Merrill Audio VERITAS and THOR Monoblocks review

Merrill Audio VERITAS and THOR Monoblocks were sent together as Merrill Wettasinghe wanted me to explore two similar, but still much different power amplifiers from their product line. They are quite set apart in pricing and the initial idea was to experience the amplifiers of same DNA, but with different set of attributes and level of performance.  


The overriding goal of Merrill Audio is to have Audio Purity in all its components. That is to make the components as transparent as possible. That means not adding anything to the signal, replaying the signal exactly as it is put in with the same speed, detail and power. To be musical is not to strip any of the signal and not adding harmonics or subharmonics which will color the sound or add warmth. Adding a lot of high harmonics will cause it to become analytical or sterile. 

This is seen as an overshoot of the signal like a square wave or a ringing as the square wave settles.

Reproducing the details is especially important to make sure the reproduced music has a wide stage, is very deep and yet very precise. This is in contrast to smearing which the reproduction is not clear, has ringing but still causes a wide and deep stage however there is no precision to the instruments and voices. Another issue with a different type of removal of detail is to make the reproduced music dry and lacks the long decays which is in all music.
To make this happen there is no single magical bullet but a consistent, tedious task of making sure everything is done correctly and with the best components.
The VERITAS and Thors use Hypex Modules as the base for its design. The VERITAS has the Ncore and the Thors use a Ucd OEM version that has 75% of the Ncore and the modified further to improve the sonic transparency.
Starting with the Chassis, it is built from T6061 Aircraft Grade aluminum blocks, and the interior is carved out with separate chambers for the power supply and the audio side. The isolation limits the EMI/RFI from the Power supply to the Audio side. Even though the EMI/RFI is not much it is sufficient to add noise and limit or alter the details.
All wiring is soldered with as large a contact that is possible. While this is labor intensive, it has a very large pay off as bad connections on a continuous basis attenuates the details. The connections are done with the best possible wire for the job. For the Audio Circuits only Cardas Litz wire is used even though it is harder to work with, it provides an excellent transfer at all frequencies.
Components are all the best built, not necessarily the most expensive but the best designed. Cardas, Furutech, Stillpoints are some of the items used in the connections.
Quite a few proprietary techniques are applied to the electronics, the assemble and the other items in the assembly of the Thors and the VERITAS. While each on again is not a magic bullet or rocket science. Each one contributing to between 0.1% and 1% improvement and if there are 20 contributions, we would see somewhere between 2% and 20% improvement in the Sonics. Hence the collective improvements make the VERITAS and Thors exceptional performers, even in the face of competition with some who use the same output stages.
It is argued that a Linear Power supply is better however there is no blanket statement that any one technology is absolutely better than the other. It all depends on how well the technology is implemented. The proof is that units build with the Linear power supply are less powerful, less dynamic and more susceptible to noise. The switching power supply used is very quiet and an equivalent linear power supply with equally low noise level and the same dynamic capability would increase the cost of the Amplifiers by 4 times at least, not to mention the size and the inefficiencies. 
The engineering is completed with Stillpoint Ultra Mini Risers and Waveform Fidelity HE Mk III power, and a soldered Synergistic Fuse inside.


Using Merrill Audio’s philosophy of Audio Purity, the THOR Monoblocks are engineered to every detail. Starting with the trickle down Hypex Ncore technology in the UcD Modules,  utilizing the finest components, Merrill Audio encases the design in a solid billet aircraft grade aluminum chassis design for isolation of components and to minimize microphonic vibrations. Ensuring every micro detail is kept, Merrill Audio THOR Mono Blocks delivers exceptional sound and value, precise staging in a superbly musical amplifier.
The value combination is an Amplifier that is very hard to beat with its heritage from the VERITAS Monoblocks.
Beautifully finished in Black Piano Gloss, each unit is a work of art.
The Thor Monoblocks benefit from the technology and research done by for the VERITAS Monoblocks. Machined from Aircraft grade aluminum block, the case is engineered to minimize microphonics. The chassis is painted and backed Piano Gloss Black for aesthetics in addition to good sound.
The signal paths are designed to be the shortest possible, giving you the cleanest audio signal possible. The chassis and layout were designed, whether single height or double height, to have the shortest signal path, reducing noise and lets the speed, control, and dynamics of the sound come through the power amp unhindered.
The largest wire gauge is used to allow for the best transfer of signal. XLR connectors are Cardas Rhodium plate over silver and Cardas Patented Speaker Binding Posts with Rhodium plate Copper posts. Furutech IEC with Gold plate is use for the AC.
Footers are Stillpoins Ultramini risers for isolation from your platform.
For excellent power flow, Merrill Audio ANAP Power cords made from Furutech silver coated conductors and Cardas connectors are provided.


The VERITAS Monoblock Power Amplifiers are based on the Hypex Ncore NC1200 and uses what Merrill believe most responsive power supply, for the fastest transients with quiet, black background. A custom power cord was developed by Waveform Fidelity and comes included with the VERITAS Monoblocks. Isolation is provided in many ways, and on the chassis with the included Stillpoints Ultramini Risers. 
A synergistic fuse is used for the best power supply and excellent response. For the best flow through and contact, the fuse is soldered instead of a fuse holder.
Merrill found how Hypex SMPS1200A700 power supply is one of the best power supplies available to provide clean power with the best transient response and quiet background. A linear power supply equivalent would have to be at least 50 pounds along for the power supply transformer and filtering capacitors, with a minimum chassis size of being 12” x 18 x 18, just for the power supply. This alone does not guarantee the linear power supply will match the sonic benefits of the SMPS1200A700. Along with the new level of Class D audio arise, the SMPS seems to be taking the world by storm as well. As with all in the VERITAS Monoblocks, the best are used, in this case for the power supply, the SMPS1200A700 is the one to beat.
The signal paths are designed to be the shortest possible, giving you the cleanest audio signal possible. Longer cables typically use shielding. Excessive shielding introduces capacitances that slow the dynamics of the system, especially power amps, bloating the bass, smoothing transients and reducing the high frequencies. Keeping wires short removes the requirement for heavy shielding, and lets the speed, control, and dynamics of the sound come through the power amp unhindered.
Further chassis stabilization is provided to the chassis with Stillpoints Ultramini Rises. 


Merrill Wettasinghe confirmed my observations about the long warm up time of the VERITAS Monoblocks and the Thor Monoblocks.  It takes at least one full day of playing or two days of being plugged in and another 30-45 minutes of playing to warm up. This is closely connected with the heatsinks design being actually the chassis itself. Merrill explained, that the electronics generate very little heat and that is why it takes so long to warm up.
Anyhow. These monoblocks are designed from ground up to be left on all the time and they stay very close to optimal operation after that.


In order to do the fair comparing I’ve used the same set of listening/test tracks and the rest of the system chain components unchanged to ensure the same critical conditions. Everything was followed with the strict listening notes and I’ve viable observations made it to the review draft.
Both THOR and VERITAS monoblocks are working in the domain of transparency and details with ability to capture musical formation in a distinctive way and coherent way. I’ve put the grand stress with all musical genres, but prolonged the listening tests with acoustical (mostly classical) music.
Teodor Currentzis Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro is one of my latest discoveries and I’m returning to this album and tracks repeatedly. The sense of three dimensionality, space, perfumers positioning, atmosphere and directness can be tested very critically with any product under the test.
Interplay of male and female voice let you distinguish the ability of amplifiers to project proper sense of natural layering. THOR monoblocs managed to offer an involving insight to this Mozart’s masterpiece with credible level of musical interaction. THORs can be forgiving to the source and this helped with the integration of more affordable DAC’s, where inherited (at this price point) slightly warmish and slower nature is boosted via THORs sense of speed and transparency. 
Stepping up to the VERITAS power amplifiers opened up different doors to the music reproduction. Layering of the voices and acoustical instrument become more relief like with deepened projection of the atmosphere. While THORs captivated the acoustical focus points with sensible potency, VERITAS monoblocs offered even larger amount of smallest constitutional points. Tiniest decays and delays formed much quicker and with much more believability. There are many attributes need to be addressed properly with the reconstruction of the musical performance. The level of illusion with THORs were more of the mid row experiencing of real event, where one might not lurk into everything that happens on opera stage. VERITAS power amplifiers  pushed the sense of presence and details much closer to the front row, where lyrical human scale can be appreciated on the different level. There is doubt about the real potency of both power amplifiers, but VERITAS encapsulate much more of the of the upward performance, which is logical with the given price difference. 
Pierre Boulez – Boulez conducts Stravinsky Le Sacre du Printemps almost poignantly reveal itself with the pacing and emotional impact, that cannot let you untouched, offering a majestic rendition of this classical composition. 
There is a beauty on the dark side of the melancholy and it can be both appreciated and cherished. The level of tension and emotional burst on this Stravinsky masterpiece performed under the Boulez baton is a real pleasure to listen to and use as a test track. Interchanging pace and interplay of pure lyrical massiveness resolve with subtle delicacy that demands the power amplifier ability to resolve within minute changes and instant shifts of sudden attacks. 
THORs captivated the pace with a skillful fortitude and level of transparency that could serve as as clear window into the Stravinsky world. As with Mozart the stepping point into the Stravinsky musical landscape was inviting and captivating enough to embarks the certain level of drama. Partnered with more affordable DACs the tension and flow was there, but switching up to the Totaldac revealed few interesting points. THORs are able to allow the interchanging connection with the music and a sense of dramatical scale that can relate to the live atmosphere. 
VERITAS monoblocs opened up the windows of transparency and flow more widely. Not only attacks gained a faster time, but instantly brass section evolved into much more believable catharsis. Sense of orchestra pace was never on the light side with open and much more see true nature. VERITAS was never benign and benevolent or saturated. Their sonic agenda marveled without seminal occurrences, but more within domain of controlled frenzied musical notes trajectory translating into the more sophisticated harmonic layering. 
Both THORs and VERITAS monoblocs managed to decode believable timing with VERITAS’s acting much more forceful, with heavier league tension and cogent acoustic perspective.


In the world of so many high-end audio concepts its getting hard to distinguish the weed from the flowers. There are so many concepts, design schools and products promising a huge breakthroughs and sonic marveling. 
Merrill Audio approaches to the design of their electronics with  their clear vision. They are not smitten with the esoteric audio parts. Their direction follows the practical conical results without getting into bling or marketing BS. 
Everyone knows by now I’m not the biggest advocate of Class D and different kind of such modules. Being one of the few, that actually shown a critical approach to the Devialet it’s great when I can be affected with the product that shows a bit different story. To often the linearity is being misprinted by the actual flat sound nature and this is where Merrill audio THOR and VERITAS monoblocks stand out on their own. Adding a musical DNA to the inherited transparent nature, that almost as a rule result with bland and uninvolving performance is not such a small task. It is something that is more then worthy of noting. 
Both THORs and VERTIAS are quite different iterations of Hypex Modules implementations. Of course both with their own set of performing rules. THORs comes as more instant performer rounding up the system implementation with more ease. VERITAS monobloks demands more dedication and refinement and work on the different level when system is balanced and fine tuned. 
Merril Managed to bring a viable portion of musicality of what’s usually called nature of the Class D design principle. That is not small achievement and combined with the few of brands own little tricks the final result it’s what really matters. 
In the high end audio we’re dealing with the smallest parts and particles making all the difference and Merrill embraced these with the level of refinement that conveys to large portion of musical impact. 
Yes, both VERITAS and THORs are acting on the  transparent side of the scope. Merrill’s approach follows the straight wire principle. What you send in will get out as little as possible affected by the electronics. 
This approach puts enormous burden on the audio source and will reveal everything. VERITAS units takes the transparency throne handling the fast paced speed and lock with the speakers with mighty control. 
The THORS surprisingly well tame the mid systems and can tolerate even more mediocre audio source.
Both of the power amplifiers resolve with Merrill Audio DNA, that relate closely to transparency, speed, purity, immediacy and sense of focus and control.

Text: Matej Isak


VERITAS: $12,000 a pair of Monoblocks, Worldwide Shipping included.
THOR: $4800 a pair of Monoblocks, Worldwide Shipping included.


THOR Specifications
Power: 200 Watts at 8 ohms, 400 Watts at 4 ohms
Monoblocks can be double-height bridged for 700 watts into 4 ohms.
Input Impedance: 50 kOhms
Output Impedance: 20 milli Ohms
Damping factor: 500 4 ohms
THD: 0.05% at 100 watts
Current: 18 amps typical max
Frequency Response: 10Hz – 30kHz 0/-3db
Gain 26db
S/N 100dB
1 Balanced Input – Cardas XLR with Silver pins, Rhodium plate, Gold plated body
1 Remote Trigger. 12V for remote turn on/off
1 pair of patented Cardas Rhodium over billet Copper posts
1 IEC Furutech gold plated
1 Custom designed power cord for THOR 14AWG 27 stranded silver plated Alpha pure copper wire from Furutech and pure copper contacts, Rhodium over silver plated electrical plug and IEC from Cardas.
3 year transferable warranty
Short Circuit protection
Over temperature protection
Auto shut off in case of fault
Dimensions: 9” x 9” x 2.5” without footers
Weight: 15 lbs
VERITAS Specifications
Power: 400 Watts at 8 ohms
          700 Watts at 4 ohms
–      1,200 Watts at 2 Ohms
Input Impedance:   100 kOhms
Output Impedance: 3 milli Ohms
Damping factor:    2,000 4 ohms
THD:     0.004% at 200 watts
Current: 38 amps typical max
Frequency Response: 0Hz – 50kHz 0/-3db
Gain 26db
S/N 128dB
1 Balanced Input – Cardas XLR with Silver pins, Rhodium plate, Gold plated body
1 Remote Trigger. 12V for remote turn on/off
2 pairs of speaker outputs  – patented Cardas Rhodium over billet Copper posts
1 IEC Furutech gold plated
1 Waveform Fidelity HE MKIII power cord designed for VERITAS.
5 year transferable warranty
Cardas RCA to XLR converters (optional)
Short Circuit protection
Over temperature protection
Auto shut off in case of fault
Dimensions: 17” x 12” x 3” without footers
Weight: 33 lbs.
Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC
80 Morristown Road, Unit 3B, # 275
Bernardsville, NJ 07924
Tel: (415)-5MA-HiFi, (562-4434)