i have a 350a myself. its a crazy good amp w/ my merlins vsm-ms. clear, extended, great imaging, total control, and fast. highly recommended amp. for $3500, its a bargain.
If you are concerned about tubes and your little one you may also want to consider the Transcendent OTL T8-LN 25 watter. The tubes are not open and exposed like many other tube amps. There is a top cover. The amp runs AB bias so it is not nearly as hot as other Class A single ended OTL tube amps, including the Atmasphere and Joule. It idles at 300 watts which is cooler than some Class A SS amps. In addition there is a two week in home trial period.
The amp costs 2.1K and I can't begin to imagine anything at the price that could touch it so far as speed, harmonic integrity at all frequencies and the isolation, spacing and air surrounding instruments and vocals without any traces of grain, hash or noise, dead silent. It is simply amazing. The bass is unbelievable for a 25 watt amp with clearly delineated lines without any overhang. You might ALSO want to talk to Bobby about it. It is absolute magic with the Merlins and I can't recommend it highly enough. I am now using it with Paul Speltz's zero autoformer which effectively raises the impedance of the speaker making it an easier load for the OTL but that is for another thread. Good luck.
I used the "little" Merlin with an all-Naim system and it was the worst sound my wife and I have ever experienced. I wish you all the luck in the world but I found the Merlin to be the most over-rated product I ever got stuck with-made my ears bleed! Unless the design has changed dramatically in the last couple years, don't go near Merlins with solid state.
Hi Edorr, for what it's worth I think tubegroover suggestion is dead on. I can't imagine any SS amp that will give you the sound that the Trancendent OTL amps offer. I hope Tubegroover dosen't get mad at me but Email him for more details. You will find him to be knowledegable, helpful and a very nice guy. I hope you find the sound you are looking for. Good hunting.
Hey Lindisfarne is your moniker after the English group from the late 60's and 70's? Loved that group.
I can't speak for the Naim/TSM combo but the VSM-M offers the best combination of smoothness, tonal balance and resolution I've ever heard from any dynamic speaker. They are completely and utterly unfatiguing in my system. One man's opinion, of course but many agree. I certainly haven't heard them all but can't imagine that the best of the rest of the competition could be too much ahead of this design but others may prefer a different presentation. Ear bleeders their not.
sorry for your experiences, but you simply didn't experiment w/ the merlins enough.
i'd have said the same thing, until i tried enough products w/ them to make them sing. i'd be hard pressed to find a better match to my VSM-Ms than my SS 350a.
bottom line: merlins DO work w/ SS, just not all SS. (like any other speaker)
(i didn't have room for the T-8s, and i'm afraid of reliability issues w/ tube amps).
Rhyno, like the late FDR once said "There is nothing to fear but fear itself".
I'll be the first to e-mail you when I have a problem with this amp but I don't expect I will anytime soon as it is very conservatively designed. It is a misconception by many that a well engineered tube amp is any more problematic than a well engineered ss design. They DO run hotter than AB ss designs and they DO require tube replacement. Some more than others depending on how hot the tubes are biased. ARC, expect to change more often. I'm betting that the output tubes on this amp will last at least 5 years since they are biased so much lower than their rated setting. Over the 11 years I have run tube amps, the problems have been almost negligible. Don't let tubes worry you. They are typically easier to work on than ss and cheaper to fix, so long as it isn't the output transformer, uh-oh. Don't have one on an OTL amp, that's good. Have a speaker whose impedance dips below 4 ohms? They don't produce current like ss, not good. So the fact is in the right application they are a very special product capable of a very special type of musical magic.
Replacement output tubes on the Transcendent would cost 160.00. Don't worry, be happy. Glad you like the Belles, sounds like a winner, but being a tube groover I must add "for ss" :^). Pair and compare and see how each fare. I sure would like to hear the bass with that 250 watt Belles myself.
how goes it wil?
i came close to the T-8s, but it'd have required a new rack too, and the thought of the output heat in houston is a lot. couple that w/ the fact i'd have to rewire my crossover for the T harness. and lastly, OTL reliability questions, which even though seem fairly low risk, just make the overall package less attractive.
frankly, the 350 has me totally happy. happier w/ it than i am w/ the joule pre. what a nice amp. it simply does nothing wrong. and you should hear the way the bass tightened up and gained impact, even when my old amp was a 100wpc SS conrad johnson!
oh, i just picked up entec subs. 2-lf20s, going to x-over at 100hz. once i get them integrated (bam is out), i'm expecting something special.
doubtful i'll be upgrading speakers again. the only gripe i had w/ the merlins is they're not up for big rooms. well, 2 entecs should solve that problem...
Want an OTL amp that will whip the pants off the 25W Transcendent Sound? This OTL increases output power as impedence drops, does not use alot of juice at idle (100W), IS stable at and below 4 ohms and outputs 70W @ 8 ohms which means it will drive the daylights out of the Merlins.
David Berning ZH-270
Estimated tube life - 10 years +
Weight - 10lbs :)