I have VSM-M (T) speakers. I've used many pre-amps, including the Wyetech Opal. It was probably the best active pre-amp I've ever had. But if you are using a sperate DAC and transport, no active analog pre-amp comes close to the Z-Systems RDP-1. It is totally transparent, as it goes between your transport and DAC, and amplifies in the digital domain. The only analog pre that can approach that kind of transparency is the Silver Rock passive, which I also have. I use a Joule Electra OTL to power my speakers. It's a great match for the Merlins, and is what Merlin uses at shows. I haven't ever heard the Joule pre, but can tell you that Judd Barber is probably the nicest guy in high-end audio. They even answer the phone on Sundays. As a manufacturer, he's the best. But Bruce at Transcendent is also very good. By the way, I did own a Transcendent Sound pre. The performance of that pre-amp is good for the money, but doesn't approach the performance of the Transcendent amps, which I also had. There are a lot better pre-amps out there. I think the Monolithic might even be better using the optional power supply upgrade. I have one now in a second system, and it's very good for the money ($400. used).