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A Look and Listen to Merrill Audio's Veritas Amplifiers

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  • A Look and Listen to Merrill Audio's Veritas Amplifiers

    Have Class D amplifiers gotten a bad rap? Certainly when they came out, Class D amplifiers were great when someone needed lots of power in a small package. Like to power woofers in speakers. Or an inexpensive, small energy efficient amplifier. One couldn't quibble with Class D amplifiers performance as bass amplifiers but their performance was often lacking once they were asked to reproduce other areas of the audio spectrum. One could ascribe the following qualities to Class D amplifiers: thin, involving, metallic, flat, etc.

    But things don't stand still in audio. Several companies--most notably among them Rowland, Mola-Mola and the subject of this thread, Merrill Audio--have been hard at work improving the sound of Class D amplifiers. In fact, the Merrill Audio amplifiers have caught my ear's attention at several recent shows for their sounding decidedly un-Class D-like sound.

    Thanks first go out to JonathanB and Merrill Wettasinghe for making arrangements for the lending of his top-of-line 12K Veritas monoblock amplifiers that use Hypex Ncore NC1200 modules and switching power supply (SMPS) for these listening sessions (more comments to come on PF too). Especially to Merrill for allowing me as much time as I needed to evaluate the amplifiers in my system.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	veritas-silver_1276x644.jpg Views:	1 Size:	158.2 KB ID:	62692

    Now a couple of caveats before my comments. To begin with, the first problem that I ran into was that my reference cj GAT Series 2 preamplifier only has SE outputs and the Veritas only has balanced inputs. So Merrill lent me a pair of Cardas SE to balanced connectors. Next, my reference Transparent Audio speaker and IC cables are calibrated for my cj gear; so instead of sending them back to Transparent Audio for recalibration, I decided to use for the better part of the review the Audience 24SX IC and speakers cables that were in for review. Towards the end, however, I swapped in my reference Transparent Audio differentially balanced phono cables for the Audience 24SX phono cables; the Transparent XL Gen. 5 link between my Doshi tape stage and GAT preamplifier also replaced the Audience 24SX IC. Inserting the TA into the system was definitely a plus and gave me a much different picture of the Veritas' performance. Finally, Merrill Audio doesn't provide any power cords (like many manufacturers, Merrill assumes the owners will used their cable du jour) so my trusted Kubala-Sosna Emotion power cords were drafted into service.

    In way of a sneak preview, let's just say that you're in for a big surprise if you think Class D amplifiers are only good for bass amplifiers. Not only do these Veritas amplifiers provide around 700 wpc into the 4 ohm Magico S5 Mk. 2s and drive them with ease but with some amazing resolution and tonal recreation. Not your run-of-the-mill Class D amplifier. Stay tuned for more!
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, MPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    I'd love to check out the Veritas amps but I'm very happy with my Thor amps (and Cara preamp.) So much so, in fact, that my recently restored-by-Soundsmith Gryphon M-100 amps and XT (with phono) preamp are sitting gathering dust since I retrieved them from Soundsmith one month ago. (I suspect I'll be more inclined to check out the M-100's come December or January as they serve as great space heaters.)

    Comment


    • #3
      I was wondering how you were coming with them. Can't wait to read what you think of them.
      Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.

      Comment


      • #4
        One interesting observation about the Merrill Audio amplifiers. Designer Merrill Wettasinghe mentioned when dropping the amplifiers by to be sure to leave the amplifiers on all the time and allow (I assume were well used) three days before doing any critical listening. He was absolutely correct here. For the first day, the amplifiers brought back memories of the sound of newly plugged-in electrostatic speakers before they are fully charged up. A little lean, a little lacking in dynamics and a little flat sounding. Not by any means terrible or unlistenable but clearly no wheres near what the amplifiers are capable of doing. What was curious however is that it seemed that the amplifiers really didn't hit their stride until being left on for a couple of weeks. At that point, the midrange seemed to settle in and become even more palpable and tonally complete.

        Make no mistake. The Veritas amplifiers are not your typical sounding Class D amplifier. Where they err is for the most part is almost always on the side of omission rather than commission. That little magical bounce that the best amplifiers especially those of the tube persuasion give you. It's not unlike what a professional jazz guitarist might say to a newbie. Play with some more swing. I do wish, however, that could have listened to the amplifiers with a full loom of Transparent Audio here. I suspect that one of my reservations in the area of bass dynamics, lies with the cabling and not necessarily the amplifiers. Perhaps before all is said and done, I'll pull out a different pair of speakers cables-say some Kubala-Sosna, Viero or Skogrand--to try with the amplifiers

        That aside, the Veritas' are an amplifier that many audiophiles could live with quite happily. First and foremost, there's no hardness to these amplifiers. Trust me. The Magicos ruthlessly reveal bright components and I can listen for hours to these amplifiers. Furthermore, nothing not but nothing drives me out of the listening room faster than upper midrange transistoritis.

        Couple that with resolution rivaling any Class solid-state amplifier. Extremely linear sounding from the bottom to the top of frequency range. Very unmechanical feeling. No issues with driving a speaker that likes power. A tube-like warmth (though depends on the cabling here; more with the Audience that tends to be midrange centric than the Transparent Audio) in the mids. A huge soundstage especially when it comes to soundstage width. Very good transparency falling just short of the very best of breed. More spatial recovery than any Class D amplifier nee most solid-state amplifiers that I've heard. Not quite that of the cj ART monoblocks but very good nonetheless. Here, the amplifier sounded the most open when switching from the Audience to Transparent Audio IC on the analog and tape front-ends.

        Perhaps what is most telling though is the Veritas' ability to reproduce both instrumental and singer palpability, long a strength of tube amplifiers. No two dimensional images here. No where was this more apparent than when listening to the AP tape release of Reiner's Scheherazade, especially when focusing on Harth's violin solos or the violin harp duets. On top of that the amplifier's ability to solidly place each instruments and others on the stage is very impressive.

        To be continued.

        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, MPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

        Comment


        • #5
          Fantastic amps! We have used and loved them in our system!

          Comment


          • #6
            Is there any impact to leaving your amps on 24/7 to the speakers? Thoughts.
            Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3S, Rega RP6 customized, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire.

            Comment


            • #7
              Bass, Resolution, Cable and Performance Ceiling

              Yes at first glance, that’s a weird quartet but they all went hand in hand when listening to the Merrill amplifiers. Plus there are take home messages here that carry real implications when evaluating any and all audio components. Particularly when we are talking about performance ceiling of equipment (not to mention recordings too!)

              Let’s begin with the bass performance. Now as mentioned before, I didn’t use my reference Transparent Audio cables with the Merrill amplifiers the IC and speaker cables would need to be sent back to Maine for recalibration. Instead I chose to use a full loom of the Audience 24SX cables (and eventually returned to the TA for the front-end components [tape and turntable]); the Audience 24SX cables were first hooked up to cj gear to get a baseline after which were used with the Merrill Audio. The Audience cables do have a midrange centric, pleasing “sound” and definitely won’t ever offend. Yet despite everything, just felt that for a solid-state amplifier—and a Class D that is known for bass performance—something was missing. The amplifiers were just lacked oomph and authority in the low end. Sure there was extension but nothing for instance like the bass remembered coming from say the Audia Flight Strumento No 4 stereo amplifier that was here not so long ago. There had to be more down here.

              Enter the Viero speaker cables. If there was one cable that could make the Merrill amplifiers sound good in this region it was the Viero. (The Vieros that I commented on [Mark reviewed] a while back for PF had been sitting on the sidelines since I installed the new TA loom.) And they didn’t disappoint. The bass performance right away perked up with the Vieros between the Magico S5 Mk. 2s and the Merrill Audio amplifiers. But it wasn’t just the low end that benefitted from these speaker cables. It was the whole audio frequency spectrum from the lows to the highs. Plus a healthy side order of resolution and detail. Yes when I put on something like Frederik Rosselet tape from Yarlung Records, or the Super Percussion LP, the low end opened up. Much more dynamics and presence. More power and authority. More grip on the cello. (required in spades on this recording too!) But the amplifiers also showed even better midrange resolution and upper octave definition. Timbral and low level resolution--especially take the subtle added reverb tails-- like one doesn't normally hear on Class D amplifiers but something that had captured my ear ages ago when hearing the Merrill products at an audio show.

              That brings us to the topic of performance ceiling. There are some components that you put them in your system and no matter what you do, there’s a limit to what they can do. No matter what is around them, whatever cables are used, etc., their performance hits a wall. At that point, what you hear is what you have. And there are other components that continue to reveal things about your favorite recordings as the speakers improve, cables and other things around them improve. (I think that performance ceiling is particularly important to consider when building a system and choosing speakers!) Or change. Or certain areas of the equipment’s performance reveals continuing areas of improvement while another may stay the same. One has to be very careful thus when evaluating components that fall into the latter class. It’s here that the Merrill amplifiers fall. The Merrill amplifiers have a high performance ceiling and getting the most out of them requires some trial and error. Yes you could probably make them sound thin and washed out like many other Class D amplifiers. Yet with a little effort, you can also make them sound like reference components too.



              Coming: Wrap Up.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, MPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kingrex View Post
                Is there any impact to leaving your amps on 24/7 to the speakers? Thoughts.
                Digital is the one component that I find most important to leave on all the time.

                That said, Merrill recommends leaving the amplifiers on all the time and I concur. You can definitely hear the difference cold vs being left on for a couple of days. Personally even longer in my listening. At first turn on the amps are a little cold and thin. Not a dimensional as they could be either.

                I've always found solid-state gear sound best being left on. Given the Merrill gear is very energy efficient, doesn't add a lot to the electricity bill.
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, MPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                Comment


                • #9
                  All good things come to an end when you’re a reviewer and it’s time to wrap up my thoughts now that Merrill came by and picked up the amplifiers on Saturday. The Veritas’ aren’t by any means cheap Class-D amplifiers nor do they look or sound the part either. These amplifiers are far from the “prototypical” inexpensive, cold, threadbare and flat sounding Class-D amplifier. Or for that matter, any other Class-D amplifier that I’ve heard. The Veritas are physically (and sonically) hefty and solid (sounding) and come replete with both Cardas speaker and input connectors. The only other Class-D amplifier that comes sonically close to the Veritas are Jeff Rowland’s recent efforts. Jeff’s amps, however, are completely different sounding beasts than the Veritas amplifiers. Anyone interested in the Veritas amplifiers should note, however, that the amplifiers come only with balanced input connections. Thus one needs an adaptor to convert for use with a single-ended preamplifier like my conrad-johnson GAT Series 2.

                  The Veritas amplifiers stood out in several areas. To begin with, their linearity from top to bottom. Here, their character sounded the same from the top to the bottom of the audio spectrum as well as when the music became louder. Upper octaves, usually the Achilles heel of solid-state amplifiers was extended, open sounding and capable of very fine resolution up here. Tonally, the Veritas amplifier straddled the timbral white line and simply let the instruments on each recording strut their self. One thing that caught my ear at a recent show was the Veritas’ midrange richness and they didn’t disappoint here. Now the Veritas’ weren’t as rich here with the Magicos as with the Reference 3A speakers; nonetheless, they didn’t have that prototypical solid-state nor Class-D sound and were far more neutral sounding. Next was their ease of presentation. Neither the most dynamic LPs or tapes ever fazed the Veritas. Add to that the fact that the Veritas’ imaged far better than most would expect from a Class D amplifier, much less a solid-state amplifier. Until now, the vast majority of Class-D amplifiers usually have paper thin images and just sound thin and emaciated. Then there is the amplifier’s resolution floor and ability to retrieve detail and spatial information. In fact, the latter was very surprising and I suspect that had I been able to use my ultimate reference speaker cables, the Veritas might have even earned higher marks here. There was simply no mistaking the sense of a hall on the best classical recordings. Finally there’s the cool factor! Going back to the new conrad-johnson ART 300 amplifiers served as an instant reminder just how much heat these behemoth tube amplifiers put out! Luckily Fall and Winter are approaching that allows me to maximize my listening time!

                  There were still a couple of areas where the Veritas fell just short of ultimate. Not a 3 or 4 out of ten mind you but maybe a 7 out of 10 in these areas. One such area was completely retrieving the harmonic envelope of instruments. Here the Veritas was very good on the leading edge of the waveform but fell just a smidge short on getting the trailing edge of the harmonics.

                  Next, they just lack a little of the “swing” of the best amplifiers out there. That little bit of “bounce” that the best tube amplifiers can do and give life to the music.

                  Lastly the Veritas were exceptionally dynamic but they weren’t quite on the level of a much more expensive amplifier such as the D’Agostinos. Nor do they quite have the rock solid grip on the low end of the music say of the admittedly far more expensive amplifier. Needless to say, the Veritas acquitted themselves well on the Magicos that can be ruthlessly demanding and revealing of the amplifiers being used to drive them.

                  The time spent with Veritas amplifiers went a long way to dispelling the notion that solid-state amplifiers—much less a Class-D amplifier (!)—couldn’t bring out the best in Magico speakers. These Class-D monoblocks really deserve an audition by serious audiophiles looking for reliable, cool running and efficient monoblock amplifiers that pay homage to music!




                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, MPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Nice job on your review of the Veritas mono's Myles! They look like pretty serious amps. Your detailed commentary gives a real sense of the strengths and well, less strong areas of these amps. I could see these being an ideal choice for high end lifestyle systems where the amps have to sit in cabinets (and therefore need to run cool) & likely see dual 2-channel music/HT use - possibly also driving a sub, or in smaller apartments. Though that is only a generalization. The 5 year transferable warranty is impressive & in Rolex territory .
                    Last edited by Bodhi; 09-12-2017, 04:50 PM.
                    Front End: Vitus SCD-025 Mk2, Oppo BPD-103 Amp: Vitus SIA-025 Speakers: Magico S5 Mk2 Isolation: Taoc ASR series racks, Taoc SCB-RS-HC50G, Stillpoints Ultra 6's + Bases/Mini's/LPI's AC Power: Furutech GTX-D(G), Gigawatt PC-3 SE Evo, Jorma Prime pc's (re-terminated with cryo'd Oyaide M1/F1’s), Jorma Unity pc (re-terminated with Oyaide P-004/C-004’s) Cables: Jorma Prime xlr's + Statement sc's, Siltech Classic Anniversary rca's + HDMI Tweaks: Acoustic Revive (various), Akiko E-tuning Gold MkII

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Had these amps in my system for a month some time ago. Don't know if they ever settled in but they sounded pretty good. If I ever decide to biamp my Tannoys, I would audition them again. Nice review Myles.
                      Tannoy Glenair, April Sound SET 50 monoblocks and LR phono, Emia silver remote attenuator and Strain Gauge, Mono TT - AE 208 TT, Abis 1.2BCS arm Miyajima Premium BE, Stereo TT - Fairchild 750 Schroder Custom, Miyajima Kansui, Mac Mini w/ Roon, Bel Canto RefLink, Dac 3.5VB.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                        ________________________________________

                        Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, MPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                        Comment

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