Merlin TSM-MXs...First Impressions

I just received my MERLIN TSM-MXs about two weeks ago, and I can't stop raving about them!

First off, the customer service provided by Bobby P. is outstanding. I don't think I've ever had this level of service from any business, so this is truly appreciated.

Packaging was great. It took me about an hour just to get everything unpacked. And everything arrived unscathed.

The finish...a work of art! I wasn't sure how piano black would look since I had never seen this finish on a speaker. Well, I am truly impressed by the finish. It looks like the finish on a freshly waxed Bentley.

As for the speakers, the music coming out of them is magical. Prior to this I had been using Aerial Model 7s, and I think my TSMs sound better even though much smaller. The soundstage coming out of these little speakers is amazingly wide. The clarity and crispness is remarkable. I'm noticing details in songs I've never heard.

Anyone looking for bookshelf speakers or good quality speakers in general should look at Merlin.

My equipment includes:
the Merlins
Proceed AMP5
Marantz AV600 (soon to be replaced by Anthem's AVM30)
California Audio Labs Icon Mk II
Cables are MIT 2 bi-wire and MIT ICs
all powered by a Richard Gray's 600S
Sir,I think you need to include a tube somewhere in your system.Either a good quality tube or hybrid integrated or tube pre/ss power or tube pre/tube power.

Merlin Owner
I second the need for tubes; you aren't hearing the full breadth of those speakers yet. That Proceed amp sounds kind of brittle and sterile if my memory serves, and a tube amp would make you wonder how you ever lived with it.

I received my new TSM-MXs (piano black) about 5 weeks ago and am just now getting a fix on them as they are quite neutral and revealing. They can sound lean and uninvolving without the right amplification and cables; they're certainly not in the Spendor/ProAc camp!

I'd be a little careful of crispness in music reproduction although I may not know what you mean. Bluebull's recommendation is spot on as regards tubes and I find myself slowly going the full "Merlin route".

Ditto for the customer service and packing - someone seems to always be there to assist us and there is never a bum's rush off the line. These are people completely passionate about what they are doing and the pride shows in the speakers!

E-mail me if you want to as we can discuss in further some of our impressions and I'd like to tell you about my equipment changes.
Not that I'm anti-tube, but I've really enjoyed the results I've gotten from my VSM-MMs from Anthem amplification. I haven't bought the Anthem gear yet, but a friend let me audition his...very musical, involving, etc.

Also, Anthem has Bobby's seal of approval, so don't think that tubes are necessarily your only choice.
As has been documented widely here, the Berning ZH270 OTL tubed amp works MAGIC with that speaker. You should look into it....
You are right,tubes not the only option,some ss gear will also work well, but as an prevous Proceed owner I would suggest the HPA 2 above the AMP 5.Character of the HPA 2 would be more suited to the Merlins,I feel. I think there are much better choices than Proceed.Personally, I favour a tube somewhere in the system and especially so with Merlins.

Umm...I think Anthem was the lower priced tube line of Sonic Frontiers?
No, Anthem gear is solid state...or at least they sell solid state gear. I mean, I can't say for sure whether they've ever sold any tube gear, but certainly their current lineup in solid state.
Now I remember. They are hybrids: tube input, S/S output. Thought they were out of business?
They've got a whole new line of "Statement" products, actually...very well reviewed, and I'm sure I'm going to wind up with their stuff once finances allow later in the year.
just remember that all of my speakers have a higher q and are damped to rid the speakers of distortion and resonance in all aspects or their design. they are very uniform and have a spot on tonal balance if used the way they were designed to be used. this means that to get the most out of them you would want to use a more relaxed and less damped sounding set of wires and electonics. i will use the word neutral here to describe the ancillaries.
take the biwire off and use my jumpers with one rc. i'll bet they sound alot better.
let me knwo.
Thanks to all for the wonderful feedback you've given. I've just recently gotten the upgrade bug (after about an 8 year hiatus), and the Merlins were the first thing I purchased. All of the other equipment I've had for years, so I'm sure there's a lot of better stuff out there.

I have a Classe CA-200 sitting around, and I'd like some opinions on how it would compare with the AMP5. I'll try out that combo this weekend and share some of my impressions.

I don't have much experience with tube amps since my system works about 50/50 music and HT (hence the AMP5), but thanks for some of the recommendations.

My next purchased is going to be a new processor, and I think I've narrowed it down to the Anthem AVM30 or the Statement D1 (opinions or suggestions welcome).

Bobby. thanks for the input on the biwiring. I've been meaning to call you regarding that exact question! :) I've been looking for some Cardas Golden Ref bi-wires, but I found a post where you said a single cable with your jumper would be just as good. What's you opinion on the Cardas Golden Cross bi-wire? I ask because I found a good deal on one. Thanks.

You really need tubes for those will be thanking me and and others that suggested the same later...guaranteed !!AMP 5 and Classe NOT ideal....
Think it over
Ditto what Chris said! I've heard that speaker with both a Berning ZH270 and a high uality SS amp (Ayre V-5x), and there simple was no comparison. BTW, there's nothing that says a 2-channel tubed amp would not be equally up to the task in HT as a 2-channel SS amp. You owe it to yourself to listen to a tubed amp with those bad boys....
the best sound will be derived by using amps and wires that show a more relaxed and robust sound quality. what you are hearing now may be great but when you get something on there that sounds more like the speakers do, you will really be happy. to that end, anthem is great, belles cryoed amps, pathos, and manley stingray. these are all wonderful amps on the speakers and of course you can go up more from there.
as far as the wires are concerned, you will notice a difference by removing the shogun biwire off the treble terminals and using my jumpers. going forward, a single run of cardas golden ref will be perfect, with my jumpers. i do prefer the cardas gf internal bi-wire but only in the best of systems. i single run with my jumpers will actually sound a little fuller and more relaxed and about 98% as good as the internal bi-wire.
have fun and let me know.
Hey Bobby - As you must know, there is a legion of Merlin owners who swear by the Berning amp with their speakers - yet I dont think i've seen you comment on these before (maybe you have and I missed it), I've heard you wax lyrically about the Joule Electra and others - but just out of curiosity, what tdo you think about Merlin + berning?
well artg,
i was in on the ground floor of the recommendations that started the wave of merlin/berning ownership. i own one and have recommended it many times here and just about everywhere. it is one of my three reference amps and although it is not quite the joule otl or cat jl2, it most certainly is in that class for a lot less money. i feel confident that i have sold more of these amps than anyone else for david and allan and will continue to as i think it just a specatacular piece for the money.
david berning owns the vsm and uses them so you can also be sure that the conbination will sing.
what else can i say.
Bobby - that's more than enough. I figured I was somehow missing much of the history/perspective here; thanks for the clarification and pardon my ignorance.....
not a problem, just talked to david this morning.
ao all of you berning/merlin owners, use the merlin rcs with the amp, please.
Hi guys. Considering picking up some m's or mm's. First, is there a difference between an m and an mm? 2nd is the difference between an mm and the mx only its finish? Am considering these speakers with the manley stingray in triode, what do you think? currently driving N805's. Should i switch to pepsi? I like the 805's in varying degrees but have become very curious about the merlins due to the overwhelming reviews and enthusiasm seen from reviewers and owners. I am reluctant to switch because i dont want to do all the work to switch only to be disappointed. I'm questioning wether my amp/speaker have any synergy. I dont know of anyone else who has this combo and I dont have that much speaker listening experience. I know the 805's with the right room and components are very good but still not convinced that I have synergy between them and the amp I currently have. Thoughts?
Dont you LUCKY Merlin owners walk past a Counterpoint if you see it sitting in a window.A great combo also,Mike is good to deal with ala BobbyP.Regards,Bob