Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks
DETAILED, MUSICAL, POWERFUL.
The Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks were conceptualized to provide the listener with a truly life-like musical experience, presented with every significant detail intact, in order to convey a truly emotional connection to the music, all without consideration for cost. With those premises in mind, no constraints were placed on practical considerations of power, size, and weight. The most advanced technologies and expertise were used in combination with years of research culminating in the Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblock, the crown jewel of Merrill Audio.
The first and foremost consideration for true to life music reproduction is speed.
To deal with this demanding level of speed requires stable circuitry with accurate reproduction capability during extreme speed occurrences. Since overshoot and ringing are the most significant obstacles of speed, the Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks are carefully crafted to maintain this high speed and are engineered to eliminate the anomalies that cause overshoot and ringing.
Using the most advanced and newest Gallium Nitride transistors available, the Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks are capable of delivering speeds into the Gigahertz range. Incorporating highly developed techniques, the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) parasitic inductance and capacitance have been reduced to near zero. Since the development of specialized fabrication and manufacturing procedures came with a host of new challenges, implementing the advanced transistors and sophisticated PCBs placed significant time demands on Merrill Audio.
An additional significant design requirement was the capability to faithfully reproduce every musically significant detail available. This is already a unique characteristic of the Christine Reference Preamplifier and the Jens Reference Phono Stage, two stellar Merrill Audio achievements that shine as singularly significant state of the art achievements in amplifier technology.
To accomplish this notable level of performance, innovative circuit techniques were implemented. One is Merrill Audio’s ZXOL design featuring a completely open loop design that has no feedback whatsoever!
Eliminating feedback has two distinct advantages. The speed capability is increased significantly and a remarkable gain in the clarity of musical information is achieved. Since there is no signal loop-back, all the feedback loop distortions as well as the attendant time delays are eliminated.
All these taxing issues have been resolved successfully and the resulting newly developed technology is now part of Merrill Audio’s arsenal of expertise.
Although expensive, challenging, and very time consuming to accomplish, Merrill Audio has achieved a truly transformative result with their Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks.
The Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks are audibly the cleanest sounding amplifiers you will hear. These amplifiers have been designed to deliver spacious, airy sound, abundant in vivid detail. Articulated, deep, tight, and powerful bass is an additional strong suit of Merrill Audio’s ZXOL design.
The bottom line is that the Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks are exceptionally fast, uncommonly clean, and exceedingly musical, and will, with the greatest of ease, transport you to the 5th row at Carnegie Hall.
The Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks were engineered with 360 degree integration in mind. This process involved evaluating all factors that contribute to the maximization of sonic performance and then selecting those aspects that will accomplish that goal most effectively, without losing sight of unnecessary cost considerations.
Only the highest quality components were selected regardless of the application.
For the chassis Solid Stainless Steel Outriggers were chosen to provide stable weight distribution and vibration control, while GAIA II Footers by IsoAcoustics provide isolation and absorption from the ground plane.
Along with the platform isolation, the chassis is designed to minimize external sound vibration disturbances using midpoint diffusers and stabilizers. The Chassis is executed in a very tasteful nickel and Rose Gold. It is plated rather than anodized since plating is a softer, more absorbent material.
The Element 118 Power amplifier Monoblocks use the top of the line Speaker Binding Posts from WBT featuring direct copper posts that will conveniently accommodate spades, bananas and bare wire. These components are the latest designs from WBT and been engineered for the best sound.
It has been firmly established that the quality of AC power connections is a very important consideration. With that priority in mind, the highly regarded Furutech Rhodium Plated 20A IEC AC power inlets were selected for the Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks since the tightest connection is achieved by the more robust 20 AMP IEC connector. This heavy duty connector will grip a weighty AC power cord more firmly to establish an electrically solid connection, and is available as an industry standard.
Internally the Element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblock PCB boards are manufactured to the highest excellence available and further engineered for sustaining a most stable temperature distribution. Using 8 pounds of pure copper per monoblock, the highly refined heat distribution system maintains a steady temperature environment on the PCB boards, a condition absolutely essential for linear operation.
The element 118 Power Amplifier Monoblocks only use stranded wire that is OFC, silver plated and sleeved in Teflon and was selected for its low parasitics impedance and dielectric characteristics. High Gauge wire is the norm throughout and every audio signal path is hand soldered to provide the purest possible connection.
|Power rating:||400watts into 8ohms|
|800 watts into 4 ohms|
|1600 watts into 2 ohms|
|Speaker Terminals:||Dual pairs of posts for bi-wiring|
|Dual pairs of posts for bi-wiring|
|WBT – 0702.12 Pure|
|copper Platinum Plated|
|Accepts Bananas, spades or wire.|
|Input:||XLR Balanced input, Cardas XLR|
|Power AC:||20A AC inlet, Furutech Rodhium Plated inlet|
|Remote:||12V trigger, 3.5m, 20mA|
|Footers:||Stainless Steel Outrigger|
|GAiA III from Isoacoustics|
|Size:||350mm (13.7”) W x 220mm (8.7”) H x 495 (20.4”) D without outriggers|
|460mm (18.1”) W x 275mm (10.8”) H x 495mm (20.4”) D with outriggers|
|Shipping size:||610mm (24”) W x 355mm (14”) H x 610mm (24”) D|
I spent two days at the Capital Audio Show. This gave me time to actually listen to lots of exhibits. The Merrill Audio room, with the Veritas amps and German Physiks Borderland speakers, was clearly among the best sounding rooms at the show. But even better, I was lucky enough to be included in a small group, just before the show opening on Sunday, to audition a new Merrill prototype amp, aimed at even higher performance. And the new amp delivered. It was almost immediately obvious that the new design was superior to the reference
Veritas amps that performed so well during the show. It was more open, more dynamic and smoother, etc. Was it a big difference? Yes, in the sense that the improvements were the kind that every real audiophile would kick himself if he couldn’t afford a product after comparing it to an excellent reference. I look forward to experiencing the production product.
Allen E., veteran reviewer.
“I was looking forward to my first visit to the Capitol Audio Fest in Maryland. With many potential good sounding rooms there, I decided that it would take 2 days to hear all the rooms and spend additional time in those rooms that sounded good to me. I brought a few reference LPs with me that I am familiar with that would provide a good test for each system that had a turntable and my companions had some good sounding digital recordings. Hearing the same recordings in each room really allowed me to evaluate each system in a more controlled way.
One of the best sounding rooms at the show was the room with Merrill Audio components, a VPI Turntable and German Physics speakers. Merrill asked us to come by early Sunday morning to audition the prototypes for his new Amplifier and Phono Stage. We listened to the same recordings on both the old and new components to do our comparisons.
Both new components did not disappoint. The differences were not subtle. What stood out most was the level of detail heard, greatly improved sonics and much better imaging. While these comments may sound like a checklist of audio clichés, my ears hear what they hear. I can confidently say that the new line of Merrill Audio components are an order of magnitude better than what was already great sounding equipment, easily bettering systems in other rooms at much higher price points.”
“I have had the privilege to know Merrill Wettasinghe of Merrill Audio for several years and have come to know that when he offers me an opportunity to hear something he has been working on I can count on something special.
So when Merrill asked me if I could listen to a prototype of an amplifier of his own design I wasn’t going to say I was too busy. I just asked when and where. Sunday morning before Capital Audio Fest opened I first listened to the outstanding Veritas Amps that are the current top of the line. No fault could be found. The few of us that had been invited were all in agreement.
And then Merrill put in his new design. I expected that there might be a slight improvement here and there in the audio band. But no, there was not a slight improvement at all. Oh my gosh, I have to start saving my money because I want, no, I need this new Merrill Audio Amp. Mind you I am very happy with my Veritas Amps and have had no intention of changing, till now.
What did I hear? More dynamics, speed, weight. They are also quieter, except how do you make something that already produces virtually no noise make even less noise? ! The noise of the Veritas is well beyond human hearing but yet you can easily hear the improvement in noise, or lack there of, that the new design provides.
I heard gravitas, presence and a more natural tonal quality to the instruments. Mind you it is not like the Veritas
was lacking before this.
But the instruments sounded more like they would if you were listening to them live. Not only in tonal quality but also in the weight that instruments can produce live.
So here are a few words that describe the new design.
Lifelike. Natural. Speed. Dynamic. Weight. Quiet. In a word, they ROCK. ”
As many of you know, I have developed a wonderful friendship with Merrill of Merrill Audio. He has started utilizing my room, system and ears as one of many opinions during his design process when he needs opinions on new designs.
He has developed his own Class-D amplifier module that Is quite special. Today, he brought over the semi final prototype of his new monoblocks for the two of us to compare to my reference Burmester 911mk3 amplifiers. To say I was impressed with his new mono block design and performance is an understatement! They will be a level above the Merrill Veritas monoblocks I previously owned.
On initial listen they are stunningly fast, have a bottomless noise floor, complete lack of distortion, crazy tight and well controlled bass, are super clean and accurate and yet maintain musicality, pace and rhythm with complex textures and harmonics. I could happily live with them instead of my Burmesters; initial impression. With time I will likely find some flaws and more definable character traits. But wow!!! The Burmester amps retail for over twice what these will be; so their price to performance value is exploding off the charts! And I must admit that the 3-D renderings of the final appearance is strikingly attractic.
It it was quite a sneak peak. And I look forward to hearing the final production version, or any version in between!