Review: Merlin Music Systems TSM-MMI Monitor

Category: Speakers

Merlin, hmmm what a fitting name for some magical speakers. I first acquired a set of the TSM-MMIs about 4-5 weeks ago having never even heard of them and I'm so glad I did. After receiving them and putting them through their paces with my usual trial discs of Steely Dan, some Sade, Over The Rhine, and a few female jazz vocalists I knew they were winners as anyone who has ever heard them will agree. How much a speaker a will retrieve is important to me and with the layers of Steely Dan and Sade, They passed the test. Some of the strengths I hear in the Merlins are their ability to be so articulate. I can hear and understand lyrics in the music whereas I don't always with other speakers.

After doing a little bit of research I soon found out about the upgrades available that Bobby P. will perform and immediately knew I wanted even more of what these speakers had to offer so off they went to undergo the MMM treatment, more of Bobby's magic so to speak. Within a week I had them back. They did take just a while to settle down but it was worth the wait and the cost. They had a new coherency and tightness about them but what really floored me was that they sounded bigger than they are. Believe me or not when I cranked them up just a bit and closed my eyes I could have very easily believed I was hearing floor standers. And of course they still had that same refinement and smooth sound.

I know that most say they sound better with tubes but with my meager set-up I don't believe there much out there under $3000 that can match them. Like I said, magic.

Associated gear
Plinius 9100
Supra cabling
Shunyata Venom 3

Similar products
Hi, did you get the master RC networks?

I have the exact same speakers you have, but I haven't sent mine in for the upgrade yet.

And I've used mine with both solid state and tubes, and trust me -- tubes are a match made in heaven with them. But I'm sure your setup sounds great too.

I'm actually auditioning speaker cables as I type . . .
Yes I did. I think you'll be thoroughly impressed if you through with the upgrade. Man, I've got to hear them with tubes or I'll always wonder what I'm missing.

I'd also like the Cardas cabling but that's just out of my league for now.
You should be able to find Cardas Golden Cross cables used, they are my favorite cables... hmm I keep hearing great things about these Merlins... why are they always for sale? I have Chario Academy 1 and wonder if the Merlins would 'dethrone' them.
So it sounds like you think the master RC networks are worth the $$.

I've got some Cardas Clear here and I've gottat tell you, it really sings with them.
I've also got the Audience, and the 'reference' anti-cables (just a double run), and I've gotta tell you -- for the $$, the anti-cables are unbelievable. They're NOT the Cardas Clear, but they're also a small fraction of the cost. And if you've never heard the Cardas, the anti's sound great.

Has anybody compared the Clear to Golden Cross?
I haven't figured that part out either, the selling off that is. Maybe people like them so much that they just go ahead and move up the line or they don't have the gear to really make them shine. What I have experienced though is that after a while one can take them for granted.

I just went through that. I was to the point of being frustrated because I'd heard or read so much about them and after a while I was just like,meh, more money that I've thrown at this hobby. But then I took the time and effort to A-B them with everything I have and by the end of the sessions it was like, OH, those do sound really good. The only speakers I haven't tried so far are my Yamaha NS1000Ms.

I appreciate the tip on the Golden Cross cables.
xiek, we have essentially made the vsm and tsm speakers for nearly 20 years. more recently two versions of each. in that time we have sold many thousands of each model so seeing a few up for sale like the 5 pairs combined that are listed on agon currently is really nothing compared to what is in the field. jmtc.
bobby at merlin
msnow, what do you want to know?
Bobby - my earlier question is moot, as I have decided to go with Clear Light.

Question now . . . to bi-wire, or not to bi-wire?
m, i would give me a call to discuss this at length.
no just use single wire and the jumpers, speaker wire should be connected at the bottom connector.
All you guys sound like you have found the Holy Grail - any commentary regarding the MMI's ability to play at lower, late night volume levels?
r9, this comment is more about the tsm mmm than the earlier mmi. imho, the cardas clear geometry cable makes the speaker sound more coherent, more continuous from top to bottom and resolved making it superior for low level listening. the bigger sound that klonopin heard is due to its more continous and more open sounding nature.
bobby at merlin
I listen late at night on weekends, with some TSMXe speakers. Sounds good to me.