Merrill Replica ES Turntable ES-R1

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by mike_p, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    Anybody have one of these?
  2. ddarch

    ddarch Well-Known Member

    I spoke to George the day before Thanksgiving. He said that some will be ready for shipping before Christmas 2012. Unfinished/armless model around 1K and a ready-to-play finished package at around $1600.

  3. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    Thanks, Dave. Any intel on the motor or suspension?
  4. DFTrouble

    DFTrouble New Member

    Hear it on Saturday.

    I went to the shop on Saturday to hear the new table.

    It sounded good, but it had a Black Ortofon Cadenza cartridge on it, so I'm not really sure what it would sound like with a more modest cartridge. I heard the new REAL deck a few months ago and was astounded. Records almost sounded "digital" in its clarity and speed (but without harshness and with soul).

    I've lusted after a Merrill turntable for years, and I'm planning on buying the new one. I'm also starting a doctorate this Spring, so I'm going to have to wait a few months to see about school expenses/scholarships...

    Since George makes them at his shop, it would be easy to customize the deck to suit one's personal tastes (cartridges, finishes, arms, clamps, etc.).
    George also told me that a power supply unit will be eventually available.

    The suspension on the new table is based on his AR mods for the Heirloom.
    George says that the table will compete with the Heirloom in terms of sound quality.

    Heirloom level performance seems a bit far-fetched for the low price, but I'm sure it'll sound as good if not much better than my Music Hall 5.1 and I'm thrilled to support local business. I bought my first adult stereo from George and enjoy doing business with him.
  5. DFTrouble

    DFTrouble New Member

    Subject should read "Heard it on Saturday".
  6. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    A $2500 cartridge? Really??

    Oh, well. I guess that makes it somewhere between really difficult and darn near impossible to evaluate on its own merit. :scratch2: Any other impressions you had would be appreciated.


  7. marcmorin

    marcmorin AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Dunno I agree with the (non) ability to evaluate the table itself. The cart should be of high enough quality that if the table had an issue, the cart would expose that issue. I'm thinking more to the point the table is proving itself to be able to front any hi-end system. To put a $40.00 cart on it and say the table is a "dog" certainly isn't evaluating the table, that's evaluating the cart.
  8. Modegard

    Modegard AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Is Merrill Scillia still in play? Just curious.
  9. Russellc

    Russellc AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Dont think so, but the mods for AR tables can still be acquired from

  10. kirk57

    kirk57 DreamState Subscriber

    George is a good guy. I called to ask him some questions about my Merrill AR and he took the time to tell me how to tweak it, gratis.

    I like spending my money with guys like that rather than buying from GiantMegacorp. I can name the guys who built almost all my gear, and I've talked to most of them.

    That said, I've not heard the new Merrill table, but given the company history, I have no doubt it's very good.
  11. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    Yup, but it would still be nice to know some more . . .

    George by God answers his phone, and like so many real originals in this business, is happy to discuss what he loves. His reputation is impeccable and his prior products have been very well received. No question.

    Still, Tennessee is a fur piece from Greeley, PA, and I was hoping to hear about its sound with something a little closer to the stuff I could afford. I'm holding on to a Jelco 750D arm, and thought I'd mate it to a DL-103R with either a decent step-up (maybe the K & K Lundahl Basic Kit) or a head amp (George likes the Lehmann Black Cube). I'm wondering how the ES-R1 would fare wearing that kind of an arm and cartridge against a vintage Thorens 125/SME 3009, a used VPI Scout with the unipivot asm, or an Oracle Alexandria,, something in that price range.
  12. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

    Given George's superb customer service and helpful nature with AR owners, I'd give this table an audition. For the price, it would be a hard turntable to beat. His products are well built and engineered soundly.
  13. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    Merrill Replica ER-S1 shipping on Monday

    W/armboard drilled for a Jelco 750D, base finished in Tung Oil.

    Almost done with the build for a Bottlehead Seduction phono pre, and the BH C4S constant current source upgrade is on the way. Waiting on Comet Supply for a DL-103R. A step-up based on Cinemag 3440A's is in the drawer; looks like the 150 ohm 1:18 ratio should be about right. If not, the AT7V puts out 5 mv, should mate well with the arm, and do the trick for the Seduction.

    Gotta love this stuff. :banana:
  14. Logic6

    Logic6 Active Member

    Any update on the turntable?
  15. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    Settling in with the ES-R1

    This thing makes music. Vastly more alive than the Technics SL1210 I had with an AT-120E on the stock Technics arm. It has drive, snap, zip, (PRAT?) whatever you want to call it. George Merrill told me the motor is the same one he used in the Heirloom.

    The drive platter and main platter assembly are beautifully designed and engineered. The drive and main platters are made of the same non-resonant poly material as the 3-point suspended frame and the massive armboard. The springs are easily adjusted for use with a record weight, and the poly main platter is ready for use with a rim clamp. The mating surface on the drive platter is the same cork/rubber composite used as the integral record mat on the main platter. The entire design is clearly aimed at eliminating resonance of any kind. And, at least to my ear so far, the turntable achieves its designer's goals.

    My listening room has a floating floor over cork underlayment, and it bounces. Not surprisingly, in that environment the ES-R1 was really susceptible to footfalls. That problem went away entirely when I put it on a Target wall shelf. The 'table currently sits on an mdf shelf cannibalized from a solidsteel rack, under which are 4 Herbie's Audio Lab hard isoballs in their matching bases sitting directly on the Target's thick MDF shelf (Herbie's attaches some soft, compliant material underneath the bases ).

    Now, with well-recorded vinyl, it sounds better to me than (most) Redbook CDs (with the exception of, e.g., audiophile CD's like Pierre Sprey's Mapleshade recordings.) The ES-R1 delivers deep, tuneful bass, sweet mids and extended highs. I don't believe you can go wrong with this turntable.
  16. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    Holy cow!


    I added the C4S current supply mod to the Bottlehead Seduction phono pre, took delivery of a new Denon DL-103R, wired up a homebrew SUT I got from an Asylum inmate to 150 ohms (1:17.7), and what a difference! Forget about CD's; this 'table mated with the right electronics is the way to go.

    Although the bass is a little soft (a cartridge loading issue I think), its really, really there. Listening to Waltz for Debbie on the nothing-special Riverside reissue, Scott Lafaro's bass is so tuneful & right in the room; you can hear every bit of fingering on the strings, lots of wood. Beautiful tone.

    Attack on the piano and drum kit is excellent; notes decay naturally. The mids are sweet and clear without unnatural bloom, the highs extended without harshness.

    No tracking issues with the Jelco 750D & the DL-103R. Easy to set up, and very, very musical. The ES-R1 lets them sound their best. I think one of the earlier posters on this thread was right: this 'table is ready for the best arm and cartridge combination you can give it.
  17. CasualKiller

    CasualKiller Active Member

    How do you guys feel about this table now that some time has passed? Still enjoying it? I ordered one today and coincidently I will also be using the 750D/103R combo as well.

    I can hardly wait, very excited.
  18. richamor

    richamor Blue Collar Subscriber

    Am interested as well. Thinking of ordering one of these for my Audiomods arm.
  19. mike_p

    mike_p Downhome Upstate Subscriber

    Still enjoying my ES-R1

    For $995 + arm and cartridge, it's hard to see how you can go wrong with this deck. Still really enjoying the sound.

    What strikes me most about it is the overall effectiveness of the damping George has employed: it doesn't (it can't) ring when struck, and you don't want a platter mat because the permanent integral cork/rubber platter surface seems to be (from a lay person's perspective) a superb interface for a vinyl record.

    My one beef with this 'table is that when I use both a TTAlloy 480 Classic Outer Ring Universal and TT Weights light center weight, I can't seem to adjust the springs for 45 rpm play. (With that much weight on the platter assembly, I haven't been able to get the belt to line up correctly with the 45 rpm pulley position. In fairness, I don't think that the turntable is designed to carry that much extra weight.)

    I just got a Musical Surroundings Nova II phono stage and should be receiving a NIB original version of the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood tomorrow. I'm very interested to hear how the arm/cartridge combination will work and how that will sound through the Nova II.

    Bottom line: still highly recommended; really solid bang for the buck.
  20. Logic6

    Logic6 Active Member

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