Review: Merlin Music Systems Merlin VSM MXM Black Magic Speaker

Category: Speakers

Review/impressions of the Merlin VSM MXM Black Magic

These are some impressions after app 3 weeks of use of this latest incarnation of Bobbys 20 year old design. In fact this is the first finished pair of the Black Magic Bobby made and I am very proud of becoming the first owner of the VSM Master Black Magic.

My history with Merlins spans over a period of app 10 years and I have had other speakers in between. I have had the MXE and MXr versions before with different amplifiers. Like all audiophiles I have searched and searched again for products that can stay in the listening room for many years. One gets really tired in the endless hunt for the “better sound”. At least I did and I decided to try to end the search. It was time to contact Bobby again and ask him about the latest developments on the VSM, I had never forgot the magic of the Merlins.

As always Bobby was extremely helpful and informative and not your typical pushy salesperson. In his frank and honest way he explained to me the differences between the old MXM and the latest version he decided to call the Black Magic. The major differences were the internal cabling with Cardas Clear and the latest cryoed Music Caps from UpTone, a solder formulation change and connection treatments for the terminals, jumpers and RC networks. Now much of these technical talk and explanations goes way past my understanding, what counts is the end result = The sound.
And what a speaker it has become!

The improvements over the old Master version are substantial and larger imo than the jump from the MXE to the MXr from app. two years back. Remember that my MXr also had the Duelund capacitors in the Bam and the RC filters as well. But the introduction of the Clear cable and the new Music caps etc. has lifted the VSM up to what must be one of the worlds best speakers in the category. I haven`t heard them all of course, but it is hard to imagine that it can be done much better in this price range.

Everything is of course a matter of taste and associated equipment, but all taken into account these speakers are magical.
What are the main differences between the MXr and the new MXM Black Magic? Merlins have always been extremely transparent with a very high degree of resolution. But they also used to be somewhat upfront sounding and more “intense” for the lack of a better description. I would describe all VSM`s as full range speakers although with a musical, but light bass performance. Not anymore!
The Black Magic is a much more relaxed sounding speaker, more even. It is more organic and fuller sounding and everything is projected a little further away from the listening chair.

The stage has become wider, deeper and instead of sitting at the first or second row one now has the impression of sitting at road 7-10 which gives a better view of what is actually happening at the stage and in the studio between the musicians. The new version sounds even more coherent than before and they are now more full range than ever.

The midrange is better on the black magic but more similar to the old versions. But any time you add big expanse and wide dynamics the differences become huge. The more open and extended hf coupled with the more extended and fuller bass makes the speaker sound bigger, more room filling and dynamic. With the right material, the differences can be huge. The music flows in a very natural way.

Bobby has a ref. on his website to the Porsche 911 with regards to product development and durability. This is exactly what Merlin is all about; a mature product that continues to be improved. Bobby offers upgrades to very reasonable prices. I see no reason not to keep my Merlins for the years to come because I do not know of a better speaker. So, I am finally home for good, the search is over.
Another masterpiece from Mr. Palkovic. Black magic indeed!

Associated gear
Mastersound 300B monoblocks, Mastersound preamp, Metrum Hex Dac, High Fidelity Cables Enhanced Series

Similar products
Merlin MXE
Merlin MXr