Merlin TSM review
I have been a long time Magnepan user and really felt I would never use anything else. Based on a change in my listening room even the MG12's that I was now using were just too big for my reconfigured listening area.
I had heard Totem Hawks at a audio show and really liked their sound so i started looking for a used pair. As I am a voracious reader of audio sites I had read a lot of very positive comments on Merlin speakers, when an older pair of TSM's became available I reached out to Bobby at Merlin for more info. To say Bobby is helpful and loves and knows what he is talking about is doing him a disservice, the man is a terrific owner of his company and a great audiophile fan to speak to about our hobby.
After several conversations he gave me a great deal on his new TSM speakers and told me they would outperform anything used in his older models I would pick up, he convinced me they would satisfy me even more than my beloved Maggies.
I quickly sold my Maggies and waited throught a long, cold and snowy winter for my new TSM's to arrive. In the months it took them to be manufactured Bobby and I spoke many times and taking his advice I upgraded all my cables to Cardas Clear light to better match the speakers, giving me some great prices on the cables.
Finally I got the email that the speakers were on there way..I could not have been more excited, I was like a kid coming down to the best Xmas morning ever.
After getting them hooked up and playing it took me a while to get them dialed in correctly. The simple wooden device Bobby provides is a great help but I still did a lot of fiddling. To say I was impressed out of the box would not be correct, they sounded really good but felt a little too polite for me. After an email exchange with Bobby he told me the cables and speakers needed to burn in and open up more, just keep playing them, and that's exactly what I did.
Fast forward to three more months and I am now in listening heaven, these are just great speakers. My system is made up of a McCormack DNA 225 amp that has been modded by Bob Backert and an Audiable Illustions M3A preamp also very heavily modded by Bob. Bob is local to me and if you have never heard of his work look him up, the man is magical with tubes and really knows how to get the most out of a component. I mostly listen to only vinly throught my VPI Scoutmaster table, the sound I am hearing truly makes me feel I am center row at a concert. The warmth, soundstage, clarity and sense of everything being just right is there with these speakers. My listening area is small and these really fill it with sound, bass is more than enought for what I listen to which is classic 50's and 60's jazz and acoustic guitar music. Male and female vocals are outstanding, with every breath and nuance they take being heard.
If you on the market for an outstanding small footprint speaker do yourself a favor and give these a listen. I am looking forward to hearing the VSM speaker one day but can't imagine I will want to make the jump (I say that now).
Have I forgotten my Maggies, there was real magic when I had the 3.5's in my system but they were overwhelming in size and volume of sound for my listening area. The new version of the TSM speaker is outstanding and gives me everything I could ask and want from a high quality speaker.
I am one happy new member of the Merlin clan and can now see why his speakers have such a devoted fan base. As I write this Larry Carlton feels like he is performing live in my room. I feel I have a friend for life in Bobby and can always call him for advice or guidance when it comes to his speakers and my system. Do yourself a favor and try to give these a listen if you are in the market for a bookshelf speaker in this price range, I doubt you will be able to do much better.If you live local to me in Bucks County, Pa you are welcome to come over for a listen...