merlin-good value at any price.
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the room sizes mentioned are perfect. the speakers have woofers that go down to 28Hz, have an x mechanical of 1 inch so they will move a lot of air and are filtered and augmented/corrected to make them sound like a much bigger system. correct set up, electronics choices, cables and sources will all have a bearing on the outcome so if you want to call and see what you are getting into, i will be happy to help.
585 367 2390, daily during business hours. if i am not in, leave a number where you can be reached. for this type of conversation, voice is best.
bobby at merlin
You should really try to hear them before you buy. Otherwise, be patient
for a very nice price on a used pair that you can potentially re-sell if they
don't perform to your liking. You may love them. Many do. Many also
comment about the bass response, and this is the area where what you
like is a very personal choice.
Ditto the Right Honorable Dgarritson above. Fair value at $3K, especially if BAM included. You likely could resell them for the same amount if not satisfied with the bass. I added subs to mine in the same size room as yours, but it's all subjective. Quality product and superior manufactuer support. My 60 W tube mono's really mate well and get them singing! I have no desire to upgrade from these speakers.
the vsm has been manufactured for 12 years and we have thousands of pairs of vsms in the field. very few ever go up for resale in comparison to how many there are out there and a few negative comments do not reflect the total picture. even fewer have had first hand experience like yourself to understand the system's merits so a great many assumptions have been made over the years about its performance potential. small woofer small bass, right? how about comparing it to any other system of its size and you may see merits of its design. there are now some pairs listed on this site because the economy is flat. some pairs were purchased by those that did not understand what they bought. they set them up incorrectly, used the wrong gauge wires on the tweeters/jumpers destroying the tonal balance, listened to them nearfield, used damped amps, had reflective rooms, didn't use the alignment tool etc., etc., etc. you make it sound like some like them and some do not because of the bass and it is a 50/50 thing. the truth is that very few do not like them relative to the amount of product in the field.
no one product can make everyone happy. but this speaker is very uniform and because of that needs special care. if the speaker is used the way it was designed to be used, in a room volume that it was designed to be used in, with gear that is designed for this type speaker's needs, there are not many speakers that can produce as total a sound package in their volume filling class, imho. there is much more to music than bass extension and bass quantity and one really needs to think about his environment because some bigger more bombastic designs may be just as wrong for a small room as the vsm would be for filling grand central station. so to just talk about the bass on the vsm pays no head to how special the total package is.
it is too bad that you heard the speakers years ago with the gear you heard them with because it makes them sound a lean even to my ear. mms, mxs, the superbam and the new lead free mmes and mxes sound much fuller and room filling again. even in this mans 24 foot long room he can only propagate 50hz before the wave bends to conform to the room or goes through the walls into another room. and in the 18 foot room he would be all set. i like bass to but not at the expense of other parts of the music and many will agree. for most normal listening environments the vsm is a solid design. it goes down lower than most rooms can handle and with the right set up and gear on them they can sound very full indeed.
like my shop teacher once said "use the right tool for the right job and you will never get hurt". taste has less to do with this than the laws of physics. the vsm was not designed to do what bigger speakers can do in/for bigger rooms the but vsm will out do the bigger speaker in a wrong room.
Bobby, I really didn't intend for the post to come across as criticism of
your product. All I said was that people should hear the speakers for
themselves before buying. That advice applies to any loudspeaker. Not
everyone likes the same quality/quantity of bass reproduction as is
illustrated by at least one other owner above who uses subwoofers with
his Merlins. My recommendation to listen before buying seems
reasonable, doesn't it?
i never said or implied that your recommendation was not reasonable. but you clearly approached the issue from the negative side and that was abundantly clear and unfair. most who have not heard the product would make incorrect assumptions based on what you said. most people buy subs not to extend the bass but to add to the embodiment. most people who do this do so because a sub is less expensive than changing the wires, electronics and sources. there have been many posts of people who had subs on them and sold the sub after changing to tonally fuller ancillaries. the magic of the speaker is not the bone crushing dynamics or being able to knock your living room into the street. compared to other monitors, the vsm/bam can do much more imho. the system's merits are on all aspects of their presentation and the balance of these.
11-30-06: TvadI don't see where there is anything negative in this recommendation. It's entirely fair and reasonable.
People buy and re-sell all the time in this hobby. There's nothing perjorative at all in this methodology. Bring the product home and listen to decide if it fits with one's preferences. It's just a common sense approach when auditioning the product is a barrier, due to any number of circumstances.
Finally, your mention of proper ancillaries is a point that should also be given serious consideration by any potential Merlin buyer, since maximum performance appears to require a complete system approach that is fairly exacting and may potentially require investment in new amplification and wiring.
you said that many like them and many comment on the bass. that implication was not fair and i corrected you as to why i was concerned. preconception is a dangerous thing. it clearly made it appear to be more negative than you may have wanted to it to be and that the totals were 50/50. perhaps i am more sensitive because this is my product but still, that is my feeling. enough said on that point.
if you are using an underdamped speaker than you will in most cases want want an amp with a high damping factor or current to control it. this is also a system approach and one should be used in every system for best results. after all, if you had a damped system and used tubes to flesh it out and then purchased one of many underdamped speaker brands to work with the electronics, the sound would be a bloated mess. this is the exact opposite to the merlin situation and entirely possible.
there are many things that make them sound right and with the newer the product, you have greater ease in finding nice sounding assocoiated gear (even ss).
lets not bicker, i am entitled to my opinion just like you.
i also know of many using ponderous sounding speakers with subs on them so, who is to say what is right and wrong.
12-01-06: BobbyapalkovicI have read posts from owners and lovers of Merlin loudspeakers who
have commented on the bass, and have explained how Merlin bass is more natural, and how quality is better than quantity. This is not a perjorative statement, yet it's interesting that owners feel compelled to comment; thus, my statement that many have made comments, and indeed they have. One has only to do a thread search and read for themselves.
i also know of many using ponderous soundingFinally you have the kernel of my argument, and why it's so important to
listen before one buys.
I think the Merlins are a fantastic speaker. Certainly one of the cornerstone products of the industry in the past decade.
The assertion was often made that Vandersteens do so much right, while minimizing/spreading their faults out so well, that they are probably the best overall loudspeaker available to us. And, by "us", I mean the 95% of "us" in this hobby. However, in my opinion, it's the Merlins (along with MAYBE one other company - but if you put a gun to my head, it's Merlin) that deserve that title.
Are they the right speakers for every audiophile? No! And, that is true of every loudspeaker.
But, for your investment in a new or used pair (and, I'd suggest to talk to Bobby before purchasing any used), the odds are that you'll have a pair of loudspeakers that will serve you for a very long time. And, how many other high end audio products can that be said about?
bill does not know me personally or know anything about my product on a first hand basis (i suspect). he feels that it is best to comment directly to the individual making the post. he is entitled to his opinion. i disagree and have reasons for my feelings. we are both entitled to think and say what we want. what he thinks is grand standing is just me, sticking up for my work. he may even like them if he heard them but knowing what he likes, he probably wouldn't and that is ok with me.
i comment because i strive to make myself accessable to all and many other manufacturers feel this is not good for them
personally or are too busy elsewhere. i own a small company that has a very personable way of doing business and if he doesn't like it, well, he should just not pay any attention to it.
Bobby: I did a search and couldn't find anything, but please refresh us on how many updates/model changes you have made to the VSM, which started out at being something like $4,000 or $4,500. When that happens, no one wants the obsolete version. How much is a pair today? Also, do you find the speaker to sound absolutely coherent? I never did. Regardless, it is impressive that you are so committed to your product and to customer service.
When that happens, no one wants the obsolete versionThe classifieds are full of discontinued models and versions thereof, many of which are desireable precisely because they are a high performing/less expensive option to the most current iteration. This goes for Merlin, Coincident, Silverline, Wilson, Von Schweikert, Vandersteen, etc.
To answer the basic question, is, IMO, yes. They are a good value at $3K. I own a pair I bought new and would have loved to have found a pair of MMs for that price. They do mate as well with the entire spectrum of electronics as the Vandersteens and they are not as much of a rock speaker as the Von Schweikerts, but I love mine.
That's a good point, 9rw. It applies to any audio gear.
I don't expect the models to remain the same though. Doesn't happen in any other business. That's why it's so important to make a careful choice. One has to decide to live with it for a long time, or be prepared to take a sizable financial hit upon resale.
Many say the best value in cars is a one or two year old used model. I tend to agree.
the vsm has been made for almost 13 years and there have been 7 versions in that time. the speaker that came out first was a very different speaker than today's and much less expensive to build. we also offered it sans bam and at a very low price (which we mentioned at the time) as an introductory offer. just the cost of the mx's finish and the super bam alone more than doubled my cost. numerous refinements and changes have resulted in a huge improvement in sound so it is really unfair to try and compare costs because we are not talking about the same thing at all.
my landed cost for the tweeters alone is over $525 a pair and they used to cost me $300 years ago.
knowing that there are thousands of pairs in the field, you need to know the product to know what is currect and what is not.
i apply the smallest markup possible for my business to be self sufficient. that is common knowledge.
prices are mentioned at www.merlinmusic.com on the pricing page.
coherent? hell yes, imho. but like anything else, you need to be selective about ancillaries. if you want a ferrari to run like a ferrari, you need 100 octane fuel and specific expensive tires on each corner, don't you?
what you heard at the time you heard them is dependant on the model and how they were used and what with.
you can't make 100% of the people happy, 100% of the time, can you? still though, i am very proud of the number of people we have made happy with them.
Boa2: That wasn't my experience when I tried to sell my VSM-SEs. Everyone wants the latest greatest. If it's not, they either don't want it at all or they'll give you about 20 percent of what the cost was new.Sorry if you had difficulty when selling your speakers, 9rw. However, your 20 percent figure would put a speaker that retailed at $4-4500 on the used market at roughly $850. I don't see any used Merlin floorstander offered for less than 3 1/2 times that price, which seems to be right in line with most used speaker pricing.
If I paid $3K for a used pair of VSM-MM's, I'd consider that good value. On the other hand, based upon the author's disappearance, the issue may be moot.
Bobby: I worked with one of your most trusted dealers in setting up my VSM-SEs and in choosing ancillary equipment. So, no, I wasn't using the speakers with retreads. Not even close. With your speakers, it seems to make the most sense to start from scratch -- unless you own Joule, Cardas and whatever else you're using now.
Sorry for my dissapearance-I have been following the thread, and appreciate the ideas that people have given me. The Merlin sounds like a great speaker, in the right room.
I spoke with Bobby, and it sounded like my room would be on the "large" side for that speaker. It might work, it might not. After speaking personally with a couple of owners and a dealer, it is a good bet I need a bit larger, room-filling speaker. I may build a divider wall and make two rooms, but I have to wait for a friend to finish his project (I need his drywall tools). Until then, I am stuck with the overly large room.
Sorry if I offended anyone by not re-posting. I guess I should have said "thanks for the help, but...this probably won't work in my room". Too bad the thread started to veer off in a tangent of Bobby vs. other posters.
the mme and mxe versions are the easiest to match to all sorts of gear whether it be ss or tube. they also like many wires too, cardas, audience, vandenhull and jps etc. i remember you but not the situation exactly but there was something about it. either the room was too large or small but too heavily damped because you were using a lesser damped speaker in a smaller room. i think it was the latter.
the vsm se was considerably less full sounding than even the m. and the m less than the mm or mx and the mm or mx less than the mme or mxe. that was a long time ago and the se was desgned to be used with se tubes expressly. i have worked hard to get the speakers working really well with a much wider variety of products.
but and this is the big but, thay are still not going to be 100% right for everyone's taste.
I hope that I am not too late for the party. I had the VSM-M and VSM-MM in a 20x20 room with a 10 sloped ceiling. That room had a wide opening into a 12x20 kitchen. I had the speakers firing across the room due to it being square. At the time, I was using a Joule Electra LA 100 MKIII and a Belles 150A Hot Rod amp (not really expensive equipment, especially used). With my trusty RS SPL meter and the Stereophile Test Disc #3, I was consistently getting full output to the 31.5 Hz signal. Bass was less than my previous Revel F30, Gershman RX-20, and Paradigm Studio 60 speakers in the same location with the same equipment, BUT all had big humps in the 200 Hz and less spectrum when plotted. This most definitely gave the impression that they had more energy in the bass region (because they did), but to the detriment of the rest of the frequency spectrum (i.e. other frequencies were reticent).
As a side note, I never really understood the question of Can these speakers (whatever they may be) fill my room ? How loudly do those people posing the question actually play their stereo? Listening to music with 85-90 dB peaks at 4 meters from this setup described above was way too loud. Most of the time, a good level for me (in my current setup 3 meters from the speakers) is about 75 dB.
I never really understood the question of Can these speakers (whatever they may be) fill my roomI hear you -- but what they mean is, "can the speakers pressurize my room?"
A small spkr in a big room won't. It may play plenty loud -- but screach or reach its thermal limits.
BTW, 75dB @ 3m is quite loud. You probably reach more than 90dB during musical peaks.
Gregm, Exactly, Room Loading, if you want to feel it on your A$$ while sitting, and want the full effect of your head in the drum kit, it can happen, but this may have nothing to with picking a speaker completly, probably many in the right environment can do it.. I am not making this comment to merlins I have no clue about this speaker, but I do know all about wanting room load.. The Room acoustics whether a Large well fluffy type couch, or expensive panels can help a lot in focusing room load to the listening position.. Carpet etc...
agreed, but the vsm/super bam can play 111 db as stated. for rooms up to 4000 cubic feet, it is my opinion that they can pressurize the room easily. the ability to pressurize that room will vary depending on the equipment's and cable's tonality. if one desires a fuller tone, the speakers can be used with a variety of subs to flesh out the bass and extend it while maintaining the continuous and complete sound that the speaker has elsewhere. tonal fullness is depleted the larger the environment gets in volume. speakers with a full tone can over power smaller rooms easily especially those that have a mid bass hump.
always try to use the right tool for the job.
OK, I get you with the pressurize the room idea.
That "about 75 dB" referred to above in my post really is at the musical peaks. I set my RS meter at the fast setting and the option of noting the highest sound pressures. I have done this in the past to show my wife that my stereo really is not playing that loudly. I have not won with the numbers yet, but every so often I try :)
I just had a crashing thought! This is just another (but a different flavour) objective/subjective debate! I better not continue this at home as I see what can happen just on audio forums.
Most of the speakers in this price range are 3 to 5 ways, so it seems hard to believe that a simple 2-way can reproduce the full-range of the larger speakers.
I believe the 6.5" Scanspeak 8545 driver has a lin Xmax of +/6.5 mm. This is in the upper range for this size of driver. I'd take good quality bass sound before full range but not everyone would agree with that. Our ears are very sensitive to harmonic distortion in the bass. Fletcher-Munson egual loudness curves imply that 3rd order harmonic distortion from a 20 Hz fundamental needs to be below 1%, or over 38 dB down, in order that it is less loud than the 20 Hz fundamental!!! This is probably why reasonably priced full range speakers that are flat to 20Hz tend to produce "one note bass". (Low harmonic distortion in the extreme LF is fairly expensive and difficult to achieve)
Our ears are very sensitive to harmonic distortion in the bass.This is news to me. In the old times, our ears' sensitivity hit the ceiling over 300Hz to ~6kHz (ballpark figures).
HD in the bass can reach very high levels; 3% at equal loudness (as per F-M or "phon" curve) is extremely good. But, usually, HD in the bass is perceived as bloated midbass...
Fletcher-Munson egual loudness curves imply that 3rd order harmonic distortion from a 20 Hz fundamental needs to be below 1%, or over 38 dB down, in order that it is less loud than the 20 Hz fundamental!!!Here you've lost me, too. You are referring to the "phon" curve?
Gregm and Swampwalker,
Sorry I was unclear.
Hearing sensitivity rises very rapdily from 20 Hz to 100 Hz. The slope is roughly 24 DB/Octave. This means a fundamental note at 20Hz and its third order (80 Hz) harmonic will sound equally loud when the third harmonic (80Hz) is played at 38 db lower level than the fundamental.
In practice this means that we are ultra sensitive to harmonic distortion from extreme LF notes...often the perception of bloated/boomy/one note bass is due to harmonic distortion. Speakers with apparently awesome bass output for their size usually exploit this distortion to good effect.....but it isn't music its just distortion!
gregm and shadorne,
some interesting facts about the 8545-06 and the superbam.
Driver/Superbam response V.S. Distortion
1) A small driver with a long X-Max ( linear response offers clean, high spl). This is equal to a larger driver with a shorter x-max.
2) The Superbam speaker management system offers a high pass filter on the bottom end (28 Hz) plus a very narrow boost at 35 Hz which raises the spl of the bass and keeps the driver in linear response longer at higher output.
3) By keeping the driver in linear response ( X-MAX) and out of non-linear response (X-MECH), 2nd and 3rd
order harmonic distortion is minimized at higher spl.
4)The design of the driver itself ie: re-enforced cone, cone damping material and a copper shorting ring, minimizes doppler effects and harmonic distortion.
5) 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion will cause bass to sound overy full, ill-defined and in extreme cases, wooley, mushy or fuzzy. In the mid-bass/ mid-range mild distortion can sound warm and full but at higher distortion, it can sound like a guitar fuzz-tone sound. In tweeters it can sound grating or eeky.
6)Boomy-ness is more a factor of over pressurizing or loading up the room. Bass likes to couple to large flat surfaces ie: wall and floors and in doing so (depending upon the length of the surface verses the frequency) can result in as much as a 12dB gain for that frequency (standing wave) thus the one note bass effect.
7) With BAM keeping the low end excursion of the driver in check, the speaker can play louder in linear and non-linear modes before actual damage to the driver.
8) With the Bam keeping the driver in linear response (voice coil in the magnetic gap) the voice coil is being cooled much more effectively (as opposed to out of the gap/non-linear response) therefore minimizing power compression and the resulting distortion.
bobby at merlin
2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion will cause bass to sound overy full, ill-defined and in extreme cases, wooley, mushy or fuzzy. In the mid-bass/ mid-range mild distortion can sound warm and full but at higher distortion, it can sound like a guitar fuzz-tone sound. In tweeters it can sound grating or eeky.
Thx, bobby you explain it much better than me. "Overly Full, ill-defined, warm and full, wooley, mushy or fuzzy" is more what I meant with regard to harmonic distortion....I like Gregm's "bloated" too.... how about "Muddy" LOL.
The difficulty comes when some may say that a correct sounding bass with very little harmonic distortion is "overly tight, dry, anemic, lacking warmth, fatiguing, tiring or thin" sounding.
Therefore some consumers will prefer a distorted speaker over an accurate one. Go Figure! It ain't even close to accurate music reproduction...but it sounds pleasant and they prefer it and they don't lack for bass!!!
Typical speakers can have upwards of 10% harmonic distortion at ultra LF (when played at high but not excessive SPL's)...not yours of course.
the real issue is that a review or comments are made on a product and individuals reading them think that this is exactly what they will get. or, preconception and assumption set in. what is forgotten is that there is a system of relativitity here. your room, your system and how the thing is set up will affect the outcome. it is a proven fact to me that the more accurate a thing the more the room, the system matching and set up will be noticed and this is a good thing for most. an overly full sounding product may make a pest of itself in too small a room and an accurate thing for a moderately sized rooms may be light weight in grand central. you have to use the thing in the manner it was designed to be used in for best results.
i know that many like to have the pressurized feeling when listening to music and that is fine in fact, i could not agree more with them. but to assume that one design or the other is more right for all applications is the problem. and the concept that smaller drivers just can't do it is absolutely wrong. where many get into trouble is by using a product capable of more pressure, place it in a certain location to control it, damp the hell out of the room and or use an amp with higher damping or feedback etc. then they get a product like mine, put it in the same place on the same gear and they are lacking what they once had. these things are a completely different design, should be set up differently, room treatments used sparingly to control reflection only and with different ancillaries.
no one thing is right for everyone and every application so we just need to be more systematic in making ou decisions.
happy holidays and thank you,
bobby at merlin