Meridian DSP Loudspeakers have been redefining our conceptions of what loudspeakers and Hi-Fi systems should be for almost three decades.
From Meridian’s early innovations such as the M1 Active Loudspeaker, the D600 Digital Loudspeaker, all the way through to today’s, range-topping DSP 8000, Meridian’s bold designs have been causing a stir for decades.
Fire up the Flux-Capacitor, pull up a comfy chair and pour yourself a glass of your preferred beverage. Today’s Audio Affair Special tells the story of the Meridian DSP Loudspeaker, the innovations which led to its birth and an overview of the current Meridian DSP Loudspeaker range.
Boothroyd & Stewart – Fathers of Meridian
History is lined with great double acts: Lennon & McCartney, Simon & Garfunkel, Keith Harris & Orville (Really Bob?) – there’s something magical about a great team.
Cambridge, England, was a fantastic melting pot of minds & technology in the 70s and 80s; myriad legendary brands such as Sinclair, Arcam, and the subject of today’s blog, Meridian, sprang up from this hive of technology and design.
Allen Boothroyd, a gifted Industrial designer, teamed up with Bob Stuart, a forward-thinking engineer; In 1977, Boothroyd & Stewart formed Meridian. It was a partnership and a company which was to lead to many groundbreaking designs in the Hi-Fi industry…
Redesigning the Loudspeaker
Meridian’s first product was the M1 active (Meridian at the time referred to them as interactive) Loudspeaker. Whilst companies such as JBL and Klein-Hummel had pioneered active loudspeaker designs, they had been predominantly aimed at professional monitoring situations. The Meridian M1 Loudspeakers were some of (if not the first) active loudspeakers specifically designed for domestic listening.
The Digital Era
By 1989 Meridian had established themselves as a manufacturer of highly respected audio components, and of course, Loudspeakers. The launch that year of the Meridian D600 Loudspeaker system was arguably the biggest departure in domestic audio design to be seen in decades.
Any Audiophile walking into a Meridian dealer in 1989 would have been astounded at how different the D600 was in comparison to conventional loudspeakers. Each speaker featured a LED display stylishly incorporated into the front panel of the loudspeaker.
“What on earth is this all about?“, our eighties Audiophile may have queried, at which point one imagines the Meridian Dealer may have spun the D600 around to reveal the rear panel connections. At this point, our Audiophile friend would have realised that the Meridian D600 really was unlike any loudspeaker that had gone before.
Our Filofax bedecked Audiophile would have been greeted with a rear panel which had no conventional speaker connections whatsoever. Instead, digital inputs, system link DIN sockets and a couple of pairs of conventional analogue inputs are all that would have been seen.
For the first time, a user could connect a digital source directly to a loudspeaker. The D600’s onboard electronics and multi-amp active amplification allowed the speaker to effectively function as a complete Hi-Fi system. Indeed, couple the D600 with a compatible Meridian source unit and all source functions could be controlled by the D600’s remote control.
Meridian DSP Arrives
Incredibly, Meridian followed the D600 with a new, even more, radical loudspeaker system, just two years later. It was the system which took the landmark advances of the M1 and the D600 and added the now famous DSP processing we’ve come to know Meridian for.
In 1991, Meridian launched the D6000 – a loudspeaker so advanced in terms of design, that it doesn’t look out of place stood next to one of Meridian’s current speaker line-up. The addition of a DSP based crossover catapulted the D6000 into new territory.
Suddenly, issues inherent in passive crossovers such as phase alignment disappeared and new features such as adjustable directivity contributed to phenomenal listening accuracy.
The Meridian DSP era had arrived. The high-end audio landscape had changed forever…
The Meridian DSP Advantage
The genius of the Meridian DSP concept endures to this day, especially in an increasingly digital-centric world. It’s sound logical and engineering sense, to keep audio in the digital domain for as long as possible.
Interconnect leads become simplified and vastly less quality critical between components, signal transfer is accomplished without loss or colouration. There are huge benefits…
The Meridian ethos is to combine many of the separate components one normally associates with a Hi-Fi system (pre-amplifier, power amplifier etc) into the loudspeaker system itself. This level of integration results in world-class audio reproduction in a clean, stylish effective package.
Meridan DSP Loudspeakers – The Current Line-up
All the Meridian Speakers covered below, take advantage of some common features and developments in the DSP Loudspeaker range:
- Speaker Link – Forget expensive, cumbersome speaker cables. Speaker Link allows for speakers to be connected to each other using simple, unobtrusive Ethernet cables.
- Triple FIFO Buffering – That’s First in First Out in case you were wondering, and is Meridian’s proprietary method of jitter reduction for enhanced timing and precision.
- Meridian Apodising Filter – Meridian have developed their own filter which incorporates a steep cut-off to avoid ‘ringing’, the effect which made many early digital recordings sound harsh. Meridian’s Apodising Filter, not only avoids this ringing, it can also help enhance and ‘clean up’ some of those early digital recordings.
- Enhanced Bass Alignment – Meridian’s DSP processing results in excellent handling of signals within the time domain, resulting in tighter, more accurate bass.
- Custom Colours – The Meridian Select program allows the customer to purchase their Meridian DSP speakers in one of 270 custom colours. Standard finishes are high gloss white and piano black.
- SPECIAL EDITION VERSIONS – Upgraded ‘Special Edition Versions’ of all the DSP speakers featured here are available. These include the very latest and most advanced developments in loudspeaker drivers, electronics and firmware. Please contact us at Audio Affair for specifics on these very special speakers.
Let’s Start with the Meridian DSP 5200.2 Loudspeakers; every inch in the mould of what’s become the ‘classic’ Meridian style, the DSP 5200.2 Loudspeakers are a beautiful piece of industrial design. Utilising the same cabinet design and principles as its flagship big brother, the DSP 8000, they can very much be viewed as a ‘baby’ DSP 8000.
3 x 75-watt power amplifiers are employed to drive the three-way speaker arrangement, with a frequency response of 35Hz to 20kHz.
The Meridian DSP 7200.2 is the mid-range speaker between the 5200.2 and the flagship 8200. It offers a nice step up from the 5200.2 in terms of power and extended low-frequency response from the larger speaker drivers and cabinets.
4 x 150-watt power amplifiers are used in the 7200.2 DSP Loudspeakers, with an extended frequency bandwidth of 30Hz to 25kHz.
Truly, the flagship of the Meridian DSP range, the Meridian DSP 8000.2 encompasses everything thus far learned by Meridian in over 25 years of Meridian DSP Loudspeakers.
Onboard amplification is beastly: 3 x 150-watt power amplifiers are assigned to the six bass drivers, which are graced with their own, isolated speaker enclosure. Separate enclosures for the Hi-Mid drivers sit atop the lower enclosures and are driven by 2 x 150-watt amplifiers. For those of you doing the maths, that’s 750 Watts per speaker, 1500 Watts per pair!
The end result of all those drivers, amplifiers and let’s not forget the outstanding electronic, acoustic and aesthetic design work, are loudspeakers which reproduce a 20Hz – 20kHz bandwidth at 120db + SPL with just 0.02% total distortion. All this with design and beauty fit for a gallery of modern art.
If this blog has whetted your appetite to audition a pair of Meridian’s fabulous DSP speakers, then please drop us a line at Audio Affair. We’d be only too happy to discuss your requirements.