By Mike Espindle
Audiophiles among you will certainly recognize the name of Meridian, the Cambridge, UK-based equipment manufacturer probably best known for marrying the fine, hands-on craftsmanship of superb speaker design with the cutting-edge digital processing and technology of its base units.
Hearing your favorite song through a set of exceptional speakers, massaged and enhanced by equally exceptional sonic processing, is a rite of passage for a music fan. I’ve been “test-driving” just such a system all month, and am now dreading the arrival of the Meridian truck to switch back to my old sound system.
Let’s start with the speakers, which is a very good place to start, indeed. The DSP7200s I’ve been using are 31/2-way digital signal processing active loudspeakers, a powered speaker approach Meridian introduced more than a decade ago.
Each speaker sports four custom drivers, four amps and four digital converters all packed into curved, piano lacquer finish cabinets that are simple and gorgeous. The kind of speakers that will enhance your home’s decor not overwhelm it.
The sound, however, can be overwhelming, and graciously so. Playing source audio (from a CD or from a “lossless” digital file) provides an amazing musical experience for listeners. Timbre, staging, a sense of space–all the sonic queues associated with live performance–are reproduced impressively.
In fact, during a summer BBQ my guests complimented me not only on the sound but also on how nice the music sounded even when they were outside on my porch or in my yard. Even sourcing MP3 or MP4 files from a laptop or guests’ iPhones or iPads sounded great. But the real star of the show is the touch-screen Control 15 Sooloos Digital Media System. At first glance, the unit looks like a familiar “video jukebox” you might have seen. But the capabilities and features take if far, far beyond a karaoke or bar scenario.
Control 15’s 500GB drive can store about 1000 CDs worth of lossless, original source audio, as well as digital information associated with each track.
Of course you can program playlists and such, but the software lets you use the content information to “roll your own” musical experiences. A fan of Jerome Kern? Use the file data to sort his songs across all the artists that have recorded him on the system, from classical broadway soundtracks to Michael Buble. Want to listen to Bowie tracks, but only between the years 1972 and 1984? Just set the date filters and customize your own music explorations.