Tenor Hybrid v. VTL MB-450 Sig.

I am planning on replacing my VTLs with the Tenor stereo 150 hybrid . Since I will not be able to hear them first and since they are a substantial outlay over what my VTLs are worth, I am hoping that some of you may have heard both. Would you mind characterizing the differences that I should expect to hear? I have Merlin VSMMs, a First Sound preamp, and an Audio Logic 24mxl DAC. Other amps that I am considering are the Joule VZN-100s, or a CAT JL2. My pre-purchase buyers remorse is that they will be better but maybe not commensurate with the extra cost. I am aware of the higher cost/diminshing returns reality. However, from what I have read, these hybrids seem to be a huge step up. If I audition a piece and hear an improvement that meets my personal cost/benefit ratio, I buy it. So, with no personal experience with the Tenors, I am finding it is a bit difficult to make the leap to buy the most exp. piece of gear in my system. Any input you may have is greatly appreciated. By the way, JTinn and I have had several conversations about this subject. He had been very helpful and generous with his time. In this post, I am looking for more of a comsumer point of view.
what sonic characteristic or characteristics are you currently wishing to improve upon with the change?
If you have the resources to risk buying something like this sound unheard, then you have the resources to travel to audition it. Alternatively, if you are buying from a dealer who is that sure you will be blown away and consider the increase well worth it, then he should be willing to let you audition at home and return for refund less some relatively nominal forfeiture of deposit as long as you pick up the shipping/insurance if you decide against keeping. Then again, for a sale like this, maybe the dealer should offer to come and install for you at no charge, with you picking up that tab only if you decide to send the amp back with him.

As far as the amps themselves go, I haven't heard any Tenors, but have heard the 450's (and own the 185's), and while they're very good, I do think there is room left for improvement. What you should switch to in order to attain that improvement, and at what price, is your question to answer, preferably with your own ears.
I have owned the Tenor 75 OTL's, and have listened with the Tenor Hybrid monos in different contexts, albeit within show systems. The Hybrids seem to offer far great power handling, yet retain the purity and resolution that made the OTL's magic. The Hybrids and OTL's are in the rare class of amplification that (in my experience) reproduces sound with the fundamental harmonic elements critical to listening involvement--tone, texture, timing, dynamics--balance.

The issue with the OTL's was one of sheer power output, which has been addressed within the Hybrids-- making them far more speaker friendly. If the principles at Tenor used the OTL's as a design reference, then it is sure that the Hybrids--whether stereo or mono, have those most salient musical characteristics. If their performance at the San Fransico and CES shows is any indication,Tenor has a winner on their hands.

I now own and enjoy the Atmasphere MA2 mk2.3 monos (better match with low impedance speakers), but still have a great affinity for the Tenor's extreme textural and timbrel dexterity, displayed in spades at this years CES exhibit.

Zaikesman offers the best advice. Seek out direct experience within your own system and make a buying decision according to system synergy and personal preference.

In terms of asking for comparative impressions, I think it unwise to put stock in forum-bred opinion --even mine :). There is simply too much bandwith used up with touting favorites and product-plugging on this and other forums. It is best to seek out your own experience when contemplating this kind of expenditure.

Personally, I tested multiple SUV's and studied specifics before laying out SUV type cash. Audio systems are even more context sensitive than SUV's yet cost about the same --or more. Use your own judgement when matching amps to speakers.
Zaikesman & Samuel,
Thank you for the thoughtful recommendations. I was referred to a very nice guy in Ohio who inivited me over to listen to his Tenors. However, he does have new Meitner gear and Kharmas. So, I may end up with quite unrealistic expectations. I think the suggestion of a return policy with a restocking fee is great idea. I am very comfortable with that. I have bought many pieces of equipment with that possibility. I kept all of them. I am surprised that I had not thought to make that request. Thank you for the idea, Zaikesman. Samuel, you are right. I really do need to hear the amp in my room with my stuff. It was very kind of you guys to take the time to help. Thank you.
I would like to offer a somewhat contrarian view. Please keep in mind that I have only heard the Tenors at shows and not in my home. First, the Tenor 75 watt OTL is a very special amplifier from the mid bass through the treble. Unfortunately somewhat underpowered for my current speakers. The bass is good but more akin to what one might expect from a tubed amplifier than solid state/high current, lacking some control and extension but very organic. The hybrids clearly have different and most would say better bass, better controlled with greater focus and slam. They also have better dynamics at the loud end of the spectrum. What they lack for me is the extreme textural and timbral dexterity that the Tenor 75's exhibit. They also exhibit some discontinuity between the bass and the remainder of the frequency spectrum.

If you need the extra power, I would suggest listening to the latest version of the Lamm hybrids which I thonk are excellent. Mike and Nellie at Audio Federation have these on demo and have listened to them with a wide variety of different speakers and can talk knowledgeably about them as well as the Edge products.

Good listening.
Hello Brooks, I would not commit to the purchase until I got to hear the amp in my system. I recently heard the Tenor OTL's and the mono Tenor hybrid's and heard a lot more music coming out of the OTL's. Please let your ears be the judge. Good luck, Tom
In one of tenor's ads. they offer in home auditioning. Have you contacted tenor?
If I were you I would put your money towards a more full range set of speakers and forget the amps for now as the VTL will get you down the road in fine style.....What is the nonsense about a restocking fee? You are auditioning a production amplifier, not custom goods........
Brooks, as a previous owner of the Tenor OTL's and a current Tenor 300 watt Hybrid owner to me there is no doubt that as much as loved the Tenor OTL's, the Hybrids do pretty much everything better. and this is on the Kharma Exquisites (an easy load) in a small room (spl's are not excessive).

over the last 2 years i had heard the Tenor OTL's on many different speakers and compared to many different amps.....so as my reference i was very clear on how it stacked up. the Hybrids are not only much better than my personal reference but will work on pretty much any speaker......so if you do go to another speaker that does present a more difficult load the Tenor Hybrids should be fully up to the task.

your dilemma is understandable. due to very limited supply the Hybrids are really not availible for an in-home demo. there are just not many sets of these amps out there yet. the Crumpster isn't wrong.....but you will most likely run into the same issue there.....how can you home demo most really top 'full-range' speakers that would be a big step up over your Merlins?

so you are back to the question of whether the Tenor Hybrids are enough of a 'step-up' over the VTL's to justify the purchase without trying them in your system first.

assuming that the Tenor 150 Stereo amp is on par sonically with the 300 watt mono version (and i understand that they do sound the same), the hybrids do make as much sense as any other similar investment you could make in your system.

additional note; i was very skeptical about the Tenor Hybrids. i expected to prefer my OTL's. even after i heard them in San Francisco at the Stereophile Show last June where they were clearly better......i was skeptical that other issues might have been involved. when i finally got them in my room in August it took about 10 seconds before it was totally clear that these amps were simply in another league compared to anything else.

good luck.
Hello Mike, I'm truly and honestly very happy for you and that to your ears you find the hybrids that much better than the OTL's. Now as strong as you feel the hybrids are better then the OTL's, I feel the exact opposite. In all the aspects that I find most important to me I found the OTL's to be superior. To be honest it wasn't even close to my ears. The one thing that we do agree on is that they do sound different. There for it is possible for people to disagree on which sounds better to them. I would sincerely hate to see somebody spend their hard earned money on my advice or others and be disappointed and lose a significant amount of money on a resale. So please, Brooks or anybody else, find a way to audition the gear in question and let your ears decide. Best wishes to all! Tom
This thread is a great example of how well these forums can work. Every one of you has given me a little different perspective, related experience that would be impractical/near impossible for me to get on my own, and offered me excellent advice. It is very cool that a common interest can get a bunch of kind, intelligent people to help an unknown guy, across the county, make a difficult decision. Here it is: Even though my VTLs are crated in CA. ready to go to a dealer as a trade, I am going to have them shipped to my house. I will fire them up for a few months while I listen to the Merlins with all of the amps suggested - The Hybrid, the OTL, the Joules, and I will listen to the Berning. I still cannot believe that a 10lb shoe box sized amp can be in the same league. With that reputation, I want to hear it. Then, if I choose the hybrid (assuming a weaker dollar), I will just have to suck up the price increase. Such is the opportunity cost of a molases moving audiophile. However, when the decision is made, I will definately know which amp is the right one and not be thinking about what the other ones might have been like. This really minimizes the risk of another sale at a loss. Thank you all for your help.
Brooks, in case you are not aware and to put his comments into perspective, Crump makes big solid state amps/preamps. In my opinion his advice about your speakers is way off the mark. But Bob is a big speaker/solid state kind of guy. Not my cup o' tea...

30hz and tonally accurate is "full range" enough for me.
Jim2, glad the size of the presentation of your Merlins is large enough for your tastes. Most of us prefer something closer to realistic size.......I'll stand by my comment as think the 20K could be better spent on full range speakers than a new amplifier......My speakers are not much larger than your Merlins BTW and they only go to the mid thirties, but have a closer to full sized presentation than your Merlins which are, of course, tonally accurate to 30hz......
I thought the Tenor Hybrid 300 and the EAR Hybrid were the “hit” of the show. Both companies are seemingly on to something; both sound much more like real music than any other amps I have heard and I have heard a great number of them. The EAR is an integrated at 100/100 watts per channel. The retail price is around $3600; I don’t know what the Tenor 150 sells for but my guess it is considerably more.
Thanks Bob, I am glad you are glad for me. I am glad you are happy with your choice of speaker as well. I suppose I found your comments to be out of the blue and pretty odd. Especially given the question asked, and my own experience. As for how much your commets have helped Brooks find a more ideal amp for his choice of speaker, that still remains to be seen.

Take care.

Rcrump it is obvious you have good ears as your comments about the Merlins are quite accurate. That's why your admiration of the Rockport sound is so confusing. They've always had a certain lifelessness/deadness about them that is very hard to overlook and impossible not to hear. Although they are competent designs, they are far away from musical realism. The Merlins, despite their image size, are far more tonally accurate and musically realistic.
Jim2, makes more sense to spend the dollars where it will do the most good.....Kevinkwann, to each his own and the Rockports tell me more about my designs than anything else I have access to.....I see by your other responses that you don't care for Kharma either.....I bet you won't like the set of speakers I have just traded a preamp for, Sound Lab M-1s......The nice thing is you don't have to, I do........
"Kevinkwann, to each his own and the Rockports tell me more about my designs than anything else I have access to.....I bet you won't like the set of speakers I have just traded a preamp for, Sound Lab M-1s..."

Hi Rcrump. If the Rockports tell you more about your designs than anything else you have access to, why on earth did you just get the Sound Lab?

To answer your question, I like loudspeakers that get the dynamics of live music right. The Rockports, Kharmas and Sound Labs don't. The Sound Labs, however, do at lot of things very well. Enjoy them!
Good for you, Bob. The Sound Labs are great speakers. And I think your last comment is probably most appropriate here... i.e. You don't have to like the Merlins, I (and a lot of others) do. No speaker is perfect for every room or every person. The Merlins are no exception. But regardless of your opinion, there are certain matches for the Merlins in terms of amplification that are fairly expensive and worth the investment. You don't agree. Point taken. I and others disagree with you.

Now, do you have anything worthwhile to offer with respect to the question at hand - matching an amp with the Merlins? If not, it seems to me appropriate that you show a little class and go away so as to not muddle this thread anymore.

Enjoy your new speakers.
Jim: I take exception to your admonishing RC to keep quiet. The point of view he offered (that in his opinion the money might be better spent on keeping the amps and replacing the speakers) - whether or not you agree with it - is a perfectly legit take on the query, and not at all out of bounds in my book or by Agon custom.

Attempting to shut up a good-faith poster on an open forum, however, *is* out of bounds in my book. Introducing an alternative perspective does not "muddle the thread" as you put it, but asking someone to "go away" shows less than "a little class", my friend.

Kevinkwann: Do you know of any speakers that "get the dynamics of live music right"? Are you implying that the Merlins do so?
I agree with you Zaikesman regarding Jim and RC. The more we hear from RC the better as far as I'm concerned.

As to your second point, I was implying nothing. What I said was clear and speaks for itself. Speakers that get the dynamic contrasts of music right include, among others, Merlin, Avantgarde and the mbl 101 series.
Zaikesman and I always seem to be on opposite sides of a discussion, but he is right on this one.

Suggestion: Rethink your statement.
KevinKwann as a Merlin owner, I agree that Merlin is excellent at dynamic contrasts but would further say the Sound Labs EXCEL at low level dynamic contrasts of musical instruments to a greater extent, I haven't heard it done better by any speaker. The Merlins are among the best I have heard in this respect and along with their tonal balance it is one of their great virtues. These speakers present very refined, defined pitch at low levels. I've heard some quite amazing bass from the VSM although it requires a a powerful amp with plenty of control to realize it.

So far as BIG dynamics, larger speakers are better at capturing this providing you have a room and it is treated properly but this doesn't always equate to real so much as more visceral, depends on your musical priorities I suppose. Furthermore, the VSM's are MUCH better suited to a small to medium sized room. Much more so than a large system IMHO. I ain't gonna argue with Bob Crump, I respect his hearing although I have never met him. His cables tell me a lot about how he hears and he also has the SoundLabs, not a bad choice.
i may as well chime in here:

as a former owner of VSM-Ms and good friend of rcrump, he heard my merlin-based setup many times and saw it evolve from decent to good to great. but the inherent limitations of the design remain---and that is what he took issue with, and incidentally that is why i sold them. they are, after all, a 2-way, and cannot do BIG (and venue = big) properly. ---also, they don't like loud volumes, big listening rooms, or listeners above axis. within these constraints, they're wonderful. outside, and you get the suggestion for different speakers (with their own new limitations).

rest assured that my new SLs are not perfect, and there's many aspects of the merlins that i'd prefer over the SLs, they were that good (if ever i needed another 2-way, i'd buy merlins no question). but the SLs full range presentation and reproductive ease (with the right amp---no small chore finding it) are a nice change from the limits i associated with the merlins.

i agree with bob that a change in amp will not get venue from the merlins. a sub will. i know--i did this w/ entec LF20s and it filled in the bottom nicely. and like bob, i have to question the logic of trading one world-class amp for another...my guess is there's other system problems that would need addressed before upgrading a top 10 amp to another top 10 amp.

Jim2, I like a larger presentation than the Merlins will allow, but have friend locally that had the Merlins set up with some old Entec woofers that did just about everything correctly as the size of the presentation was life sized, about 30% larger than using just the Merlins.....As far as amps go I would go with the Berning or Joule OTLs and buy some subwoofers and still have money left over from the 20K or keep the VTLs and buy some JM labs......JM will get the weight and size of a piano correct......

I used the Sound Lab M-1s at CES 2003 with my home system and noted they were cleaner than my Rockports and were definitely full range and cut a deal with Roger West as he wanted a preamp.......If I can get the focus and immediacy out of the Sound Labs here then I will replace the Rockports and if not I will keep both.....Unfortunately, nothing is perfect on an overall basis as Kenkwann points out as few speakers get the leading edge right.......You pick your poison and live with it for a while.......
Being familiar with rcrump's and rhyno's systems, I'll throw out a couple of thoughts, biased as they may be.

The Merlins excel at what they do, portraying a detailed, musical image, revealing much of the character of the associated equipment. They are most commonly suited to smaller rooms, as their capabilities for moving a lot of air are limited. They work well with music associated with smaller ensembles, such as small jazz and folk groups, as large symphonic works can reveal their limitations. That said, they are still very good speakers. I admire Bobby P's dedication and persistence in refining his products over the years.

The requirements of hefty amplifiers for Sound Labs are about to go away, as Sound Lab demonstrated a pair of Ultimate-1s at CES implementing some new technology realizing significant gains in efficiency and dynamics. Driven by some 100 watt solid state monoblocks, they had no trouble reaching adequate levels despite the lack of a preamp which was held up in customs...they had to make do with a CD player putting out only 0.7 V into the amps which require 1.3 V for full output. With the right preamp driving the amps the sound would have been much fuller and more dynamic. Anyone wanting further information on this can contact me offline.

Brian Walsh
Rhyno, I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that Merlins don't get venue. This goes back to the issue of room size. I have heard some quite large systems myself including Infinity IRS 5's and the big Genesis system that get venue about as right as it can be. The VSM's do this but maybe not in a large room? Room size can't be overlooked. Why add a subwoofer to the mix at the expense of losing the coherence of the VSM? This is their point and appeal. Subs don't cut the cake. If you are going to mate a sub with a speaker such as the VSM I would agree, you're better off going with a larger system.
traditional sub hookups are problematic, i admit. i had a custom passive x-over designed to roll off the merlins at 100hz at 6db/octave and let the subs come in there. coherence was not lost---i certainly couldn't hear the extra x-over, but i could hear lots more venue info per the subs...

with a sub, the merlins can play Big. but ask them to play loud and, as fremer noted in his stereophile review, their tonal balance skews towards edginess and some brightness. ---its not merlin's fault, every 2-way compresses when driven too loud. merlins do it less than most, but they compress at higher SPLs.

Venue information the Merlins get just fine........Size of presentation they don't achieve as the size of the presentation grows 30% when woofers are added.....Reason I no longer use subwoofers is they don't match with my amps in the high pass as you intimated can happen.....Someone once said "If you ain't got no bass, then you ain't got no space" and that is what Ryan was referring to, size of presentation, not venue information, but they are interrelated....Lots of speakers out there in the 20K range that will achieve a life sized presentation with the VTL450s and the reason I suggested another tact in the first place.......If I had a small room the Merlins would be on my short list of possibilities........I wish Merlin would finally get around to doing a subwoofer/crossover as Bobby has been talking about it now for well over five years......
I haven't listened to Merlins, Rockports, Avantgardes, or MBL's, or the big SoundLabs and JMLabs, but I have always taken it as a given that no speaker can fully capture the dynamics of live music or adequately present the scale of a large venue (acknowledging that these limitations are also shared functions of the recording end of things). Some here apparently think I'm wrong in this assumption?...
The large presentation is fairly easy to achieve as normally just need flat response to the low 30s is all........Dynamics are much much tougher to achieve as have both driver distortion problems and amps going into class B with higher order distortions to deal with... Now if you like focus and imaging all at the same time as everything else it gets even harder..... Have a friend with horns that get the dynamics right and not much else.....Best leading edge I ever heard, but no depth, size or focus.... Tough to get everything right is my point and don't think anyone has achieved a facsimile of live versus memorex.......Once in a great while the sound will raise the hair on my arms and think that is all we can hope for in the here and now......
Yes indeed, it is all about the goosebump factor and that is all we can hope for. Audiophiles always remind me of greyhounds chasing the mechanical rabbit or Cubs and Boston fans, what would they do with themselves if they won the Series?
Just gotta laugh out loud as it so hard to even get goose bumps.....Guess if it was easy it would take the fun out of it....If I get the size and venue right I feel I have achieved something with my gear and wires......
Zaikesman, I didn't tell Crump to keep quiet, I told him to show some class and to offer constructive input regarding the topic of the thread or move along. Up to that point he had failed to address the topic of this thread. Finally, he did and I agree with his advice about amps. I disagree about just recommending a sub without even asking about the room first. But that is not the only assumption Bob has made in this thread - i.e. that the poster has room for larger speakers.

I may be old fashioned, but I think it is a but unbecoming for a "manufacturer" to make the sort of comments about other manufacturers that Bob did. Particularly when they are based on opinion, not fact. And particularly so when the comments fail to even address the question being asked. It just seems to me to be a bit tasteless on his part. But there is no accounting for good taste, and I suspect I should not expect it.

Corona, I have thought more about my comments and I stand by them, thanks.
Jim2, Brooks1 lives near Chicago in one of the most affluent areas so doubt his room is a closet.......I always thought it was fine for a manufacturer to offer opinions regarding something he neither sells nor makes....Sorry to be so tasteless and I'll try to limit my comments to gear you don't own in the future.......
I have been keeping an eye on this string and have a few things to add.
Robert, you are judging all VSM Millenniums by the ones heard at Rhyno's home and this is a mistake. His speakers were wired with the S harness. This version is voiced to be the antithesis of certain types of amplifiers that are both SS and tube. It tends to embellish the middle portion of the bandwidth to flesh out the music core. It does make for better image density but produces a more forward and less deep and wide presentation. Under certain situations they can be made to sound unbalanced, forward and somewhat truncated in the extreme treble and bass. By crossing the speaker over at 100 Hz you would again set the balance to lean and forward side by unweighting the natural balance of the VSM. That is why my subwoofers (which I will release when I am ready to increase my production) will cross over at 30 Hz at 12 or 24 dB per octave.
The T version of the speaker is not voiced and is much harder to lean out. It is capable of producing much more ambient information because it is more fleshed out in the extremities and thus, by comparison, relaxes the mids. This T version actually sounds quite a bit larger and tonally richer than the S version. And latter versions of the speakers with the 6th toe mod, tuning pucks and ERS materials sound even more relaxed, uniform and fleshed out making them sound even larger and more believable again.
The latest version of the VSM, the MX, sounds even fuller and considerably larger again so it is doing an absolutely fantastic job of recreating size and venue.
I am a big fan of Dr. West's electrostats and Andrew's Rockports and recommend them routinely for larger room applications. But, there is no doubt in my mind that the VSM has a special place in this market for normal sized living enviroments and in fact rooms of in excess of 5000 cubic feet with attention being paid to the tonal virtues of the wires and electronics.
I think you make fabulous products Bob but in my opinion they work much better with the latter T version of the VSM Millennium and the MX version than what you heard them on.
Happy New Year!
One of the amazing things about this hobby and this site is the access to manufacturers and designers. As long as everyone knows who the players are, then there is no harm. Please feel free to jump in with whenever/however, you feel, Rcrumb. Although the regulars all know your background, a short disclaimer may be necessary to inform the new folks and satisfy some of the particularly fastidious among us.
Hi Bobbyapalkovic! I have not heard the latest wiring change you made to the VSMs, but really liked the combination of Ryan's VSMs and Entecs crossed over 6db per octave on the high pass at 100hz......The combination did just everything right.....Ryan used a huge custom high pass amplifier we at CTC built and it matched well with the amp in the Entecs.....Continuity was excellent as was the overall sound. Glad to hear you are going to unleash the woofers on the public one of these days and know you have been working on them for years.....

Swampwalker, I own TG Audio and CTC Builders. TG Audio manufactures Cables, AC Filters and Isolation Devices (footers). CTC Builders designed and builds a preamp and shortly a phono stage and does design work for others such as the JC-1 we designed for Parasound a year ago. We are currently working with a manufacturer on a digital playback system......TG has been around for 21 years and CTC for just over five years with my partners John Curl and Carl Thompson.
Bob, I hope you don't think I am making these comments because of ego. If that's how you rationalize it then that's fine. I've just been a happy customer for the past 4 years and would hate to see others make decisions based on (what I am many others think) a viewpoint that does not accurately portray the product and is counter to my experience. People waste a lot of money and time on bad advice in this hobby.

Now, if Brooks' house is indeed as big as you ASSume it to be then perhaps we should all meet there for a few beers??

Brooks, what was your question again?
Jim2: You might as well 'shush' - or 'tsk-tsk', or whatever it is you're trying to do - me as well, because I've wandered seriously off-topic and am apparently in need of censure. Rcrump didn't slam anybody, wasn't rude, didn't pimp his own products (covertly or otherwise), and wasn't out of line or being non-constructive by seemingly anybody's estimation save your own. Ease up my man, the yakfest is what this is all about, so let's just have fun and some respect for each other's various points of view. Discussions evolve, threads morph, new questions are raised, different quarters are heard from, and that's a large part of what makes it interesting. Remember the 'soup Nazi' on Seinfeld? No one enjoys a 'thread Nazi' even as much as a 'soup Nazi' (at least *he* had soup!) - especially without benefit of the comic relief.

[Speaking of which...Swampie: "Rcrumb" also draws those cool underground comix...what a diverse guy! ;^) ]
And by the way Rhyno, the dynamic compression and loud level playback issues have been fully dealt with. A few months before the review in Stereophile, we made a flying production change to the VSM M and extended the front double baffle down the entire enclosure. This greatly reduced an energy storage issue which John Atkinson picked up on in his tests. The unfortunate thing is that the speakers tested by Stereophile predated the change because we needed to provide the speakers in a timely manner and to make a new pair would have delayed things another 8 to 10 weeks. Then about 15 months ago we offered up the 6th toe mod which places 2 cones on the front and one on the back. The additional support for the firing plane and superior dynamic coupling greatly enhanced the tonality (which Tubegroover and others can comment on) and the addition of the tuning weight and ERS for the BAM and digital sources enabled the speakers to sound much more robust and dimensional. These changes were clearly picked up on by the press comments of last years CES. That is also why many that read Robert's and your comments can't agree with you. Your product predated theirs and did not have the enhanced performance. The last and most critical aspect of the on going research was completed with the MX version. I would say that dynamic compression is now incredibly low and that you can now play these speakers louder than stink. Why else do you think I showed with Ken Stevens of CAT, the dynamics and volume King of high end audio. There was little doubt that the system in AP1652 was capable of some really extraordinary output and dynamic potential.
Anyhow, good to see you are still around and have fun with your SLs.
OK, my mistake, and RcrumP, I (and most of the regulars) know about CTC and TG Audio, just wanted to keep you in the game and make sure Jim2 and others satisfied. And I have never been included among a list of the fastidious, the somewhat fastidious, or the fastidious wanna-bes. The only time that word has occured in the same sentence as my name is in terms of an antonym (e.g., If anyone had seen his office, they never would have thought that Swampwalker was fastidious). Cheers to all, and lets not get our knickers in a knot!!!
P.S. - I want to make it clear that I do not intend to argue against honest disagreement with my above post. Anybody who's read me from time to time on this forum will know that's somewhat of a specialty of mine. It's scolding and muzzling I object to. And lest I be accused of the same thing 'fore long here, this is my exit cue from this thread. Carry on...
Yo Bob, how's Fritz doing these days?
Bobby, you said, "This greatly reduced an energy storage issue which John Atkinson picked up on in his tests."

This begs the question: Why did it take a reviewer to pick up on this problem for you to discover and correct it?

You mention a program of "on going research" yet this very very basic aspect of design, a simple resonance problem, was overlooked? Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of your VSM... but how could you miss a design problem this obvious?
Zaikesman, no need to qualify your comments. I've got thick skin. We're just batting it around a little. Crump is a good guy and I understand his point, and I'm sure he understands mine. Ooops, looky there, it's Beer:30 Time to go....
Hello guys. This thread has certainly taken some unexpected turns. Jim, thanks for trying to keep the focus of the thread on amplifier ideas. Bob, thank you for injecting a possibility that I had not considered.

It has never occurred to me that the size of my room could be an issue. However, just in case it could be a problem - my room is a basement shaped like a "U." The left side is the listening area which is 18x26x7. The empty area in the center of the "U" is the staircase (it is walled off toward the listening area). The speakers are at the top left of the letter firing toward the bottom. There are French doors w/glass panes at the top left of the letter and there are no other doors or partitions.

One of the other reasons that I am considering replacing the VTLs is that I cannot turn my preamp up past 9:00 (in triode) without it becoming too loud. That is three or four, 2 decibel clicks on my volume control. I would like the ability to fine tune the volume better. This would automatically make one consider a different preamp. However, after hearing many other preamps, I really like my First Sound. Even the Placette RVC with its 98 steps, was not better in this respect because it ramps up quickly.

Have any of you had your Merlins updated to the MX version? Is that even a possibility?

just contact first sound and ask them how to reduce the gain. they'll know.

good to know you resolved one of the only issues w/ your otherwise outstanding, overachieving speakers. within their limits, they were quite wonderful.

I've really enjoyed reading this thread (or 'string' as Bobby calls it :-) and got a lot of laughs. Sounds like a bunch of guys with some different priorities and different ways of hearing things, but guess we're all after the same thing: music enjoyment. Particularly enjoyed Zaikesman's 'soup Nazi' quip and appreciate Bob's and Bobby's contributions, however diverse they may be. Jim2, you might want to lighten up just a touch, nobody's attacking you or your system.

Brooks and I had a fun chat yesterday, and we'll get together as he can check out a few things in his quest for the best. Meanwhile, I look forward to more helpful ideas to be posted.

Brian Walsh
Brian Welch, why the condescending attitude towards Jim? He is passionate in his belief that Brooks has his speaker but maybe hasn't realized its potential. There seems to have been a few assumptions made that I wasn't aware of until Brooks's last post. I have little doubt that Brooks has not realized the potential of his Merlins. I've owned the speakers for almost 4 years and am continually confounded by how damn good they are and how all important it is to focus on the synergy of the upstream components and ancilliaries. So far as bass goes, I really wonder how many of you guys realize what kind of bass these speakers are truly capable of in the right room?

Bobby P has one hell of a design here and the point I'm trying to make is that I'm not real sure that too many folks realize HOW special the VSM really is and the potential for an audio system of the highest order? Yes Brian Welch, it is about musical involvement. I know a guy with SoundLabs and he thinks the VSM is one of the top 5 speakers on the planet, go figure. I think the Soundlabs are one of the top 5 speakers on the planet unfortunately I don't have the room, inclination for a 200-250 watt tube amp or space, what are ya going to do?