Yes, he's a top bloke.
I've not heard the Merlins - but very interested interested in UMs sister company, Rooth, who have also released a 4 BA + 1 Dynamic hybrid, the LSX5. That though, may be a little too neutral for your tastes. They will also however be releasing a x 3 hybrid universal for around only $250.
Good luck with you choice - I feel your indecision! There are so many choices, so it's good to have narrowed it down to 2.