Capital Audiofest 2017: Merrill Audio and Distinctive Stereo

Go Big or Go Home!

You never know what Merrill Wettasinge of Merrill Audio is going to come up with next.  One thing’s for sure, he always seems to pull out the big guns.  Heck, a few shows ago, he had his powerful Veritas amps driving a huge and super efficient pair of horns!  Go figure…  Anyhow, if you like big, powerful, room-filling sound, you can count on Merrill to deliver.

This time around, Merrill and Dr. Laurence Borden of Distinctive Stereo had me well covered.  With Wettasinge’s awesome 400 watt per channel Veritas monoblock amps driving the large German Physiks Borderland omnidirectional speakers, I was more than impressed by the sheer sense of not only space, but power.  Dynamics in the rather large Montgomery Room were impressively lifelike.  J. S. Bach’s famous organ toccata sounded uncannily lifelike, and this from a guy who gets to turn pages for a highly accomplished organist playing a reasonably sized pipe organ.  This system got not only the tone of the monster instrument right, but also the scale and slam.  Although the bottom-most octave was missing in action, the rest of the sound was exemplary.

Even simpler, less dynamic music was well-served.  No lack of delicacy or touch here.

All in all, this was the best demo I have heard Merrill Audio give.  I thought the amplification mated exceptionally well with the big omnidirectional speakers.  Merrill credited at least some of the improvement to his lovely Christine reference preamplifier and the equally beautiful Jens phono stage.

As a past owner of Merrill Audio Thor amplifiers, I can say that Mr. Wettasinghe knows how to do Class D amplification right.  Besides that, he’s also one of the really good guys in the industry.

Here’s a rundown on exactly what was playing during my several visits to the room:

  • Speakers:  German Physiks Borderland                         $36,500
  • Amplifiers:  Merrill Audio Veritas monoblocks               $12,000
  • Linestage Preamp:  Merrill Audio Christine                   $12,400
  • Phono Preamp:  Merrill Audio Jens                                 $15,449
  • Turntable:  VPI Avenger Reference                                 $22,000
  • Tonearm:  VPI “Fatboy” 3-D Printed                                 $6,000
  • Cartridge:  Lyra Delos                                                        $1,995
  • Music Server:  Aurender N10                                            $8,000
  • DAC:  EMM Labs Dac2x                                                    $15,500
  • Interconnects and Speaker Cables: Merrill Audio        $1,449 per set