trying to view. Anyone else have the same problem?
paul if you want to see a pic i can send it to you.
i had the same problem.
I guess my PC is over-clocked for higher performance...and to open links:). To me, it's love at first sight(talking about the "Gran").
Yes, that would be cool. So do I have it right that it will have pentode and triode settings? 30 watts triode should be able to make the VSMs sing (loud if you want).
paul, 60 watts pentode with 40 class a. 30 watts triode and 20 watts triode class a.
pic is on its way to you personally.
Looks beautiful, where did I put my wallet:)
Oozes sex appeal doesn't it?
Another thing about 'the Bobster'.
When I was rebuilding my friend's loudspeakers that had been hit by lightening, and Bob was 'talking me through it' (with incredible patience)...I remember how stunned I was at the finish work, and level of parts that he was using for his crossovers.
Anyone buying a pair of Merlins is getting first rate build quality AND parts--that, and an industry icon, hand crafting them...Bob is on the inside of every speaker he sends out. They're a real reflection of what he thinks music sounds like AND he does a great deal of the hand work personally. What's that worth?
Many years ago we had this kind of craftsmanship in Italy when a guy named Stradivarius was building violins--nowadays they're collectors items.
Bobby is one of the greatest designers of high end speakers and a very decent person as well. His speakers are so musical and well balanced you have to really admire his talent.
Thanks for reviving this thread egidius and thank you, Larry for writing it originally. Bobby was a great designer, AND a great salesman. I say that second part with the utmost respect for someone who could evaluate your wants and needs and did the best he could to get you there. Even if it meant saying no. We all will miss him, I know that the next time I go to a show there will be a hole in it. IMO, the VSMs will be remembered like the Vandy 2s. A very solid design, that was comNiTinually improved over many years and always made music.