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Merrill Audio THOR Mono Block Amplifiers Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 April 2014
Article Index
Merrill Audio THOR Mono Block Amplifiers Review
Set Up and Listening
Bonus Interview

Bonus Interview with Merrill Wettasinghe

What are the biggest misconceptions concerning Class D amplifiers these days? What are the biggest advantages?

Merrill Wettasinghe: It is always funny when it is called a digital Amplifier. In fact it is an analog amplifier that happens to have the Classification of Class D. Class A, Class B, Class C (used in RF), Class D and so on.   That would be the single biggest misconception. There is switching going on that makes it more efficient and some modulation. The biggest advantage is that efficiency that it brings, much like Class B brought to Class A. As with all designs, there can be bad designs and good designs. Class D required knowledge of high frequency operation – 250khz to 500khz and the Mark Levinson at 1Mhz. This has a whole set of other problems as well as instruments that the traditional Audio guys did not operation in, i.e. Audio is 20hz to 20khz. Hence the misconceptions, FUD( Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) at the Class D. Today Class D implementations can beat Class A implementations in sound. As you shown in the last review by StereoMojo, a Tube lover fell in love with the VERITAS Monoblocks and I have many converts from Tube to the VERITAS, lately on very high efficiency speakers also. Since Audiophiles are not cost conscientious, the efficiency  of not having to change tubes, saving on cooling and electricity are non-issues. Sonically, if all else is equal,  the biggest advantage of the Class D, in particular the VERITAS and the THORs, is the damping factor that is extremely high. This provide very good control of the speaker without the bloom for the lower end. Listening to the Cannon on the overture or the pull of the Bass Cello on Musica Nuda, or even the strike of  the piano key is always a nice surprise when using the VERITAS or the Thors, much closer to the live recording.
Merrill Audio THOR Mono BlockThe THORs and Veritas are loaded with an impressive array of expensive accoutrements like Stillpoints footers and custom power cords. This is unique in my experience What is your philosophy behind this?

MW: It is always the goal of Merrill Audio to under promise and over deliver. Having said this now raises the bar of expectations which I hope I can keep up with. Since the sound of the VERITAS and the THORs are very good and everything internal has been done to get the most from the sound, we decided to provide the customer with an out of the box superb experience. If there were other limitations that would marginalize the sonic benefits of the billet aluminum chassis, the synergistic fuse, the wiring, the layout, the revamp input stages and so on, then we would not include the Stillpoints and power cords to lower the price to the appropriate sonic value. At this point we feel the value is easily twice that cost of the VERITAS or the THORs. And that is what we like to provide, very good value with all our products. The buyer can be the final decider of that of course. Given that the items are not cheap, we understand that the sonic performance is also not for everyone. It was a tough decision to decide whether to go in cheap and hope to compete with the lower end or to provide very good value and sonic performance and compete upwards, that is compete with components at twice the price. Since we our mission is Audio Purity, the decision to go with Stillpoints, power cords and other items was made for us and our mission statement will guide our future development also.
Can you give us a brief overview of your background and how it has informed the way design products?

MW: I was a corporate guy travelling the world till my first kid was born. Some of the items that forms decisions are

  1. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard ( I worked for the company for 12 years). They had a list of priorities for every employee. Top was Customer satisfaction, below corporate profit.

  2. HP also shaped my quality control and build. I was the Quality Newsletter Editor for a very short time but my eyes were opened to using quality to achieve customer satisfaction and also getting long term sustained profits. The message I saw here was a win-win for the customer and the company.

  3. I was an audiophile from age 10, as with many audiophiles and manufacturers. I am an engineer by education and career until I moved in to sales and then management in 1998.  I was looking for the ultimate system. Although that is not there yet, I moved to building some of it myself. Doing this when I was younger due to budget constraints and later because it was not available on the general market. So the build is a clichéd labor of love form an Audiophile standpoint.

  4. I also have an MBA, and executive management stints with HP, Hughes and other smaller startup companies, I am cognizant of the need to have a viable business for the customer. This will let the customer hold items that will maintain value. It also gives them the confidence to try something new. While I hope my business thrives, my geek goal is to be able to spread new technologies and bring new ways to reproducing Audio in sonically magically ways.

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