Excellent Speaker at a realistic price point too.
Images like crazy and reminds me of the original (and best!) Guarneri
Images like crazy and reminds me of the original (and best!) Guarneri
I recently purchased a new pair after a 3 week audition. Am running through a Berning zh270 amp with a Modwright Oppo 95 truthmod and a custom tube switch mode power supply bass booster designed by David Berning to augment the missing octave 5db at 35 hz and below, no sub required or desired! These speakers, with the right gear are better than they have any right to be for the price. The images can be life like in size and the pitch and timbre of voice and instruments is about as natural and musical as you'll hear out of a box speaker at any price in my experience. They resolve the space and harmonics in recordings to such a degree that the music comes alive, simply an amazing value and a must audition for anyone looking for a good monitor.
Don't know who the question is directed towards Ryriken but my advice, as it should be, listen for yourself and you decide. This is the only way to get a satisfying answer. I've never heard the TSMXE but have lived with the Merlin VSM-M, an older model, for 12 years. My opinion may not mirror yours or others. I will say this, the older Merlins are VERY fussy about what they are fed, much more so than I personally note with the DeCapos. One thing to consider with the Decapos that can't be overemphasized, the signal is fed directly from the amp to the driver for the lower/mid frequencies with a simple filter to the tweeter. IMHO this in no small way contributes to the most natural presentation of music when heard through these speakers. They absolutely grabbed my attention the first minute into listening to them in a rather modest system. This doesn't happen often, YMMV.
I went from a pair of Merlin TSM-mmi's to my current De Capo's, so it's a question I can speak to.
The Merlin is a very mature and very refined design. Bobby Palkovic is a first-class human being who gives world-class service to his customers.
That said, the De Capo's, in my system, are making me very happy. They are imaging "monsters" and throw an enormous soundstage if the material warrants it. The midrange is beautiful, highs are sweet and extended and not harsh (especially with the new tweeter) and there is enough bottom end (I think they are rated down to 42 Hz) that orchestral music and bass heavy rock 'n roll have good authority and I feel no need for a subwoofer.
Also, in my system, they paint a coherent sonic picture of the performance that I find involving and intoxicating. It is very, very hard to describe in words exactly what these speakers get so right, but the result can be a level of emotional, musical communication that is quite wonderful. They are bringing me a lot of pleasure.
Interesting how you perceive them Drubin. This doesn't surprise me at all. I would think many would have this perception of these speakers which in many ways parallel the Merlin line, a more forward presentation as opposed to a mid-hall laid back speaker. I would doubt very much that this impression would change with the new model. Interestingly for me the first time I listened I thought they were a bit more laid back and polite than the VSM, at least at the dealers. When I got them home in my system I discovered that they were not at ALL polite, quite dynamic actually with huge lifelike images on well recorded material. On the other hand they really change with the recording and mic placement resolving the acoustic space in a most convincing way and that can change to a more mid hall impression if it's on the recording. In this way I find them even more resolving of space than the VSM which are VERY good in this area of performance.
I do have a question for you Drubin when you mention forward are you referring to the 700-1K boost noted in several measurements of the speaker and noted by some listeners or do you find them generally forward regardless of that bump?
Tubegroover, it has been several years since I had the Ref 3A's and my recall of the specifics is not ideal. What I remember is that the music always seemed to be happening out in front of the speakers, whereas I tend to prefer a presentation that is at or behind the plane of the speakers. A bump at 700 - 1K sounds like it could be the culprit, which means the problem is with the mid-woofer and not the tweeter and probably not the xover. The new BE version has a new tweeter but they have made some changes in other areas also, so I'm curious to know if they have tamed the bump.
My current small speaker assortment includes the Harbeth P3ESR, KEF LS50 and Revel M106. (I like variety.)
I cannot be entirely helpful here because I've never heard the De Capo i. Mine came as the De Capo i/A with the white, "acoustic lens" rather than the older, fat phase plug at the center of the main driver. I then upgraded to the BE tweeter when it became available. Plus, even before the i/A, the "i" itself had gone through some changes, I think.
What I can tell you is that my De Capo's have never sounded overly or obnoxiously bright to me. They DO require a good deal of break in time to really show what they can do. The drivers apparently have to loosen up and that big capacitor has to break in and "form."
Art Dudley, who reviewed the De Capo i for Stereophile back in 2003 (and found them "unforgettable") said he heard a "hooty coloration" with some recordings. I think I may know what he was referring to but any trace of that has vanished with playing time. John Atkinson really didn't like how they measured, but I wonder whether the newer iteration would please him more.
I just got finished listening session today with an old audio friend and someone local into audio for years that I met today for the first time. My friend brought over his magical cable combo, assorted power cords, ics, power strip and we listened to a wide variety of music. I asked the new guy if there was anything he wanted to hear in particular, he asked for me to play something that would "impress" him. I asked, "what genre" his reply, "I really don't care just impress me" I decided on one of my many recordings of Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor on the Newport Classic Label Anthony Newman on Organ.
What REALLY impressed him was the manner in which that "small" monitor reached the depths without any breakup and resolved the acoustic space of the venue at the same time. Pretty amazing stuff really, even I was impressed to the degree the cabling tightened things up particularly the bass and placed the music in greater focus and REALLY made it come alive. He has been in and around audio his whole life and commented he never heard a small speaker do that and few large systems that could do it as convincingly. So to me it is beyond whether or not they are forward or not, it is a non issue although I don't detect it. The engagement factor with all genres of music is just "unforgettable", I can't stop listening to music through these speakers.
I understand what some posters say about the magic of the de Capo's direct connection to the amplifier without a crossover. I remember a similar experience with a small Epos standmount at a dealer's house many years ago. The small speaker, whose woofer was also directly connected to the amplifier, easily destroyed my almost three times more expensive speaker. It was clearly natural, realistic sound vs hi-fi. Confirming what was evident, the dealer's wife, in another room of the house, said: from here that sounds like live music!