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Living with Meridian Audio

Published

An audiophile music system can be stylish

 

My first encounter with Meridian was a brief audition of its $35,000 DSP7200 speaker system with its Control 15 Sooloos music server providing the digital source material. I was impressed with how honestly Meridian extracted clear, natural sound from an all-digital environment and looked forward to a real experience in my own home with my source material. (And Mrs. Douglas was pleased enough with the stylish appearance of Meridian’s M6 DSP speakers, Control 15, and Audio Core 200 gear that she allowed for their placement in our formal living room.)

Foundation with Style
Meridian Audio Limited was launched in 1977 after Bob Stuart and Allen Boothroyd collaborated to design a hi-fi system with esthetics cool enough to occupy a permanent position in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Boothroyd added design credentials from the Royal College of Art after his mechanical engineering training and it shows in every product. Stuart’s studies combined psychoacoustics with electrical engineering and he’s developed breakthrough technologies from audiophile CD circuitry to Lossless Packing that’s the heart of DVD audio and Blu-Ray disc specifications.

Playing With Others
Meridian has always been deep into digital technology and the firm’s products use proprietary circuits and code. Speakers have their own amplifiers built in, so they only work with the company’s controller. We were supplied with an Audio Core 200, a pre-amp-like device that can accept an “analog” input from a non-Meridian source. Although connecting a turntable or other audio source is easily accomplished, the bulk of the connections are digital.

I did connect external devices but most of the music originated from Meridian’s Control 15, which linked digitally to the Audio Core and on to the M6 speakers with Ethernet cables. The Control 15 looks like an Apple iMac with its clean, contemporary style but the function is dedicated to handling audio files. Our test unit had over 900 albums installed on its 500GB hard drive with the covers colorfully displayed on the 17-inch touchscreen.

Easy Touch
There are a variety of solutions for controlling music streaming, many available on Apple’s iPad or an Android tablet. Meridian’s Sooloos also incorporates an iPad portal via Wi-Fi, but its touchscreen access to a large database of recorded music is intuitive, even for the first-time user. And loading new music is as simple as inserting a CD in the pedestal’s slot.

For my evaluation needs, I loaded the classic “Living Stereo” recording of Saint-Saéns’ Symphony No. 3, Debussy’s La Mer, and Jacques Ibert’s Escales with Charles Munch conducting the Boston Symphony. It’s a flamboyant recording that’s been re-released in Super Audio CD and a good test of system dynamics. Although the Meridian doesn’t read SACDs, my disc was also a standard CD, so it loaded easily into the Control 15. Additionally, I installed a shortlist of other familiar music that I felt would task the system.

My nephew Patrick, an accomplished composer and conductor, visited us between the Oregon Bach and Cabrillo music festivals. We auditioned a variety of music at concert levels and the two of us were impressed with Meridian’s wide dynamic range and open stage, especially for the system’s unimposing presence. And should one need a bit more horsepower, it’s easy to substitute Meridian’s larger self-powered speakers. That’s the kind of plug-and-play many like in a sophisticated system.   BRIAN DOUGLAS

 

 

Courtesy Photography

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