Merlin owners, AC or battery for BAM?

I recently purchased Merlin VSM-MM's with the Super Bam, simply wonderful speakers! However, I am experiencing a rather unexpected result in preferred modes of Super Bam operation. I find myself much preferring the full AC mode to full Battery mode (PC unplugged). In battery mode the sound is simply too dark, warm, resonant and lacking in dynamics, the sound is simply blah! In AC mode the sound is much punchier and involving; greater dynamics, more presence and tighter bass. There is also absolutely no loss in refinement, the noise floor seems to be just as low, no issues with grit or grain.
I am simply stunned by these results having heard so many good things about the battery BAM vs. the AC BAM. I can only surmise that all the work I've done with my AC is responsible. This includes dedicated, seperate AC lines for both digital and analog, dedicated grounds and power conditioners; BPT 3.5 Sig. for analog (I plug Super BAM into this) Shunyata Hydra 4 for digital, VH Audio AirSines, Shunyata Cobra and Python VX and Purist Audio Dominus power cords. I'm thinking that my AC noise floor is competitive with Battery mode, and the negative things I'm hearing with the Battery mode are symptomatic of this mode of power.
I recall reading a number of reviews over the years in which battery powered equipment has been criticized for some of the symptoms I'm experiencing, could this criticism be legitimate in this instance? I have also personally experienced some of these same symptoms with a N.E.W. DCA 66 amp I own which further reinforces my thoughts on this.
I'm just wondering if any other Merlin owners have experienced these symptoms, or whether it could be some lack of synergy in my system that is causing this?
I also experimented with different power cords on the Super Bam and this further changed things, ie. I'm thinking a real nice PC here will further improve things, any thoughts?
Perp. Tech. P1A, P3A, Monolithic PS, Modwright Signature mods, Revelation Audio cables, P3A chassis out of case (case adds capacitance)
Audio Logic 24mxl
Proceed CDD
Joule Electra LA 100 Mk. III
Art Audio Carissa Signature
IC's-Cardas Golden Ref., Purist Audio Venustas and Dominus, Ridge Street Poiema
Speaker-Synergistic Resolution Ref FX X2 biwired
Also full room treatments-Echobusters, Doublebusters, RPG Pro Foam and Skylines, DIY 16" tube traps
Did you buy them new or used? If used, how many hours of play time do you have in battery-only mode before the BBAM loses power? Your problem may be weak batteries.
I purchased them used, speakers were manufactured in early 05. I don't think it is a weak battery problem as I've never run out of battery power even over many hours of playing. Also, the sound has remained consistent used in battery mode over those many hours.
Dgarretson, I noticed you have greatly modified your BBAM, it is likely you have increased dynamics and drive with that setup. My NEW DCA 66 uses similar batteries (4) which I'm sure help to maintain current for added drive and dynamics. I am guessing that perhaps you noticed the same weakness in the stock battery BAM and updated accordingly.
How do you know that you never run out of battery power? I'm guessing the internal battery in your used BAM is not functioning at 100%. I'd send it to Bobby to have him check it out. Cheers,

The VSM-MX's I bought used were about 2 years old & came with the standard BBAM (pre-SuperBAM). The batteries were giving out after about 4-6 hrs of use in battery-only mode (vs. advertised 12 hrs.) After taking the BBAM apart, I determined that two of the four NiMH batteries could not take a full charge. But even so, the battery-only mode still sounded better than AC-only mode or AC/DC hybrid mode.

I decided to upgrade the BBAM myself to much higher performance with low-impedance SLA batteries, more & better filtering capacitors, and most importantly, removing & bypassing the 3-pin DC regulation stages. The improvement for the system was on the order of 40-50% in smoothness of treble & midrange, resolution, transparency, dynamics, bass extension and control. I have spoken with Bobby about the SuperBAM. He believes it achieves similar improvements with upgrades to NiMH batteries, filtering cap, 3-pin regulators, and AC converter. He told me that the AC-only mode of the SuperBAM sounds better than the battery-only mode of the standard BAM, but that the battery-only mode of the new BBAM is better yet.

hi sns,
if you paid very close attention to the discussions concerning the super bam both on agon and aa you would find that the feelings on the subject are both obvious and virtually 100% in favor of the battery ops. i will say that there is a softening of information in your system and that is allowing the more detailed and less resolved and quiet battery operation to be preferred. the la 100 is certainly less definite sounding than a 150 for example. the 100 was a reference of mine so older merlins were a touch thinner and brighter and the 150 replaced it. the super bam ac ops is better than the old bam's battery ops and the super bam battery ops is a full 30% better than the old. there is nothing wrong here. if you prefer the ac go ahead and be so inclined as it will interface better with some systems. you may also want to experiment with the bam following the the cdp/or in a tape loop or between the pre and power amps.
you might also have the older battery supply in the super bam before we changed over to the 200 mah cells. those batteries did indeed sound softer and that was one of the reasons that we changed them.
there is no doubt that you may find a pc that is even better suited to your system than the stock cord.
work with it, get your system to sound exactly the way you want it to sound. there is no right and wrong here.
just have fun!
" I have also personally experienced some of these same symptoms with a N.E.W. DCA 66 amp I own which further reinforces my thoughts on this."

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don't blame batteries. Maybe it's just the amp that is not dynamic. I have a DCA33 and I don't think it suffers in the dynamics dept. Of course it's a completely different amp than the 66, so it's impossible to make direct comparisons w/o having them side by side. Also because it can only run in battery mode, you don't know that it would sound beter running on ac.
correction sns,
"i will say that there is a softening of information in your system and that is allowing the more detailed, less resolved and noisey ac operation to be preferred."
this is imho.
Thanks everyone. I just got off the phone to Bobby and it appears I have some synergy issues, also I do have the newer 200mah batteries. I will make some cable changes per Bobby's recommendations, and possibly go to the Joule Electra LA 150.
As things stand, I never meant to complain in any way about the sound I'm getting with this system, it is simply wonderful. I would just like to experience the Super BAM using it in the way it was voiced to sound best.
Do the batteries have to be in the BAM if one choose to run AC only?

I don't see it as complaining but rather as you have indicated, attempting to wring the last bit of resolution out of ones Rig. It is what this community on its best behavior does best IMO.

Sharing experiences expands all of our horizons and helps one do that system wide reexamination that can be so important. It is good to have your "status quo" challenged. It is how we grow in life even in audio.
sns, the 230 mah batteries will have more potential, sound fuller and more dynamic. the 200's are older and probably on their way out. they are 5 years old.
you should also think about the use of a single speaker wire with the merlin lead free jumpers. it would sound better imho. call me about this for an explanation. i would get your wire re-terminated to a single run. it will sound fuller and more dynamic again and the highs more real and precise.
your speakers would sound more continuous and resolved lead free.
paul, when you get your master bam you can have the batteries removed if you want but it does sound better in battery mode if the gear is up to it.
the ac mode sounds fuller and more etched in certain ways but this is 60 cycle noise imho. your electronics is clearer and more distinct than sns's la100. he would know this if he ever gets the la150mk2 i recommended to him. that is his issue and the bi-wire makes the tweeter sound a hair nasal and a little dull. this is just because of the decreased dc resistance allowing the tweeter to play too loudly. easily rectified with my suggestions.
best, b

SNS, one of the reasons the VSMs are among the most "well sorted" speakers on the planet. 20+ of years of incremental improvement on what was a very good idea when it was first designed. When Bobby recommends something, I almost always do it, since he seems to always be right (about his speakers how they will perform best).

Bobby/Merlin reminds me of that Japanese luxury car ad line from the 90's:" The Pursuit of Perfection". Even after 20 years, he is looking for better ways to skin the cat.

Fun to be his customer for sure.
One can't help but wonder what Bobby could have done if he chose to make the best 3-way speaker in the world, but I can't help but thinking that three or more drivers (and additonal crossovers) would keep the Merlin magic from happening. The BAM was the real inspiration, it solves the problem of excellent bass (no not the deepest, loudest, most impressive, etc) with the coherence only possible with two drivers (with bass and dynamics that would be very hard to get from an electrostatic). I wonder how many people buyu large, multi-driver speakers for much more $$$ than the Merlins, just be cause they can't believe a modest looking 2-driver speaker could possibly be among the very finest speakers in the world - especially for smaller scale acoustic music - jazz, voice, folk, chamber, etc). The fact that this speaker works great with relatively low powered tubes is just icing on the cake.
I have never asked Bobby directly, but some of us are "hoping" that Bobby may get bitten by the 3 way bug when the economy improves. I built my new room with bass trapping up the wazoo with this in the back of my mind.

He's just persnickerdy about his designs. Fun to be his customer!
paul, when you get the master bam and rcs it is my opinion that the sound will get quite a bit bigger, wider and taller. the layering and general expanse will be enhanced so the speakers will be a more convincing on large scale orchestral music. my sound sound room at the factory is large and they now fill it completely. they still have the intimacy but they can sound big when they have to.
best, b
Bobby, I think they are pretty darn convincing a large scale music, but there is something to be said for a 12" woofer, or two 8s - then again, they can't do what a 6 1/2" can do augmented with a BAM. I knwo a 3-way will do somethings, but it would not be worth it if you lost the magic of cohesiveness that makes the VSMs so special.
you are right paul. the first thing for all listeners to consider is the size of their sound room and purchase a product suited to the room's needs.
the vsm cannot fill grand central station with sound but then again a speaker that can, will sound terrible in a room that the vsm thrives in. and if bass quantity and extention is the issue, they work well with subs. then you can go larger in room size again.
best, b
So one day there will a VSS - that is what the world needs, a very scary subwoofer:)
i think you already know the answer to that one.
cool name...
I don't know the answer. Is it yes or no?
It's scary to think about.
Ooh! Something to consider / look forward to, for sure! Keep up the good work, Bobby. I'm saving my allowance (literally) for the Master BAM / RC upgrade.

- Paul (The Other One)
Well, I've been playing the Master BAM and RC Networks for about 10 hours now, so it might get even better - but it really does not have to. I've already commented on the VSMs in general so I won't rant about how good I think these speakers are. I will say this regarding the Master BAM, just when you think a speaker can't get better, the MBAM indeed brings worthwhile improvements to the already superb MXe. Besides what appears to me to be quieter background and therefore more transparent soundstage and intrument localization, which are worthwhile in their own right (mind you I always use the BAM in AC mode) the MBAM really shows its stuff on acoustic bass, take a song like Autumn Leaves by Patricia Barber with very well recorded bass, the MBAM creates a clearer sense of bass presence and bloom and articulateness. I'm sure there are improvements from top to bottom, but I've focused on the bass because it was so noticeable, and given that this is, after all, a smallish monitor with an integrated stand, the bass is truly first-rate, at least for acoustic instruments and I really don't think the idea of adding a subwoofer at this point would make any sense - the speaker simply sounds natural and balanced and better than ever. If you own the VSMs, upgrading to the Master BAM is simply a no brainer, you will get improved performance equal to or greater than making changes to sources or electronics. The key to this speaker has always been its approach to producing good bass from a two-way speaker, and the key to that has been the use of the BAM to produce that bass without having to move to a multiple-driver approach with a bigger box and woofer. By making the BAM better than ever at producing bass, it is simply the next step in getting the most from a speaker that might just the most well sorted speaker in the world from years of focus on the basic design and wringing the most that design can give. To say the least I am impressed, and this with my small Music Reference RM10s, next up will be the Atma-sphere M60s and Music Reference RM9 Special Edition, both of which are excellent bass producers, and better amps.....

I can't be sure, but I would think the Master BAM might make the AC versus battery just that much more moot.
yes paul because the power supply is so much more quiet (50 times) the ac and battery ops are that much closer in sound.
10 hours? In my experience, 30-40 hours is when it really starts getting fun. Enjoy!
Paul, thanks for the early-on impressions. Can't wait to get my hands on these!