Merrill Audio Element 118 Mono Amplifiers $36,000 Review

August 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“My reference Simaudio Moon Evolution W-7M monoblocks nicely split the difference between the Merrills and Macs, though overall their sound is more akin to the Element 118s’. With most music, the Sims consistently sounded a tad darker than the Merrills. Bibb’s voice appeared somewhat farther back on a slightly less expansive soundstage, and the W-7Ms lacked just a hint of the Element 118s’ inner detail and airiness. Through the Element 118s, the kick drum in “I’m on Fire” was slightly more prominent, and microlevel details were a wisp easier to hear. This, combined with the Merrills’ greater neutrality, made them the more enjoyable amps to listen through — until I pushed them past that 7/10s mark. At higher volumes, the playing field leveled dramatically. The thump of the kick drum in “I’m on Fire” was now virtually identical through the two pairs of amps, as were the decay of the wood blocks, the body and dimension of Springsteen’s voice, and the size and spaciousness of the soundstage. The primary difference now was in tonality: the Element 118s were more neutral. At ridiculous volume levels I appreciated the Merrills’ unwavering bass control, but always found the Simaudio Moon Evolution W-7Ms easier to listen through, though not quite as inviting as the McIntosh MC1.25KWs.”

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