Reviewed by:Smacman (AudioPhile)
Review Date June 22, 2010
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Value Rating 5 of 5
Used product for 3 Months to 1 year
I wanted to post a few comments on my new speakers, the Merlin TSM-mmi. It is a two-way, monitor, stand mount type of speaker with a 6 1/4” woofer and 1’ silk dome tweeter. It is a sealed acoustic suspension design with a frequency response of 55-20kHz +/-2dB and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms and a minimum of 6.5 ohms. My speakers came with a textured black finish which is very well done and the overall fit and finish is outstanding. The unique Cardas binding post on the back of the speakers are the best I have used and insure a solid connection with your speaker cables.
You might find the system I’m using the Merlins in interesting. I have a very modest system to say the least except for the speakers. The rest of the system consists of an NAD 325BEE 50 watt integrated amp, NAD c542 HDCD cdp with Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval interconnects and Oval Nine speakers cable. The room the system is in is approx. 16.5‘x13.5’x8’ with five and seven foot openings to other rooms at either end of the room.
I’ve wanted new speakers for a long time now and have over the years auditioned at length (either at home or dealers) many speakers. After a listening session of the floor standing Merlin VSM I knew that I wanted a set of Merlin speakers. They just sounded so right. It was a bit disconcerting because no other speaker had that effect on me. But that is what is great about this hobby, you know very quickly when you hear something right for you.
So, I had settled on the TSM but was hesitant to take the plunge. First, because of budget (We have the usual bills that everyone has and two girls in private school). And second, because I had such a modest system. Conventional wisdom says you can’t use a high end, highly resolving speaker in such a “inadequate” system. Well, my wife helped me make the move on the Merlins by surprising me for my birthday by ordering them for me. I was completely floored when one afternoon at the front door was my wife and a delivery guy with a box marked by the Merlin logo and indicating it was filled with the TSM-mmi.
I’ve had the speakers now for three months and in a nutshell they are here to say and I couldn’t be happier with them. I’ll try to briefly convey why I enjoy them so much. The first thing I listen for in a speaker is good tone. The TSM has fantastic tone. Everything from piano to upright bass, from violin to screeching electric guitar sounds right. I believe Todd Warnke of Enjoy The Music summed them up perfectly in his excellent review. He talks about the bass and mid range having remarkable tonal density (paraphrase). That is the best way to describe it.
I’m a bit of a bass freak. You may be wondering, “how can this guy be a bass freak and he uses a two-way sealed monitor?”. Well, I want to hear all the bass I can, from the attack to the finish of the note. That is what the TSM does for me. I couldn’t believe how much of the tone of bass instruments I was missing until I got the Merlins. Even pipe organ is a treat to listen to. Of course they don’t move the air like multiple a large driver speakers do. But in my room and for my taste there is plenty of energy from the TSM (the energy coming from these speakers is dumbfounding) and they deliver a good visceral impact considering their size. The work well enough on the low stuff that I even have a REL T1 sub that I don’t use.
The highs of the TSM are splendid. They are the sweetest most resolved I have heard. Speaking of resolution, the TSM is one of the most resolving speakers I have ever heard. I am hearing deep into my music. Depending on the recording the TSM transports my to the event or venue or brings it to my room. I don’t know how they do it. My guess is their tonal density along with their resolving power has a lot to do with it. I also believe they are a very low in distortion. I’ve rarely been able to listen to any speaker above 85dB peaks for extended periods. I startled myself one day when I was listening with a friend and he happened to turn on the spl meter and we were listening at length with peaks nearing 100dB. I’ve had to be careful with my ears on extended listening sessions. The TSM just invites to turn it up and get lost in the music.
The soundstage and imaging of these speakers is world class and I have never experienced a speaker that disappears like these. Every time I listen I just marvel at how there is just music in the room. I cannot localize the music to the speakers. There is just a “sound picture” in front of and around me. It, quite simply, is a blast.
It has been great enjoying these speakers and I look forward to many years of musical pleasure with them. I hope you get a chance to listen to a pair. There are some great professional reviews on these speakers. Those will give you an even better idea than I ever could about how wonderful these speakers are.
Thanks to Bobby and Bill at Merlin for making such a wonderful speaker. Merlin is a great company with outstanding customer support.
Thanks for reading.
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