In a recent post, I told you about a brief visit I had with Merrill Wettasinghe and his VERITAS monoblock power amplifiers and how I anticipated doing a full review in the near future. Well, the near future is now. Three weeks went by from the original visit and Merrill notified me that a pair was on its way. I had recently finished my review of his excellent THOR monoblocks and had waxed poetic. I still had them, in addition to my reference Hephaestus Harpocrates SE mono blocks, on hand for comparison.
Before I start I just want to reiterate a few salient points about the VERITAS mono amplifiers. Each amplifier is carved out of a single billet of aluminum with chambers having walls of one inch thickness in order to minimize resonance and vibration. All inputs and outputs are wired with Cardas copper Litz wire and all signal paths are kept as short and direct as possible. The VERITAS uses a fully balanced differential circuit which achieves extremely low noise and improved resolution. Copper rhodium binding posts and gold plated XLR inputs are employed to provide for superb connectivity, and to keep the noise floor as low as possible Merrill uses Synergistic Research Quantum tunneling fuses.
The rear panel contains two pair of Cardas binding posts for bi-wiring. These clamp-like devices make fastening speaker cables a breeze. All of these measures and more are used to achieve greater resolution and bring the music accurately to you without coloration.
From my previous and very brief visit with these amps and later experience with the THORS, burn-in is critical. Looking back on that first visit, it was apparent that they were not burned-in anywhere near the necessary length of time. I played them 24 hours a day for three weeks and then started to do some serious listening. How do they stack up and are they worth the $12,000.00 for the pair?
As good as the THORS were at recreating the recorded performance space, the VERITAS pair exceeded them by creating such a vivid portrayal of the venue that it sounded even more intimate. The further growth of the soundstage, portraying a wonderful three dimensional presentation was eye opening. Imaging was everything I expected, rounded, full bodied and three dimensional. Listening to choral performances was a revelation. It was easier than ever to hear individual singers rather than an amorphous group sound.
The VERITAS amplifiers presented musical timbres accurately and naturally without emphasis in any part of the frequency spectrum. What was apparent, however, was how more noticeable the bass performance of the VERITAS was. The balance was correct but the improvement in definition and extension produced a more visceral, life-like result. These amps not only successfully produce the initial attack of the instrument but also the full body of the note as it progresses through that instrument allowing full reverberation and natural decay. In the final analysis, what really counts is how close the equipment succeeds in producing the illusion of listening to living, breathing musicians performing in your listening space. This quality of ‘live’ is what the VERITAS amplifiers produce, not some hi-fi, electronic, sound that may have initial drama but then reveals its true form.
Along with improvements in bass performance, so went the treble. It was extended and airy. Cymbal reproduction was improved over the THORs — even more natural with a long finish. The way Merrill Audio implements its designs should alleviate any prejudice that some people still have about class D amplifiers. After all, implementation and execution is what determines results.
More and more discs, records and files were played in an attempt to expose any short comings these amps might have. Time and again they proved exemplary, revealing nuance and spatial cues, not previously heard before. Old favorites surprised me with newly discovered clarity I didn’t know they possessed.
If I had to characterize the VERITAS amplifiers it would be transparency with body, two often competing characteristics that forces audiophiles to make an unwanted choice.
The VERITAS amplifiers surpassed any previous amplifiers I’ve had direct experience with in achieving a life-like listening experience. Speed, dynamics, resolution, transparency, imaging in a three dimensional soundstage are words and concepts that only partially tell the story of their abilities. I know $12,000 is a lot of money so think long and hard before you audition them. They are so wonderful, you may not be able to let them go. I couldn’t.
Further information: Merrill Audio