Merlin Music Systems VSM-MXe Floorstanding Speakers

VSM-MXe

Merlin Music Systems has elevated the critically acclaimed performance of its VSM loudspeakers to a new level, the Merlin VSM-MM and VSM-MX. The VSM MM's & MX’s use the same rigid cabinets, state-of-the-art drivers, proprietary wire harness, specially designed "Z" feet, and high-quality internal parts as in previous versions of the VSM. The VSM MM & MX continue to use our proprietary ultra low loss Hovland inductors and the Merlin Bass Augmentation Module (BAM) that was developed for the VSM-M. New to the VSM-MM & MX is the further improvement of crossover components which takes the speaker performance to the next level.

User Reviews (19)

Showing 1-10 of 19  
michael klementovich   AudioPhile [Dec 31, 2016]

After 2 years now i can easily say 250,000.00 later I have finally arrived at the best sound i feel is humanly possible.........
the MERLIN VSM-MXE WITH THE QUICKSILVER AUDIO 6C33C TRIODE THE WORLDS MOST PERFECT AMP NOTHING MORE TO SAY

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
roroh   AudioPhile [Apr 14, 2013]

Hi all

i will be interested by a pair of merlin vsm mm used ( 2007 ) and i saw on the website somebody said that the medium/bass speaker is too slow with regard to the tweeter dynaudio esotar ?

thanks for your return

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Angel   AudioPhile [Sep 16, 2010]

The emotion aroused by the new Merlin Music master bam and rc's in considerable. In early 2010 I purchased the new VSM-MXR with the super bam and standard rc's. The upgrades were purchased step by step, first the rc's and later the master bam. The original results were really good, but Merlin Music was able to modify and improve to a new level the sonority of the speaker:

1- The uniformity of sound level of each driver
2- Timbre (quality of sound)
3- Response and sensitivity
4- The attack of the sound
5- Contrast of tones
6- Color of tones
7- Dynamic range
8- The degree of clarity from the top to bottom of frequency range

My ear quickly confirms that the results are superior to the previous design. The speaker now works as a complete harmonic instrument, the all important midrange has a absolutely beautiful sound with piano clarity. The complete master bam upgrade will add a new level of precise balance, a very clear lyrical and voice like sound and the base more deep rooted and warm. One of the advantages of this speaker is that in view of its easy load and high sensitivity a single ended amplfier with a high quality 211 or 845 output tube will provide you with fantastic results if your room is not to large.

I feel that Bobby Palkovich creates speakers like a luthier, with a youthful energy that controls his creative ideas to reach the goal for better sound. The new sound has a modern sense of power, emotional impact, projection and beauty of sound that should become a trademark of the Merlin sound. This is the same energy I use for the finish of my musical instruments, the method of french polish is the art to apply schellac to the wood for the best sound. A complete classical guitar will take me six months or more. Booby and I have the same goals, we grew based on our past experience to achieve the best sound.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
maursy   AudioPhile [Jun 24, 2010]

I have owned the VSM-MXE for some time and think I have a pretty good handle on how it sounds at least in my system. I have a Ars Sonum integrated and a Cary 303/300 cdp, Pro-Ject 9.1, Cary ph302 and a Ortofon rondo bronze with everything tied together with Cardas Golden Reference. I finally have a listening room just for lthe stereo and myself. After many years of trying to get that sound I was looking for I found it with this system. It is hard for me to put the sound of these speakers into audiophile speak but they are just the most natural sounding speakers since my Quads that I owned for years. The highs go on forever the mids are spot on and the bass is very natural for the jazz that I play.Not cheap but worth every penny as these speakers will stay with me here in OZ for many years to come.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bill Stephens   AudioPhile [May 17, 2010]

In my 30+ years in this hobby there are only a handful of components that I've kept more than a few years. I bought the Merlin VSMs (SE version) after an in-home audition in 1998 and after reading many glowing reviews. I liked the speakers so well that I kept them for 10+ years and felt no need to change them. Bobby Palkovic at Merlin (and more glowing reviews of the later models) finally convinced me to take the next step, so this year I sent my speakers back to Merlin to be converted to VSM-MXe status. Thus my comments below address both the original VSM-SE and the upgrade to the VSM-MXe.

My prior speakers were also 10+ years in my home. They were electrostatics from a highly regarded company and I spent many years trying to get them to sound “natural”. They certainly sounded transparent and revealing, which is why I bought them, but I could not get them to sound natural. After listening to the VSM-SE in 1998 it was clear that they had much of the revealing quality of the electrostatics, but they also had the inherent musicality and naturalness that allows one to get lost in the music and simply enjoy the performance. This is why I bought the VSM-SE and enjoyed them for 10+ years. They are natural and sound like music. Thinking back over the past 10 years I guess I resisted the upgrade as there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about the VSM-SE sound and I really didn't think they could be improved "that much".

I was wrong.

If the VSM-SE sounds like music, the VSM-MXe is starting to sound like live music.

I’ve had the modified speakers back now only a bit over two weeks. Bobby put some hours on them after the upgrade and I guess I’ve put another 80 hours on them. The first week they sounded very nice and it was clear they were changing/breaking in. This past weekend though the speakers really came into their own. As the weekend progressed the sound became more expansive, more relaxed, yet more defined and precise. The top end snapped into focus: When this occurred the imaging became much more defined, almost holographic and the sound took on an "aliveness" or realism that I have not heard before. The soundstage details (especially in the mid-to-back portion of the stage became almost as clear and defined as the front of the stage. I began to hear clearly for the first time many details, background harmonies and vocals on recordings that I've listened to hundreds of times before. Simply hearing stuff that I had no idea was even in the recordings. There were several songs that I "thought" I knew the words on but I found out I was singing the wrong words. The speakers now are clear in revealing this. I find the VSM-MXe to be far more resolved, revealing and immediate while being even more relaxing to listen to than the SEs. And for those into imaging - these speakers will not disappoint.

As I mentioned, before I purchased the Merlins I owned electrostatic speakers and, being an engineer, I thought that there was no way a dynamic driver speaker system could capture that kind of realism. I guess I'm going to have to re-consider that opinion. It's amazing to me that (with this modification) the speaker has had no driver changes and yet sounds so different and improved.

Loving what I'm hearing so far with this (very reasonably priced) upgrade.

Associated Equipment:
Decware Torii Mk-2 amplifier
Rega Saturn CDP
Well Tempered Table, ET 2.5 Tonearm, Benz-Micro Glider cartridge
Audience AU-24 cabling

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
pubul57   AudioPhile [Feb 22, 2010]

What do you get when someone has a good idea and spends the rest of their lives perfecting it? The Merlin VSMs. I think this speaker is the pinnacle of two-way speakers, and in the very top ranks regradless of size or price. Music lovers should just buy it and enjoy the music. Audiophile should try it, they might just find that it is the last speaker they ever own. One has to get over the fact that it "only" has two drivers, is relatively small, and is nevertheless a masterpiece, sorted out through years of improvements and refinement. If you own a pair, you can rest assured you own some of the very best speakers on the planet, and you did not have to mortgage your house, or buy behemoths dominating your room to get some of the very best sound currently available. As Merlin owners know, somehow Bobby is going to figure out yet one more way to make what seems like a perfect speaker in so many ways, better yet. This is not just a product, it is a vision and a passion of one man who had a really good idea of how to make a speaker, and the commitment to improve it over time in any way he could find. Let's just say I really like it and "new" speakers are the last thing I ever think about, till Bobby finds yet another way to improve the VSM. Next stop, the Master BAM.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Pubul57   AudioPhile [Feb 21, 2010]

There simply seems no reason to say what has already been said here. I read the reviews and think that everyone has pretty much captured the spirit of what these speakers do. They are simply at the pinnacle of two-way speakers, and among the finest speakers available regardless of size or price. If you are a music lover first, just buy them, sit back, and enjoy. If you are an audiophile, you owe it to yourself to have these speakers at some point in your journey looking for the "holy grail". I suspect that if you do, the Merlins may very well be the last speakers you will own, until Bobby figures out some way to perfect what might in all important musical ways may already seem perfect - yet somehow, over time, he will find a way. He has chosen to make one thing as well as he can possibly make it, and all Merlin owners are the beneficiaries of that passionate pursuit.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
mikeyaya   AudioPhile [Sep 07, 2009]

decided to recently sell my beautiful pair of refurbished Quad 57 ESL's. I have had a few pairs and have had a love affair with these speakers but the warmth began to grate on me after a few years. I always thought of my room as bright so I gravitated to warm speakers, Quads, Spendor, Harbeth. Once I sold the Quads I was not sure what to do. I did not want the speakers already mentioned and I had tried Martin Logans and Proacs and was not going back there although I really liked the Proacs. I did not know what to do but while cruising the Audiogon I saw a pair of Merlin VSM MMe speakers for sale very close to my house. I had never heard these speakers but I bought them and set them up in my room. What I heard just blew me away. I have always loved monitor speakers and these were the best I ever heard. Come to think of it these are the best speakers the I have ever heard. Anyone who thinks that the Quad 57 is the best ever has never heard Merlins. They far surpass the Quads in all areas. The sound is so clear. No added anything, just music. I now understand neutrality. I have some good equipment and use a Nottingham Dais turntable. I finally am hearing the real beauty of this table. The interesting thing is that I have not got all the cables matched up yet. I am using some old Goertz speaker cables. It sounds so good that I am afraid of messing with the system. I am using VTL TT 25 amps, Rogue 99 Magnum pre, the Nott. and a Cary 303/300 CD player. The Merlins have made this nice system really first class. This is one outstanding product.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
snowshoe   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 19, 2009]

These speakers arrived in February, so I am now about 6 months into them. I am still amazed by how they good they sound. I had on Cowboy Junkies ~ The Trinity Session the other night and was truly impressed. The depth, stage and presence was all there. I can spend a lot of time writing up a long review on how these speakers sound, but it will not say much more than what others have said about these speakers all ready. They are truly fantastic.

I will say that care needs to be taken in their setup. The first pair of Merlin Speakers I heard were the previous revision, a pair of VSM-MX. I'm not sure what it was but it sounded like the high and lows were coming from separate disjoint speakers. There was absolutely no cohesiveness with the sound. I pretty much discounted them until a while later when I heard another pair of VSM-MX. I was taken aback. I could not believe how good they sounded. I had a hard time believing that they were the same speaker. I attribute it to their setup and the room they were in, but it could have also been the equipment/cables driving them. Something was different and the second time around they sounded great.


The customer service from Merlin is top notch. You can call them up and talk with Bobby himself. If he does not answer the phone himself, he will soon be on it. His support does not stop at the speaker terminals. You can talk cables, amps, sources, music and so forth. Bobby wants you to get the best possible experience out of his speakers and your equipment and he will offer suggestions to get you there.


= = = Associated Equipment = = =

Marantz 7
Marantz 8
Joule Electra Ops-2 Mk4
Thorens TD-124

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
augwest   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 24, 2009]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
After a year of ownership I am more delighted with my Merlin VSM-MXe loudspeakers than ever. One could easily spend more and be left wanting. These accurate, engaging, and high quality transducers form an excellent basis for a high end system and are enthusiastically recommended!

COMPLETE REVIEW
I’ve just finished a three year project to put together a two channel (stereo) sound system that could satisfy me for years or perhaps even decades to come. I must confess to no small relief at having achieved this goal. Only a maniacally obsessive music lover who can relate to optimizing each piece of audio hardware to the point of having every note of several different reference recordings etched into one’s brain from relentless and repetitious comparisons can appreciate the feeling of freedom that comes with disembarking from the merry-go-round. I believe that no system is identical to a live performance (I have attended hundreds and play a couple of instruments myself) any more than a television can fool a person into thinking that they are in the scene but the system I have now creates a very convincing illusion rich with satisfyingly accurate detail, texture, and dynamics that provide a sense of realism palpable enough to be eerie at times.

While every component influences audio character and quality it is perhaps the speakers that, more than any other single component, define how a system sounds. Conventional wisdom is to put your money into the speakers and amplification. Regarding amplification I’ve had the BEL 1001 MkV for three years now. I had owned about eight others previously and have never been tempted upgrade from BEL (though I did get a second one so I could run monoblocks which brought me from merely excellent to truly world class in that department). My three year quest spanned countless changes but began and ended with a speaker upgrade as the intervening upgrades had rendered my Vandersteen 2Ce Signatures (a great value in their price range) the weak link in the system.

I ordered a pair of Merlin VSM MXe’s after exhaustive research and a long conversation with designer Bobby Palkovic. I had just auditioned another pair of speakers in the same price range and found that they fell a little short of my expectations. Like many high quality durable goods the VSM’s were made to order and it took a couple of months for them to arrive. Though they sounded fine and detailed straight out of the box, thorough break-in required a good 200 hours. After that the bass in particular was fleshed out and tonal balance more satisfying.

Bass took on even greater weight and realism after upgrading from a very good FET/tube hybrid preamp to the excellent Joule Electra LA-150 MkII preamp. The bass output (quantity and quality) this speaker design achieves with a 6.5” driver and SBAM bass EQ module is astounding and will cause educated listeners to look for side-mounted drivers or even a subwoofer, but it will not rattle your teeth like a 12” or 15” woofer. What you get instead is refinement, elegance, delineation between instruments and voices, imaging, and sound stage that add up to an intriguing sense of sheer credibility that is, for lack of a better term, fascinating. It’s detailed yet smooth, intriguing but not fatiguing, entertaining and toe-tapping. Female vocals are silky and seductive, and various instruments including drums, piano, upright bass, acoustic guitar, brass and strings all seem to sound just right. Jazz, classical, acoustic, and female vocal music all sound very realistic, drawing the listener in to *feel* the emotion behind the performance. Of course with electronic/highly processed music or distorted rock and roll accuracy can be difficult to judge but even there the speaker's resolution and imaging are spellbinding. Vocal harmonies are not all melded together but actually sound like distinct voices (another nod to the fantastic BEL 1001 MkV monoblocks is due here). Listening to these speakers in my system is truly a remarkable experience. They are not inexpensive given the componentry but in my mind the physical implementation is only a means to an end; a five-way speaker system for the same price that has more bass but sounds less convincing is NOT a better deal than this outstanding two-way in my humble opinion and by my yardstick these are a great value.

Finally this review would not be complete without giving due credit to Bobby at Merlin for his relentless and tenacious efforts in optimizing the VSM design over the past 15 or so years, his contagious passion and enthusiasm for music and its proper rendering in reproduction, and last but not least the patient, generous, and responsive coaching and sharing of wisdom that I sought out and which was invaluable in choosing an efficient path in optimizing the system upstream of the speakers. We agree on at least 90 percent of what we have both auditioned and I am forever in his debt for his having spent long, tedious hours auditioning all sorts of components, tweaks, and ideas so that I will never have to and can enjoy listening to music instead!

= = = Associated Equipment = = =
Transport: Music Hall CD25.2 w/Underwood HiFi T-mod
Digital Cable: Cardas Lightning 15
DAC: Audio Aero Capitole SE (tube output)
Preamplifier: Joule Electra LA-150 MkII (tube)
Interconnect Cables: Brown Electronic Laboratories (BEL) The Wire P1
Amplifiers: BEL 1001 MkV (solid state)*
* I believe these to be among the best sounding amps ever made, period.
Speaker Cables: Audience Au24e
AC Cords: Audience PowerChord & PowerChord “e”
AC Power: Dedicated 20 amp circuit w/hospital grade receptacles
Vibration Control (internal): Herbie’s UltraSonic tube dampers on all tubes
Vibration Control (external): Symposium Ultra Platforms, Svelte Shelves, Rollerblock 2+ & Rollerblock Jr.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 19  

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