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The Element 116 isn’t Merrill’s most powerful or most expensive mono amp — that would be the Element 118 ($36,000/pair) — but with claimed power outputs of 300W into 8 ohms, 600W into 4 ohms, or 1200W into 2 ohms, it should provide enough juice for most speakers. What intrigued me wasn’t the Element 116’s high power or attractive casework — a combination of black nickel with accents of rose-gold-colored plating. Instead, I was smitten by the exceptionally refined, detailed sound that emerged from the Muraudio SP1 speakers the amps were driving. (I reviewed the SP1s on this site last June.) According to owner-designer Merrill Wettasinghe, the Element 116’s output stage is unique in relying on gallium-nitride transistors, which operate at much higher speed than typical transistors, and thus allowed Wettasinghe to build a class-D circuit devoid of the typical problems with such amps, and that uses no feedback whatsoever.

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