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Merrill Audio Christine, Merrill Audio Element 118 | Review

by Richard Mak in Components

In this review, Rick takes a good look at the Merrill Audio Christine preamplifier and the Merrill Audio Element 118 monoblock amplifiers. Back of the Class? Ever since their introduction in 1958, Class D amplifiers have been loved by many for their efficiency versus traditional Class A, AB or B circuitries. Theoretically, Class D circuits are capable of achieving 90-98% efficiency, whereas Class B operates at approximately 75% and Class A at 20-50%. This difference gives Class D significant [...]

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  • Sparkler Audio Spiral, Ether | Review

    August 11, 2019 // 8 Comments

    A Box of Sparklers My introduction to the wares of Sparkler Audio (website) was through the 2017 and 2018 Capital Audiofest shows. There, I’d made note of Sparker’s quirky Spiral compact disc player, which had been featured in both the Charney Audio and VK Music rooms. Given that I had really enjoyed the sound in these rooms at both shows, I was determined to put Sparker Audio on my “to do” radar. That little CD player just kept tugging at me, as I had been considering getting a disc [...]
  • Vitus Audio RS101 and RL102 | Review

    July 7, 2019 // 3 Comments

    Looking at the Vitus Audio RS101 amplifier, or the matching Vitus Audio RL102 linestage (updates to the line that included the RS100 and RD100, which we reviewed a few years ago), it’s hard to dispute that Hans Ole Vitus is a no-compromise kind of guy. According to his brief online biography, the Danish-born designer cut his teeth early on high-end audio, having taken apart, re-built and modified his share of components as a youngster. This interest led to a degree in electronic [...]
  • Vinnie Rossi LIO | Review

    June 16, 2019 // 3 Comments

      by Steve Folberg The Vinnie Rossi LIO I couldn’t be more pleased about once again reviewing an integrated amplifier for Part-Time Audiophile, especially since I’m currently searching for an integrated amp for my own system. If you want to know why I’m set on an integrated rather than separates, my PTA review of the Luxman L-550AX II, a physically gorgeous amplifier that made some impressively beautiful music in my system. I was, in fact, quite reluctant to pack that baby up and [...]
  • Rowen Absolute MONO | Mini-Review

    February 15, 2019 // 3 Comments

    Who is Rowen? Every dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying, worldly audiophile knows of all the significant audio companies coming out of that highly regarded Alpine nation, right? Well, maybe not. Not only is Rowen a major player (website) in the Swiss audio market, it also boasts a 47-year unbroken heritage, successfully passing the flame from one generation to the next. Rowen is uncommon in that they manufacture high-end amps and speakers. This advantages them in knowing the demands both impose on [...]
  • Naim Uniti Atom All-In-One Audio System | Review

    January 20, 2019 // 2 Comments

    Introducing the Naim Uniti Atom “All in one, and one for all!” Wait, what? Ha! You’ve just been introduced to my new tagline for Naim Audio’s nifty combined audio system, the Uniti Atom. It’s an all-in-one audio system, as in high-end meets lifestyle. As in “I want this thing, and so should everyone else.” So let me explain… I’ve dealt with combined audio systems before. I suppose I’m a bit biased against them, but for no good reason. Audiophile purist snobbery perhaps? [...]
  • Dan D’Agostino’s new reference Relentless Monoblock amplifier (website) weighs in at a record 570 pounds, can dance beautifully at 1 watt and will party all the way 6000 watts into 2 ohms when driven by a 220v electrical circuit. Although it takes 4 strong dudes to drop it in place, once warmed up and you’re past the dent in the checking account, I don’t think you’ll ever want to move it once you power it up. Two years in the making, Dan D’Agostino describes the development as a [...]
  • Do I really need an excuse to ditch Rochester just before the first major snowstorm of the season just to head down to San Diego? As excuses go, I can think on none more sublime than visiting a high-end audio dealer to evaluate a couple of state-of-the-art designs that have just been introduced. Alma Audio is nestled in the Kearney Mesa area of the city, not far from the airport. It’s a fairly new enterprise, opened in 2015 by partners Alexandre Siufy and Fabio Storelli. Along with Adrienne [...]
  • Another amplifier is aiming right at the balls of the established order of high-end consumer electronics. Out of the gate that last statement might seem a little crass, but by the end of this I hope to (at least partly) justify it. Peachtree Audio (website) has been looking to exploit the high-end audio market’s major weaknesses for over a decade. Many of the long heralded brands we have come to know and love have been slow to adapt to the changing marketplace, either out of fear of losing [...]
  • Auris Audio (website) is a somewhat new addition to the rich high-end audio tradition of the central European country of Serbia. If that strikes you as odd, let me assure you that yes, they’ve got a robust market for high-end audio manufacturing there! There are some wonderful and well-established companies from that part of the world doing some truly amazing things in the High-End corner of our hobby. A couple of the of better-known ones immediately come to mind. One is Dayens, which has [...]
  • Bakoon AMP-41 Review | An Open Window

    September 30, 2018 // 1 Comment

    The Bakoon Amp-41 integrated amplifier was a mystery to me. As in “no preconceived notions” whatsoever.  Sometimes, we get to evaluate gear that has been reviewed to death by the major players, talked about incessantly in the back corridors of the audio chatrooms, and the like.  It’s fun, but like it or not, I feel like I know more than I want to about the product before I ever get to hear it for myself.  My initial thought when Scot Hull handed me this amp was something like [...]
  • Emotiva TA-100 Review | The Millennial Audiophile

    September 2, 2018 // 5 Comments

    Emotiva's TA-100 aims to dominate the entry-level integrated category by offering a little more of everything [...]
  • McGary Audio SA-1

    McGary Audio SA-1 Stereo Amplifier Review

    September 1, 2018 // 2 Comments

    One of the fun aspects of reviewing gear from small start-up companies is getting to know the owner/proprietor, who is also usually the designer and builder of the piece of gear I’m reviewing. Such is the case with Mike McGary, something of a new kid on the block in the world of vacuum tube amplifier design. Mike is the owner, designer, builder, and chief bottle washer at upstart McGary Audio, which is based in Gainesville, Virginia, not quite a two-hour drive from my home in south-central [...]
  • Psvane EL34PH Review | Tube Me!

    August 24, 2018 // 3 Comments

    by Darryl Lindberg One thing’s certain: as tubes age, their performance declines. How do you know if your glassware is in decline? As far as I can tell there are two indications of this phenomenon: an abrupt termination of operation or a gradual realization that “something’s missing.” In the case of output tubes, an abrupt termination may be manifested by a brilliant flash as an output tube (or tubes) goes supernova. Depending on your equipment’s protective measures, such an event can [...]
  • Luxman L-550AXII Integrated Amplifier Review

    August 4, 2018 // 5 Comments

    By Steve Folberg Memory Lane Long before the Luxman L-550AXII ever graced my door, there was a stereo system. I bought my first real system just out of graduate school in 1985: a Systemdek turntable (with a glass platter and the worst suspension system ever slapped into a turntable), a used Linn Basik tonearm with some long forgotten Audioquest cartridge, a PS Audio Elite Plus integrated amp, and a pair of the original Vandersteen 2C loudspeakers, bi-wired with some fat, ugly, Monster Cable [...]
  • First Watt SIT-3 Amplifier Review

    July 15, 2018 // 7 Comments

    Skunkworks Legend To those who follow aviation history, Clarence “Kelly” Johnson is something of a legend. In case you are unfamiliar with the name, Johnson was a chief designer for Lockheed Martin who was the brains behind such legendary aircraft as the U2 and SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft. These designs were so top secret that they were conceived and developed in a nebulous location known as the “Skunk Works” and eventually tested at Groom Lake in the Nevada desert, which is [...]
  • The rightful king of the audiophile entry-level integrated amplifiers adds a jewel to its crown I’ve owned three of the NAD 316BEE integrated amplifiers (website here). They are my go-to budget integrated for a few reasons; power, finesse, and simplicity. Each time I have parted with one I’ve known it was to initiate a budding audiophile towards making a move into the hobby. Think of the new NAD 316BEE V2 as a well-refined budget amplifier, but also gateway product that does well to give [...]
  • “Dad, why does he always get to do things before I did?” That was my daughter voicing mild complaint over the prospect of her younger brother receiving a Sprout. A Sprout, you say? Indeed, I’m speaking of PS Audio’s gateway drug into high-end audio, the venerable Sprout integrated amplifier/DAC/phono preamp. It seems that receipt of a Sprout has become something of a coming of age moment in my family. My daughter got the first generation sample I reviewed when she was a junior in [...]
  • Do you want the hernia or the double hernia? The voice on the phone asking that question was Bryan Stanton, a communications specialist who works with Pass Labs. A few weeks prior, we had begun chatting about Pass sending me one of its X-series amps for review. I had agreed, and now Pass wanted to know if it should ship the 127-pound X350.8 stereo amp or a pair of the top-of-the-line, 123-pounds-each X600.8 mono blocks. I didn’t hesitate for even a second. “Oh, the X600.8s. [...]
  • McIntosh MA252 tube/solid-state: Review

    March 30, 2018 // 7 Comments

    Say hello to the McIntosh MA252: “Hello, stranger.” In the world of high-end audio, there are solid-state tribes and there are tube tribes. Usually, the two pretty much stick to their own camps, except for scattered skirmishes when they cross paths at the watering hole. Each tribe believes theirs is the one true path, and questions the auditory capabilities of the other side. This is why I’m always surprised to see any attempts at the two co-existing in the same room, let alone [...]
  • Welcome to something new we’re going to try here on PTA thanks to our friend Wynn Wong of Wynn Audio in Richmond Hill, Ontario. I’m going to be curating a new list every month featuring different categories of gear that I think you – our readers – have to hear under any circumstances you can arrange: beg, borrow, steal, drive for hours, hop a train, take a plane… you get what I’m saying. Price will not be a factor, with individual pieces on each list reflecting a spectrum of what [...]