British manufacturer Meridian is offering owners of its DSP8000, DSP7200, and most versions of the DSP5200 the ability to upgrade to new Special Edition units launched in honor of its 25th anniversary.
The Special Edition was created to celebrate 25 years since the company debuted its first digital loudspeaker, Meridian’s D600 – the foundation of the company’s DSP Digital Active Loudspeakers. The company’s active loudspeakers are unique in the market because they include built-in amplifiers, shunning the need for external amplification.
The Meridian DSP5200SE, which sells for $20,000/pair, includes new firmware with Enhanced Bass Alignment (EBA). Music is all about timing, and EBA brings a level of time coherency to the loudspeakers.
In any loudspeaker, bass signals are delayed compared to real life, where all frequencies arrive in time. EBA employs special filters to progressively delay upper bass frequencies, as well as delays to align higher frequencies. The result goes far beyond conventional ‘time-alignment,’ according to Ken Forsythe, product management director.
The new firmware also adds other features such as custom display legends. Also, the unit has a new Meridian-designed Beryllium-dome tweeter that is many times stiffer than aluminium, the existing tweeter cone material. That means the dome is a more perfect piston, reducing coloration and enhancing transient handling. In addition, the tweeter has an extended high frequency response, ideal for reproducing the latest high-resolution recordings.
Another new feature is wideband electronics with added DSP The entire audio electronics complement of the loudspeaker has been replaced, to double the DSP power, with two chips instead of one. The amplifiers have been redesigned and new analogue filters installed. The result is an increase in the audio bandwidth of the loudspeakers so that their in-room response is 25Hz to 32kHz (±3dB).
Finally, there is a new complete system warranty. Customers upgrading to Meridian’s Special Edition will receive a brand new warranty – not just on the new components, but on the whole loudspeaker system. By registering the upgrade on the Meridian website, integrators’ clients can extend by one year for the DSP5200s or DSP7200s (from a two-year system warranty to three years). The DSP8000s provides three years of warranty, extended to a full six years on registration.
The DSP7200SE has an MSRP of $46,000/pair while the DSP8000SE sells for $80,000/pair. Meridian also has a center channel speaker ($24,000) as a companion. The company also has its own media servers, under the Sooloos brand, and projectors.
Getting a Demo
Speaking to a group of media while demo’ing the products in Meridian’s New York City showroom last week, Forsythe reiterated the company’s “system approach” to electronics. “Hi-fi is the only industry in the world where you feel the need to gather dissimilar products from multiple manufacturers to build a system,” he notes. The demo room was a complete Meridian system, top to bottom using the Sooloos for the media source.
In the demo, Forsythe started with a spoken word clip from actor Colin Farrell accompanied by piano playing “Chim Chiminey” from the recent Disney movie “Saving Mr. Banks.” The clip shows how you don’t need to used booming crash scenes from a Blu-ray to show the range of the audio but can depict the “human scale” of a sound system.
That clip was followed by an Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong duet from 1956 singing “You Can’t Take that Away from Me.” In the clip, Armstrong’s quivering vocals had never sounded so lifelike. The demo concluded with a Lady Gaga clip “Do What You Want with My Body,” which officially marked the first time I have ever heard a Lady Gaga song. Lastly, using the full Meridian system, Forsythe showed the opening scene of “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” with booming bass.
“The SE speakers are the culmination of three years of intensive research on psychoacoustics on how humans related to the speed of music,” adds John Buchanan, director of sales and marketing. He adds, “When you or I walk down a hallway with an open door and hear piano music, we can instantly tell if that is live or recorded. If you have a great ear, you can tell the difference between and upright and a grand piano. If you have a really, really great ear, you can tell the difference between a Steinway and a Yamaha. That is the re-creation of live music that we are after.”