Merrill Audio Veritas Monoblocks (Update)

hfl

Well-Known Member
Apr 6, 2013
3
2
76
Since I posted my review of the Merrill Veritas Monoblocks, now some seven years ago and added below for reference, my system has changed in three significant ways: changed cables, the addition of the Luxman DA-06 DAC, and a move to listening to more digital music. I have replaced my Nordost cables with Audience Au24 SX. The Luxman DA-06 permits digital up to DSD128 and PCM 384.


What has not changed are the amps. The Veritas Monoblocks remain the foundation of my system and, frankly, I don't spend a whole lot of time doing "critical listening" these days. I just listen to and enjoy the music. Though the sources I use are often different than they were seven years ago, the amps continue to provide what is to my ear a transparent, neutral, and revelatory component. This system is now good enough that I've made no changes for about 3 years - that's a first!


During the period since my review of the amps the music scene has changed a lot. I spent much of that time using JPLay which allowed me to access about any digital source. More recently I have found Audirvana (on Windows 10) a more convenient application especially with the combination of Qobuz and its access to a lot of high definition classical and jazz music.


While I listen to all kinds of music, I've been listening to a lot of opera recently. The soprano voice is one of the most difficult tests for any audio system. As an example of what the Veritas Monoblocks can do and can't, I have listened to several different versions of Kiri Te Kanawa's Columbia recording of Verdi and Puccini arias. Dame Kiri had the unfortunate luck to be in her prime just at the dawn of the digital music era. There is no version of this disk that sounds great, and these amps aren't going to make a poor recording any better than it is. I have two different versions of this music on CD, the vinyl original (digital), and the version available via Audirvana/Qobuz. After having heard her live many times, it's heartbreaking to listen to this music after its digital transfiguration. Even so, the Veritas Monoblocks make every difference among these sources, slight or significant, quite evident. I do have a couple of early vinyl recordings of her for comparison and when I want to remind myself of what her voice was really like. Interestingly, Audirvana seems to do the best job among digital sources.


That these amps are capable of producing the soprano voice in all its glory when the source is good enough is about as good a recommendation I can make for them. Please don't, however, let my focus on opera color your thoughts about these amps to the exclusion of how good they are with any music. They are superb with jazz and rock. You won't hear The Who's Live at Leed's any better. I blew away a friend of mine who is still listening to mostly vinyl by playing a digital high-res version. It bettered his vinyl.


I can only imagine how good the new amps from Merrill Audio must be, but I could not be happier with my Veritas Monoblocks. Consider, too, that when you purchase anything from Merrill Audio you are dealing with one of the finest people in this business.

Original Review
Apr 7, 2013

The Goal
For decades I have been trying to assemble a sound system that would begin to approximate real music. Starting in the 1990s with Audio Research tube gear, by 2010 I had moved to an all solid state configuration. I made that change because I thought that I would find it easier to achieve a "neutral" sound by avoiding the colorations of tubes. However, once I had my solid state system together, I found it didn't sound like real music. So the changes continue and the latest iteration of my system is now built around a tubed preamp and the Merrill Audio Veritas Monoblocks. Yes, Class D amps.

Associated Equipment
The Veritas monoblocks replaced my Pass X600 monoblocks. To provide some context, the rest of my system is composed of the Revel Ultima Salon2 speakers, Nordost Tyr interconnects, and Mojo powercords on everything but the amps where Kimber PK10 Palladians are used. Sources are CD/SACD, computer/DAC, and vinyl. My Music collection is still predominantly vinyl, but I am listening with increasing frequency to high-definition downloads.

The Merrill Audio Veritas Monoblocks
I have now been using the Veritas Monoblocks for 2 months. Before purchasing , I took advantage of Merrill Audio's trial program to evaluate them. Using the Hypex Ncore NC1200 module, and crafted from a 66 pound block of solid aluminum, they are an understated but elegant design that demonstrates careful attention to every detail. The result is an amplifier that not only sounds good but emanates quality. Included with each amp is a set of Stillpoints Ultra-Mini footers and a good quality power cable. The icing on the cake is their eco-friendly nature: unlike large and heavy class A and A/B amplifier designs, the Veritas monoblocks produce their power (400w @ 8 ohms/700w @ 4 ohms) from a device that weighs 35 pounds and runs cool, using relatively little energy when they are not playing music. In North Carolina, where the summers seem to be getting hotter each year, not to have to worry about using two space heaters to play music is no small thing.

How Do They Sound
Together with my Cary SLP-05 preamp, the Veritas amps produce a sound that is, to my ears, a huge step toward achieving that ineffable goal of the "absolute sound." They are neutral, open, quiet, fast, and immediate. They throw a soundstage more immersive than any amp I've ever heard before. They are also very revealing: they make good recordings sound wonderful and poor recordings sound just that. Their neutrality and openness will reveal the deficiencies of any upstream sources.

Sound Examples
The Ravel String Quartet (192k/24bit download)
I have never heard an amplifier that can so beautifully situate the members of a string quartet, including the viola which so often in my experience gets lost in the mix of strings.

Antonio Lysy at the Broad: Music from Argentina (vinyl - A Latin Grammy Award Winner)
The second cut on side 2: Piazzolla The Grand Tango is a congested soundstage occupied by a piano, violin, bass, and cello. This could lead to confusion among the stringed instruments, but the Veritas monoblocks clearly separate them spatially. That distinction is aided by a beautifully colored and rich tone from each instrument.

Pink Floyd 2011 Wish You Were Here (180gm vinyl re-master)
Welcome to the Machine is a cut I've listened to more times than I can count since its release in 1975. The Veritas amps throw a surreal soundstage that is downright scary, putting you in the very heart of the machine. The dynamic soundstage is beautifully presented and punctuated by a well-defined, throbbing, and ominous bass line.

Miles Davis Kind of Blue (180gm vinyl reissue from Legacy)
Throughout So What there are several times when Davis, Coltrane, and Adderley punctuate the music with simultaneous short phrases. The delicately distinct timbre of each of their horns is clearly heard. The pace and the rhythm of the piece are presented with a natural grace that demonstrates why it's a classic recording.

Soundstages: From the mundane to the sublime
The cd of Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto on DG with Lang Lang and Valery Gergiev has a disappointingly small and shallow soundstage. Anyone who has ever heard this piece live knows how the soaring motifs can fill a concert hall. The recording is honestly portrayed for what it is via the Veritas monoblocks. Put on a great recording, though, and you get it all with these amps. The 1959 recording of Stravinsky's Firebird by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antal Dorati is available as a 192k/24 bit download (from a DSD transfer from tape). Played through the Veritas amps, the walls of the listening room just go away. They are replaced by the sound of the Watford Town Hall. It's all one could expect from a reproduction, and a thrill to experience.

Do You Want to Hear the Truth
I had no idea what to expect from these amps when I decided to try them. Given what I'd heard about Class D, I was curious if not skeptical. Let the Class D critics take note, these amps give up very little if anything to their Class A and A/B counterparts. Their honest and neutral sound will not satisfy those looking for a euphonious coloring to make poor recordings sound good. Provide them recordings with merit and surround them with commensurately fine equipment, though, and they will be all the amp you need.
 
Last edited:

tarquineous

Well-Known Member
Jun 26, 2011
57
1
413
Your update is impressive. It says a lot about the long term quality of the Veritas amplifiers. I want my next amps to be power friendly and to not impose too much on the system, which requires compensation with cables, tweeks and limited speaker types. I've been considering the Benchmark AHB amps run in mono, for example. Merrill is back on the radar.
 

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