MERRILL WILLIAMS REAL 101.2 + Morch DP8 12"tonearm + DaVinci MC cart + clamp kit

MW 02 TT 101 MOR
SPECIAL PRICE: NZ$ 16,000.00 ea (incl. GST)
Original: NZ$ 22,250.00 (incl. GST)
Saving: NZ$ 6,250.00 (incl. GST)
Merrill Williams Audio

"A New Approach . . . A New Standard"

Demo
After 35 years of revolution , a turntable has achieved total energy management, enter the R.E.A.L 101.2 

This turntable package is fitted with: 
MORCH DP-8 12" tonearm with on-the-fly VTA adjustment from Denmark
Clearaudio Da Vinci MC cartridge
Merrill Williams clamping system (puck & outer ring)

The Rubber Elastomer Acoustic Laminate (R.E.A.L.) turntable has an 18 point patent. 
No big chunks of metal or hunks of plastic are substitutes for solid engineering. 
No mater how absurd the price of other turntables the REAL 101 will out perform any turntable at any price. 

Introducing the NEW REAL 101.2   - The difference between the original 101 and the NEW 101.2 

One: There are 2 tonearm mounting platform 4.64 inch to accommodate 9-10 inch arms and a 6 3/4 inch that will accommodate a 12 inch arm. Can be exchanged in about one minute . This will allow the use of as many tone arms as you wish. 

Two: The speed strobe is now printed on the bottom of the platter. It is viewed using a mirror. 

Three: The skin is phenolic (black) instead of aluminium (silver)

The 101.2 is vailable now. Sold by select dealers who understand and care about selling their clients performance not hype. - The start of the system is the heart of the system!

Merrill Williams R.E.A.L. 101.2 Turntable - Explanation of Design
George Merrill has long time been associated with highly regarded turntable design since the release of the Merrill Heirloom turntable in the late 1970s and is one of the few qualified true turntable designers. The Merrill-Williams REAL 101 turntable is the totally new third generation high performance table that uses patented Rubber Elastomeric Acoustic Laminate and other energy management techniques that address fundamental design principles of well engineered turntables.

For 2014 the Merrill-Williams REAL 101.2 turntable has been released with several enhancements over the original REAL 101. These changes include a new black phenolic skin, quick change tonearm mounting platform, built-in speed strobe and bubble level, and new motor mounting method.

The REAL 101 design addresses all of the 4 types of energy present in the turntable: self generated, mechanically coupled via the feet, airborne within the operating environment, and conducted stylus energy as the record plays. 

The Merrill-Williams REAL 101.2 turntable has just the right amount of useful user adjustments to set up the table optimally. In addition to being able to level the table, the Merrill-Williams REAL 101.2 turntable is one of the few tables with tonearm platform levelling and tonearm azimuth adjustments. 

Note the Merrill-Williams REAL 101.2 turntable does not come with a tonearm. The tonearm mounting platform, however, is suitable for all standard 9" and longer 12" length tonearms. Future upgrades are therefore possible via a tonearm upgrade.

The Merrill-Williams REAL 101.2 turntable comes with an external sine wave generator power supply to drive the motor and is a convenient way to change the speed. AC line noise will affect speed stability and degrade the sound and the electronic speed control/regulator will significantly improve performance compared to tables without electronic speed control.

There are useful upgrades available for the Merrill Williams REAL 101.2 turntable. Resonances generated within the record itself can be be reduced by increasing the weight of the vinyl and by ensuring the record is in contact with vibration damping material on the platter. Central and peripheral clamping is the best way to tame intra-vinyl resonances.

The turntables are fabricated in the US using small-scale high-precision hand-built manufacturing optimised for performance rather than production optimised for low cost and high profit. This turntable is perfect for customers wanting choice over tonearm and cartridge for top level no-nonsense vinyl reproduction at a realistic price.

Features

Reviews

Videos

Features

ADDITIONAL to standard Turntable included in this package: 
Beautiful Morch DP-8 12" tonearm with on-the-fly VTA adjustment from Denmark
Clearaudio Da Vinci MC cartridge from Germany
Merrill Williams clamping system (puck & outer ring)

ENERGY MANAGEMENT DESIGN
2 tonearm mounting platform 
Speed strobe printed on the bottom of the platter, viewed using a mirror. 
Black phenolic skin
Rubber cork compound mat
The motor is mounted in a separate housing and is fluid damped
3/4” polished stainless steel high stability spindle
Bakelite resin composite platter
Inverted adjustable hemispheric feet
Elastomer suspended MDS impregnated high viscosity oil well bearing
R.ubber E.lastomer A.coustic L.aminate
Adjustable dual oscillator (sign/cosign) crystal time base motor drive system. Accuracy certified at 2 parts per million by the Sutherland Timeline.
Acoustic Isolation Valleys
Ground plane plinth
Strobe light powered by a short pulse, crystal controlled, square wave generator

OPTIONAL EXTRAS FOR R.E.A.L. 101.2 TURNTABLE:
a) 12 inch Arm Mounting Platform pre-drilled - (INCLUDED IN THIS PACKAGE)
b) Arm Platforms can be ordered pre-drilled for most popular tone arms
c) The Clamping System 
d) Record Puck - damped Centre Weight (INCLUDED)
e) Damped Periphery Clamping Ring with Strobe.
f) Motor Drive Extension Cable

Dimensions: 457W x 356D x 180H (excl tonearm) mm 
Weight: 17kg

Reviews

Music emerges with such exceedingly low coloration and distortion that transparency, fine detail retrieval, openness, and clarity are surprisingly close to what one experiences when listening to a mastertape.
Jim Hannon

SUMMARY: As one might expect from the man responsible for so many turntable innovations, George Merrill’s latest turntable, in collaboration with Robert Williams, breaks new ground in its approach to energy management by ingeniously and effectively damping and dissipating resonances wherever they lurk. Music emerges with such exceedingly low coloration and distortion that transparency, fine detail retrieval, openness, and clarity are surprisingly close to what one experiences when listening to a mastertape. The Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 turntable should be a revelation to those who want to get closer to the sound of a live performance without breaking the bank. It’s easy to set up, and its modularity also allows for future enhancements, including an isolation chamber for the ’table, available later this year.

EXTENDE REVIEW of : Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 Turntable (Note - since replaced with updated 101.2 verion)
According to a recent poll of our editors and reviewers (TAS 216), the AR XA was ranked as the most significant turntable in the history of analog playback. If you ever lived with the AR XA turntable or one of its successors (XB, XE, ES-1, ETL-1, EB101), you may well have installed some of the popular “Merrill mods” that helped lift the sonic performance of that entire turntable family. These ranged from enhanced speed controllers and motors, to acrylic-lead turntable mats, acrylic subchassis, center and outer clamps, and improved parts, among others. Thousands were reportedly sold, making them the most popular mods for those venerable belt-driven, spring-suspended classics.
 
While continuing to offer turntable mods and accessories, George Merrill designed the Merrill Heirloom in the late 1970s, an extension of his previous work and experimentation with AR turntables. Merrill claims that the Heirloom was the first ’table to use acrylics as well as a periphery clamping ring, and it also employed a dedicated motor controller for enhanced speed accuracy, fluid damping, and several other unique features to effectively control resonances and manage energy dissipation, including a one-piece acrylic subchassis. The Heirloom garnered high praise in these pages from both William T. Semple (TAS 43) and Jack W. English (TAS 51), particularly for its lifelike sound, transparency, and open midrange.
 
Having ceased manufacturing the Heirloom around 1996, George collaborated with Anthony Scillia in 2002 on the Merrill- Scillia Research MS-21 with Scillia taking Merrill’s Heirloom design to its most fanatical endpoint, with aerospace-grade materials, plus springs, machined from solid billets of hardened aluminum, that were the most exotic I have ever seen. All these improvements came at a steep price ($24,000), yet the MS-21 still looked quite pedestrian. However, I heard the MS-21 on several occasions, and was stunned by its remarkable performance, if not its physical beauty. When George told me that he thought his new MW-101 turntable “blew the MS-21 away,” it definitely piqued my interest.
 
The $5995 Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. (an acronym for Rubber Elastomeric Acoustic Laminate) 101 is a collaboration between Merrill and Robert Williams, an innovator in his own right as a co-founder of Memphis’ legendary Ardent record-mastering lab, in addition to his considerable experience in record pressing and loudspeaker design. What makes the MW-101 unique is its extensive use of rubber elastomers virtually everywhere that resonances might occur. I heard a pre-production model a few years ago at a trade show, driving Quad electronics and ESL-2805 loudspeakers, and was very impressed by its ability to reproduce Frank Sinatra’s voice and Nelson Riddle’s orchestra so naturally and with such sonic realism that I thought it was perhaps the most musically compelling sound I heard at that show.
 
Having lived with a current production model of the Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 (MW-101) in my own listening room for some time, my appreciation of its outstanding virtues has continued to grow. The MW-101 has many of the same beguiling sonic strengths as my reference front-end, the UHA-HQ Phase Six, coming surprisingly close to this reel-to-reel deck’s performance, particularly in transparency, midrange openness, fine detail retrieval, and top-end purity and balance on Antonio Lysy at the Broad: Music From Argentina [Yarlung Records]. No, it didn’t have quite the incisive bass articulation, micro- and macrodynamic intensity, and overall immediacy of the tape, but that may well be a function of the ’arm and cartridge (more on this later). Nevertheless, both analog sources have an uncanny ability to transport you to the recording venue, and they sound more alike than one might expect.
 
When I listen to Soulmates [Riverside/Acoustic Sounds] on the MW-101, the leading edge of transients, like those on Philly Joe Jones’ drums and cymbals, are crystal clear, without any blurring, and have amazing snap. Overtones soar without distortion orcompression, yielding a harmonic truth to all the instruments, like Ben Webster’s saxophone and Thad Jones’ cornet.
 
The MW-101’s lack of audible bearing or groove noise lets music emerge from a pitch-black background with near-reference-quality transparency and presence on well-recorded music, like the David Abel/Julie Steinberg performance of Beethoven and Enescu Sonatas [Wilson Audiophile], the Ella Fitzgerald/Joe Pass collaboration Take Love Easy [Pablo], or Nick Drake’s Pink Moon [Island Records]. On these recordings, everything is well-balanced across the frequency spectrum, without resonant peaks in the upper midrange or highs, a common source of aural fatigue, yet the music sounds alive. On more musically dense recordings like the Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major [EMI] and Miklós Rózsa’s Quo Vadis [Decca], the MW-101’s wonderful clarity enables one to follow individual musical lines easily, and the soundstaging is broad, deep, stable, and precise.
 
How have Merrill and Williams achieved this remarkable performance? They had to start with a “clean sheet of paper,” because the Heirloom design had already been taken to its limits by the MS-21. Whereas the Heirloom and Merrill-Scillia turntables were spring-suspended, the MW-101’s elastomer plinth rests on three inverted hemispherical elastomer feet. George claims that by using this approach, the new ’table it still a suspended plinth, or more appropriately, an isolated plinth with energy rejection from the elastomer feet and the isolated feet posts that go up into the elastomer of the plinth.
 
The plinth of the MW-101 is not just a hunk of rubber sandwiched by aluminum but rather a well-engineered platform, designed as a laminate to dampen and dissipate energy. The motor, platter, spindle/bearing, and tonearm are isolated by breaches in the aluminum-rubber laminate (Energy Isolation Valleys), and the energy developed by each part is absorbed and dissipated by the 14-pound rubber-compound elastomer that forms the core of the plinth before it can affect any of the other operating parts. A support-truss system using seven struts within the plinth helps keeps it rigid.
 
The MW-101 platter offers yet another reported industry “first.” It is made of a Bakelite, cellulose, and resin compound resulting in a high-density, remarkably dead platter with a Q that is quite broad—plus the material is also extremely dimensionally stable. Its integral rubber-cork compound mat helps to minimize vibrations within the vinyl, allowing the stylus to trace the record better. It also has a very-low-noise bearing system as the hardened thrust ball at the end of the precision-ground stainless-steel platter-shaft glides with virtually no friction over a hardened surface in the oil-well bearing, manufactured from MDS-impregnated nylon—another industry first.
 
Merrill has worked on record-clamping systems for close to four decades, so one would expect the optional one for the R.E.A.L. 101 would be a honey—and it really is! The Merrill-Williams Clamping System comprises a center weight and periphery ring, and is designed for even down-force on the entire record. Energy radiated as the stylus traces the groove is absorbed by the damping inlay in the periphery clamp before it is reflected back into the groove area. The center weight, with its large rubber knob, also absorbs energy and helps eliminate resonant peaks. A rubber insert in the spindle bore decouples the weight from the record spindle. I consider the 101’s record clamping system to an indispensible option, increasing the system’s transparency, clarity, and ability to deal with warped records.
 
George Merrill was the first to introduce a separate motor-speed controller for a turntable, so it was somewhat surprising to learn that the motor-drive control unit for the MW-101 was designed by another industry veteran, Ron Sutherland, to Merrill-Williams’ specifications. The included Microprocessor Motor Drive employs crystal-controlled, adjustable dual oscillators to drive the two high-power, low-distortion amplifiers that power the motor. It not only allows the user to easily switch between 33 and 45 rpm play, but also to make minute adjustments to rotational speed even when the stylus is in the groove. Its strobe light is used in conjunction with the strobe markings on the periphery ring to set speed precisely under all temperature and humidity conditions. The controller also buffers the turntable-drive system from AC line variations, helping the MW-101 maintain accurate pitch stability, and also contributing to its outstanding clarity, resolution, and imaging precision. A Sutherland Timeline is used to certify speed accuracy on all MW-101s.
 
My MW-101 review unit was initially supplied with the Ortofon AS-212S, but the system took another step up in performance, primarily in clarity, transparency, and bass solidity and articulation, when mated with the new Ortofon TA-110 tonearm. The TA-110 has elastomer damping of the armtube, which is “in tune” with the resonance-management design philosophy of the Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101. George asserts that, although the Ortofon TA-110 is not as good as the top-ofthe- line Grahams and Tri-Planars, “it comes darn close at a lot less money.” (This is also true of the Ortofon Cadenza Black cartridge and the MW-101 itself.)
 
While production delays scuttled my plans to mate the MW-101 with the latest Graham Phantom, I did have the pleasure of hearing a MW-101 with a Tri-Planar IV tonearm (coupled with a Dynavector XX2 MkII cartridge, Zesto Audio and GamuT electronics, WyWire cables, and TAD CR1 speakers) at T.H.E. Show Newport. I was really taken by the system, particularly with its noticeable improvements in midbass articulation and control, as well as micro- and macro-dynamics.
 
As good as the MW-101 is—and it is very good—it falls short of the best turntables in a few areas. The R.E.A.L. is much more attractive than the Heirloom and MS-21, but it doesn’t have the stunning looks and ability to accommodate multiple arms of many reference turntable systems, nor does it employ exotic technologies like magnetic drive, an air-bearing platter, or a seemingly impregnable, self-adjusting stand. While its speed stability approaches that of a direct-drive ’table, one can still see slight, minute variations in the strobe markings during each rotation (possibly due to belt slippage), although I never heard any pitch variation on sustained tones.
 
As one might expect from the man responsible for so many turntable innovations, George Merrill’s latest turntable, in collaboration with Robert Williams, breaks new ground in its approach to energy management by ingeniously and effectively damping and dissipating resonances wherever they lurk. Music emerges with such exceedingly low coloration and distortion that transparency, fine detail retrieval, openness, and clarity are surprisingly close to what one experiences when listening to a mastertape. The Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 turntable should be a revelation to those who want to get closer to the sound of a live performance without breaking the bank. It’s easy to set up, and its modularity also allows for future enhancements, including an isolation chamber for the ’table, available later this year.
.........
Explanation of Design of the UNIQUE MERILL WILLIAMS R.E.A.L. TURNTABLE
George Williams (CEO)

A NEW APPROACH - A NEW STANDARD
With a clean sheet of paper and the Energy Management Discipline in mind, a new approach to turntable design emerged.

The Turntable consists of a rotating platter that supports a phonograph record, a drive source for this platter (motor, pulleys and belt), a plate to mount the bearing which accommodates the platter shaft, mounting for the motor and pickup arm. This mounting plate is called the plinth, base or chassis. Some type of feet are used for support of this plinth.

The turntable must cope with four types of energy intrusion:
One: Self generation and internal coupling of energy produced by the motor, drive system, platter support bearing and tonearm. 

Two: Mechanically coupled energy that enters the support feet.

Three: Airborne energy contained within the operating environment.

Four: Energy generated by the stylus to groove contact during tracing (playing of the record).

•  The R.E.A.L. Turntables major innovation is the construction of the plinth (base).
•  Design by Merrill – Williams (Patent # 8,406,112 B2).
•  The plinth is the heart of the turntable and supports all three energy generating parts (motor, bearing/spindle and tone arm).

The plinth was designed using a technique called “Energy Management Design”. The base is designed as a laminate. Construction consists of a specific formula 14 lb rubber compound elastomer faced with phenolic. Areas are isolated with Energy Isolation Valleys (breaches in the laminate) in such a manner that the operating parts (motor, platter spindle/bearing and the tonearm) are not allowed to transmit energy through the laminate material. Energy isolation and dissipation occurs only within the core elastomer. The advantage to this system is the energy developed by each of these operating part is absorbed and dissipated by the core elastomer before it can intrude and affect the performance of other parts. For example the motor energy is dissipated before it can contaminate the energy release from the tonearm.

To keep the rigidity integrity intact seven struts are placed in calculated locations within the plinth forming a support truss system. 

The use of an energy transfer tonearm mounting platform coupled to the damping elastomer accomplishes a most important function the dissipation of Tonearm Release Energy.

Integrated in the design of the tonearm mounting platform is the ability to azimuth align the platform with the platter.

The second type of energy intrusion (mechanical transfer from the stand used to support the turntable) is managed by a system called the Isolation Foot which contains a Special Polymer Inverted Hemisphere. 

An adjustable support column attached to the rubber elastomer is resting upon an inverted hemisphere of highly absorbent rubber. This support column utilizes a positioning pin to hold the foot in place. The column consists of two parts, the height adjustment collar and the hemisphere coupler with positioning pin. A bolt is inserted through a compressing washer and the plinth elastomer (energy blocking holes are drilled around the mounting point of the foot bolt) into the hemispherical coupler, drawing the adjuster collar and hemispherical coupler tightly together (this system is another first). The resulting support column is extremely solid while still having height adjustment capabilities. The curved face on the hemispherical coupler allows shallow contact with the hemisphere which helps to subdue energy transmission. The flat of the hemisphere is placed in a support base (fitted on the surface contact area with three feet) to allow retention of its shape and for uniform input of energy into the foot.

The third type of energy (airborne) is damped by the over all energy absorbing capability of the laminate, feet and platter. The total package is virtually impervious to airborne energy encountered in the listening environment.   

The platter design and material consideration along with the mat control thefourth type of energy.  The platter is manufactured from a compound containing bakelite cellulose and resin (another first). The characteristics of the material, high density, low resonance top and dimension stability make an ideal platter. A rubber cork compound mat is used to place the record upon, thus quelling vibrations within the vinyl as the stylus is tracing (playing) the record. An optional clamping system enhances LP damping to the highest order.

The platter shaft is manufactured from precision ground stainless steel (3/4 inch) with a hardened thrust ball placed at the end. The platter is supported in an oil well bearing manufactured from MDS impregnated nylon (another first). A hardened surface is provided at the bottom of this bearing to allow the shaft thrust ball to ride with virtually no friction (i.e. no noise).

The R.E.A.L. 101.2 Microprocessor Motor Drive System 33-45 RPM

Any turntable that has fixed speed (no manual variation) cannot retain speed accurately under all temperature and humidity conditions. The expansion / contraction coefficients of the drive materials will vary with the environment. For example, acrylic will grow or shrink dramatically with normal room temperature changes. A variable speed control solves this problem. The result is retention of accurate pitch.

AC line power is contaminated with multi frequency trash. Without a buffer, this trash is fed directly into the motor and coupled into the drive system and record support platter. A properly designed power supply will isolate the turntable drive system from this trash. This will help to eliminate the clouding of micro level information and lead to improved resolution culminating in better imaging, detail and musical realism.  

The Merrill-Williams Microprocessor Motor Drive uses a regulated DC power supply powering a microprocessor, employing crystal controlled adjustable dual oscillators for sine and cosine drive. The low distortion precision sine wave dual oscillators drive two high power low distortion amplifiers that power the motor. Speed sweep is plus or minus 2 percent. The turntable speed is checked with an on board strobe light driven by a short pulse square wave oscillator. A Sutherland Timeline is used to certify accuracy.  

Touch button logic control is employed. 
The MD-1 is supplied with the REAL 101.2
The Microprocessor Motor Drive affords a noticeable improvement in performance.
Q/A what is the design difference between the original Merrill Heirloom and Merrill–Williams R.E.A.L.

FIRST GENERATION
The Merrill Heirloom was designed in late 1970. 

It had many new ENERGY MANAGEMENT approaches to turntable design:

  • The first use of acrylics.
  • Cast anti magnetic fluid damped motor pod.
  • Oil well bearing.
  • Constant resonant tuning system.
  • A subchassis integrated tonearm mounting platform for energy management control.
  • Decoupled and lead damped outer record support platter.
  • Aluminum resin driven platter.
  • Copolymer drive pulley.
  • Digital motor drive system.
  • Critical elasticity calculation for the belt’s low pass filter action.
  • Seven layer lead damped plinth.
  • The first use of a periphery clamping ring.

SECOND GENERATION

  • After the Heirloom production had stopped for many years the design was reborn as the Merrill-Scillia MS-2 and MS21.
  • These turntables were manufactured as an absolute exact copy of the Heirloom design.
  • The major improvement to the new production was the polymer material used in the subchassis and the outer support platter. This turntable was heralded with exceptional reviews.
  • Class A in Stereophile for 3 1/2 years (review November 2007).
  • A Super review from 6 moons. (John Potis)

THIRD GENERATION

The Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101.2 is again (as the original Heirloom) a totally new approach to turntable design. Using a patented R.ubber E.lastomeric A.coustic L.aminate along with other new innovations, the Energy Management Design principles are raised to a new level. The sonic performance overshadows the original Heirloom design by a wide margin.

Misc Merrill Williams R.E.A.L. reviews

Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 Turntable R.E.A.L. Good:
According to a recent poll of our editors and reviewers (TAS 216), the AR XA was ranked as the most significant turntable in the history of analog playback. If you ever lived with the AR XA turntable or one of its successors (XB, XE, ES-1, ETL-1, EB101), you may well have installed some of the popular “Merrill mods” that helped lift the sonic performance of that entire turntable family. These ranged from enhanced speed controllers and motors, to acrylic-lead turntable mats, acrylic subchassis, center and outer clamps, and improved parts, among others. Thousands were reportedly sold, making them the most popular mods for those venerable belt-driven, spring-suspended classics. - Read More...

Equipment Review: Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 Turntable:
Back in 1973, my passion for turntables began with a modest purchase of an Acoustic Research AR XA. At something like $88 including a pre-installed Shure cartridge, it was a no-brainer even for a High School freshman on a paper route budget. For several years, I “unofficially” worked at an audio store, assembling and setting them up for waiting customers. Little did I know back then that this cheap unassuming little workhorse of a turntable and diamond in the rough would ignite the creative juices of one George Merrill in Tennessee. - Read More...

An Interview with George Merrill of Merrill-Williams Audio:
I first received an early production Merrill Williams R.E.A.L. 101 turntable System from George Merrill for evaluation in June of this year. It did not take much time for me to realize three things:

  1. This turntable represents a complete re-think in belt-driven turntable design.
  2. This is no re-hash or derivative of the famous Merrill Heirloom or Merrill-Scillia MS21.
  3. This turntable may very well be a game changer.

As such, I feel it important that before we start the journey down the road of describing the Merrill- Williams R.E.A.L. 101, we should first get a bit into the head of the man chiefly involved in the design. - Read More...

35 Years in the Making:
George Merrill, a Memphis, Tennessee native, began his career in the audio business when he was just 14 years old. In 1974, he created UnderGround Sound. After realizing how different turntables sounded from one another, he set out to experiment with all the versions of Acoustic Research turntables and modified them accordingly. These “Merrill Mods” made a legend of George Merrill. Read More...

Videos

Introducing MW REAL101.2