Merlin VSM-MXR

Category: Speakers

hey all, i thought i would give my impressions on the newest merlin iteration, the VSM-MXr. by way of introduction, this all started for me about 5 years ago. i originally owned the VSM-MX for about 3 years. i sent them back to bobby for the "lead-free" upgrade, and upgraded the BAM batteries. with this upgrade, i found the sound to be even more continuous, more dynamic, and more energetic. i have a largish room with vaulted ceilings, and i found the upgraded VSM-MXe's to be more room filling. a little while after that, i got the itch and decided to sell my upgraded lead free VSM-MXe's to a friend locally, who was willing to wait for me to get the new pair of fully lead free VSM-MXe's, with a lead free BAM.

after a wait, bobby surprised me with a pair of VSM-MXr's. full disclosure--simultaneously i also upgraded my digital front end from an audio aero prima to the AA capitole classic SE; AND, i bought a two level critical mass direct coupling rack for my filarmonia and the cap classic. my reference analog front end is unchanged--VPI TNT 6 hotrod.

i've got about 500 hours on the VSM-MXr's, and about 300 hours on the critical mass system. just like all the prior merlin upgrades, this one too gives you MORE of what's so special about the merlins to begin with. the speakers are now more continuous from top to bottom, more articulate and more authoritative in the low end, and the top end is even more precise and natural. the stage is more expansive. they're still tonally neutral, they still disappear completely from the room. but the sense of realism is heightened, so the sound is even more "life-like," less like a recording. in that way, the speakers are even more emotive.

i'm waiting for my turn on the master BAM and RC parts upgrade, which i'm hoping will make the speakers even more authoritative in the low end.

as is, IMO, the new VSM-MX's do justify their "r" designation. they sound to my ear clearly better than my prior merlins, a different animal. exactly what you would expect, a further refinement of an already brilliant 2 way design.

Associated gear:
ARS sonum filarmonia
Audio Aero Capitole Classic SE
VPI TNT 6 hotrod
Cardas Golden Reference interconnects, power cords, and single wired speaker cables
Joule Electra OPS-I
Critical Mass 2 level direct coupling system for filarmonia and cap classic

Are you using the interfaces provided for the Critical Mass platforms? If you are, what are your assessments with them?

Thank you
sorry toudou, i'm just checking my old reviews and i saw your question.

by interfaces, are you referring to the black discs joe provides to interface between the equipment feet and the CM platforms? yes, i'm using those. i can't say i've done an AB comparison with and without them though. i had been using walker valid points beneath my cdp and walker pucks on top of the cdp. i stopped using those when i went to the CM system.

in general, the CM direct coupling system is amazing. the break-in is long and bizarre, very much unlike tube break-in where improvements are more or less linear over time. after it had all settled in, the improvements were not subtle. my filarmonia plays louder and clearer. it sounds much "bigger" than before. my house sound with the CM system is more nuanced, energetic, realistic, and articulate. i wouldn't say it makes bad recordings sound better, but well mastered digital sounds MUCH better, no question.