New Merrill ES-R Turntable around 1K

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ddarch, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. ddarch

    ddarch Well-Known Member

    Location:
    NH
    I am fortunate to speak with George Merrill a few times a year. The last couple of conversations we had over the winter, he had been talking about introducing a turntable that would come in around the $1000 mark. Well, we spoke again yesterday and his words have turned into actions. He has finished a prototype of the turntable, and now he has begun the manufacturing aspect.

    The table will be called the ES-R...a reference to the AR ES-1 on which it is inspired, with the "R" standing for "Replica". Though I have not seen the prototype, George is stating that this turntable will incorporate many of the modifications he designed for the original mid-80's AR turntables, which is very exciting news, especially at this price point.

    I know that when George partnered with Anthony Scillia, their original intention was for a lower cost turntable...but that never happened with the MS-2 and MS-21. In this case, George is highly focused on that range near 1K. He said he will start taking pre-orders a little later this spring.

    I will keep everyone posted as I learn more.

    Dave
    triple likes this.
  2. GKH

    GKH Active Member

    Location:
    Somerville, TN
    Very nice! I work just a few miles from George's 'Analog Emporium', and we spoke at his shop back in early November last year when I was shopping for a TT. But, his low-end was a $325 Marantz with a Thorens at around $800 next in line. Nothing in the middle. I went with the Rega RP1. But, maybe later, I might be ready to spend a $1000 on one of his creations. The R.E.A.L. tables of his (Merrill-Williams), are certainly nice. But, way out of any budget I will ever have to spend on a TT.
  3. rcspkramp

    rcspkramp Active Member

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA USA
    This is great news, George is a really nice guy and passionate about analog reproduction. Please keep us up to date on the proceedings.
  4. Burt

    Burt Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Kirkwood, MO
    Merrill started out selling good, reasonably priced AR mods to the DIY set, heavily advertising in Audio Amateur magazine (the best audio periodical ever). He seemed to abandon this for the high dollar market in recent years. I guess things are tough all over now.

    But today the Linn Sondek has replaced the AR as the modifiable, system turntable. If I was going to clone or copy something that's the way I'd go.
  5. soundQman

    soundQman Idealist of the Musical Apocalypse

    Location:
    Arlington, VA, USA
    Interesting news. I had those mods done on my AR ES-1 (bought in 1984) with George's personal help and advice. He had a store in a suburb of Memphis, Underground Sound, which had changed with the times by the mid-90s to feature home theater (as well as audio) equipment. He had moved to a suburban (Cordova) shopping center, but he still maintained a workshop in the back, and still loved turntables. By then he had designed his own Heirloom model.

    He was a good mechanical engineer and expert at vibration control. His own turntable designs were mostly based on concepts he learned modding the ARs, but they were basic and boxy-looking to me. They didn't have the aesthetic beauty of the mid-80 reintroduced AR tables, or some of the high-end tables. They were built for great sound and performance, though.
  6. Balthazar

    Balthazar Well-Known Member

    That's very cool news. BTW, David, it just so happens I was looking at your site last night. Beautiful stuff!
  7. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Active Member

    Location:
    Oak Ridge, NC

    I'm a Merrill-Williams dealer and yes, the REAL 101 is an incredible table!
  8. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Maryland
    The REAL 101 is an intriguing table, with its liberal application of special anti-resonant materials like "Rubber Elastomer Acoustic Laminate" (where the R.E.A.L. moniker derives) to tonearm, motor and bearing suspension, and the "Bakelite resin composite platter". I haven't encountered any reviews of this table yet. Would be nice if TONEPUB, Jeff Dorgay could get a hold of one. I think its a handsome table too.

    [​IMG]
  9. Dougr33

    Dougr33 Well-Known Member

    beauty.. but the shown 'optional' clamp and outer ring are an extra grand!
  10. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Maryland
    $1200 to be exact, and you still need to add the arm mounting platform ($430) and tonearm to the $6000 base price.

    I wonder how the REAL 101 would perform next to a VPI Classic 3 which would be a few thousand less, comparably equipped and whether the energy management design translates to significant and audible refinement.

    I similarly struggle with $3800 pricing from something like a Well Tempered Amadeus GTA, but it also has a design is that seems like it makes sense. Ultimately cost is justified by how well a product fares against similarly priced competition.
  11. robertawillisjr

    robertawillisjr Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Hampton, VA
    Beautiful and expensive. By the time you get a very good arm and cartridge, you are in for around $8k.:realmad: I still want one. :)
  12. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Active Member

    Location:
    Oak Ridge, NC
  13. soundQman

    soundQman Idealist of the Musical Apocalypse

    Location:
    Arlington, VA, USA
    Yes. I'll be in the market for a new turntable within the next year, and this new model will certainly be under consideration along with others. It seems expensive, but I do note that the Merrill-Scillia 21 was meant to be an implementation of the Heirloom design, and it went for $24,000! Supposedly this new design would be a significant advance over that, at less than 1/3 the price.
  14. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Maryland
    Sweet. Are you able to make any meaningful comparisons to other tables as a reference point? I guess same arm and cartridge should be same for any meaningful comparisons. Beautiful table. I haven't tried any Ortofon before, but imagine the whole setup sounds terrific. What phono stage are you using?
  15. triple

    triple Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Can this thing play LP's? Somehow its size suggests it is for 45 RPM singles only.... ;)
  16. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Active Member

    Location:
    Oak Ridge, NC

    I usually run the table with a Manley Steelhead, Manley Chinook, Audion Premier MC or Cary PH302.

    I've not done a sit down, hard comparison against any other table in it's price range yet. But I can tell you that it's one of the best tables that I have ever used. And as you can tell from the Dagogo review, he agrees with me also!
  17. robertawillisjr

    robertawillisjr Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Hampton, VA
    Yes, through use of the electronic speed control.
  18. berndt

    berndt Member

    I recently acquired an Heirloom. Is it possible to still get the motor and speed controller for one of these?
  19. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    George Merrill will sell you his speed controller which costs circa $700. And probably a motor as well. Some Heirloom parts listed on his webpage here : http://www.hifigem.com/heirloom-replacment-parts.html.... otherwise best to call him or email him.
  20. berndt

    berndt Member

    Thanks man! He's quick. The deck has an et2 tonearm which makes platter removal for speed changes challenging.