Element 116 Power Amplifier Monoblocks
"Crafting Unforgettable Experiences"
Music can give us the deepest experiences, moments that last forever.
Shostakovich’s 14th symphony begins. The bass sings ? Los cien enamorados, the first line of Lorca’s shattering poem De Profundis, against a background of pure suspense. One can scarcely believe that such a sound can issue from the human body. The entire symphony is a devastating emotional event, but that first, simple brooding theme in the deep register, will never leave.
Benjamin Britten’s third string quartet. His last completed major work. After over twenty minutes of abstract, layered, difficult, searching argument in the first four movements the last ? recitative and passacaglia, suddenly discovers a theme of such pathos and breathtaking simplicity that the sense of resolution, of homecoming leaves scarcely a dry eye in the house.
Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion is not exactly short of wonderful arias but Erbarme dich, mein Gott weaves a solo soprano voice with a solo violin in an expression of sweet, romantic devotion and surrender that, once heard, can never be forgotten.
Element 116 was engineered to a more accessible price point, but not to a compromise. Even so, with 300 watts into 8 ohms, 600 into 4 and 1200 into 2, it has enough headroom for Mahlerians and metalheads alike.
Perhaps you would like a solution that fits into the rest of your lifestyle, that doesn’t demand a dedicated listening room, that perhaps can occupy the business end of your home theater system ? in which case it will certainly surprise and engage!
Everything we learned developing the flagship Element 118 concept went into the 116, just with different parameters. In fact it is rather nice to design and develop with imposed constraints. A certain ‘sweet spot’ can emerge, like a concentration, or essence. If Element 118 was a painting it would be a huge painting! Element 116 is on a smaller scale, but the art is the same.
As audiophiles we talk about detail and transients, edge definition, spatial cues, ‘soundstage’ and all these kinds of sound specific things a lot. They are important but, if the system doesn’t connect you to the emotional core of music, something is not right.
We think of our amplifiers as musical instruments, with an emotional sinew that is analogous in every case to the art which flows through their meticulously crafted circuits. We make them to make you cry, or dance, or sing along ? break out the air guitar! To tell your friends about them, urgently. We make them to help you discover the heart and soul of music.
Element 116 power amplifiers: crafting unforgettable experiences
We design the Element 116 Power Monoblock Amplifiers to be beautiful.
We want you to welcome them into your home to enhance and complement your carefully considered living space.
The amplifiers are compact. Behemoths of musicality and power they may be, but they are discreet in their presence.
Materials and finishes are carefully chosen to provide beautiful, subtle contrasts and quiet visual power, On trend rose gold adorns the fascia, top and side features which are proportioned perfectly relative to the unit size. The bevelled rose gold fascia includes two vertical ‘V’ profile precision cut channels that frame a subtly outlined, engraved center space in which the artfully radiused, deeply recessed LCD display is framed.
The fascia is designed to express a quiet authority, hinting at the power within ? like a window into the dynamism and speed of the amplifiers’ internal thought.
The main body of the amplifier is finished in ultra high gloss nickel – a smart companion to the sultry copper-gold detailing elsewhere. We expose certain of our fixings, in the finest tradition of industrial aesthetic ? think race cars, or guilloche in which the design ‘confesses’ the means of its execution, and against this, further rose gold elements interpose and slightly soften. The side vented cooling panels include a gentle wave form innovation that gently balances prominent verticals, horizontals and precision edges elsewhere.
This unostentatious,? but commanding, piece sits on solid stainless steel outriggers, which are engineered to create an environment of balance and acoustic isolation for optimum performance of the instrument. These outriggers terminate in high performance footings that both isolate the piece from the ground plane and help to absorb unwanted low frequency vibrations which originate in the earth.
Needless to say componentry throughout is of the highest standard available, from binding posts to rhodium plated power connections. Rhodium is expensive, but extremely durable. This is what we require in our design. From circuit boards to our proprietary, copper rich heat distribution system everything is best in class, intended for a lifetime of pure listening pleasure.
We believe we have created a supremely musical instrument, that is life-enhancing, sonically and visually, integrating deep thinking about music and musicality, with a refined approach to aesthetics and presence, to delight you, fascinate your guests and provide unparalleled experiences of the true soul of music.
In fact we call them ‘sculptures that sing’.
Speaker Terminals:Dual pairs of posts for bi-wiring
|Power rating:||300W/8, 600/4, 1200/2ohms|
|WBT ? 0710 CuMc|
|Accepts Bananas, spades or wire.|
|Input:||XLR Balanced input, Cardas XLR|
|Power AC:||20A AC inlet, Furutech Rodhium Plated inlet|
|Footers:||GAiA III from Isoacoustics|
|Size:||430mm (16.9?) W x 110mm (4.3?) H x 418mm (16.5?) D|
|Shipping size:||559mm (22?) W x 254mm (10?) H x 559mm (22?) D|
A company located a little closer to home — in Bernardsville, New Jersey — but also unknown to me before the FAE was Merrill Audio, founded in 2010, who showed their Element 116 mono amplifiers ($22,000/pair). Read more
A company located a little closer to home — in Bernardsville, New Jersey — but also unknown to me before the FAE was Merrill Audio, founded in 2010, who showed their Element 116 mono amplifiers ($22,000/pair).
The Element 116 isn?t Merrill?s most powerful or most expensive mono amp — that would be the Element 118 ($36,000/pair) — but with claimed power outputs of 300W into 8 ohms, 600W into 4 ohms, or 1200W into 2 ohms, it should provide enough juice for most speakers. What intrigued me wasn?t the Element 116?s high power or attractive casework — a combination of black nickel with accents of rose-gold-colored plating. Instead, I was smitten by the exceptionally refined, detailed sound that emerged from the Muraudio SP1 speakers the amps were driving. (I reviewed the SP1s on this site last June.) According to owner-designer Merrill Wettasinghe, the Element 116?s output stage is unique in relying on gallium-nitride transistors, which operate at much higher speed than typical transistors, and thus allowed Wettasinghe to build a class-D circuit devoid of the typical problems with such amps, and that uses no feedback whatsoever.
When I told Wettasinghe that I was impressed by the detail coming from the speakers, he told me that what I heard had a lot to do with the Element 116s? lack of feedback. Whether or not that?s true, I don?t know — after all, I was hearing the sound of an unfamiliar system in an unfamiliar room. But I?m very familiar with the sound of the Muraudio SP1 speakers, and the sound of them driven by the Merrills was so good that I was intrigued. Wettasinghe got some of our other writers interested, too — minutes after my show report went live, they commented specifically on this amp. We want to get a pair of these in for a full review.
by Doug Schneider
– Comparative Thoughts –
Merrill Audio Element 116 vs Veritas Class D Monoblock Amplifiiers
Over the years, I?ve had numerous amps of various topologies?NAD, Simaudio, Pass Labs, Atma-Sphere, Conrad Johnson, to name a few.? Some purchased/many just in for a brief audition/review.? As professional musicians, my wife and I have crafted a home audio system that serves both downtime as well as critical listening of recording project drafts, reference study, etc.? So, we really have to get it right when it comes to truth-in-source reproduction ? no artificial colors or sweeteners.? I think we?re pretty close, or at least for what our budget will allow.? Thus, when we chose to retain Merrill?s Veritas monos a few yrs ago, it was after numerous auditions listening for that major step forward towards authenticity.? I was and remain an ardent admirer of Merrill?s sound designs, so when the opportunity was presented to compare our Veritas to his new Element 116?s, there was no hesitation.
I?ll bypass recounting the spec comparisons, as they are readily available.? Rather, I?d like to offer a few simple listening observations:
The Veritas are sonically attractive on a number of levels:? Transient clarity, overall speed and accuracy, exceptional detail at low amplitudes, spacial resolution, well-placed sources, and an organic truth-in-source which I particularly admire.? As has been mentioned by others, the Element 116?s really do take these same fundamental qualities and expound on them in every direction.
It should be mentioned that the design and build of the 116 chassis is incredibly elegant -? fit-n-finish is top-shelf, offering an unquestionable state-of-the-art appearance.? WBT speaker binding posts are built like a tank ? beefy, with fantastic grip and feel.? IMHO, quanta leap forward from the Cardas binding posts on the Veritas.
While both the Veritas and 116 offer large fortes in speed and accuracy, the PRAT of the 116 is uncanny.? Clarity seems to simply flow with this power plant behind the source.? Every minutia recorded from the musicians is present in the listening experience in as natural a manner possible.? Neither the Veritas nor the 116 ever come across as sterile for the sake of detail, but rather in an engaging and non-fatiguing way.? What the 116 offers above the Veritas is a more tactile experience.? Everything flows with an immediacy and sense of 3-dimensionality.? The 116 seems to help lift the top and bottom off the frequency spectrum, allowing the timbral characteristics of both instrumental and vocal sources to sound wonderfully realistic and organic.? Definitely no artificial colors or sweeteners here!? I suspect much of this affect has to do with increased air/spacial awareness ? essentially no noise discerned.? Sonic image is deeper, more holographic when compared to the Veritas – backdrop is pitch black.?? Ease of listening through and around instrumental sources is impressive, yet the intent of a composite entity is never
lost.? Equally, any vestiges of subtle over rings or distortion which may be present on certain recordings when powered by the Veritas seem to have disappeared with the 116.
Its fair to say that, in my opinion, the sonic presentation of the Element 116 is as confident as the Veritas, with a sizably more robust authority.? A seemingly limitless but non-artificial frequency spectrum, coupled with a truthful reveal of organics from acoustic sources, partic. guitar and pno, help promote this experience.? I sense anyone auditioning monos in this price bracket will find the Element 116?s deliver some of the best amplification anywhere, and clearly competitive with many designs priced well above.? My congratulations and thanks to Merrill for his continued forward thinking in audio design!? His efforts have made this musician very happy!
VAC Signature MKIIa SE Pre (w/ phono)
VPI Scoutmaster Sig. (w/ Dynavector XV-1s cart)
Daedalus Athena v. 2
JPS Aluminata pc?s, ic?s, speaker cable
Reference Recordings (Sampling):
Andy McKee ?Art In Motion?
Buika ?Nina de Fuego?
Stacey Kent ?Dreamer In Concert?
Antonio Forcione ?Tears Of Joy?
Alex de Grassi ?Southern Exposure?
Jeff Hamilton Trio ?The Best Things Happen?
Charlie Haden/Pat Metheny ?beyond the Missouri Sky?
Oregon ?In Performance?
Herbie Hancock ?Maiden Voyage?
Jimi Hendrix ?Band of Gypsys?
Skywalk ?The Bohemians?
Joni Mitchell ?Hejira?
Dr. Michael R. Bump
Percussive Arts Society Board of Directors
Professor/Director, Percussion Studies
Truman State University
Department of Music
2326 Ophelia Parrish
Kirksville, MO? 63501
My general impression is WOA! Honestly, they leave the?Veritas?in the dust. I wont say that in the review of course. The?Veritas?are great amps and these cost 2ice as much. But there really is no comparison other than the E116 take all of the good qualities of the?Veritas?and run with them. The metaphor that comes to to mind is this: Imagine the sound image is a relief sculpture. With the?Veritas, the image is chiseled with delicacy and finesse. You ?see” (hear) all of the details and perceive all of the textures and tones, specially if you focus your attention on any of these qualities. With the E118, the image, its details, textures and tones are even more fine and clear, but, more pointedly, the background from where the images emerge is farther back, more recessed and thus the figures and their contour and placement in the scene is way more evident without effort. So if with the?Veritas?YOU COULD PERCEIVE THNGS IF YOU PLACED YOU ATTENTION ON THEM, with the E118, it is almost impossible to miss them. They are self-revealing and evident. They jump into space as the music unfolds with natural force and they recede into nothingness with such momentum that you can?t miss them. It is quite something. This was evident in ALL recordings. Dull records sounded alive, great records sounded as vivo performances right there on the space between the system and I. Specially one record,?https://www.bauerstudios.de/de/data/shop/6560/?was so vivid and real that Mar, who was in a separate room and with earbuds on listening to a talk, yelled ?WAO!!!? when the first track concluded and came to join me to listen to the rest of the LP. I did not tell her which amps were playing and asked her to close her eyes when finished and switched to the?Veritas. She got up after a minute: “This sounds great, but it?s uninteresting by comparison.?
In short, these are quite an achievement. Seriously the best amplification I have ever heard. I am sure the 118s are even better, specially under stress, but these 116s are something achievable and to cherish.
I.Rivera, NYC, 20th Aug 2018.