Musical Fidelity has launched the Merlin 1 system first seen at the High End in Munich earlier this year. They are calling it the first digital streaming system that has been designed from the ground up with the vinyl record in mind. This on account of onboard A/D conversion. It features the Merlin digital amplifier and Bluetooth apt-X streamer, the Round Table turntable and the unique Merlin 1 speakers for an all-in price of £1,300. The system has been designed to Musical Fidelity’s bespoke specifications and features two 24bit, 192Khz DACS and twin, high grade amplifier modules running in dual mono mode. “Peak” power into the Merlin loudspeakers is a 50 watts per channel.
The integrated headphone amp is based on Musical Fidelity’s dedicated audiophile V90 HPA model. System inputs include: phono, USB (isochronous for updating the system or connecting to a PC), Bluetooth aptX and a line input (digital or analogue). The Merlin system also includes an analogue to digital converter (ADC) and a specially configurable output – analogue or digital, fixed or variable – which allows direct connection to a computer so that any of the Merlin’s inputs can be ripped to a PC – including LP. Alternatively, it allows for the addition of a subwoofer or the connection to active loudspeakers – either digital or analogue.
Produced to Musical Fidelity’s specification, the Round Table turntable includes a polished high carbon tool steel bearing, an “extremely inert” chassis and suspension system and a “very high quality” pick up arm. The Merlin loudspeakers incorporate a diffraction multiplier system that allows the relatively compact speakers to offer a “huge but accurate stereo soundstage”. Rather than the normal flat front baffle, it features a multi-stepped baffle which combines with a single wide-dispersion BMR driver in each speaker. The idea behind this being to create “a feeling of space and air whilst still giving a very wide but very focused image”.
The Merlin 1 system will be available in December in Richer Sounds, Superfi and other leading specialist hi-fi stores. Consumers can choose to mix and match their system with the Merlin 1 Speaker being available in red, silver or black; the Round Table has a choice of red or black finish while the Merlin amplifier is available in black.