Trya Acoustic Zen Adagio with the SLI-80...a wonderful match and certainly a better value$$$.
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The Merlin VSM's in either SE, M, or MX only need about 40 watts for most listening. maybe 80-100 watts for BIG symphonic works at loud volumes in a larger room........ So wattage wise, the Cary definitely works well. Tube rolling to taste. I am more a Manley or Blue Circle or Joule kind of man. But the Cary might be a last stop for you, as it does soundstage well, and is musical as all get out. Maybe Cardas Neutral Ref, Golden Ref, Golden Presence, or even Tg Audio speaker cables and your choice of IC's based on sources and Ac cords.......
I used VSM SEs plus BAM with the 10ish watt Cary 300B monos in a medium sized room with GREAT success, subject to ultimate spl limitations. This combo produced the best vocal representation I've heard. Can't speak to the SLI though.
PS I understand that later versions of the VSM may not be quite as friendly to low wattage SET amps.
John, I've had the SLI-80 with VSM-Ms for a few weeks and have enjoyed it very much. I found the type of KT-88 tubes used has a huge sonic impact with this amp. Personally I really enjoyed the KT-88EHs and was not as excited with the JJs (JJs more holographic sound, EHs just right for my ears). There are many other types of tubes you can use, so if you don't like what you hear, just change the tubes. Suspect the VSMs would also be an exceptional match with the Cary V12R (heard this amp last week, really impressed). Added bonus, they're both very good looking.