In fact, the only limits on this are Merrill’s own uncompromising qualities written through the product in red ink. On a trivial level, the absence of single-ended connections and off-switch will aggravate some, and might even restrict sales in some countries. Not necessarily on matters of legality, but more in terms of perception on the part of the listeners. Similarly, the Element 118 doesn’t suffer musical fools... at all. Play a ropey bit of old chart material from a compilation CD from a few years back, and the sound is rendered fundamentally unlistenable because it is thin and flat and compressed.
The high-ender’s lament – that there are few good preamplifiers – should be extended to include power amplifiers too. Really good ones are thin on the ground. But as soon as you hear a really good one, like the Merrill Element 118, you know what you’re missing! Most seem to either accent something at the expense of other things, or colour the sound, or in the case of very big amplifiers, slug the sound. The Element 118 shows this is, in fact, a false dichotomy, because you can have big and powerful, and have it with good imagery, and have it with excellent pace, rhythm, and timing. You just need to know what you’re doing! Merrill and the Element 118 show they clearly know what they are doing when it comes to making power amplifiers!
Type: Solid-state monoblock amplifier
Signal to noise ratio (S/N): 110dB
Power Rating: 400 Watts @ 8 Ohms (800 Watts @ 4 Ohms and 1600 Watts @ 2 Ohms)
Speaker Terminals: Dual pairs of five‑way posts for bi‑wiring
(WBT - 0702.12 platinum)
Input: XLR Balanced input, Cardas XLR Power
AC: 20A AC inlet, Furutech Rhodium Plated inlet
Remote: 12V trigger, 3.5m, 20mA
Footers: Stainless Steel Outrigger GAiA III from Isoacoustics
34.8 × 22.1 × 51.8cm
Weight: 25 kg ea.
Price: $36,000 per pair UK and EU prices to be confirmed
Manufactured by: Merrill Advanced Audio Technology Labs LLC
Tel: +1 (415) 562 4434