Comparative Thoughts - Merrill Audio Element 116 vs Veritas Class D Monoblock Amplifiiers


New Member
Oct 16, 2018
Over the years, I’ve had numerous amps of various topologies…NAD, Simaudio, Pass Labs, Atma-Sphere, Conrad Johnson, to name a few. Some purchased/many just in for a brief audition/review. As professional musicians, my wife and I have crafted a home audio system that serves both downtime as well as critical listening of recording project drafts, reference study, etc. So, we really have to get it right when it comes to truth-in-source reproduction – no artificial colors or sweeteners. I think we’re pretty close, or at least for what our budget will allow. Thus, when we chose to retain Merrill’s Veritas monos a few yrs ago, it was after numerous auditions listening for that major step forward towards authenticity. I was and remain an ardent admirer of Merrill’s sound designs, so when the opportunity was presented to compare our Veritas to his new Element 116’s, there was no hesitation.

I’ll bypass recounting the spec comparisons, as they are readily available. Rather, I’d like to offer a few simple listening observations:

The Veritas are sonically attractive on a number of levels: Transient clarity, overall speed and accuracy, exceptional detail at low amplitudes, spacial resolution, well-placed sources, and an organic truth-in-source which I particularly admire. As has been mentioned by others, the Element 116’s really do take these same fundamental qualities and expound on them in every direction.

It should be mentioned that the design and build of the 116 chassis is incredibly elegant - fit-n-finish is top-shelf, offering an unquestionable state-of-the-art appearance. WBT speaker binding posts are built like a tank – beefy, with fantastic grip and feel. IMHO, quanta leap forward from the Cardas binding posts on the Veritas.

While both the Veritas and 116 offer large fortes in speed and accuracy, the PRAT of the 116 is uncanny. Clarity seems to simply flow with this power plant behind the source. Every minutia recorded from the musicians is present in the listening experience in as natural a manner possible. Neither the Veritas nor the 116 ever come across as sterile for the sake of detail, but rather in an engaging and non-fatiguing way. What the 116 offers above the Veritas is a more tactile experience. Everything flows with an immediacy and sense of 3-dimensionality. The 116 seems to help lift the top and bottom off the frequency spectrum, allowing the timbral characteristics of both instrumental and vocal sources to sound wonderfully realistic and organic. Definitely no artificial colors or sweeteners here! I suspect much of this affect has to do with increased air/spacial awareness – essentially no noise discerned. Sonic image is deeper, more holographic when compared to the Veritas - backdrop is pitch black. Ease of listening through and around instrumental sources is impressive, yet the intent of a composite entity is never lost. Equally, any vestiges of subtle over rings or distortion which may be present on certain recordings when powered by the Veritas seem to have disappeared with the 116.

Its fair to say that, in my opinion, the sonic presentation of the Element 116 is as confident as the Veritas, with a sizably more robust authority. A seemingly limitless but non-artificial frequency spectrum, coupled with a truthful reveal of organics from acoustic sources, partic. guitar and pno, help promote this experience. I sense anyone auditioning monos in this price bracket will find the Element 116’s deliver some of the best amplification anywhere, and clearly competitive with many designs priced well above. My congratulations and thanks to Merrill for his continued forward thinking in audio design! His efforts have made this musician very happy!

Associated Equipment:
VAC Signature MKIIa SE Pre (w/ phono)
Esoteric K-03
VPI Scoutmaster Sig. (w/ Dynavector XV-1s cart)
Daedalus Athena v. 2
JPS Aluminata pc’s, ic’s, speaker cable
Velodyne DD10+
Running Springs Haley

Dr. Michael R. Bump
Merrill Audio Introduces Lower Priced Gallium Nitride Monoblock Power Amplifiers, The ELEMENT 116.
For Immediate Release:
9th November 2018
Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC
Bernardsville, New Jersey, USA.

ELEMENT 116 Front View Black Background.jpg
Following the enormous success of the ELEMENT 118, Merrill Audio is introducing the ELEMENT 116 Monoblocks, with the same Galliium Nitiride Transistos, ZXOL design which has zero feedback and zero dead time. This innovation gives a music reproduction that is full of air, emotion and detail, simply superbly presented with a wider, deeper stage at a lower price point. Using Merrill Audio’s proprietary ZXOL design, the new ELEMENT series of Power Amplifiers are an order of Magnitude better in every sonic characteristic than their previous amplifier range.
A great many new technologies are used in the new ELEMENT series, code name Project Oganesson. This is named after the Oganesson element – the latest Atomic element added to the periodic table, OG with atomic number 118. The ELEMENT series of Amplifiers start with the ELEMENT 118, as with Og 118, and continue with ELEMENT 116, ELEMENT 114 which will inherits this technology and advances in audio reproduction.
Using a zero feedback, open loop proprietary design which Merrill Audio has code named ZXOL, the ELEMENT 116 Monoblock Power amplifiers give you amazing detail like never before and yet with an immediacy found only in live music. The open loop, zero feedback design takes every advantage of the very latest, fastest transistor material technology using Gallium Nitride. A highly advanced, custom PCB removes almost all of the parasitic inductance and capacitance enabling a superbly fast response with a smooth, controlled sound that capilizes on the full capabilities of the Gallium nitride transistors. Using expertise developed over a decade, the extra special Circuit boards were designed with unique pure copper onboard heatsink for ultra fast thermal transfer and stability, giving large power handling with very low parasitic impedances. 16 pounds of pure copper are used for heatsinks. Only the finest 0.1% tolerance components were used. All wire is silverplated OFC copper, with PTFE sleeving for the best signal transfer and lowest dielectric.
The ELEMENT 116 Power Amplifier Monoblocks are package in beautifully engineered chassis that is accented with Rose Gold Acoustical Dampers and faceplate, making it a work as an art piece as well, befitting enjoyment for your ears and your eyes.
The ELEMENT 116 Power Amplifier Monoblocks have a huge reserve of power for extended transients, and the power expands linearly with the load - 300 watts into 8 ohms, 600 watts into 4 ohms and 1,200 watts into 2 ohms, for powerful, uncompressed music. Dual, top of the line WBT speaker binding posts provide easy bi-wiring. A 20A IEC AC inlet is used for a tight, excellent connection with heavy power cords. The ELEMENT 116 Monoblock Power Amplifiers includes GAIA III footers from Isoacoustics. All details have been provided for excellent music reproduction.
Hear them at the World premiere introduction at the New York Audio Show, room 117 presented by Distinctive Stereo. The ELEMENT 116 Monoblocks are priced at $22,000 a pair.
About Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC
Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC designs ultra-high end equipment that has been the forefront of technology since its inception in 2011. Merrill Audio based in New Jersey, USA, is known for their excellence in Audio reproduction, using advanced techniques and technologies.
To Learn more please contact: Merrill Wettasinghe T.415.562.4434.
Facebook: merrillaudio
Twitter @Merrill_Audio

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