Getting Back In - But Doing it Sanely

Hi everyone!

I was once an active buyer here, but after a couple of decades of kids, it's time to get back in. This time, however, I'm doing it with a sense of sanity. I could use your help! I'm in the USA.

I kept my Merlin VSM speakers, which are 8ohm 89db sensitivity speakers that were great with tubes. I would like to use them in my new system. I also purchased a Wiim Pro for a source - I'll be using Apple Music or another streaming service. No video / theater system connectivity is planned or wanted!

My listening room is 20’ x 18’ with high 10’ ceilings. I live in a townhome and can't blast the music, but I want to enjoy it at casual listening levels. Music in like is acoustic, folk, singer songwriter, and some top 40.

I need a preamp/amp, preferably integrated. No monoblocks, for sure. Fine with tubes. Fine with digital.

I want to spend less than $4k used. Preferably under $2k!

Can anyone make suggestions?



Look into the Hegel 95 ($2000) or the 120 ($3000). Both have internal DACs to simplify system.

The Merlin’s were on my short list a long time ago - they look so classy. This isn’t a recommendation since I have no idea on how the combination would mesh, but if I were in the market for speakers I’d be really curious on how an Aric Audio Transcend Push Pull running either EL-34s or KT-88s would sound. With acoustic, folk, singer songwriter, I’d probably run this amp in triode mode with no negative feedback (it’s variable). There’s one currently listed here. I’m really curious to see the future review of this amp; it’s been wonderful in my system.

Aesthetically, love the look of both the ARC I-50 and the Mastersound.

Signature Sound is the place to go for all things Merlin. They service Merlin speakers. They also sell Atma-Sphere and ARS Sonum, which would be a good match for Merlin speakers. I had VSM’s for 8 years. Nice speakers.