Review: Merlin Music Systems TSM MXM Monitor
I have been listening to this speaker for a month.
I’d like to state that I have no personal affiliation with Merlin Music. At the same time it is a pleasure to acknowledge the friendly support by its owner.
Let me start way back but to the point. I am a professional violinist - just google user name & violin; you will find me! I use speakers for two reasons: I use them daily for monitoring my work, as well as in the evenings for „music“; which is mainly not the music I play myself, be it Piano, large Orchestra or Jazz.
I do not do much Rock, except when my Son listens with them his newly „discovered“ Genesis ;-)
I use old LP’s on my Townshend Rock TT or CD’s on a truly convincing Bow ZZ8.
Amps on use are two very special items, one a Berning ZH230, that I use either with a ZOTLpre or with an Audio Consulting Silver Rock TVC, the former being slightly lighter but with an outstanding Phonostage (highly recommended).
The other amp has not yet come into use, but I mention it, as I am hoping for great results: An Audio Consulting Mipa, battery driven 30Watt amp of the highest order (Please wait some weeks, then I can comment on that one too).
Cables are Cardas GR and Audio Consulting.
When it comes to sound I have to apologize if I seem to relate to terms outside of HiFi: I feel pretty confident about describing the Sound of things, as I talk this language both with my sound engineer and with my violin maker, both of whom I see and work with around once a week; the aim in creating a violin as well as a recording – and I imagine the same applies to speakers - is always the same: How can you get clean sounds without being boring – and believe me, it is so easy to be boring!
Well here we come to the reason why I decided I write a review on a hifi site:
This speakers are not boring. And still they are clean.
What I find more remarkable than „ not boring“ ist their tonal structure;
They are built up from a right middletone, with nice extensions up and down. But you would not try and separate the sound, so it has those technical qualities of a point source, or the spacial qualities of an electrostat, without me even having to think o fit. In context: Before the TSM, I have used the VSM Mxe for many years and I have to say they are brilliant – but! Now With the TSM MXM’s the „but“ disappears – not because they would be better, but because they hide the missing thing, which is usually for simplicity called bass in a more believeable way. They in fact remind me of another speaker with a violin name, I used to own a SF Guarneri
(probably for nostalgic reasons, as my own fiddle was made by Pietro Guarneri - I greatly preferred - and replaced them with - the VSM’s)
Now if the TSM MXM would need to be likened to a violin, then I would choose it to be a late Niccolò Amati . (Here is why: there are fiddles with powerful bass like a Maggini; there are fantastic silver shiny fiddles from the German Stainer (we are speaking of fiddles around 1620!), then we have the chamaeleon like Stradivaris (they are sometimes really amazing, as you can form their sounds like water, and every string has got different colours, and the top has a complete different quality of the bass) or the rigidly powerful Del Gesù’s, but the real event for most violinists who ever played one, is a late Niccolò Amati; it is quite unassuming, not too loud, not to quirky, but it is really fast, has got every colour you ever thought of, and it makes you think of things, you never even thought of before)
Well, this unassuming element is not the smallest quality of this speaker, besides, I actually prefer a speaker being named six letters instead of hinting at being an impostor (even though the original guarneri was a great speaker) !
I personnally do not regret one moment, that I replaced my great speaker, that I never thought i would get rid of, a VSM Mxe with a:
Thanks for reading, and go for it!
PS When having gone of the grid with the Audio Consulting, i will report back, also in comparison with the Wadia 151. That will be a laugh.
Berning ZOTLpre & ZH230
alternatively Wadia 151 (from my son's system)
Audio Consulting Mipa (coming soon)
Bow ZZ8 modified by Lars Moltke to V7
TSM MMe; VSM MXe