Hands On: Meridian Digital Media System
After setting up a Meridian Digital Media System, which entailed the Media Core 200, Audio Core 200, a pair of DSP3200 speakers and matching stands, with the company’s new iPad control app I was able to experience an easy-to-use integrated solution that absolutely kills with sonic and technical sophistication.
Installation is, for the most part, simple, even if the directions aren’t great. After I mounted the speakers on their stands, I set the Audio Core 200 on a table and ran a Meridian SpeakerLink cable (Ethernet) from the Media Core 200’s Master and Slave outputs to the speakers and ran a Cat 6 cable from the Audio Core to the Media Core products. The final step was to connect the Audio Core unit to my network, which I did through one last Cat 6 cable.
I downloaded Meridian’s free Core Control for iPad from iTunes and waited for it to populate the music collection stored on the system.
The app lists albums in alphabetical order and it includes album cover art and song titles. With the app you can generate music queues or instantly play any song in the system. It allows users to build playlists, select zones in more complex systems, control volume, and stream Internet content.
I found the app to provide an almost perfect interface solution. On a few occasions the app was slow to wake up or slow to respond to commands, but otherwise it was effortless to work. Using the system as a source of guest entertainment, people loved passing the iPad around so everyone could play DJ.
Pair of DSP3200 two-way active speakers $6,000
DSP3200 speaker stands: $700
DSW Subwoofer: $5,000
Audio Core 200: $3,000
Media Core 200: $4,000
Listening to the system in my dining room I thought the soundstage and clarity were immense. Walking off-axis from the sweet spot, I didn’t think the image collapsed much at all. The top end was open, the midrange was detailed and the bottom end was defined to allow drums and bass instruments to breath.
Moving the system into my home theater, I stepped up from a 12 x 12 room to a 12 x 23 environment and added the support of Meridian’s DSW DSP subwoofer. The sub filled below the capabilities of the two-way DSP3200 speakers to provide additional weight to mid-bass content.
Adding more music was as easy as using the iPad app. I downloaded Meridian’s Sooloos Configuration and Meridian Control software programs to my Windows laptop and was able to rip CDs and import high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz content. The software also facilitated my ability to set up a Rhapsody account. Listening to 24/96 files through the Meridian system was eye opening. I thought records such as Beggars Banquet from The Rolling Stones sounded more realistic and revealing than the CD version.
As a whole, I really can’t find anything to criticize about it. The system employs the latest in digital technologies, it’s got a great interface, and it is scalable to cover everything from step-up high-performance solutions, to flagship, cost-is-no-object audiophile nirvana.