Merlin TSM-MMM vs Adam Acoustics Compact MK 3
I posted the following comparison on another site, but wanted to share it with A'goners, as well. Both of these are excellent speakers, but one is clearly superior and highly recommended:
Throughout the past 9 years, I have updated every component in my system multiple times, except my Merlin TSM-M Speakers. I have not updated them because I could not find another pair of speakers anywhere close to the price of the Merlins that could compete with them. The only 'problem' with Merlin speakers is that you MUST provide them with a good signal, or they will expose every weakness in your system.
In November 2012, I listened to a pair of speakers at Fidelis Audio in Derry, NH that definitely competed with the Merlin TSM-M's: the Adam Acoustic Compact MK 3's. These are an excellent pair of monitors with a ribbon tweeter that is incredible. I was so impressed with them, that I boxed up my Merlins and headed to Derry to compare them to the Adams.
Without question, the Merlin’s Morel drivers sounded a bit better integrated than the drivers in the Adam Acoustics. It sounded as if the crossover components were more carefully matched to the Merlin's drivers than the crossover components in the Adam Acoustics were matched to its drivers. The next thing I noticed was that the ribbon tweeter on the Adam Acoustics Classic MK3 sounded less distorted, smoother, and more musical than the Merlin's, but the bass of the Adam Acoustics speakers was not nearly as tight and musical as the Merlins - it sounded loose and flabby, if you know what I mean. These two speakers were both excellent in their own way, so I asked to audition them at home to see how they fared with my gear in my room.
When I took them home, I turned off my REL Stentor III sub and compared the two speakers head-to-head: the results were similar, but different. The Adam’s high frequencies and upper midrange were still superior to the Merlins. In fact, they were able to tame the digital hardness in my system that I hadn't realized was so bothersome with my Merlins. I could pick apart the looser bass in the Adams, but I simply enjoyed listening to the Adam's more than the Merlins. I finally found a pair of speakers (in the same price as the Merlins) that I enjoyed more than the Merlin TSM-m.
I have always appreciated my conversations with Merlin's CEO, Bobby Palkovic, so I called him to let him know of my preference for the Adam Acoustics Classic MK 3's tweeters. He commented on how nice the Adam Acoustics speakers reproduce the high frequencies and their excellent ribbon tweeters, but thought that his latest upgrade that was compatible with the enclosure of my TSM-M - the TSM-MME - would prove to be superior.
Bobby never steered me wrong, and the upgrade would cost less than buying the Adam's, so I sent my Merlins to NY. As he began upgrading my speakers, he discovered a better upgrade than the TSM-MME or TSM-MMI - he created the first TSM-MMM. He was very excited to have designed this outstanding upgrade and told me of all of the details; however I cannot recall the specifics.
When I received the TSM-MMMs, I still had the Adam Acoustics Classic MK 3 speakers, so I was able to compare them again. To be frank, I had really grown to like the Adam's, so I was skeptical about the Merlins being able to better them. After playing the Merlins for two days to break them in (with my Accuphase Tuner, Cary Preamp, BEL 1001 MK V amps, etc - but no REL Sub), I decided to compare them to the Adam’s.
Wow - the Merlins TSM-MMM is an incredible pair of speakers! In every way that I compared them to the Adam's, the Merlins came out on top - it wasn't even close. I was very surprised (and impressed) to hear how much better the Merlin TSM-MMMs were, as Adam Acoustics makes EXCELLENT speakers, but the Merlins simply blew them away (even the high frequencies).
I have now been listening to the Merlin TSM-MMM for a few months and never enjoyed listening to music in my home more than I do now. My wife also loves them and is VERY happy that I had them upgraded.
If you love listening to music as much as I do, I highly recommend giving the Merlin TSM-MMM speakers a try – you will not be disappointed.