Tyler Signature System versus Merlin VSM-MM


For those who have compared these systems, I would be interested in comments.

Use is two channel, but surround speakers may be added using these as fronts for HT.

Room is 19x33. Listening positon is about 11-13 feet from 19ft wide wall. Total room volume is about 5000 cubic feet.

The room can eat low frequencies (basement with carpet, insulated walls and acoustic ceiling). If I do the HT, I definitely will be looking at a 15" or larger sub.

I have a pair to Tyler Taylo Reference Monitors in a small A/V setup and I like the sound for that purpose. They would be far short of the weight needed in the bigger room and lack the lower bottom end.

Amp is a Plinius 8200p (175 watts) and preamp is 20-year-old PS Audio which will be replaced. Arcam CD.

In the used market, the Merlins are slightly more expensive (roughly 4k vs 3K+). I tend to keep equipment a long time, so the price difference is not important.

I would be interested in comparisons. I'm in the Denver area and can't demo either system. My guess is that I would have to integrate a sub with Merlins based on what I have read.

The system will be on at all times since the the TV sound is run though it.

Thanks in advance.

Jerry
jerrym303
I have not heard the VSM-MMs, but did hear the VSM-MXs a couple months ago on top-of-the-line gear setup perfectly. I own the Signature System (using not as high-end gear but still well matched to the speakers)...

I wrote Bobby an email after the audition and my bottom line verdict was for smaller rooms I would probably go with the VSM-MXs, and on larger rooms (like yours) I would take the Tylers.

The Merlins were in a small to medium sized room where I heard them in a generous owner's house that is local to me. Bobby facilitated the intro and then the owner and I did the rest (thanks again, Bobby!).

In the smallish room, the VSM-MXs were right at home... Vocals sounded *incredible* on them. I remember listening to Fiona Apple's Tidal CD, and the track "Slow Like Honey" was absolutely captivating. I don't think I have heard it sound better quite honestly. The top end was detailed, but not fatiguing in the least. Soundstage was not the speaker's greatest strength, but it got the job done... Low bass extension was the only "achilles heel" to my ears and tastes. Very strong performers, and perhaps the best two-ways I have heard.

The Tylers have much deeper bass extension (bass resolution was about equal, but the Tylers go much lower and sound considerablly fuller down low), and I felt they are a hair faster as well. Soundstage was also in the Tylers favor. Top end was a draw, and vocals I give a slight edge to the Merlins (and that is a strength of the Tylers, so the fact that I prefered the VSM-MXs on vocals is all the more impressive). The Tylers are also a bit warmer sounding (which can be a good or bad thing depending on someone's tastes).

Personally, I think for a room your size the Merlins are not as good a fit as the Tylers... If you had a much smaller room I might be changing my recommendation. I pretty much like the two speakers equally, but they have very different sounds and applications. The Tylers are a better fit for yours, IMO... the Merlins could very well be for others.

BTW: I use 3 Taylo Reference Monitors in the back of my system for HT and they work fine with the Linbrook Signature System speakers...

---Dave
The Ty Signature, with the dual 7's and dual 8's, correct?
You'll have all the punch you'll need.
Just my Thors with dual 7's can fill my cathedral room with all the bass I need. I was not aware of the bass of these speakers until my wife played a jazz cd the other day.
I only listen to classical and was not aware of the bass dynamics of the dual 7's. So I'd imagine adding dual 8's will have your room pounding.
What type/how many drivers in the Merlin?

Paul
hi jerry,
and thank you for considering the vsm mm. your assumption is imho, correct. the volume of your room is a little on the large size and when you couple that with your listed ancillaries i think the tonal balance would be a on the light side for you. with less damped sounding electronics and cables you would definitely have a chance as my old demo room at the ces in vegas had 5280 cubic feet and there was plenty of bass extention and punch imho. a sub with second or fourth order slope potential is advised.
good luck,
bobby at merlin
Yes, the Tyler signatures each have two 7's and two 8's. They are magnesium Seas drivers. The Merlins have single 6.5" carbon fiber Scanspeak drivrs.

I'm not bass-hound, but want the full spectrum if possible. Rich and realsitic voices are most inportant.
Dave,

Thanks for your extensive observations. I was hoping that someone had heard both.

The easy thing is to go with what is familiar, the Tylers, but I want to make the right choice. I tend to keep key equipment for ten years or more.

If I were not already planning on a sub or two, the Tylers would be the choice since Merlins + sub(s) would cost quite bit more. But, I already planned on a sub for HT purposes, so is not such a big cost difference.

Bobby, I was thinking about a tube preamp to replace the PS Audio if I can get comfortable with the tube replacement cost since the sytem would be on all of the time. Is the Plinius a bad choice with a tube preamp and the Merlins?

Thanks,

Jerry
Dave, just curious - approximately how small was the "smallish room" you reference?

Thanks
Dave put it perfectly. And Bobby, well, his words are nothing but golden if you ask me. Did anyone ask me?

To my ear, the Merlins are more refined sounding than the Tylers, with a masterful presentation of the music. However, they will not fill your room as well.

Some other options in your price range:
Silverline Sonata II (used about $2600), and they use the SEAS drivers like the Tylers
Von Schweikert VR4 GenIII SE (used about $3800). They go real low, have an adjustable tweeter, and are phenomenal speakers.

Best of luck.
"Merlin's more refined sound"
Exactly how do you define "refined"?
Cuase the Seas' speakers I have sound quite refined(fidelity=true to the exact image placed on the original medium of recording.)
The B&W's I had were "grainy, rough, smoky, fatiguing and voices barked" in comparison. But more importantly with the Seas, vocals sound as realistic as if you are at a live show.
Just what Jerry says he's after.
If Merlin manufacture wishes to challenge my beliefs, they have the opportunity to ship me the speakers and I'll be glad to conduct a fair comapre with the Seas.
I'll even meet them on half ship costs.
Any takers?
In fact I'll pay half ship for any speakers that wish me to make a compare to the Seas.
Any takers?
I'm planning a visit to a Tyler ower in Jackson Mississippi in mAy to hear his System's 2, a Seas T25/W18/W22.
At which point I can make a few comments on Ty's work.
Maybe in the summer I'll make a visit to Ty's studio in Kentucky. I want to hear the 3 way with the W26. But not sure why Ty's uses the inferior Scan Speak tweet in that speaker.

Paul
Didn't meant to cause a stir.

Most the comparisons I have seen favor the Tylers over Sonatas and VS speakers until you get to the Vr4 sr. In a few years, that might be a good option once some used units start to circlulate. At the same price, I would certainly look. The only drawback is that I would like to put my mains a little closer to the wall and the rear-firing tweet requires some clearance. The front-ported Tylers are supposed to be pretty flexilbe on placement.

Paul, I think that Ty substitutes drivers on request. I know he does on tweets frequently.

Jerry
Most the comparisons I have seen favor the Tylers over Sonatas and VS speakers until you get to the Vr4 sr.
I'd like to read some of those comparisons, if you can provide some links or references to where the comparisons have been published.
I have actually heard the Tylers (the Woodmere's, in fact), and have heard five different VS speakers, as well as four different Silverline speakers. Oh yes, and the Merlins as well. The Merlins are a more refined sounding speaker than the Tylers. Does that mean they are better? Nope. It means they sound as though they have more mastery over the reproduction. Tylers are excellent speakers, and as others here and elsewhere have said, they are warm sounding. This is exactly what many people want, and it might even make Jerry happy for the next 10 years. is it a perfect reproduction of the original? Nope. No speaker is. Is it a neutral sounding speaker? Not if they are warm, and indeed, they are.
Cruz123, I did not ask the owner the dimensions of the room, so I can only give an estimate... but it looked to be about 12 X 14 or so with standard ceilings (8 feet approximately).

---Dave
But more importantly with the Seas, vocals sound as realistic as if you are at a live show.
Every live show uses the same type of speakers: horns. SEAS drivers, albeit musical, do not sound remotely like horns.
Evita:"the Seas are a excellent speaker but not as good as the Merlin"....If there was a Merlin dealer here in Baton Rouge I'd take my stereo over to his show room.
Of course the dealer would never admit the Seas sound better. "just different, but not any better" Same as you are saying.
We must have some truth somewhere here. Or should we wait another 10 yrs to begin the search for truth?
I'm willing to drive 250 miles to Jackson, Miss. and hear the Tylers.
I'm also willing to pay anyone half the ship fees to hear the Merlin's.

Paul
paul,
first of all, i have heard tylers and they are very fine speakers. and i think you should get them for yourself.
i would consider taking you up on your offer if you seemed open minded and were able to consider that there are many more important aspects of speaker design than the size of the woofer, the quantity of them or the tweeter brand. drive components in reality are only a small indication of the potential of a given design. it is far more important how you use them. the truth of the matter is that if you have a system capable of getting great things out of tylers, it probably won't do the same for the merlin. they like to be used with completely different gear. they are also designed to do different things and be used in a different manner.
regards,
bobby at merlin
paul,
first of all, i have heard tylers and they are very fine speakers. and i think you should get them for yourself.
i would consider taking you up on your offer if you seemed open minded and were able to consider that there are many more important aspects of speaker design than the size of the woofer, the quantity of them or the tweeter brand. drive components in reality are only a small indication of the potential of a given design. it is far more important how you use them. the truth of the matter is that if you have a system capable of getting great things out of tylers, it probably won't do the same for the merlin. they like to be used with completely different gear. they are also designed to do different things and be used in a different manner.
regards,
bobby at merlin
Jerrym303,

The FWIW department, I'm just a Tyler Signature System owner..........

Bobby P has given you a huge clue - These speakers will sound nothing alike, in any room. Apples v Oranges and that is apart from the additional issues of the driving electronics.

Evita is correct, the Tylers do have a warmer signature than the typical 'audiophile, hair shirt type, speaker, but the warmth doesn't come with a reduction in mid-range/high frequency resolution, in fact in my room they are providing me with excellent resolution. I've lived the past 20 years with Thiels, Paragon's, Quad 63's, all of which are fairly revealing with a flatish frequency response, and I went thru a lot of electronics trying to find the best match. Never was quite satisfied except for LP's and very high quality CD's. I think, in retrospect, what I was looking for was the 'warmth' that the Tylers provide.

Frankly, at the end of the day, I'm enjoying my Tylers driven by (hold your breath now) a cheapo Primaluna 3/5 pre-amp/amp combo, a Wadia 302 (with a CAL DAC as an alternative for certain recordings), as I have ever enjoyed any of the other combo's in the past. (Now if I can just replace my phono section.)

If you really enjoy your sound system with a bit of a warm signature you can't go wrong with the Tylers. If your still chasing the holy grail of flat frequency response as many audiophiles are don't buy the Tylers. You can add some warmth to the others but you won't get the warmth out of the Tylers. Not even with SS stuff :-).
With respect to bass, be aware that the bass extension w/teh Merlin super BAM is much better, but a 19 x 33' room is quite large. I think that you would want a pair of subs if you went Merlins. I am a Merlin owner and have not heard the Tylers. Just my $0.02.
As an extremely happy Merlin owner,I concur with Swampwalker,Bob
Thanks for the comments. I'm going to take some time to decide. Maybe I'll work a deal with Bobby to try some Merlins.

I'm adding Green Mountain to list since I can demo those and many who like these speakers also like the GMA's.

I'm also going to swap the Taylos for the Vandersteens in my main system for a while.

I do plan on at least one sub no matter what I get.
Jerry, if your in the Denver area, do yourself a favor and drive 50 miles south on I-25 to Colorado Springs and visit the Green Mountain Audio factory. You have one of the really great designers in this industry pretty much in your back yard. It would be a shame not to listen to his product. Call the designer (Roy Johnson) beforehand so he can dedicate some time to you. I can assure you that you will leave there completely impressed with his knowledge and his product. His number is (719) 636-2500
In the meantime, do a search here for customer comments on his speakers.