I Have Heard the Future of Home Audio. - And It's The Meadowlark Merlin!

prime minister

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Staff member
I had the wonderful opportunity today to listen to Pat McGintys latest creation, the Merlin. Lard Tunderin Jaysus! These are about as big a leap forward in the world of audio as stereo was to mono. And no, that's not just hyperbole. This is quite literally to next generation of home audio.

So what makes them so different? While Pat has elevated the performance of the highs and mids, (imagine the midrange magic of a great SET/HE system, but with dramatically less distortion and much more clarity), and increased the powerful and lightning fast dynamics, the biggest change has been in the bass performance. For the first time ever, I heard high resolution bass. Not the booming or shaking bass as is often found with even high quality subwoofers, but rather rich, detailed, musical bass. Amazingly, there is more information in the bass region (including honest to goodness
subsonic bass) then I ever imagined could be possible. The Merlin's portrays their bass in a way that is comparable in quality to the mids produced by the greatest midrange speakers. Just imagine bass performance with all the subtlety, colours, shades and textures that one would hope for in a truly great midrange. Almost counterintuitively, considering the size of the bass drivers and the incredible power built into them (2000 watts iirc), the bass can be delivered with a deftness and the gentleness that belies their size. Further, because they unveil so much previously hidden musical information, the entire feeling and connection with the performance changes. Loudspeakers have finally taken a huge step forward in an area where they have been stuck for decades. That is, in creating a feeling of realism.


Having spent years listening to the small, two way Meadowlark Kites, I was familiar with @Pat McGintys engineering approach, and how he voices his speakers, I expected more of the same, but with bigger scale and greater dynamics, as is befitting a much larger and much more expensive pair of speakers. However, I was absolutely not prepared for the magnitude of the changes and improvements he has made. This is now truly a different kind of speaker, the first of a whole new generation of home music reproduction. You gotta have a listen
 
I had the wonderful opportunity today to listen to Pat McGintys latest creation, the Merlin. Lard Tunderin Jaysus! These are about as big a leap forward in the world of audio as stereo was to mono. And no, that's not just hyperbole. This is quite literally to next generation of home audio.

So what makes them so different? While Pat has elevated the performance of the highs and mids, (imagine the midrange magic of a great SET/HE system, but with dramatically less distortion and much more clarity), and increased the powerful and lightning fast dynamics, the biggest change has been in the bass performance. For the first time ever, I heard high resolution bass. Not the booming or shaking bass as is often found with even high quality subwoofers, but rather rich, detailed, musical bass. Amazingly, there is more information in the bass region (including honest to goodness
subsonic bass) then I ever imagined could be possible. The Merlin's portrays their bass in a way that is comparable in quality to the mids produced by the greatest midrange speakers. Just imagine bass performance with all the subtlety, colours, shades and textures that one would hope for in a truly great midrange. Almost counterintuitively, considering the size of the bass drivers and the incredible power built into them (2000 watts iirc), the bass can be delivered with a deftness and the gentleness that belies their size. Further, because they unveil so much previously hidden musical information, the entire feeling and connection with the performance changes. Loudspeakers have finally taken a huge step forward in an area where they have been stuck for decades. That is, in creating a feeling of realism.


Having spent years listening to the small, two way Meadowlark Kites, I was familiar with @Pat McGintys engineering approach, and how he voices his speakers, I expected more of the same, but with bigger scale and greater dynamics, as is befitting a much larger and much more expensive pair of speakers. However, I was absolutely not prepared for the magnitude of the changes and improvements he has made. This is now truly a different kind of speaker, the first of a whole new generation of home music reproduction. You gotta have a listen
I am so flattered. Thank you for listening.
 
Thank you for the opportunity. It was certainly much more than I expected. It's been a while since I've been so excited by a new audio product.

Btw, do you have any design drawings or anything of the kind so that we could show the folks here how they look?
Aren’t they here? (That’s a BIG speaker!)

 
Aren’t they here? (That’s a BIG speaker!)

They really aren't that big. It's actually quite shockingly small for the scale of music it produces. I'm guessing just over 40 inches high and 12 inches or a bit more wide? Probably not totally accurate, but that should put you in the ballpark.

You just wouldn't believe what they can do with well recorded pipe organ.
 
Excellent review! Though not surprising to me in the least. ;) Thanks for sharing all you do Pat, such a treat! Keep on keepin' on!


 
This is an early rendering. Merlin's pretty first-builds are on the shop floor getting the veneer squeezed on. We'll have pics soon.

20389@2x.jpg


Sept-amplified, seven-driver, five-way. The bass system performs as it does owing to our Dual Band Bass (TM) that runs dedicated low bass and dedicated upper bass systems. Each system is critically damped, and each woofer is forced to comply to the needed EQ by being directly coupled to its own amp. Total bass system displacement = 3.6 liters / side, leaving enough headroom to arrive at the target amplitude/bandwidth with room to spare.

Yeah, I'll agree that it does not sound like other bass systems. We're tracking the signal so much more tightly than any vented alignment possibly do, because we're not adding resonance to buy the extension. And because of addressing the two very different tasks of making low bass and mid-upper bass separately. Before DSP, that idea was just a pipe dream.

Just me, the real star of this system is the 5" midrange; the Satori guys really nailed it with this one. It won't, however manage big output below 300Hz, so the 7.5" driver just does light duty in a narrow band between 200 and 300Hz.

I'll note that, during the Prime Minister's visit, the vol control never exceeded -3dB - meaning we never exceeded half power. To me, that sense of "ease" is so pleasant and cuddly.

 
I'm not Pat (and nowhere near smart enough to pretend to be Pat), but having looked over the design, the two side low bass drivers are mounted directly opposite each other in the cabinet, so they are opposing forces on the cabinet that cancel the vibrations. The drivers are acoustically in phase, though.

Other manufacturers have done something similar. A couple of the Martin-Logan subs use a similar BalancedForce arrangement. Works really well!
 
@Pat McGinty You said something about a force cancelling configuration yesterday. I was gonna ask more, but we had to run. How does that exactly work?

I am not Pat either, but let me see if I can explain it to you.

Where to start?

Maybe we could call it, "A DELIBERATELY AGGRESSIVE DUAL BAND BASS ™ SYSTEM

Twin 9.5” Satori upper bass drivers deliver incomparable attack and timbrel detail. Bass violin as you’ve yet to hear it. And if you appreciate slam and violence, and would like realistic drum kit, these transducers will not leave you wanting.

Below 70Hz Merlin sports two 13.5” subs from SB Acoustics in an ideal force canceling configuration. Mounted coaxially, acoustically in phase, but mechanically 180 degrees out of phase, the net mechanical moment nullifies. So the cabinet is still, while the acoustic output rocks. Very long throw. Very high motor force. Heroic heat dissipation. Unusually supple suspensions.

Here is one spec that you will not see presented to you by other speaker companies: bass system displacement. Sure, they talk about diameter, cone material, F3, the usual stuff that tells you very little. Fact is: the single spec that tells you how much work a bass system can do is displacement.

An easy concept: displacement is figured exactly as it is for an internal combustion engine; simply a volume measurement equal to piston area x stroke. In a world of mega-buck, but pint-sized bass systems, Merlin’s four bass drivers per side total 3.6 liters; 7.2 liters for the pair. No kidding. Compare that to what’s under the hood of your favorite car.

And total bass amp power = 4KW = 5.4 horsepower. So, yes, Merlin can move air. Total amp complement: 100x250x250X500x500x500x500 watts"

Kapish, eh?

 
Indeed: the mechanical moments cancel, while the acoustic output sums. Nothing new; every designer worth his salt does this when the opportunity presents. It's just too darn much fun to resist.

I've noticed that one of Kef's active models sports two pair, opposed. Since the bass drivers reside in the same cabinet as the mid/tweeter, it makes great sense.
 
I've noticed that one of Kef's active models sports two pair, opposed. Since the bass drivers reside in the same cabinet as the mid/tweeter, it makes great sense.
I don't remember if it's powered but I do remember the KEF Blade having opposed woofers, two per side.

And now I'm remembering where I saw this:

1688860526559.png

It's the dual-drive unit from the compact KEF KC62 subwoofer--same idea with the opposing forces but it's all in one unit. I am almost tempted to get one, one of these days, to go with the LS50s in my desktop system. (Maybe one day when I can find one used, or refurbished.)
 
I had the wonderful opportunity today to listen to Pat McGintys latest creation, the Merlin. Lard Tunderin Jaysus! These are about as big a leap forward in the world of audio as stereo was to mono. And no, that's not just hyperbole. This is quite literally to next generation of home audio.

So what makes them so different? While Pat has elevated the performance of the highs and mids, (imagine the midrange magic of a great SET/HE system, but with dramatically less distortion and much more clarity), and increased the powerful and lightning fast dynamics, the biggest change has been in the bass performance. For the first time ever, I heard high resolution bass. Not the booming or shaking bass as is often found with even high quality subwoofers, but rather rich, detailed, musical bass. Amazingly, there is more information in the bass region (including honest to goodness
subsonic bass) then I ever imagined could be possible. The Merlin's portrays their bass in a way that is comparable in quality to the mids produced by the greatest midrange speakers. Just imagine bass performance with all the subtlety, colours, shades and textures that one would hope for in a truly great midrange. Almost counterintuitively, considering the size of the bass drivers and the incredible power built into them (2000 watts iirc), the bass can be delivered with a deftness and the gentleness that belies their size. Further, because they unveil so much previously hidden musical information, the entire feeling and connection with the performance changes. Loudspeakers have finally taken a huge step forward in an area where they have been stuck for decades. That is, in creating a feeling of realism.


Having spent years listening to the small, two way Meadowlark Kites, I was familiar with @Pat McGintys engineering approach, and how he voices his speakers, I expected more of the same, but with bigger scale and greater dynamics, as is befitting a much larger and much more expensive pair of speakers. However, I was absolutely not prepared for the magnitude of the changes and improvements he has made. This is now truly a different kind of speaker, the first of a whole new generation of home music reproduction. You gotta have a listen
@prime minister

I can whole heartedly agree with your sentiments as a blessed owner of a pair of the Meadowlark Nightingales and Pelican infrasonic sub. It becomes beguiling trying to describe the combination of the sense of scale and dynamics combined with the delicate finesse across the entire frequency range with utmost clarity and tonal accuracy.

Within the next couple/few years we will be building our next home and am really torn if I want to consider selling this system (also have matching center channel and surround speakers) and just going with the Merlin system in a dedicated audio room without Home Theater integration. The center has only been utilized to confirm we set the delays correctly on the integration and the surrounds have never been hooked up. I am always more drawn to the emotional connection of music opposed to the "entertainment" provided by movies.

Back on topic, anyone who has any interest in truly experiencing "next generation" and/or "full range high resolution" audio should try to arrange for a listen with Pat or one of his customers systems.
 
@prime minister

I can whole heartedly agree with your sentiments as a blessed owner of a pair of the Meadowlark Nightingales and Pelican infrasonic sub. It becomes beguiling trying to describe the combination of the sense of scale and dynamics combined with the delicate finesse across the entire frequency range with utmost clarity and tonal accuracy.

Within the next couple/few years we will be building our next home and am really torn if I want to consider selling this system (also have matching center channel and surround speakers) and just going with the Merlin system in a dedicated audio room without Home Theater integration. The center has only been utilized to confirm we set the delays correctly on the integration and the surrounds have never been hooked up. I am always more drawn to the emotional connection of music opposed to the "entertainment" provided by movies.

Back on topic, anyone who has any interest in truly experiencing "next generation" and/or "full range high resolution" audio should try to arrange for a listen with Pat or one of his customers systems.
There really is no understanding how great they are until you hear them. I spent every weekend for a couple of years, listening to different varieties of 6 figure systems. All of which sounded great. And then, you hear something like the Merlin, and everything changes.

I envy you sir!
 
Thanks so much for your too kind comments. I've been carrying a torch for Next Gen since 2012, against the wind, quite frankly. At first the response was overwhelmingly scoffing and negative. I'm so happy that I ignored it, not that hard really, having had the luxury of not needing audio as a means of sustenance.

Then, just in the past couple of years the winds of change have begun to be felt. I've known since the beginning that we had the potential to cross the frontier of what's possible. And, I think that Merlin has done that by such a margin that even the nay-sayers would have a hard time denying.

Doing this work is such a pleasure, I can't really find the words. It's so nice that we can make these "toys" that bring so much joy.

Yeah, pay a visit. There are Android, Apple and Windows control devices connected to a deep library, Tidal and Qobuz. Have at it - you can't hurt it, but you can hurt yourselves. Libations, of course. ;)
 
Thanks so much for your too kind comments. I've been carrying a torch for Next Gen since 2012, against the wind, quite frankly. At first the response was overwhelmingly scoffing and negative. I'm so happy that I ignored it, not that hard really, having had the luxury of not needing audio as a means of sustenance.

Then, just in the past couple of years the winds of change have begun to be felt. I've known since the beginning that we had the potential to cross the frontier of what's possible. And, I think that Merlin has done that by such a margin that even the nay-sayers would have a hard time denying.

Doing this work is such a pleasure, I can't really find the words. It's so nice that we can make these "toys" that bring so much joy.

Yeah, pay a visit. There are Android, Apple and Windows control devices connected to a deep library, Tidal and Qobuz. Have at it - you can't hurt it, but you can hurt yourselves. Libations, of course. ;)
One of the biggest surprises for me was how much better the Merlin was compared to the Kite. It is not a subtle change. And that doesn't include the added bass. Again, it's the small, subtle things that are so different. Is it the added midrange? The change to Hypex? Have you just gotten better and smarter?

One other thing. I was generally never a fan of three way speakers. Passive crossovers always seemed to take more than they gave. Yes, you'd get some lovely sound out of the sweet spot of the midrange, but the fact that you were crossing over on either side of it was usually way too evident. But that just doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
 
Yeah, that midrange is a game changer.

I did underestimate the work it would take to build a five-way, a first for me. The vocal range is always tricky, but having three bands share that duty, and well integrated, was, ummm, interesting.
 
I tagged along with Erik on this trip and had the absolute pleasure of meeting Pat as well as getting a brief but mesmerizing listen to his system! First off a word about Pat, what a fascinating and fantastic gent, a giant among speaker designers/makers and yet so down to earth. Pat was most gracious inviting me right in and making me feel most welcome, and answering my plethora of questions, thank you for this Pat!!!
Now onto the shop…..clean and spacious, completely unlike my chaotic cluster poop… with a couple of projects on the go, all fascinating btw!!!
Now onto the fun fun fun…… listening!!!!!
Wow is all I could mutter for the first 10-15 minutes or so…… bass was felt in parts of me unfelt unless at live venues!!! Bass was tight, quick and real, shit I could feel it and see it as it shook my pant leg( think I actually giggled out loud when I saw that) and yet it was not overwhelming or hurtful to the ears!!!! For me tho, the real magic was in their presentation of instruments, the separation of each instrument and vocals for that matter was amazing!!!! I guess to sum it up I would say that what I heard was what I’ve heard when I’ve had centre seats ( only ones I’ll take now) at Massey Hall, live and quick and oh so very life like, we’ll done Pat, you’ve produced the quintessential live sound in these speakers, time to start saving my pennies……….:)
 
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