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RMAF 2011: Merlin, Ars Sonum

Merlin has been making 2-way speakers for the last 20 years. They’ve won best in show. Stereophile has given them a “Class A” rating every time they’ve been reviewed. They have a cult-like following. And now, with the Master VSM, they’re new again. Well, sort of.

The VSM-MXR speaker came out very late last year and was immediately followed by a revision, the Master VSM. The only difference? According to Bobby Palkovich, the head wizard over at Merlin, the difference is the wiring harness. In the Master version, the wiring harness is sourced from Cardas and is derived from their latest, the Clear.

So, what about the sound? Well, in short, this new Merlin is still a Merlin — good news. The biggest change over the MXR (and the MXE/MME before it) being that the Master is even more rich, liquid, smooth and focused on that all-important mid range than ever before. On each of my four trips through this room, I heard the same thing again and again: female vocals have an immediacy, liquidity and richness that will leave you wondering if they’re going to melt all over your lap.

Another new entry to the Merlin scene is the Grand Filarmonia from Ars Sonum. This E34L amp produces a very welcome 60wpc to give the Merlins the goosing it needs. Beautiful chrome and black, this one’s a real keeper. My bet is that it’ll actually stay in Stereophile’s Class A category this time.

Tunes came by way of an old Audio Aero Capitole CD player.

Bobby P with Colleen Cardas and Marc Philips.

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About Scot Hull (975 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

1 Comment on RMAF 2011: Merlin, Ars Sonum

  1. The Ars Sonum is the best amp I have ever owned. It makes my VSM MXE speakers sing.

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